Reason #3: The GPE complements bilateral efforts in global education

Over eight weeks, RESULTS affiliates in the U.K., Australia, Canada, and the U.S. delves deeper into 8 key reasons to invest in the Global Partnership for Education now more than ever. Today, Allison Grossman, Senior Legislative Associate at RESULTS U.S., explores REASON #3.

This week, we explore reason #3, which looks at how donor government contributions to the Global Partnership for Education have the power to complement their bilateral efforts in global education. This is an especially critical piece in our broader campaigning in the lead-up to the June pledging conference. It allows us to show our governments in Australia, Canada, the UK, and the US how the Global Partnership’s work can actually increase the impact of bilateral programs, if donors reach GPE’s $3.5 billion replenishment target.

Enhancing Donors’ Own Education Objectives

From focused, specific goals in the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Education Strategy (100 million children in primary grades by 2015 and increased equitable access to education in crisis and conflict environments for 15 million learners by 2015) to the three pillars of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s education thematic strategy (access to basic education for all, improved learning outcomes, and better governance and service delivery), each of our governments have their own programmatic objectives for their bilateral basic education programs.

But how are each of these donor country objectives addressed within the Global Partnership for Education?

The Global Partnership has its own set of strategic goals on access, learning, reaching every child, and building the future – goals that are widely seen as global priorities that we must address in order to truly achieve education for all. They then operationalized these goals through five specific strategic objectives: supporting education in fragile and conflict-affected states, promoting girls’ education, increasing basic numeracy and literacy skills, improving teacher effectiveness, and expanding aligned funding and support for education.

When looking at the bilateral objectives of Australia, Canada, the UK, and the US, there is clear alignment – GPE’s objectives enhance the specific goals of each of our countries, and do so through a partnership with a broad set of members all contributing together to support these efforts. As the report notes, the Australian government rated the Global Partnership as “very high” when looking at alignment with national interests and priorities – can’t get much better than that!

Extending the Reach of Bilateral Education Programs

In addition to enhancing donors’ own global education objectives, investments by Australia, Canada, the UK, and the US in the Global Partnership for Education extend the reach of our governments, getting to countries and issues not covered in our own goals and objectives.

For instance, the Global Partnership for Education’s support for early childhood development programs in Moldova is outside of the USAID Education Strategy, but addresses the needs of Moldova and the context of their system –allowing the US to positively impact children in Moldova in a way they never would have been able to do without the Global Partnership.

The same is true geographically. As the report points out, DFID in the UK noted that by 2015, it and the Global Partnership for Education will be supporting nine of the 12 countries with the world’s highest populations of out-of-school children. Of these, DFID will be reaching four of them solely through its contributions to the Global Partnership for Education.

With 59 developing country partners currently, and more if the June pledging conference is successful, the Global Partnership’s geographic reach combined with their focus on national needs and priorities allows donor countries to extend their reach and impact in a way they are not able to do alone.

Building Government Capacity to Partner with Bilateral Institutions

Beyond specific education objectives, the Global Partnership for Education’s systems approach actively seeks to strengthen the ability of their developing country partners to deliver education services to their own people. By working with governments and civil society to develop and implement national education plans, the Global Partnership is taking a long-term approach to building strong national education systems that countries will need to sustainably educate children well into the future.

Not only is this the most effective approach to education development, but it also fills in a gap that donors are seeking. USAID, for instance, has agency-wide goals to channel more of its funding directly through effective local institutions, including government-to-government assistance and local organizations. But at the moment, USAID invests an extremely low percentage of its education funds through partner country governments or local institutions, especially when looking at investments in sub-Saharan Africa and in comparison with other sectors.

Clearly USAID and other donors want to invest directly in government systems and local institutions – and the Global Partnership’s approach is building the partners they’re seeking. Donor governments need to benefit from GPE’s comparative advantage in this area and can do so by more greatly support GPE’s efforts to foster environments with strong national systems capable of effective, independent delivery of quality, essential education services.

Supporting Civil Society to Hold Governments Accountable

The Global Partnership for Education doesn’t stop with strengthening developing country governments, though. It also has a separate fund to support the development of civil society organizations and coalitions across 45 developing countries, called the Civil Society Education Fund. Donors are looking for effective local institutions with which to partner on the delivery of services. By supporting the Global Partnership for Education, donors will allow the Global Partnership to utilize its comparative advantage in working with these coalitions across the world to strengthen their capacity, eventually allowing them to partner directly with donors.

Further, this support also builds the accountability and oversight capacities necessary to ensure that developing country governments are using their education dollars effectively. Organizations like the Elimu Yetu Coalition in Kenya exemplify how civil society organizations can positively influence the education systems in their countries when supported by the Global Partnership. Just as we advocate to our governments to direct resources to the most effective programs and to improve their policies for the poorest and most vulnerable, we need advocates around the world watching their governments and ensuring that donor and developing country funds are going to implement national plans and are having the impact needed for their children’s education.

As Australian, Canadian, UK, and US governments consider their roles in the Global Partnership for Education’s replenishment campaign, the role that GPE can play in moving ahead their own education and development objectives is a key consideration. But strong commitments from our governments that help reach the $3.5 billion replenishment target are necessary to ensuring the Global Partnership and our own governments can fulfill our collective goals for children around the world.

Don’t forget to check back here next week for Reason #4!

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