Civil Society

Civil society plays a pivotal role in the achievement of GPE’s goals and objectives, engaging at global and country levels to make GPE a stronger, better and more inclusive partnership.

In partner countries, GPE seeks to ensure meaningful inclusion of civil society organization (CSO) representatives in local education groups by bringing the voice of marginalized and excluded groups into policy dialogue. This is a critical element of GPE’s aim to leave no child behind.

Strategies for enabling CSO participation in local education groups need to be context sensitive.

GPE promotes and monitors the inclusion of CSOs in these groups and provides funding to strengthen civil society.

Although GPE’s grant processes are often in focus at country level, it is important to be aware that they are meant to lead to broader impact at the system level, such as evidence-based, gender-responsive sector plans, sufficient and equitable domestic education financing, and harmonized, aligned education support from partners.

“We know that without the Global Partnership for Education, it would have been difficult to have a multi-stakeholder dialogue mechanism. Today, this has become the case in most of the countries where GPE is active. Without GPE, the exchange of experiences that has made us true citizens of the world would not have been easy.”

Cheikh Mbow Executive Director, COSYDEP, Senegal

Civil society’s role in GPE

GPE’s vision of a quality education for every child, underpinned by the principle of education as a public good and human right and with a focus on gender equality, inclusion, mutual accountability and transparency, aligns closely with what CSO education partners are working towards.

CSOs participate in ‘building’ GPE by weighing in on GPE strategies, policies and grant decisions through GPE’s governance structures.

CSO partners also play a critical role at the country level by engaging in policy dialogue in local education groups and by providing technical assistance and programmatic support to promote learning, experience sharing, advocacy and accountability.

Civil society’s role in GPE’s country-level work

The role CSO partners play at country level depends on how CSOs and local education groups are organized and how open governments and other local education group partners are to civil society engagement.

Through representation in local education groups, CSOs can be helpful in the development and monitoring of government-led education sector policies and plans.

CSOs also engage specifically in GPE grant processes and can give feedback to the government, grant agent or local education group if they have information on implementation issues.

GPE has provided funding to CSOs to organize and build capacity since the Civil Society Education Fund (CSEF) was established in 2009. While this fund supported CSO coalitions established through the Global Campaign for Education (GCE), the new Education Out Loud fund has a broader reach.

CSO accountabilities

In 2019, GPE’s Board of Directors adopted an Accountability Matrix to clarify what is expected from different GPE stakeholders and enable the partnership to achieve its vision and goals.

The matrix recognizes that CSOs are accountable to the populations and constituencies they serve. As GPE partners committed to the partnership’s aspirations, they also have accountabilities to the partnership.

CSO engagement in practice

CSO engagement in policy dialogue through local education groups depends on the conditions, arrangements and politics in each country. Linking with other CSOs and with coalitions is a good way to get started.

The GPE Secretariat as well as coordinating agencies have been helpful in promoting the access of CSOs to local education groups in many contexts.

It can be challenging to find the right balance between partnering with governments and holding them accountable. Strategies and priorities must be context-based, driven by CSOs themselves. The GPE Charter, strategy and principles can be helpful for guidance and advocacy.