Rescuing Education for All

How reform of the Fast Track Initiative should lead to a Global Fund for Education

Published: 19 January 2010

Remarkable progress has been made in the last ten years toward achieving the education-related Millennium Development Goals. Many more girls are in school and enrolment rates are on the rise, due to higher-quality aid and to political commitment in developing countries.

However, these achievements could be derailed by the global economic crisis, newly falling aid levels, and educational challenges. With 72 million children still out of school, the world’s poorest countries urgently need a global financing initiative that can deliver the resources to scale up to Education For All.

This report examines the EFA-Fast Track Initiative (FTI) – both its positive contributions and its current limitations. It argues for the reform of the FTI into a more ambitious, effective Global Fund for Education. This redesigned initiative must feature autonomous management and inclusive governance; greater country ownership through better quality aid; improved accountability structures; and more flexibility to respond to the needs of children in conflict-affected and fragile states. Donors must prioritize such a transformation in 2010.

Key recommendations

  • Donors should launch a Global Fund for Education at the 2010 G8/G20 meeting in Canada, in close partnership with Southern governments and civil society organizations. This initiative should be the result of a comprehensive reform of the Fast Track Initiative (FTI).
  • The FTI Board of Directors should name an inclusive Transition Working Group to design broad reforms to the initiative, responding to the recommendations of the external evaluation of the FTI.
  • All donors must urgently increase their aid to basic education and improve the quality of their aid to ensure that it is transparent and predictable, that it builds capacity in recipient countries, and that it is aligned with country priorities and strategies.
  • The World Bank should scale up its assistance for basic education in the poorest countries. It should give up control of the FTI, while strengthening its participation in the reformed initiative as a key donor partner.
  • Developing country governments should continue to prioritize basic education by increasing the proportion of national resources spent on education and by improving the quality of their educational programs.