Partnerships Are Greater Than the Sum of Their Parts
The Global Partnership is far greater than the sum of its parts. No one entity can create sustainable education systems alone; it’s a task that demands collective action both at the global and local level.
April 09, 2014 by Alice Albright, Global Partnership for Education
7 minutes read
UNICEF Burundi/Nijimbere

“Partnership” and “collaboration” are becoming familiar bywords in the many discussions about the Post-2015 Global Development agenda. Those involved in designing the architecture of that agenda are increasingly turning to the Global Partnership for Education to describe how powerfully partnerships can help achieve development results and how they might shape the future of global development.

That’s why I was so pleased to participate in today’s Forum on “The Role of Partnerships in the Implementation of the Post-2015 Development Agenda” at the U.N. Economic and Social Council. It was an opportunity for me to share with leading public- and private-sector leaders, philanthropists, prominent civil society actors and academics from across the globe what other sectors of development can adopt from the Global Partnership’s model.

Partnerships are strong

I told the gathering what all of us at the Global Partnership know instinctively because we see proof of it every day: the Global Partnership is far greater than the sum of its parts.

No one entity can create sustainable education systems alone; it’s a task that demands collective action both at the global and local level.  Every partner brings its own strengths and focuses them on common goals and approaches.

That’s our recipe for real and durable impact. As the U.N. High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the post-2015 Development Agenda declared in 2013, "The Global Partnership for Education is getting quality education to marginalized children, coordinating education's many players, offering aid without wasteful replication and following local leadership. GPE is single-sector [education] but shows how collaboration can bring better results. Similar models might prove useful in other areas."

Partnerships are inclusive

We start with involving all the relevant players. This means donor nations, developing country partners, international organizations such as UNICEF, UNESCO and the World Bank, teachers, civil society in the North and South, and the private sector. At the local level, the Global Partnership brings together all of these partners in Local Education Groups led by partner developing country governments.

Civil society and teachers also play an important role in ensuring the voice of children, teachers and other education actors is integrated into decision-making processes nationally and globally.

As I told the forum participants, our job – not always easy, but essential to success – is to help establish solid, country-led education plans that are endorsed by all partners and encourage donors to align their own funding with an overall strategic roadmap. This collective action is the key to building more efficient, effective and sustainable education systems.  

Magnifying the power of the partnership

Another crucial element in our partnership is the financial support we provide to our developing country partners. Our education grants help developing country partners to make progress in girls’ education, support children with disabilities and other marginalized groups. Our funding helps to put in place and sustain systemic improvements in education, making both domestic financing and donor funding more effective.

That’s why our June Replenishment Pledging Conference is a crucial and central component of our partnership approach. We are asking donor partners to contribute $3.5 billion to the GPE Fund to support 66 developing country partners between 2015 and 2018. And we are asking developing country partners to increase their domestic financing for education to 20% of their national budgets, leveraging more than $16 billion in domestic financing.

While not new in global development, there is a growing appreciation that the private sector –corporations, private foundations, non-state actors – are a critical element, of any partnership. We are exploring with our private sector partners how best to tap their potential to provide solutions and leverage their technical expertise. This will be crucial in the context of ensuring that better and more reliable education data is available to improve the impact and accountability of education systems around the world.

The Global Partnership for Education is a model for effective development

The Forum at the U.N. Economic and Social Council is on to something. While not every development activity will require a collaborative approach, it’s clear from the Global Partnership’s experience that the more we can draw on and leverage the resources of many, the more progress we are likely to see in efforts to fight poverty, promote better health outcomes, improve stability and increase prosperity around the world.

With this in mind, we at the GPE Secretariat look forward to playing a continued and greater role in the discussions about the Post-2015 Development agenda.    

Learn more about the GPE replenishment campaign 2015-2018 in 250 Million Reasons to Invest in Education: The Case for Investment

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