Unwavering support for civil society advocacy: The importance of Education Out Loud

Civil society organizations play a critical role in shaping education policies. Read how GPE’s Education Out Loud, now in its 5th year, is supporting civil society to monitor education policy and budget implementation, and to use evidence to propose solutions at local, regional and global levels.

May 15, 2024 by Tanvir Muntasim, GPE Secretariat
4 minutes read
Civil society round table during World Bank / IMF 2017 Spring Meetings. Credit: Grant Ellis/World Bank
Civil society round table during World Bank / IMF 2017 Spring Meetings.
Credit: Grant Ellis/World Bank

While the latest State of Civil Society Report portrays a challenging context where civil society continues to struggle in a world “plagued by conflict and crisis, including of democratic values and institutions,” it also celebrates the crucial difference civil society makes in people’s lives and highlights how collective action propelled by civil society can lead to transformative changes.

Civil society has been an active stakeholder in the formulation and implementation of global policy consensus as articulated in sustainable development goals (SDGs).

In a world contending with the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic and multiple crises that risk deprioritizing investing in education, tireless civil society engagement is essential to bring evidence from communities and channel the voices of the marginalized as a way for them to claim and defend their right to education.

Acknowledging the critical role civil society organizations (CSOs) play in the education policy landscape to strengthen mutual accountability between key actors, GPE expanded funding support for civil society by approving Education Out Loud.

Now in its fifth year of implementation by Oxfam Denmark, Education Out Loud stands as not only the largest but almost sole fund dedicated to local, regional and global civil society advocacy for education.

Currently, Education Out Loud supports CSOs in more than 60 countries undertaking an abundance of exciting and innovative interventions for change in education such as bringing in youth voices, mobilizing more financing for education and spotlighting evidence on key issues in policy discussions.

Most CSOs receiving support from Education Out Loud are national education coalitions who act as platforms for a large number of member organizations. For example, Campaign for Popular Education (CAMPE) has almost 1,000 member organizations with education as a core or cross-cutting focus alongside gender equality, inclusion, child rights, indigenous people and youth rights groups.

Contributing to demand-driven policies and programs

Local education groups are country-led coordinating structures and platforms for education sector planning and dialogue, bringing key education stakeholders together. Participation in a local education group is both crucial and effective for education policy formulation and implementation.

Fifty-one national education coalitions in as many countries participated in local education groups in 2023. In just under a year, CSO partners representing many voices from marginalized areas within GPE partner countries contributed to 46 national policy changes. These policies cover a wide range of strategic issues from allocation to education to gender equality and inclusion policies.

While these policy changes are enacted by national authorities, the actions supported by Education Out Loud have impacted their formulation and implementation through advocacy, evidence-sharing and technical advice.

For example, after many years of advocacy through education policy and budget monitoring and providing data for policymakers by the Mongolian national civil society education coalition All4Education, the government enacted an inclusive education policy—the first of its kind in Mongolia. Such cases have been documented in progress reports and stories of change shared by GPE and Education Out Loud.

17-year-old deaf student Oyunjargal Gansukh concentrates during a language lesson at School 212 on Monday, March 20, 2023, in Murun, Mongolia. Credit: GPE/Bat-Orgil Battulga
Deaf student Oyunjargal Gansukh concentrates during a language lesson at School 212 in Murun, Mongolia. All4Education, supported by Education Out Loud is ensuring more children with disabilities have access to quality education through advocacy efforts and gathering missing data for changemakers to acknowledge the challenge.
GPE/Bat-Orgil Battulga

Strengthening civic engagement through accountability

Education Out Loud also supports civil society groups to undertake strategic multilevel monitoring of education policy and budget implementation, and to use evidence to propose and act on policy solutions.

In 2023, 31 social accountability mechanisms for education were initiated or expanded with support from Education Out Loud. In Senegal, a rural women’s group started school-level monitoring to strengthen accountability of stakeholders, especially policy makers and administrators.

In Tajikistan and Malawi, community monitoring is paving the way for children with special needs to access formal education systems, whereas leveraging the power of a youth-led movement has resulted in multiple policy actions in the Philippines.

Education Out Loud efforts to include civil society in transforming education systems also complement GPE's Knowledge and Innovation Exchange (KIX) that’s designed to respond to partner countries’ education programming and policy challenges to achieving SDG4. Synergy between KIX-supported innovation and Education Out Loud-supported civic action is becoming clearer, as seen in Burkina Faso and Senegal.

Supporting unheard voices in fragile contexts

Education Out Loud continues to support civil society in some of the world’s most fragile contexts so that they can still engage in advocacy in emergencies.

Timely innovations and unconventional methods have been adopted to address the learning needs of children living in contexts that are either steadily escalating or rapidly deteriorating. In Yemen and Somalia, learning activities have helped the national education coalitions to improve their capacities.

In Burkina Faso, radio broadcasts in local languages were organized by CSOs part of the education coalition to raise community awareness on education in emergencies. In Cabo Verde, music is traditionally appreciated in all spheres of life. Realizing its effectiveness, the coalition combined using music with organized events and awareness campaigns to engage people in advocacy.

Peer learning groups (learning collaboratives) have also been created to focus on education in emergencies. One such group in West and Central Africa focuses on the reintegration of children into schools through the digitization of education and other alternative schooling methods in fragile contexts, responding to increasing insecurity in the region.

GPE is grateful to our civil society partners who continue to demonstrate indomitable spirit and unwavering commitment to making positive change despite increasingly difficult conditions. GPE looks forward to continuing to work closely with civil society partners around the world toward transformative shifts in education.

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Support to Education service delivery has really improved, especially through funding and systemic innovations, such as the Integrated Inspection System. One aspect remains unattended to - the mobility of school inspectors. Without reliable means of transport, the efficiency and effectiveness of inspectors will remain low.

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