Civil society

Civil society organizations (CSOs) help shape education policies, monitor programs and hold governments accountable for their duty to fulfill the right to education.

“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.

Here is an example from Nepal and Kenya on how CSOs are helping implement GPE 2025.

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. GPE’s operating model additionally includes a context-sensitive assessment of the enabling factors for system transformation in education and looks specifically at the inclusion of CSOs in local education groups as a part of effective sector coordination.

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.

View key accountabilities

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.

Below are two examples of CSOs engagement in practice:

  • Youth-led monitoring of education policies in the aftermath of COVID-19
  • Gender responsive advocacy for girls’ education