Civil society partners can play a formative role in shaping education policy that will better serve a wide range of communities, especially of the most vulnerable and marginalized populations. They can also help build public support for the government’s long-term education plans and monitor how the government is keeping up with the commitments in those plans.
This is the need Education Out Loud, the Global Partnership for Education’s new advocacy and social accountability fund, intends to meet. Education Out Loud, which is managed by Oxfam IBIS, supports greater involvement of civil society groups in building strong and sustainable education systems.
With an overall allocation of US$55.5 million from GPE, Education Out Loud is the largest fund in the world dedicated to support civil society capacity building and engagement in education policy processes.
Education Out Loud – the Global Partnership for Education’s new fund for advocacy and social accountability) - provides funding to support civil society to be active and influential in shaping education policy to better meet the needs of communities, especially vulnerable and marginalized populations. It is resourced by the GPE (www.globalpartnership.org) and managed by Oxfam IBIS (www.oxfamibis.dk).
GPE is dedicated to building stronger education systems in the world´s poorest countries in order to ensure inclusive and equitable quality learning. GPE brings together governments from developing countries, donors, international organizations, civil society, teachers´ organizations, the private sector and foundations. It is active in more than 65 countries, and it prioritizes support to fragile and conflict-affected countries.
The five-year ‘GPE 2020’ strategic plan includes three goals and five objectives to support the vision of the partnership, with clear roles and responsibilities which embed and promote mutual accountability and transparency for delivery across the partnership. As part of this, GPE actively encourages civil society organizations to participate in the partnership, enabling inclusive, evidence-based policy dialogue, so that they can monitor plans and help ensure democratic oversight of education policy.
Education Out Loud builds on the lessons learned from the Civil Society Education Fund (CSEF) that has supported Education Coalitions since 2009 in their efforts to engage in developing and monitoring the implementation of quality education sector plans at the country level. 2019 represents the first time an Education Out Loud competition has been run.
The Theory of Change underlying the Education Out Loud - assumes that education outcomes are more likely to be achieved when there is widespread public engagement in and demand for equitable, inclusive quality education. Education Out Loud intends to build the capacity of civic groups to strengthen the mutual accountability of education policy dialogue and monitoring and it includes a broader diversity of civil society actors. Increasing the effective representation of civil society in institutional policy dialogue, improving the availability of relevant information to enable the development of more informed policy responses, and supporting advocacy to advance the public interest in education, all comprise important strategies to help build strong public education systems.
Education Out Loud has the overall goal to “enhance civil society capacity to further GPE 2020 goals in learning, equity, and stronger systems, by improving the participation of civil society, their efforts to strengthen advocacy and to ensure transparency and increased effectiveness in national educational policy and implementation processes”.
The development of strategies and activities through the Education Out Loud fund has led to the articulation of three funding streams, or “Operational Components” (OCs), to meet each of the three objectives. Each OC has specific emphasis on one of the three objectives. EOL’s goal will be realized through the following three objectives:
Objective 1 (OC1): Strengthen national civil society engagement in education planning, policy dialogue and monitoring .
This objective aims at improving inward accountability of governments to their citizens. The participation of a diverse range of civil society groups is vital to prevent ‘elite capture’ of policy spaces, ensure that there is healthy debate and deliberation, and to ensure that civic space is inclusive even of those traditionally lacking in institutional power. Facilitated processes to ensure equitable participation of marginalized groups is critical because the most marginalized people are often the least able to participate due to constraints in terms of time and opportunities costs, but also the norms that influence their relative power and position in society.
Objective 2 (OC2): Strengthen civil society roles in promoting the transparency and accountability of national education sector policy and implementation
This objective aims to ensure that civil society groups are able to undertake strategic multi-level monitoring of education policy and budget implementation, and to use the evidence generated to formulate and act on relevant policy solutions and redress mechanisms. Groups working on transparency, governance and other sectors, on behalf of the public interest may be able to contribute valuable skills, creative strategies, and wider networks for collecting and disseminating information that can be used to strengthen education accountability. Consequently, EOL seeks to diversify the range of actors – and the evidence base – contributing to operationalizing the principle of diversity as a vehicle for increased accountability and transparency in the education sector.
Objective 3 (OC3): Create a stronger global and transnational enabling environment for national civil society advocacy and transparency efforts.
This third objective aims to bring together alliances of civil society actors to work collaboratively on transnational initiatives or campaigns that bear on GPE country level work, particularly in the areas of aid effectiveness, financing, and cross-sectoral synergies. This is important because in the current global system, many of the enabling conditions for effective national education policy planning and implementation in low- and middle-income countries remain subject to powerful influences generated outside the national sphere.
Together, these objectives tie in with the theory of change of the GPE, especially objectives 2 and 5, which speak to the need for “supporting mutual accountability through effective and inclusive sector policy dialogue and monitoring” (objective 2, country-level) and “building stronger partnerships” (objective 5, global/cross-national level).
Illustration of Education Out Loud’s overall goal and three objectives
This Call is only related to OC3: Create a stronger global and transnational enabling environment for national civil society advocacy and transparency efforts. Oxfam IBIS closed the call for proposals for OC1 in October and is planning to launch another Call for Concept Notes under its Operational Component 2 in the first quarter of 2020.