1. Enhancing GCE capacity for advocacy in emergencies context

Education in Emergencies has been one of GCE’s focus work areas since 2015. In this focus area, GCE has been working to draw the attention of governments and the international community to invest more in education during states of emergencies and develop responsive plans that mitigate the impact of emergencies and crises on education without bypassing the voices of the citizens affected by the crises. More specifically, GCE members at national and regional levels have been actively encouraging national and local governments or host country governments in areas recently affected by disasters, conflicts or other states of emergencies to develop comprehensive and inclusive policy plans to address the educational needs and rights to education for all. Highlights from previous initiatives in this area of work include the production of a report by the national coalition in France on the education crisis in Sahel (April 2019) with support from the French Development Agency, involvement in education cluster to address the education challenges in the wake of Cyclone IDAI by the national coalitions in Mozambique (MEPT), Zimbabwe (ECOZI) and Malawi (CSEC), advocacy work around the sustainability of schools for Palestinian refugees by the national coalition in Palestine and the involvement of the national coalition in Burkina Faso (CN-EPT/BF) on resolving the education policy crisis linked to Boko Haram attacks.

Building on experiences and expertise gained from these previous initiatives, GCE partnered with Education Cannot Wait to strengthen the capacity of the GCE movement in delivering education advocacy and campaign actions for the right to education in the context of emergencies. Through this initiative, GCE coordinates and facilitates learning opportunities and develops coordinated campaign and advocacy materials to support and amplify actions at the national, regional and global levels, with the focus on (i) financing for education in emergencies through budget monitoring, (ii) risk-informed sector planning, budgeting and elevation of education within national humanitarian response structure, and (iii) policies that will ensure the safety of schools.

2. Strengthening CSO engagement in education policy dialogues and delivering transnational advocacy and campaign efforts

Education Out Loud is the GPE’s fund managed by Oxfam Ibis for advocacy and social accountability, which supports civil society to become active and influential in shaping education policy to better meet the needs of communities, especially the most marginalised. Through the Education Out Loud programme, GCE plays a fundamental role in enhancing civil society capacities to engage in education sector planning and monitoring, policy dialogues, and facilitating stronger links between national, regional and global civil society advocacy and transparency efforts in education. This programme builds on the legacy and lessons from the CSEF programme implemented between 2009 and 2019. The CSEF programme was a mechanism for GCE’s national (63) and regional (4) coalitions to build strong coalitions, strengthen capacity and effectively engage in education policy processes at national, regional and global levels in Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Latin America and the Middle East & Eastern Europe. As a global education movement inclusive of national coalitions, regional coalitions and the Global Secretariat, GCE is a key partner in implementing the EOL programme. 

To contribute to the EOL Operational Component 1, which aims to strengthen civil society engagement in education planning, monitoring and policy dialogue, GCE works to strengthen the capacity and engagement of civil society in formal and informal education policy processes at national, regional and global levels. Within this operational component,  the GCE Secretariat leads the coordinated efforts of the GCE movement at different levels and regions in collaboration with its national and regional coalitions. GCE’s role is focused on strengthening the capacity of the GCE movement to engage in education policy dialogues and an effective influence on education policy issues relating to equality, non-discrimination and transformative education at national, regional and global levels.

  • Structured learning to strengthen the capacity of the GCE movement on common thematic and technical areas. In collaboration with Regional Coalitions, the Global Secretariat coordinates structured learning opportunities such as workshops, training and online courses for the broader GCE movement.
  • Cross learning and membership engagement to facilitate strong collaborations and engagement of GCE members and partners across the movement on key common work areas. The GCE Secretariat leads the development and rollout of the necessary platforms, tools and infrastructure such as the Learning Hub and Learning Communities to support the efforts of the GCE movement in generating, documenting and sharing its knowledge, expertise, and experiences. The Learning Hub is a repository for the knowledge and learning products generated from our work with GCE members and partners to build and strengthen GCE as a movement. The Learning Communities gather a group of individuals representing different partners, constituencies, and associate members of GCE, with a common interest, expertise, and passion for national, regional, and international education issues, eager to share knowledge practice and learn from each other.
  • Coordinated communications: The Global Secretariat leads and coordinates collaborative actions of the GCE movement through facilitating inclusive horizontal and vertical communications within the movement. This entails producing, translating and disseminating campaigns materials, learning outputs, policy resources, reports, toolkits and other publications as needed. 

The Operational Component 3 (OC3) of the EOL programme aims to create a stronger global and transnational enabling environment for national civil society advocacy and transparency efforts. Within the framework of the OC3 objective, GCE focuses on education financing and the provision of education in the context of emergencies and crises. GCE’s work is delivered at regional and global levels and directly aims to influence education policy dialogues contributing to the Education 2030 Agenda/SDG4. The primary objective of GCE’s OC3 work is to contribute to better informed and engaged CSOs that influence government processes in strengthening and delivering strong public education systems. GCE has defined the following results to be achieved within the period of the project spanning from 2020-2023:

  1. Improved mechanisms to track and follow up on global, regional, and national commitments related to public education financing and allocation of resources to education during emergencies/crises.
  2. Improved coordination and delivery of stronger transnational, regional and global education policy advocacy and campaigns that inform the inclusive allocation of resources in education, including in times of crisis.
  3. Stronger linkages between national, regional and global level education financing advocacy and campaigns - with the inclusion and building on national-level views in key regional and global level advocacy spaces.
  4. Effective engagement of GCE membership in key advocacy platforms to contribute meaningful solutions that recognise the provision and access of inclusive education for all in times of emergencies and crisis.

These results will be achieved by undertaking joint actions with GCE Regional Coalitions for capacity development and coordinated advocacy and campaigns on education financing and education on emergencies.

3. Promoting understanding and advocacy capacities on inclusive education 

To advance the work of the GCE movement on equality and non-discrimination, GCE partnered with Light for the World to strengthen advocacy capacities and to coordinate collaborations on inclusive education for the GCE movement. This project particularly focuses on capacity building, shared learning and the development of coordinated campaigns and advocacy materials to support and amplify actions at the national and regional levels. More specifically, the activities within the three focus areas have the following expected outcomes;

  1. Updated tools and strengthened capacity across the membership to engage inclusive education and disability advocacy.
  2. Increased visibility and advocacy influence on disability and inclusive education by GCE membership with the strong focus on the inclusion of youth and student organisations.

4. Financing strong education systems 

In line with the strategic focus area 4, Education Financing, GCE mobilises its members to tackle the education divide that the Covid-19 crisis has exacerbated. In partnership with the Open Society Foundations, GCE aims to create awareness and call for adequate allocation of resources to education during and post the pandemic period. GCE’s work through this initiative is focused on engaging civil society actors to influence governments and the international community to protect and allocate adequate resources to education through mobilising the advocacy efforts of national coalitions. 

  1. Strengthening the capacity of CSOs (GCE membership) in promoting evidence-based advocacy towards better allocation of investments in education and to better understand and engage in debt relief for education financing campaigns. To achieve this, GCE supports its members to engage in national budget monitoring and analysis to produce materials and tools for evidence-based advocacy, campaigns and shared learning strategies. These strategies are delivered .in collaboration with the regional and national coalitions and entail generating evidence-based information through the GCE’s research initiatives and online budget tracking tool, facilitation of knowledge sharing through the Education Financing Learning Community, and the development of targeted campaigning materials and resources for the GCE movement as well as the use of data and insights from the diverse GCE membership to propose and recommend context appropriate policy solutions that are informed by the affected citizens and communities.
  2. To safeguard adequate resource allocation to education in times of crisis and following the effects of the COVID-19 crisis. The One Billion Voices campaign launched by GCE in January 2021 is one of GCE’s key strategies towards this objective. In line with GCE’s strategic focus on education financing and education in emergencies, this campaign provided a narrative on the global scale and severity of the education funding crisis, which has been worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting rising debt and severity of austerity measures around the world.
  3. To influence the international community commitments towards improving the availability of adequate resources to finance education in developing countries. The GCE’s strategic role towards this objective is to ensure that voices from grassroots and local levels and CSO’s are heard within regional and international policymaking bodies and are integrated into developing policy advocacy actions from national to international scenarios. As a result, effective engagement of the GCE national and regional coalitions in key policy advocacy platforms (i.e. GPE, ECW, INEE) and with debt relief campaigns directed to international financial institutions (i.e. IMF, WB) to put forward evidence-based policy recommendations to increase the availability of resources for education in developing countries has been an integral focus of GCE’s work in this initiative.

5. Debt relief and financing of education 

In partnership with the Open Society Institute (OSI), the Global Campaign for Education (GCE) is leading an integrated research initiative in collaboration with the regional and national coalitions to build evidence-based knowledge and understanding of the interconnections between education financing and debt relief mechanisms. The overarching aim of the GCE’s research initiative is to explore and explain the connections between debt alleviation mechanisms and education budgets and identify policy options to secure more funding for education through debt relief mechanisms with the specific objective of strengthening the capacity of the GCE movement to better understand and engage in debt relief and education financing campaigns.

To achieve this objective, the research initiative has been planned to be delivered in three interrelated phases starting from October 2020 to February 2022: 

Phase 1: The production of a background paper exploring the connections between debt alleviation mechanisms and education financing undertaken by the GCE Research and Policy Team in October 2020. GCE started this initiative by producing an initial background paper on debt relief and education financing to inform its political position and campaign on this matter. The background paper provides empirical evidence about the correlation and dynamics between debt alleviation and education financing based on academic and policy research analysis and ongoing debates on international financing for development. This paper describes the relationship between debt alleviations and education financing as complex and dependent on a varying number of factors, including; (i) the magnitude of the country’s debt crisis, (ii) the country’s level of development, and (iii) the allocation of resources for the provision of free quality public education as well negotiation of debt alleviation mechanisms. Furthermore, the paper provided GCE with some recommendations that may be adopted in setting its political position on debt and developing its campaign; one being a realisation that a debt cancellation is an option available for low income developing countries in the ongoing UN’s call for debt alleviation to mitigate the health and economic crisis. 

Phase 2: This phase aims to explore and explain the connections between debt alleviation mechanisms and education budgets in seven specific countries and identify policy options to make these connections positive and stronger. Following consultations with GCE regional members, the following countries were selected: El Salvador, Zambia, Gambia, Nepal, Mongolia, Lebanon, and Georgia. These seven studies are conducted by local research specialists on education policy with expertise on education financing. 

Phase 3: Based on the papers delivered in phase 2, this last phase of the project aims to produce a comparative analysis of the connections between debt alleviation mechanisms and education budgets. This comparative analysis also aims to identify policy options to make the interaction between debt relief mechanisms and education budgets positive and stronger. Based on the common patterns identified in the seven case studies, it is also expected that this comparative analysis suggests broader policy options. Once the comparative case study is finalised, a toolkit to be widely used by GCE membership for advocacy, policy and campaign work on debt relief mechanisms will be delivered by a specialist.

6. Transformative education and rights 

For the period 2018-2021, the GCE and Oxfam IBIS continued its partnership initiated under the Education against Poverty and Inequality (EAPI) programme with a new focus. The programme was launched in May 2014 as IBIS’ first global education advocacy programme with the overall objective to strengthen the capacity of civil society, nationally, regionally and globally, in influencing education policies. In 2018, it expanded to the right to education for all under the theme “Transformative Education and Rights”. Under the new banner, the programme’s primary objective is to enhance the evidence-based advocacy of GCE and its members towards influencing governments and donors to implement the full 2030 education agenda, including SDGs 4, 5 and 10, with a particular focus on girls and marginalised groups. This objective aligns with the GCE’s second strategic area, “Transformative Education”, in the GCE 2019-2022” strategic plan.

The focus of GCE’s work within this programme and towards realising its objective is structured to deliver activities that aim to;

  1. Influence governments and the global development architecture to commit to delivering the SDG4/Education 2030 Framework for Action;
  2. Strengthen core operational capacity of the GCE Movement as the global education civil society movement to effectively engage in education policy dialogues at national, regional and global levels. 

More specifically, the activities within the four focus areas have the following expected outcomes: 

  1. Increased access to global decision-making spaces for targeted NECs to influence the education financing, quality and equity agenda, leading to improved monitoring of SDGs 4, 5 and 10 agendas by GCE and its members. In accordance with the GCE’s strategic role to facilitate the engagement of civil society in key education policy advocacy spaces, engagements and influence in the High-Level Political Forum is GCE’s main strategy towards this objective. The high-level political forum on sustainable development (HLPF) is the core United Nations platform for annual follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals.  Through this initiative, GCE facilitates the engagement of its members by generating the membership inputs to the EASG statement, the Sectoral Paper, inputs to the Ministerial Declaration, and contributing to the political discussions in high-level debates and side events.
  2. Governments in targeted countries have fulfilled their pledges resulting in increased budgets for free public education. Holding governments accountable in fulfilling and maintaining adequate allocation of financial resources to education and ensure the right to free, quality, inclusive public education for all is the primary mandate of GCE and its members. For GCE and members to effectively deliver on this mandate, national coalitions must better understand their national governments’ financing and allocation of resources to education.  The focus on national budget monitoring in developing countries became more prevalent in the current period following the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic outbreak and its impact on education financing.
  3. Active campaigning towards slowing down the trend of education privatisation. Some of GCE’s planned strategies towards this outcome entail;  (i) the inclusion of the call to reverse the privatisation of education as a central policy asks within the new GCE global campaign, (ii) leading a positive and counter-narrative working group and establishment of the  Education Financing Observatory which include privatisation and commercialisation as a crucial topic, and (iii) the active engagement of national coalitions in the interregional meeting on the right to education featuring the issue of privatisation and PEHRC processes. Within the One Billion Voices campaign, GCE has a dedicated call-to-action number 5 which mobilises GCE members towards calling an end of the trend towards the privatisation and commercialisation of education integrated into OBV policy asks. The framing of policy for the OBV education financing campaign aims to communicate the current unprecedented education crisis and the trend on privatisation.
  4. Enhanced GCE’s capacity for strategic planning, campaigning and servicing its members resulting in a strengthened education civil society movement. For GCE to continue striving as a global education movement that actively delivers strong policy advocacy and campaigns that respond to evolving education challenges, the GCE’s efforts from different levels and regions need coordination and facilitation of joint efforts. This coordination and strengthening of the GCE movement capacity led by the GCE Secretariat is the essence of GCE’s work towards this objective.

7. Enhancing youth advocacy and capacity for education in emergencies 

Following GCE’s first Youth Caucus in late 2018 in Kathmandu-Nepal, GCE has been working directly with youth and students to ensure that more deliberate and authentic opportunities for them are created within the GCE movement. GCE partnered with Action Aid International to engage youth and students in GCE’s agenda and solutions for COVID-19 recovery responses within their contexts. This initiative aims to bring the youth and student voices to all the education policy forums, including within the GCE movement at national, regional and global platforms. Through this initiative, GCE aims to achieve the following outcomes;

  1. Strong youth and student engagement, collaboration, and solidarity across national, regional and global youth & student members
  2. Strong linkage with other youth networks in the education and other sectors
  3. Youth and student-led action research to support post-COVID recovery strategies for ensuring access to education and transformative education
  4. Effective youth and student-led policy advocacy and campaigns are delivered 

This initiative supports youth and student-led activities from the GCE coalitions relating to the engagement of youth and students in education policy processes, including engagement with national policy debates; participation in or influence on the development of education sector plans; and monitoring of the implementation of these plans. This project focuses on capacity building, shared learning and coordination of youth and student-led campaigns and advocacy to support and amplify youth actions at the national, regional and global levels.

8. Harnessing education technology as a response to COVID-19 in Africa 

The pandemic has, however, widened the digital divide and exacerbated inequality compromising equal access to education. The adoption of online learning appears to be a partial solution and will continue to persist post-pandemic. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, there was already high growth and adoption in education technology, with global edtech investments reaching US$18.66 billion in 2019 and the overall market for online education projected to reach $350 Billion by 2025. Whether it is language apps, virtual tutoring, video conferencing tools, or online learning software, there has been a significant surge in usage since COVID-19. In Africa, the lack of access to technology has been the greatest barrier for learning during the pandemic, with learners in rural communities being the most disadvantaged. In partnership with the German BACKUP Initiative to foster digital solutions for basic education, GCE leads the implementation of the project “Harnessing Education Technology as a response to COVID-19”, which aims to support civil society in 8 African countries and regional networks to engage in research, monitoring and planning with government institutions including evidence-based advocacy for education technology and digital solutions in public education settings. 

This initiative entails supporting GCE coalitions to undertake scoping studies to contextualise the state of remote learning structures and offers in a subset of African countries highlighting innovative and interesting examples of successful distance learning modes in other regions, including examples from other low-income countries where connectivity remains an issue. To facilitate shared learning to better respond to the challenges faced and expand on opportunities identified from the scoping studies, GCE has placed activities relating to shared learning to be a critical focus of this initiative and leading to the development of advocacy and campaign plans with a focus on equity and non-discrimination.

9. Achieving SDG4 Together 

In 2020, Global Campaign for Education (GCE) and the Swedish International Development Corporation Agency (SIDA) embarked on a partnership to support the implementation of the GCE strategic plan in line with SIDA’s 2018-2022 strategy for capacity development, partnership and methods that support the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development. As outlined in the GCE strategic plan, the implementation of GCE’s strategic plan relies on mobilising resources and sustaining the movement’s work by developing strong partnerships with institutions to advance GCE’s strategic areas and contributions towards the Education 2030 agenda/SDG4.  The partnership between GCE and SIDA is realised through a programme that focuses on capacity development and facilitating civil society collaboration and partnership within the GCE Movement. More specifically, the programme aims to achieve this goal by providing support to GCE’s national and regional level coalitions to carry out contextually appropriate work that aligns with GCE’s four strategic goals. Through this project, GCE aims to achieve the following objectives:

  1. To strengthen the capacity and collaboration of civil society actors in partner countries to participate in the global monitoring of the Education 2030 agenda and Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 4 through GCE’s national, regional and global coalitions.
  2. To expand the possibilities and opportunities for effective engagement of national and regional coalitions in partner countries in policy dialogues related to monitoring and following up on Education 2030 agenda/SDG4– at national, regional and global levels. 

The project is led by the GCE Secretariat and implemented in partnership with national and regional coalitions for a coherent implementation of the work in line with GCE’s 2019-2022 strategic plan. The project supports GCE’s national and regional coalitions to engage with activities centred around GCE’s four operations, including research, advocacy, campaigns and movement building mechanisms as follows:

  • Capacity development related to GCE thematic and technical areas, including institutional capacity and governance
  • Engagement in national, regional and global education policy processes
  • National, regional and global led campaigns
  • Facilitating broad collaborations with a specific focus on engaging youth and students
  • Facilitating national, regional, and global links and strategic communications

The Global Campaign for Education (GCE) is a civil society movement that aims to end exclusion in education. Education is a basic human right, and our mission is to make sure that governments act now to deliver the right of everyone to a free, quality, public education.