The learning generation: Investing in education for a changing world

Published: 21 September 2016

A father and child
This week marks the launch of the International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity’s report at the UN General Assembly. 

The Learning Generation: investing in education for a changing world is a call to action for governments, donors, philanthropists and the wider education community, that sets out the importance of education to reduce inequality, instability and poverty — and to give all the world’s children the future they deserve.

The Education Commission report recognizes that more money is needed for education — and that money needs to be better spent. Despite unprecedented success in getting more children in school, there is a widely acknowledged crisis of children attending school but not learning. It is essential to refocus education funding and incentive structures, away from intentions and inputs, towards results.

We welcome the Education Commission’s report and its efforts to draw attention to the steps needed to address the quality of learning globally. Social Finance has, in parallel with the Education Commission, been exploring the barriers to quality education and the potential to use finance as a tool to address them. Following extensive stakeholder engagement, our proposal is for a new philanthropic funding vehicle — the Improving Quality in Education Fund (IQ Fund) — that unites the education community to incentivise and pay for education outcomes, such as children completing pre-primary school ready to learn, completing primary education with foundational literacy and numeracy skills, or entry into sustained employment.

The IQ Fund will pool funds from official and private donors and, in partnership with governments, award grants to high-potential education programs that link payment to independently verified results. As it gathers lessons about what works — where, how, and at what cost — to achieve outcomes, the IQ Fund will share these lessons with the education community to support evidence-based funding and policy decisions. By building linkages between funding and outcomes, and between governments, donors and private capital, the IQ Fund aims to increase the effectiveness of existing funding and mobilize new funding for education.

The Education Commission’s report highlights four pillars of the learning generation’ that the IQ Fund addresses:

  1. Strengthening Performance: linking funding to results, and measuring them rigorously, creates incentives to put results first in education.
  2. Fostering Innovation: using a challenge fund approach to identify high-potential education programs, the IQ Fund will incentivise innovative approaches
  3. Prioritizing Inclusion: results-based funding can incentivise providers to focus on the hardest to reach. It can provide a tool for closing the education access and learning gaps for the most disadvantaged and marginalised populations.
  4. Increasing Finance: building the link between funding and learning outcomes will address questions about the effectiveness — and accountability — of existing education funding and attract new funding to the sector. 

We hope that the IQ Fund can contribute to the action plan set out by the Education Commission to deliver transformational change to ensure quality education to all.

Stay up to date

Sign up to our mailing list for regular updates.

We'll keep your data secure and won't share it outside of Social Finance, ever. For more details read our privacy policy.