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. 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 Education For All (EFA) and other national and international education goals.
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 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.
Why CSEF? 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. Since its initiation CSEF has supported 54 national civil society education coalitions across Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean, the Middle East and Eastern Europe.
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 Australian government, the ‘German BACKUP Initiative – Education in Africa’, and through AECID support for non-GPE partner countries in Latin America, managed directly by CLADE. CSEF is currently supervised by UNESCO.
Learn more about CSEF and watch our video (above).
CSEF aim and objectives
CSEF aims to: “Contribute to the achievement of national education goals and Education for All by ensuring the effective participation of civil society organizations and citizens in education debates and sector planning and review.”
The Civil Society Education Fund works towards the following four objectives:
Objective 1: Formal civil society participation in education sector policy and review processes and engagement with policy-makers and parliamentarians is strengthened and better recognized.
Objective 2: National education coalitions are actively strengthening grassroots capacity to access and participate in education sector debates, through building awareness, knowledge and skills, and opening opportunities to participate.
Objective 3: Civil society research and analysis effectively contributes to national government plans, policies, financing and practices that better achieve the right to quality education for all and the six EFA goals.
Objective 4: The CSEF project builds the quality and impact of civil society engagement in the education sector through promoting partnerships, strengthening South-South collaboration, sharing learning, and facilitating impact on global policy processes.
Since its initiation CSEF now supports national civil society coalitions currently operating in 54 countries across Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Middle East and Eastern Europe. This number is still expected to grow!
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. Hence coalitions must demonstrate commitment to EFA, be democratic and work through broad and diverse membership bases. They represent a wide range of members, including teachers unions, women’s groups, grassroots organisations, parents associations, youth groups etc. CSEF memberships currently reach a total of 4,216 organisations, an increase of almost a third since this phase of the programme started in 2013. Below is an overview of CSEF-funded coalitions:
You can also access a detailed list of CSEF-supported coalitions here.
The International Partners Group (IPG)
An International Partners Group (IPG), consisting of a range of INGOs, including ActionAid, Education International, Save the Children, VSO, Ibis, RESULTS, OSF, OSISA, Plan International and Oxfam, has been established to provide programme advice, capacity support and partnership and learning opportunities for the CSEF programme. All capacity support initiatives carried out through the IPG respond to the stated or assessed needs of national coalitions and activities vary from country to country based on consultation with CSEF regional bodies and national coalitions. IPG members’ support to coalitions include capacity support and advice on coalitions plans development, advice on capacity-building and learning plans, input on tools and evaluations, and strengthening partnerships.
Snapshots: CSEF good practice across the regions
National coalitions have influenced education planning and policy processes, for example:
Bangladesh: By partnering up with journalists to investigate grievances in education, Campaign for Popular Education (CAMPE) established Education News, a regular TV programme aimed at raising the awareness of education challenges and gaps. One episode focused on the high level of out of school children in communities on the coastal belt of Bangladesh, which prompted the government to follow up with local education officers to put in place mechanisms to enrol these learners into the education system.
Bolivia: Campaña Boliviana por el Derecho a la Educación (CBDE) submitted policy contributions on a new law focusing on gender equality in the curriculum and also requested better data provision around the status of women. The coalition is following up to monitor progress.
Ghana: The Ghana National Education Campaign Coalition (GNECC) submitted a civil society position paper, ‘Addressing Teacher Gaps in Basic Education’, to the LEG and other stakeholder groups, highlighting shortages of trained teachers in rural and deprived areas. This helped raising awareness and contributed to a teacher re-distribution exercise undertaken by the Minister of Education.
Malawi: Findings from a Public Expenditure Tracking Survey (PETS) in selected districts, commissioned by the Civil Society Education Coalition (CSEC) Malawi, uncovered that, in the district of Kasungu, learning materials procured through a selected company were never delivered to schools. CSEC notified the Ministry of Education and local authorities, leading to the company being forced to reimburse the funds to the district.
Mongolia: a submission by the All for Education! National Civil Society Coalition (AFE Mongolia) to the Parliamentary Budget Standing Committee on funding for inclusive education was incorporated into a proposed parliamentary resolution.
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.
Vanuatu:Vanuatu Education Policy Advocacy Coalition (VEPAC) analyses recommending free education up to Year 10 and recognition for kindergarten teachers, which were delivered during national elections, were adopted as policy by one of the political parties forming the coalition government.
Yemen: The Yemeni Coalition for Education for All (YCEA) mobilised and collaborated with tribal leaders to create awareness around girls’ education in communities, particularly among parents that do not send daughters to school (often due to early marriages).
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.
CSEF resources, progress reports and newsletters
Citizen participation and the right to education
We have produced an introductory leaflet about the Civil Society Education Fund, including a brief overview of the impact made by coalitions across the network.
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.