Innovative Finance for Education

Given the general decline in global aid to education and the need for an additional USD 1.8 trillion per year (as estimated by the Education Commission) in low and middle-income countries to achieve SDG4, there is a growing interest in turning to innovative financing mechanisms for the sector. Over the last decade, several proposals have been discussed on using novel financing instruments and arrangements in education, but it is only now that we are witnessing widespread experimentation in the sector. Alongside the enthusiasm, there also exists skepticism and polarizing debates, primarily around the engagement of the private sector in financing and delivery of education as a public good.

NORRAG’s work in the area of Innovative Financing for Education (IFE) aims to develop capacity and deepen the collective knowledge about the mounting numbers and modalities of innovative financing mechanisms in the education sector. By conducting research on diverse IF experiences in education, NORRAG is building empirical evidence on the additionality and efficiency of IFE and its impact on provision, quality and equity in education.

IFE Case Studies and Multi-Media Material for E-­Learning

Starting in September 2018, NORRAG and a global network of six partner universities engaged on a two-years project to research and develop cutting-edge multimedia material for teaching and e-learning on innovative financing in education and development. The COFER Innovative Financing in Education and Development: Case Studies and Multi-Media Material for E-­Learning project is partially funded by the swissuniversities Development and Cooperation Network (SUDAC) under the development of  ‘Consortia for Education and Research (COFER)’. Additional funding and resources were provided by the Open Societies Foundation (OSF) and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).

The consortium is composed of the following partners:

  • NORRAG, an associate programme of the Graduate Institute, Geneva
  • University of Fribourg (Switzerland)
  • Zurich University of Teacher Education (Switzerland)
  • Universidad Nacional de General Sarmiento in Buenos Aires (Argentina)
  • Beijing Normal University (China)
  • Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai (India)
  • University of Cape Town (South Africa)

Funding organisations:

This project, which contributes to NORRAG’s knowledge production and capacity building goals, assembles scholars who are experts in the field of innovative financing in education from around the globe. Together they are engaging in researching and developing real world analytical case studies on the various innovative financing mechanisms such as results-based financing, philanthropic giving, corporate social responsibility programs, remittances, Income Share Agreements diaspora bonds, and social impact bonds.

The research and the blended-learning educational material developed through this project addresses the existing knowledge and capacity gap for professionals working in the education financing space to develop a nuanced understanding within three spheres:

  • Technical aspects of complex financial design of innovative financing mechanisms
  • Critically analyze diverse perspectives, opportunities, and challenges in utilizing these mechanisms for SDG4
  • Examine the complexities that emerge in the conceptualization and application to the field of education

Please visit the Introduction to IFE, IFE mechanisms, IFE cases pages to access the material developed under this project.

Please contact us:

    1. If you would like to develop workshops or talks for education and finance professionals on innovative financing for education using IFE project material.
    2. If you would like to develop additional case studies on an innovative financing project or partner with NORRAG on additional research on the topic.


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