Washington D.C., February 8, 2022 - Nine years ago, I was humbled and honored to be named Chief Executive Officer of the Global Partnership for Education. Since then, together with our dedicated country partners and supporters, we have achieved a great deal for the world’s most marginalized children.
Now, GPE and I both begin a new chapter as I leave this amazing organization to take the helm of the Millennium Challenge Corporation, which works to alleviate global poverty.
Before I reflect on GPE’s results, growth, and political engagement, I would like to lift up the stories of children on whose behalf the partnership works. I’ve met so many in my years of visiting schools while on mission.
These are the faces of children who are thriving because they are getting a quality education. First, meet Barsha.
Barsha lives in Nepal’s rural Mahottari District and didn’t go to school because she had to take care of her younger siblings and the family’s goats. But through an innovative program, Barsha’s parents were persuaded to send her to informal catch-up classes two hours a day. After nine months, she had learned so much that she was able to go to regular school in the same grade as other 12-year-olds.
Today, Barsha dreams of becoming a teacher. Education, quite literally, is changing her life.
A continent away, Aichetou lives with her family in Tarhill, a neighborhood on the outskirts of Mauritania’s capital, Nouakchott, where she attends primary school in her community. GPE has helped the government build “proximity schools” in areas where many children, especially girls like Aichetou’s older sisters, were not transitioning to lower secondary school. Aichetou enrolled in grade 8 at one of these community schools, where she is flourishing.
Barsha and Aichetou are far from alone. Since GPE opened its doors nearly 20 years ago, 160 million more children are in school in our partner countries, including twice as many girls as before. This would not have been possible without the support of so many partners, including ministries of education, civil society groups, teachers, business groups, foundations, and other donors. I am so grateful.
GPE has a relentless focus on results, and it shows—learning outcomes are improving in 70 percent of our partner countries.
What’s more, we’re closing the gender gap. The gap between boys’ and girls’ primary school completion rates declined from 6.1 percent five years ago to 3.4 percent today. Now GPE is hardwiring gender equality into our operations and creating a girls’ education funding window under our new strategic plan, and I expect to see exponential growth in this area.
Financing for education is also rising. Country partners have increased their domestic education funding by nearly US$6 billion in the last five years—a remarkable achievement and a testament to their belief in the importance of an educated citizenry.
When I began my tenure at GPE, we had 18 donors. Today, we have 26, and the vast majority have increased their giving. Thanks to these steadfast donors, we have raised US$4 billion to accelerate learning over the next five years.
This is substantial growth. GPE began as a small grant-administering trust fund that has blossomed into a partnership platform of significant depth and breadth with the capacity to deliver at scale. In 2012, GPE disbursed US$300 million across 20 grants. In 2020, we provided countries nearly $1 billion across 107 grants, which included an accelerated COVID-19 financing window.
We also have catalyzed nearly US$1 billion more to improve education systems through our innovative finance mechanisms, including the GPE Multiplier, which leverages $3 of external funds for every $1 of GPE grants.
In addition to our innovative financing, we have created a unique knowledge and innovation exchange platform known as KIX and the largest education advocacy fund in the world, Education Out Loud.
The advocacy work of GPE and our many wonderful partners has resulted in education gaining more prominence on the global policy agenda. Political leadership and commitment are essential ingredients to building strong education systems, whether it is in the G7 or the African Union.
The countries that have done the best in developing their economies and reducing poverty are those that invest in their people, including by building solid education systems. That takes determined political will.
Last year, 20 developing countries Heads of State pledged to improve domestic education financing.
The challenge, of course, is to keep education firmly on the global policy agenda. That would be no small feat at any time, but it is especially true during a global pandemic that has caused the biggest learning crisis the world has ever faced.
GPE is committed to accelerating progress, staying focused on what works, remaining agile and ambitious, and operating with a sense of urgency. It is well-positioned to do this in large part because we have done it, thanks to the breadth and depth of the partnership’s capabilities.
And we have succeeded because we are willing to continually ask ourselves, “how can we do better?”
There is much about GPE that gives me great optimism and confidence about the partnership’s future. One significant factor is the incredibly dedicated and talented team at the GPE Secretariat. I have rarely worked with such a resilient, smart, and committed group of people – and though from many backgrounds, are united towards a singular goal of helping more children get a better education.
It has been a true honor to work with my colleagues at GPE and all achievements accomplished over my time at GPE have been entirely due to their efforts.
As I take my leave from this wonderful organization, I can assure I will be watching GPE drive transformation at scale, always centering the boys and girls whose lives depend on the partnership’s ability to rise to the challenge, again and again.
Photos of Alice P. Albright are available here.
Notes to editors
In July 2021 in London, the Global Education Summit co-hosted by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, raised a record US$4 billion for GPE from donors. The fundraising total puts GPE firmly on the path to achieving its target of at least $5 billion, which will enable up to 175 million children to learn and help get 88 million more girls and boys in school by 2025.
About the Global Partnership for Education
GPE is a shared commitment to ending the world’s learning crisis. We mobilize partners and funds to support 76 lower-income countries to transform their education systems so that every girl and boy can get the quality education they need to unlock their full potential and contribute to building a better world.
- Tamara Kummer, GPE Head of Media, @email, + 33 7 82 26 07 18