The Islamic Development Bank and the Global Partnership for Education recently announced the first allocation of $280 million in innovative financing for education, through the Arab Coordination Group’s Smart Education Financing Initiative, to Cameroon, the Kyrgyz Republic and Uzbekistan.
The partnership was announced on the final day of the IsDB’s annual meetings in Jeddah. The beneficiary countries will be the first to access funding under the initiative, to support effective and sustainable programs that will provide education to millions of children.
Mohammed Al-Jasser, the IsDB president and group chairman, said: “In our efforts to build better and more resilient education systems, countries like Cameroon, the Kyrgyz Republic, and Uzbekistan must be supported with financial tools to complement domestic resources. Through this initiative, the IsDB, GPE, and our Arab development partners are stepping up our commitment to expand available funding for education.”
GPE CEO Laura Frigenti told Arab News in an exclusive interview that the education sector had made significant progress in the two decades pre-COVID
-19. Unfortunately, that progress has been reversed by the pandemic, which has kept schools closed in many GPE partner countries for over two years, which has generated a “loss” in terms of “learning and learning outcomes.”
Frigenti said: “We are working very hard with our partner countries — we work in 90 countries in the world, all low-income and middle-income countries — to make sure that this trend is reversed.
“One of the problems that affect(s) the education sector is the fact that it is a very expensive sector, and it takes a long time to generate results. Unfortunately, at the moment it is really not fully funded, so there is a need for innovation beyond the traditional official flows of funds.”
She added: “This mechanism that we put in place matches grants from our resources, with some soft loans coming from, for example, the Saudi development funds or the United Arab funds. To make sure (of) that we put together financing packages that leverage financial resources that wouldn’t necessarily go to education with a ratio of four to one. So, with very strong grant elements … (that) really multiplies the level of resources that are accessible for countries.”
Developed in December 2021 by GPE and the ACG, a grouping of Arab financial development institutions, the Smart Education Financing Initiative has generated $500 million to support education in lower-income countries.
ACG is providing $400 million alongside $100 million from the GPE Multiplier, an innovative financing tool that attracts investments from other donors. Funds under the initiative are accessible to 37 countries that are members of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, which are collectively home to nearly 28 million out-of-school children.
GPE is a shared commitment to end the world’s learning crisis, through mobilizing partners and funds to support nearly 90 lower-income countries to transform their education systems so that every child can get the quality education they need to unlock their full potential.