Why accountability is crucial to achieve SDG 4

The new GEM Report 2017/8 provides important insights

A school girl in Tajikistan. Credit: GPE/Carine Durand

A school girl in Tajikistan

Credit: GPE/Carine Durand

Join us for the Washington, DC launch event of the GEM Report on Friday, October 27 at 10.00 am

Reaching our global goal in education is not the job of one government, organization, or individual. As the new GEM Report Accountability in education: Meeting our commitments highlights, achieving SDG4 requires the active partnership of global and national stakeholders to support stronger education systems that can meet the needs and fulfill the educational rights of children and youth. Mutual accountability for achieving these results is key.

Reporting 2015 outcomes for SDG 4, the GEMR points to central challenges where mutual accountability has a strong role to play.  An estimated 264 million children and youth are not going to school; and more than half of children of primary age do not reach the minimum proficiency levels in reading.

In low and middle-income countries, 3 to 4 year olds from the richest families are five times more likely to access organized learning than the poorest. Only 22% of primary school in sub-Saharan Africa have access to electricity.

GPE is committed to working in partnership to support stronger outcomes in each of these domains – including through investing in improved approaches to mutual accountability at the global and national levels.

Accountability can lead to better results when all actors support a credible education plan

According to the GEMR, governments are the main drivers of the right to education, but many actors have a role to play to ensure equitable access to education. Government-led, credible education sector plans can provide an essential tool for accountability at the national level, by presenting detailed information about national challenges and intended plans for addressing them; and by costing out the public financing that is needed to achieve progress in education.

Sector plans also makes it easier to set targets and track commitments, providing citizens and civil society organizations a foothold in monitoring progress and ensuring that national resources are allocated and effectively utilized.  

The availability of data is a central accountability tool. As the GEMR notes, lack of timely and consistent country data on the education sector affects the ability of countries to target their resources effectively and monitor their results. Lack of data also constrains the ability of other actors to monitor progress.

One important accountability mechanism in the education sector in developing countries is the joint sector review. This mechanism, led by education ministries, plays an important role in bringing together development partners, CSOs and other stakeholders to assess progress in the education sector on an annual basis.The GEMR reviews GPE’s recent research on JSRs and notes some challenges in ensuring these mechanisms are fully participatory and have clear responsibility lines. But when organized well, we know that JSRs can provide a mechanism for more flexible and responsive planning, and nurture mutual accountability, greater transparency and improved policy dialogue.

More international financing is needed to reach SDG 4

At the global level, international commitments to finance the education sector, remains weak. The GEMR highlights that “only 6 of 28 OECD-DAC countries met their commitment to allocate 0.7% of national income to aid.” While aid to education in 2015 grew by US$428 million, it is still 4% below 2010 levels, and it is not being allocated to countries in most need.

The GEMR notes that the GPE replenishment provides an important opportunity to reverse this trend of declining aid for education. It is an opportunity for both developing and donor countries to show commitments to the millions of children in 89 countries with the highest education poverty. A successful replenishment will also help expand GPE investments in advocacy and social accountability, building on GPE’s support to civil society through its funding of the Civil Society Education Fund since 2009.

Mutual accountability is a core function of the GEM Report; and it lies at the core of the Global Partnership for Education

The Global Partnership for Education welcomes the GEM Report – and celebrates the unique and essential role that the report plays in ensuring accountability towards the achievement of the global goal for education. For well over a decade, the GEMR has provided an annual opportunity to ask ourselves: are we living up to our commitments?

GPE also celebrates the recognition this year’s GEMR gives to the theory of change that has animated our partnership for over 15 years. Looking back in history, GPE originated as a compact of donors and developing countries. This compact has grown and evolved: today it includes 65 developing country partners, 22 donor countries, civil society groups, teacher associations, philanthropic foundations and the private sector, multilateral agencies and development banks. Through the publication of GPE’s first Results Report, with 37 indicators gathered from country and global level metrics, GPE has reinforced this compact with its first dedicated tool for mutual accountability across its partnership.

GPE is committed to improving mutual accountability on many other levels going forward: it is the largest international funder of evidenced-based sector planning in the developing world; it promotes inclusive policy dialogue and coordination around these plans. In 2017, GPE also made a partnership-wide commitment to improving the quality, transparency and utilization of data, and committed to continued financing for stronger accountability roles for civil society.



Chief Technical Officer, Global Partnership for Education
Karen Mundy is the Chief Technical Officer at the Global Partnership for Education, where she directs the Strategy, Policy and Performance team. Dr. Mundy is a globally recognized leader and specialist in...

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