Transforming education systems: Sharing voices, insights and practices

As a partnership, we are learning together what education system transformation means in different contexts and what it takes. A new blog series will share voices of different partners and practitioners, as well as insights from what we are learning across GPE partner countries and beyond.

May 13, 2024 by Jo Bourne, GPE Secretariat, and Janne Kjaersgaard Perrier, GPE Secretariat
4 minutes read
Adama Jimba Jobe, Deputy Permanent Secretary, Ministry of basic and secondary education of The Gambia speaking at a GPE Africa partner countries meeting. Credit:  Kavs Group
Adama Jimba Jobe, Deputy Permanent Secretary, Ministry of basic and secondary education of The Gambia speaking at a GPE Africa partner countries meeting.
Credit: Kavs Group

In 2021, GPE embarked on an ambitious journey to support partner countries in transforming their education systems. The approach built on an understanding that driving change within the complex landscape of an education system required national leadership, a focus on delivery and the alignment of multiple actors.

For GPE, education system transformation is more than just a catchphrase. It’s an approach that systematically engages members of the partnership in exploring a series of questions, including:

  • What are your priorities for education system change?
  • What are the bottlenecks standing in the way?
  • What factors need to be in place to enable change at scale, particularly in terms of data and evidence, gender responsive planning and monitoring, sector coordination, and volume, equity and efficiency of domestic financing.
  • How can reforms advance gender equality and inclusion?
  • How will we know progress is being made?

Partnership compacts reflect country partners’ discussions and agreement on ways forward to answer these questions.

Unlike a sector plan, which is necessarily broad, the compacts further reflect how sector actors will pull together to address issues impacting service delivery in a prioritized area. For its part, GPE is well placed to mobilize and align the technical partnerships and financing needed to support the delivery of national priorities and country leadership.

When countries are clear on their direction of travel, GPE brings the funding to the reform effort.

Over 50 GPE partner countries now have partnership compacts and are working with committed national and international partners to take their ambitions forward. The first countries are also planning a mid-term review to learn from the journey so far and to adapt as needed to accelerate results.

Learning together as a partnership

Taking a new approach has been disruptive at many levels. Providing a space, along this journey, for partners to have conversations around system transformation, exchange their experiences, learn from practices and evidence, deepen understanding and articulate their evolving needs and concerns, is central to GPE as a learning organization.

For example, regional workshops held in Madagascar (July 2023), Cameroon (November 2023), and with six states in Nigeria (January 2024), were instrumental in refining the approach and supporting country partners to delve deeper into what obstacles stood in the way of delivering on a priority reform, including gender barriers.

Also, the annual meetings of focal points of GPE partner countries in Africa (Tanzania, November 2023), Latin America (Barbados, March 2024), and Asia Pacific (Indonesia, May 2024) devoted time for structured exchange around system transformation. These conversations, which began in 2022 and 2023, are evolving as more countries embark on, and advance, their roadmaps for prioritized reforms.

“The value of countries coming together to learn and exchange experiences cannot be overstated. It is through collaborations that we can harness the collective wisdom, diverse perspectives and innovative solutions needed to address the challenges facing our education systems.”

Honorable Professor Adolf Mkenda, Minister of Education, Science and Technology, United Republic of Tanzania, hosting 39 focal points of GPE partner countries in Africa, at the 2023 Africa Constituency Meeting

Learning together as a partnership, through honest exchanges focused on the country experience, has enabled GPE to adjust with relative agility – including simplifying our guidance and making adaptations agreed by the GPE Board to reduce transaction costs.

The recently published Country Level and Thematic Evaluation suggests further areas for improvement. Balancing the different expectations of GPE as both a partnership and a fund isn’t always easy, but our commitment to learning and adapting remains important as we deepen our support to country-led system transformation.

Partner country representatives and GPE staff members at the Asia and Pacific regional meeting in Bangkok, Thailand. March 2023.
Partner country representatives and GPE staff members at the Asia and Pacific regional meeting in Bangkok, Thailand. March 2023.

A new blog series sharing voices and insights on what we are learning

Recognizing the richness of partner country experiences and the value of shared learning, GPE is launching a blog series on education system transformation to share the voices of partners and practitioners, as well as insights into what we are seeing and learning across partner countries and beyond.

The system transformation journey is not always easy. The blog series is an opportunity to contribute to knowledge building across the partnership, sharing experiences and evidence.

The series will include different blogs:

  • Voices of GPE country partners that will offer reflections on what system transformation means in their context. To what extent have priority reforms unlocked system transformation? How have GPE processes helped build the foundation to deliver sustainable change? What is different this time from what they were doing previously?
  • Insights from what we are learning from partner countries, their partnership compacts and beyond. What are the key features and what stands out in countries’ system transformation journey, approaches and operational arrangements? How do ‘radical collaboration,’ 'alliances of actors,' and ‘breaking with business as usual’ play out in practice? What role does leadership, school-level behaviors, engaging parents and the wider community play in achieving transformation?
  • Spotlights of successful countries where transformational actions have already had positive and traceable impacts on learning outcomes. These blogs will focus on describing what were the triggers, shifts and enablers that contributed to success. How is change being sustained? What were some of the tough decisions that had to be made?

Stay tuned!

Read other blogs in this series

Related blogs


To ensure education for all, we need to:
1. Cover 100% enrolment particularly girls and special need children;
2. Ensure regular attendance;
3. Ensure community or parental participation and ownership;
4. Social mobilization on awareness building;
5. Cash incentives to the poor families;
6. Strong political commitment

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