May 09, 2018

What you need to know about IFFEd, a big idea that will help millions of children into school

Education can transform the life of a child

Photo credit: World Bank

The International Finance Facility for Education is a groundbreaking way to help millions of children go to school and prepare millions more young people for the future of work.

The International Finance Facility for Education (IFFEd) is a groundbreaking way to finance education in countries around the world. 

This week, calls from more than 1.5 million people who have signed petitions for IFFEd to become a reality will be taken to United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres. 

Theirworld and three of our Global Youth Ambassadors from Kenya, Nepal and Sierra Leone will meet him on May 11 and deliver the message that this is a big idea with the power to help tens of millions of children go to school and prepare millions more young people for the future of work. Read the full story.

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Here's a guide to the International Finance Facility for Education, how it works, why it's needed and what it will mean for the future of children around the world.

Why is education so important?

A good education gives children and young people the skills they need to succeed in life. Without it, they will be unable to read, write or count. It also gives children in low-income countries a better chance of moving out of poverty and into a good job.

Education increases a child's chance of having a healthy life, reduces maternal deaths and combats diseases such as AIDS and malaria. It can promote gender equality and peace.

Children who are out of school are also exposed to dangerous environments such as child labour, forced marriage, child trafficking, sexual exploitation and recruitment by armed forces and extremists. 

What are the main challenges in global education?

Around the world, children are missing out on a quality education. Over 260 million children and youth are currently out of school. Many millions drop out of education before they even reach secondary school.

If this injustice doesn’t change, by 2030 over half the world’s children and young people – 825 million of them – will not have the basic skills or qualifications needed for the modern workforce. Worldwide, 103 million youth cannot read - 60% of them female. 

The education crisis is creating a wide and persistent divide between children who have access to skills and opportunity – and those who do not. Without a large increase in money for education, the current crisis will only get worse.

On current trends, it will take until after 2100 to get every child into school.

IFFEd aims to create over 20 million school places

Photo credit: Asian Development Bank

So what's being done about those challenges?

In 2015 the world's countries agreed a set of global targets - the Sustainable Development Goals - to be achieved by 2030. Sustainable Development Goal 4 is to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”. 

But this won't be fully met until after 2100 until things change drastically.

There is a plan in place to help all children get into school - the Learning Generation, produced by the influential Education Commission. It needs countries to increase their funding to education but also for donors and other organisations to increase their support.

The commission says there are three building blocks that need to be in place in order to get every child a quality education.

  • Education’s share of national budgets in low-income countries must rise from 3% to 5% and in middle-income countries from just over 4% to at least 6%.  This can be achieved by better use of domestic resources and greater tax revenues for education. However, even if poorer countries do this, a financial shortfall will persist. They will not be able to close the funding gap without help from the international community.
  • Increase education’s share of international aid from below 10% to 15%. Yet, under the most optimistic scenarios of domestic resource mobilisation and increased aid, universal education would still remain a broken promise unless another $10 billion per year was found by 2020 and $20 billion by 2030. 
  • Create a new international funding mechanism to multiply donor resources and create new funding for education by harnessing the untapped potential of the multilateral development banks. This is the International Finance Facility for Education (IFFEd)

What is IFFEd?

It is a bold solution to the education crisis which aims to provide money to increase funding for education across developing countries, to fill the persistent funding gap.

IFFEd is a partnership between developing countries, international financial institutions and public and private donors. It will work with others in the field such as the Global Partnership for Education, the Education Cannot Wait fund for schooling in emergencies, United Nations agencies and thousands of charities worldwide. The money will go to governments worldwide who need the funding to get children back into school.

How will IFFEd be launched?

In March 2017, a group of major organisations - including Theirworld - called on the G20 summit of the world's most powerful countries in Germany to help launch a new way of funding education. 

The Education Commission created a plan with the premise that it is the responsibility of governments to finance pre-primary, primary and secondary education. IFFEd was proposed as a way to help developing countries to make this happen.

If you want to know even more about IFFEd, the Education Commission has produced a detailed prospectus. Read it here.

Without education, hundreds of millions of children and young people around the world are facing a bleak future

Photo credit: Education Commission

What will the money from IFFEd do?

It will help to build schools, train and employ teachers; put in curriculums; help children travel to school, provide supplies children need to learn at home and in the classroom - and much more.

IFFEd will support, not replace, initiatives already in place for education financing. It will enhance World Bank and Regional Development Bank financing for low-income and lower-middle income countries, and work alongside organisations such as GPE and ECW.

The facility aims to create over 20 million school places and help girls complete both primary and secondary school. It will support programmes to get at-risk children into school and stop child labour, child marriage or exploitation.

It will provide longer-term finance of refugees or displaced children, allow for creative ideas in the delivery of education, help countries build quality early childhood development programmes or provide support for programmes on inclusive education which bring children with disabilities into education. 

In short, it will contribute to developing all the talents of all children. 

Where will the money come from?

It will bring together public and private donors, alongside international financial institutions such as the World Bank and regional development banks. 

The facility will create attractive financing packages for lower-middle-income countries that would be low-interest. These financing streams will be linked to developing countries increasing their own education investments and making education reforms

Who will benefit from IFFEd?

IFFEd targets the education financing needs of lower-middle-income countries (LMICs). These countries often face a structural problem – a “missing middle” dilemma – that prevents them from getting adequate education funding.

They include Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Cote D’Ivoire, Bolivia, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Yemen and many others. The reason they would benefit most is because, as they go from low-income to middle-income status, international loans become much more expensive, leaving them in a huge amount of debt. 

Grants become unavailable and internal tax revenue would not be enough to sustain the country. These countries have worked hard to improve but as soon as they do they’re faced with so many obstacles. IFFEd’s new stream of money would help to solve this issue.

Low-income countries (LICs) would also benefit from the overall increase in aid and because IFFEd would help make financing go further for LMICs, freeing up more grant aid to supports LICs . These include Afghanistan, Benin, Burundi, Congo, Somalia and Nepal and many more.

Billions of dollars a year are needed to provide quality pre-primary, primary and secondary education to all children by 2030

Photo credit: World Bank

Why do we need such a big idea?

Historically, huge ideas have worked successfully. Over a decade ago, world leaders worked together globally to helped create the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, both of which have channeled billions of dollars into the health sector and saved millions of lives. 

The International Finance Facility for Immunisation (IFFIm) was successful in creating money for vaccinating 500 million children and saving five million lives. 

In the past few years, climate change agreements from Copenhagen to Paris, and the Climate Investment Funds and Green Climate Fund, have transformed funding for climate mitigation and adaptation.

Now it’s time for education to move into the spotlight.

What will success look like?

Extreme poverty rates would be reduced by one-third due to education alone. The mortality reductions from education improvements by 2050, measured in life gained, will be almost the same as if the world eradicated HIV and malaria deaths today.

Most importantly, young people will be prepared for the job market of the future, ready to become the next generation of innovators, teachers, and leaders – able to realise and contribute all of their talents.

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