The Civil Society Education Fund (CSEF) is a unique and ambitious global programme that supports citizen engagement in education sector policy, planning, budgeting and monitoring, in Global Partnership for Education (GPE) developing countries.
It is founded on a shared understanding among key stakeholders that strong, broad-based and locally-driven civil society participation in these processes is crucial to delivering on national and international education goals and to holding their governments to account for commitments to education.
CSEF was set up by the Global Campaign for Education in 2009 to support the core work of national education coalitions so that civil society can fully engage with and track the progress of national governments and donor groups working towards the Education For All (EFA) goals. The CSEF programme was developed and is managed by the Global Campaign for Education (GCE), in close collaboration with regional implementing partners. Coordinated through regional agencies that provide programmatic to coalitions, CSEF works with the following networks in these regions:
In addition, GCE Secretariat acts as an interim FMA for the Middle East, North Africa and Europe region.
The CSEF is primarily funded by the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), a multilateral partnership devoted to getting all children in the world's poorest countries into school and learning by bringing together partners to help developing countries access critical technical and financial resources, and global and local expertise, to achieve their education goals. Complementary funding for CSEF has also been provided by the ‘German BACKUP Initiative – Education in Africa’, and through AECID support for non-GPE partner countries in Latin America, managed directly by CLADE.
GCE and its partners believe civil society has a distinct and crucial role to play to hold governments and donors accountable, and ensure relevance and equity within education plans, programmes and budgets. This requires broad-based and informed participation of citizens, and this participation is dependent on effective and coordinated civil society formations to facilitate engagement. CSEF therefore focuses its support on national civil society coalitions, with nationally driven agendas.
National education coalitions promote awareness of education rights, policies and realities, mobilise organisations and citizens to engage and challenge local governments when their rights are not delivered, and represent citizens’ views in official policy spaces. In this way, CSEF plays an important role in bringing together a wide range of citizens’ voices and perspectives – including those not usually heard in policymaking. Since its initiation CSEF has supported more than 60 national civil society education coalitions across Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean, the Middle East and Eastern Europe.
The second phase of CSEF was delivered between 2013 and 2015. The context for this phase was the need for civil society to maintain pressure on governments to boost efforts towards the achievement of the Education For All goals and the Millennium Development Goals, before the deadline of 2015. An external evaluation and a GCE-led global analysis in 2015 of the successes, achievements, and lessons learnt helped evaluate the impact of the second phase of CSEF, drawing the conclusion that it was an ambitious yet successful programme.
CSEF III: 2016-2018; aim and objectives
The current and third phase of CSEF (CSEF III) started in early 2016, coinciding with the new global commitments to the ambitious Sustainable Development Goals and Education 2030 Framework for Action. In both frameworks the commitment to inclusive and equitable quality education is writ high, as is the importance of civil society in achieving the targets.
The overall programme goal of better informed national policy dialogue and strengthened government accountability to citizens for the achievement of equitable, inclusive and quality public education is to be achieved through three objectives:
Objective 1: To support effective civil society representation and engagement in education sector policy dialogue.
Objective 2: To support active public outreach and citizen engagement in the generation/use of research and evidence on quality, equity, financing and education system reform.
Objective 3: To ensure global and regional processes relating to GPE and SDG 4 better inform – and are better informed by – national and local civil society.
Since its initiation in 2009, CSEF has continued to grow, reaching up to 63 national coalitions of education campaigners and activists, teachers’ unions and civil society organisations across low- and middle-income countries, advocating successfully for the achievement of a quality education for all children and youth.
CSEF funds a single plan for action in each of the countries covered, which is developed and implemented by a coalition of civil society actors. National coalitions develop these plans in line with their own contexts and priorities, and within the structure of the overall aims and objectives for the CSEF. Through CSEF, civil society coalitions are strengthening their participation in national education policy processes, building greater public awareness of and engagement in education issues, engaging in monitoring, tracking and research, participating in policy and lobbying, and working together across countries to share learning and engage with international education policy processes. Coalitions represent a wide range of members, including teachers unions, women’s groups, grassroots organisations, parents associations, youth groups etc. By the middle of 2016, CSEF memberships were representing a total of 4,335 organisations, which marks a continual and significant expansion in civil society reach since the programme began. Below is an overview of CSEF-funded coalitions, which you can also dowloand here:
You can also access a detailed list of CSEF-supported coalitions here.
CSEF linkages to GPE
The CSEF programme as a whole particularly reinforces the proposed objectives of GPE’s strategic plan 'GPE 2020', especially Strategic Objective 3 on effective and inclusive policy dialogue (which is the core focus of Objective 1 of the CSEF programme), as well as GPE Strategic Objective 2 on strengthening planning and policy implementation, and GPE Strategic Objective 4 which emphases building of partnerships. The latter is built into CSEF Objective 3 which focuses on ensuring that national civil society engagement informs and is informed by global-level dialogue within GPE, as well as links to regional and global processes to monitor and improve SDG4 implementation.
Specifically, the CSEF programme aims to help coalitions to engage with the official GPE planning processes – which in most cases are coordinated through a Local Education Group (LEG). At the end of 2015, over 86% of all CSEF coalitions in countries with an active LEG were engaging in this process.
Ultimately, the CSEF programme aims to have coalitions in all GPE developing country partners.
GPE 2020 is GPE’s strategic plan covering the years 2016-2020, which aligns the Partnership’s vision and mission to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). CSEF is committed to GPE's 2020 strategy, so that together we can help to achieve equitable, quality education and learning for all in all GPE countries.
National coalitions have influenced education planning and policy processes, for example:
Bangladesh: The Campaign for Popular Education, CAMPE, has more than 1000 members, from grassroots level to INGOs, enabling dialogue to be channelled across local, regional and national levels. During World Teachers' Day 2016, 12,000 people were mobilised; information on the status of teachers and gaps in commitments was widely shared; and a mobile app for real-time monitoring gave dynamic reporting from the ground.
Cambodia: NGO Education Partnership Cambodia conducted a public expenditure tracking survey which found that on average only 65% of allocated budgets were reaching schools. On this basis, and with consultations with schools and local officials, they successfully advocated for school payments and teacher salaries to be disbursed through the banking system.
Dominican Republic: Foro Socioeducativo, using online and offline communication tools to build a movement and enable peaceful nationwide demonstrations, is monitoring delivery of government commitments to increase education spending. This works alongside its Education Budget Watch, which also identifies alreas for better targeting to improve quality and equity.
Kenya: In Kenya, when public secondary school fees significantly increased, poor families were no longer able to pay, leading to students dropping out. In 2013, the Elimu Yetu coalition organised a petition and a major demonstration, involving more than 3000 people, led parliament to demand guildelines to reduce fees. The campaign to reduce secondary school fees by half was achieved.
Ghana: The Ghana National Education Campaign Coalition (GNECC) gathers citizen-led evidence on the government's programme to eliminate informal 'schools under trees', with evidence fed back into policy discussions.
Nepal: NCE Nepal has been conducting budget advocacy to ensure an increase in spending from 15% to 20% of the overall budget, and monitoring its execution. It has also participated in formal government-led fora, such as the Joint Annual Review (JAR). These meetings enabled the coalition to contribute to the national definition of the SDG4 indicators, and shape the strategy for the SDGs in Nepal.
Pakistan: The Pakistan Coalition for Education (PCE) conducts 'social audit' hearings in different districts to review transparency and accountability in the education sector.
Sierra Leone: In order to help address the serious consequences of the Ebola crisis on education, such as schools closing down due to the lack of appropriate hygienic measures, Education For All coalition Sierra Leone inputted to the national response plan. As this plan originally lacked en emergency education strategy, the coalition helping contributing to a school reopening policy that was accepted by the government. The coalition Education For All - Sierra Leone has also been advocating for an increase in budget in line with the replenishment pledge made by the government of 14.5% by 2015, and is conducting a detailed analysis.
Zambia: The Zambia National Education Coalition (ZANEC) used research to lobby for increased financing as a means of improving access and quality of education. Subsequently, the 2014 National Budget, in an historical turn, included a 20.2% share to education and the government committed to implement a re-entry policy for girls.
CSEF resources, progress reports and newsletters
Advocacy & Accountability to deliver GPE 2020 This leaflet, published in November 2016, gives an overview of the CSEF so far and an update on the new, third phase of the programme. It provides information on how the programme engages with GPE processes and how its alignment to GPE's new strategic plan.
Coalition Resources produced through CSEF (2013-2015)
Through the support of CSEF coalitions have produced a number publications, materials, tools, and monitoring and tracking research, studies and analysis for use in their advocacy and policy work. These have covered a range of thematic focus areas, depending on the priorities of each coalition. The links below provide overview tables of the various resources produced per coalition, with an emphasis on a) publications and tools, and b) research, monitoring and analysis. Both tables contain information about the specific resources, including title, brief description and focus area, category (i.e. whether a newsletter, toolkit, budget analysis etc), and language availability. If accessible online, the relevant URL is also provided.