For children to become engaged and productive citizens, they need a quality education and a job. The private sector, as the engine of economic growth, needs a skilled workforce and that requires strong and responsive education systems. In many countries, there is a growing mismatch between skills acquired through formal education, the skills to be active citizens and the skills needed for tomorrow’s workforce. Getting that pathway right, and ensuring its foundation on basic secondary school skills, is a shared interest of the private sector, governments and citizens, particularly in fast-growing developing countries.

Private foundations have demonstrated a crucial role in international development with investments that have spurred innovation in areas where government donors fear the risk of failure. Foundations are increasingly drawn to partnering with GPE as it builds a platform to support global public goods in education. In 2016, seven foundations contributed to GPE, investing in building knowledge of what works in early childhood care and education, learning assessments and advancing gender equality. And more foundations are expressing interest in GPE’s knowledge and innovation exchange mechanism.

The business community and foundations are also increasing their engagement on GPE’s Board of Directors, where they have been active since a Board seat was established for them in 2011, bringing an important voice and skills to GPE.

“The African private sector has a responsibility to support the transformation of the education system for current and future generations. Ecobank and its foundation support the Global Partnership for Education’s investments to transform education as an enabler of prosperity and economic inclusion.”

Ade Ayeyemi Group CEO, Ecobank Transnational

Strengthening the system makes the difference for all school children

GPE supports strengthening the fundamental elements that ensure the strong and resilient functioning of a country’s education systems. Having focused on getting more children in school for the past two decades, Ghana has dramatically increased school enrollment and the quality of education through its patient and persistent investment strengthening of the education system.

Ghana received three GPE grants totaling US$95.4 million over the past decade. That support played a vital role in the creation and implementation of the country’s 2010–2020 education plan. Ghana has improved the planning, monitoring and delivery of basic education services in 75 deprived districts. It has used its GPE support to train over 58,000 teachers and to buy essential teaching and learning material for its most disadvantaged schools.

Ghana has also improved its school supervision and accountability systems, resulting in better student and teacher attendance, higher enrollment rates and higher transition rates from primary to lower-secondary school. The impact of GPE’s support to Ghana goes beyond funding, with GPE playing an essential role in the country’s long-term sector planning, education sector analysis, and policy development and coordination across all partners.

Photo Credit: GPE/ Stephan Bachenheimer

Civil war heightens need to keep children learning

Since 2015, Yemen has been devastated by a civil war that has displaced 2.2 million people and led to the deaths of close to 4,000 civilians, including over 1,300 children. UNICEF estimates about 70% of Yemenis need humanitarian assistance and more than 460,00016children face severe malnutrition.

Before the conflict began, Yemen had made strides in expanding access to basic education and improving gender equality. Since the conflict, however, gender disparities have widened, enrollment and retention rates have fallen, 3,600 schools closed and half of all school-age children (3.4 million) have been out of school.

In response, GPE supported preparatory efforts in Yemen to develop new science and math curricula, buy 35,000 school kits for distribution in areas where drop-out rates for girls are highest, train nearly 600 education specialists and social workers, create a recruitment strategy for female teachers to encourage girls to go to school, and provide basic school furniture and supplies for 37,380 children.

Photo Credit: USAID/ Clinton Doggett