The Civil Society Education fund Global Learning Event: Reflecting, sharing and building capacity for the future

The Global Campaign for Education (GCE) welcomed more than 180 delegates to the Civil Society Education Fund (CSEF) Global Learning Event (GLE) in Kathmandu, Nepal, a few days before the start of the movement 6th World Assembly.

“Citizen empowerment is a right and a good in itself and leads to the education goals we seek”. Wolfgang Leumer – Head of the CSEF, GCE


3 Days for sharing and learning

The Global Learning Event took place from 13th to 15th November 2018 with over 180 delegates participating. The event aimed to achieve “A strengthened network of CSEF supported coalitions with enhanced capacity, knowledge and skills to advance their advocacy work, empowered through consistent learning, sharing and knowledge exchange within the education ecosystem”.

Positive and motivating opening remarks from the GCE Board chairperson Monique Fouilhoux, a warm welcome from Dilliram Subedi from the National Campaign for Education – Nepal (NCE) and the agenda setting by Head of the CSEF Programme, Wolfgang Leumer, framed the event and set the tone for the days to come.

Monique Fouilhoux, GCE former Board chair
Monique Fouilhoux, GCE former Board chair, delivering the welcome address.

During the Global Learning Event, participants shared key achievements, successes, challenges and obstacles faced by National Coalitions, Regional Secretariats and Regional Financial Management Agencies. They discussed recommendations for future engagement on a number of key CSEF themes such as: Domestic Resource Mobilisation, how to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG4), Capacity building, Gender and Youth, CSO Representation at local (Local Education Groups LEGs) and international level in the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) governance and mechanisms.

The overall assessment of the programme was that since its creation in 2009, the programme built stronger civil society coalitions, and empowered them to take bold and successful actions to advance the right to education at the national level. As Rasheda Choudhury, former GCE Board member, highlighted:

“No programme would have allowed us to take an unconventional route of waging legal battles for the public’s right to education. But that is at the heart of the CSEF programme, it has allowed us to go beyond routine measures and fight battles that matter, without giving inordinate importance to the means or projects we undertake.” Rasheda Choudhury

Panel discussion on the achievements of CSEF with Refaat Sabbah, Rasheda Choudhury, Camilla Croso, Samuel Dembélé and Mubarak Abbas

The GLE was also an opportunity to reflect and assess on its tools to measure impact, and the Monitoring, Evaluation & Learning (MEL) team reminded the audience of the different stages of the MEL system. They presented the achievements and challenges of the newly implemented online platform. Regional and national coalitions appreciated the result-oriented reporting, which provides real time support to Coalitions and allows the Regional Secretariats to review and provide timely feedback to Coalitions.

The transition into the new ASA programme

In 2008, GCE submitted a proposal to the Education Program Development Fund committee of the Fast Track Initiative, with the objective to “establish a funding process through which national civil society coalitions can receive support for building their capacity to monitor national education plans, track budgets and education sector spending, conduct policy-oriented research and lobby government officials on education issues”. This gave birth to the CSEF programme. From 32 supported coalitions in 2009, the programme evolved to 63 today, and is still mainly supported financially by the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), the new name of the Fast Track Initiative since 2011.

In 2017, GPE decided to review their framework of support to civil society advocacy, and designed the Advocacy and Social Accountability (ASA) blueprint. The new changes in the CSEF programme structure and financing were a key element of the GLE, and were presented during a half day session by Sarah Beardmore and Tanvir Mohammed from GPE. The blueprint creates a new and broader framework for encouraging CSOs to participate in the partnership, enabling inclusive, evidence-based policy dialogue. This new funding framework will be managed by Oxfam IBIS, the designated Grant agent for the operational components of ASA. With the changes of ASA on the horizon, GPE and Oxfam IBIS assured delegates that all the valuable work conducted under the CSEF banner thus far will not be lost but will be integrated in ASA.

Tanvir from GPE
Tanvir from GPE explaining the new ASA framework

David Archer, from ActionAid International and former GCE Board member, facilitated a session on the proposed CSEF transition under ASA, highlighting the key features and positioning of this proposal within the overall GCE strategy. David stressed that the new framework should strengthen the movement and not restrict National Coalitions. The session ended with participants also underlining the need to align ASA’s objectives with the strategic goals of the movement at regional and global levels and to have a longer term programmatic approach to ensure sustainability of the long term vision.


Building capacity for the future

To tackle the challenges ahead and strengthen the coalitions’ skills to achieve their national advocacy goals, one role of the GCE Secretariat (and a main objective of the GLE) is to support the attainment and implementation of the movement’s strategic vision and to equip Coalitions with the necessary tools.

Participants during the GLE
Yoemna Saint facilitating a group exercise

Three sessions were particularly designed to enhance capacity in Resource Mobilisation, Domestic Education Financing and Financial Management. The various group sessions provided a space for participants to share ideas on developing strong resource mobilisation strategies and in-country fundraising, building a shared understanding and increase CSO capacity in evidence-based advocacy, while the “Becoming leaders in financial management” session aimed to build a strong knowledge of best financial management practices, standards that support coalitions in achieving strong financial management systems.


And addressing key new programmatic areas

Ms Nora Fyles, the Director of the United Nation Girls Education Initiative ( UNGEI), was one of the esteemed guests at the GLE. Ms Fyles saluted the positive shift of the gender context in Education, while reminding participants that the increased number of girls attending school should be considered against the millions more displaced and out of school, especially in emergencies situation, conflict-affected or fragile countries.

Ms Nora Fyles, Director of UNGEI
Ms Nora Fyles, Director of UNGEI, on gender issues

The Pakistan Coalition for Education and Mozambique Education Coalition presented a grim picture: their countries stand at the bottom of the gender parity index, with nearly 60-70% of girls being married early. The female literacy rate remains low with 34% compared to males which is at 70%. Ms Fyles appealed to coalitions to make conscious efforts to build gender justice agendas into their future proposals and work plans.

Finally, the CSEF Global Learning Event ended by turning to the Youth: the first ever GCE Youth Caucus aimed at incorporating youth into the wider dialogue, which happened in parallel to the GLE. Attended by delegates from 22 countries, the youth caucus and their representatives were invited to join the GLE to provide feedback on their discussions. The objective was to provide a platform for knowledge-sharing between the national coalitions representatives and the youth advocates. The session ended with a strong commitment to give Youth their rightful place in the movement.

Representatives of the Youth Caucus during the GLE
Youth delegates presenting the outcomes of their discussions at the GLE

This 3 day global event contributed to deeper understanding of present issues, capacity building and advocacy. Participants left energised and ready to present a strong voice and presence from local to international level in the SDG4 forum. They are now ready to fully embrace the 4Ps as a strategy for the Movement to embolden efforts towards the collective goal:

  1. Persevere until the SDG4 and Education 2030 agenda is concretised, adequately resourced and well implemented;
  2. Play important roles in education policy processes;
  3. Persist – through coordinated national, regional and global advocacy actions – in ensuring that the international community meets its commitments in mobilising the necessary, political, capacity and funding support required to meet the full SDG4 agenda and the education targets in the other SDGs;
  4. Partner with other social movements and broaden constituencies.

Written by Yoemna Saint, CSEF Programme Officer.

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