Books for Every Child: The Global Book Fund

Penelope Bender, Learning Team Lead, USAID’s Office of Education (@penelopebender, @USAIDEducation)

9951732236_03cbe4a61e_zDespite the education sector’s longstanding call of “Education For All,”children in many countries are not learning to read and cannot read to learn. The right to education is not the right to a seat in a school.  The right to education is the right to learn.  Yet still, in 2016, in classroom after classroom, as the recent GEM paper showed, we see children struggling to share one copy of a tattered textbook in a language they don’t understand.  The “supplemental” reading materials that are essential for reading instruction and practice are completely missing.  Given these conditions, we should not be surprised that early grade reading assessments implemented in more than 70 countries since 2006 often show that the majority of children cannot read a single word after one, two or even three years of schooling (see  This is a global crisis and a crisis for us as development professionals. Continue reading

Posted in Early childhood care and education, Finance, Language, Learning, Literacy, teaching, technology, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Syria? Education?

It’s not news that calls for funds for education in humanitarian situations are left unmet, but it doesn’t fail to shock when the actual figures are laid bare.

syria 4pcsyria human assissSyria, which no one can deny is in dire need of assistance, and where education has been flattened over the course of its recent conflict, had less than a quarter of its education requests for funding met last year, according to new GEM analysis. In total, of the funding that Syria received in its humanitarian appeal, only 4% went to education.

What does this mean for children and adolescents on the ground? The original requests that Syria made for finance in 2015 to help keep its education system buoyant through the crisis amounted to US$224 million for 4.5 million people. However, education only received 23% of the funding it requested, leaving around 3.5 million people with no education humanitarian assistance at all. Continue reading

Posted in Arab States, Conflict, refugees, Refugees and displaced people, syria | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Donor conference must deliver on the promise of education for Syria

Joseph Nhan-O’ReillyBy Joseph Nhan-O’Reilly, Head of Education Policy & Advocacy at Save the Children UK. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Global Partnership for Education and Chair of the Board’s Strategy & Policy Committee. He is also a member of the Technical Strategy Group overseeing the design of the new common platform for education in emergencies.  

Funding, policy change and enhanced protection will be tests for this week’s London conference.

A bullet-hole scars the blackboard at the local school after armed groups occupied the school in Northern Syria.

A bullet-hole scars the blackboard at the local school after armed groups occupied the school in Northern Syria.

In a few days, representatives from donor governments, regional nations hosting refugees and the UN will arrive in London to agree how to meet the urgent humanitarian needs of people affected by the war in Syria.

Five years since the start of the conflict and there are 13.5 million vulnerable and displaced people inside the country,4.2 million Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries and thousands more are on the move seeking asylum elsewhere.

A key measure of the event’s success will be whether the meeting helps to close the humanitarian funding gap: current funding to the 2015 UN appeals has not even reached last year’s levels and stands at $3.3 billion against an appeal of $8.4 billion. There is no doubt that the international community must do more.

The conference is set to address three pillars: protection, livelihoods and education. Continue reading

Posted in Conflict, Donors, fragile states, Human rights, Out-of-school children, syria | Leave a comment

Can Africa afford free education?

bbcToday, BBC World Service is holding a debate in South Africa around the question ‘Can Africa afford free education?’, which we have been helping them answer.

Inequality in education: poverty as a major factor.

The new agenda calls for 12 years of free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education, yet, as of 2010, on average in the region, 20-24 year olds had only attained 6.6 years. A lot of the blame for this unfinished business falls on the persisting inequalities in education, not the least of which is related to poverty. The 2015 GMR underlined this fact, showing that in low and middle income countries, the poorest children are 4 times less likely to go to school than the richest, and are 5 times less likely to complete primary education. The poorest children are also almost 6 times as likely to be unable to read as the richest. Continue reading

Posted in Africa, Developing countries, Out-of-school children | 5 Comments

How we could triple the availability of textbooks

books copyOur first new policy paper as the GEM Report is out today and shows how altering the textbook market to a more centralised finance model could take up to $3 off the price of each book. Combining this approach with finance models similar to those attached to the Gavi vaccine alliance could triple the number of textbooks available for children worldwide.

The fact is that many millions of children do not have access to textbooks. A survey of primary schools in eleven developing countries, including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, India, Malaysia, Paraguay, Peru, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Tunisia, and Uruguay shows that, on average, up to a fifth of grade 4 pupils do not have a textbook or have to share one.  In Cameroon, there was only 1 reading textbook for 12 students and only 1 mathematics textbook for 14 students in grade 2. In some countries, including Kenya, Malawi and Namibia, the rise in school enrolment is making textbook availability even scarcer.

textbooks 2This is a crucial issue for all of us as we embark upon the new UN Sustainable Development Agenda, within which good quality education for increased learning outcomes is put front and centre. Our research shows that this lack of textbooks is holding back learning. In 22 sub-Saharan African countries, providing one textbook to every student in a classroom increased literacy scores by 5-20%. Continue reading

Posted in Africa, Aid, Basic education, curriculum, Developing countries, Donors, Equity, Innovative financing, Learning, Literacy, Marginalization, Primary school, Quality of education, sdgs, Uncategorized, united nations | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Join in: What’s the #EducationWeWant?

blog_gem_logoIt’s a new year, and we have a new name – The Global Education Monitoring Report (GEM Report). To celebrate the change, we’re launching a new campaign using our logo as an interactive visual. We want to know which of the new education targets supporting the global education goal are most important to you. Join in online, and via twitter using #EducationWeWant and @GEMReport.

Countries grappling with the new 17 goals and their accompanying 169 targets in the Sustainable Development Agenda will need to decide which they’re going to prioritise in their national plans. We thought we’d ask you your thoughts as to which of the new education targets are most important.

Continue reading

Posted in Post-2015 development framework, sdg, sdgs, Uncategorized, united nations | Tagged , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Introducing our Spanish-Language World Education Blog/Blog de la Educación Mundial

Today, we’re launching the “Blog de la Educación Mundial for our Spanish speaking audience with a focus on Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) as well as the concerns of Latin American policy makers, researchers and analysts. The new blog will containing posts with exclusive content specific to the LAC region. Please help spread the word among your networks.

span blog top

As you have hopefully seen by now, this week we have relaunched to become the Global Education Monitoring Report: the GEM Report.  The change is more than just a name. With a new mandate, we are also revisiting our ways of working, and communicating with you. One of our first changes along this line is the launch of our new Spanish blog. There will be other announcements to follow. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments