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28 May 2024

Innovative Finance in Education Spring Events

This spring, the Innovative Finance in Education team hosted and participated in a number of engaging virtual and in-person events. These included the Comparative and International Education Society (CIES) Annual Conference, the Outcomes Finance Alliance (OFA) Summit, the Education Finance Network (EFN) EduFinance Learning Group meeting series, and the research visit by Tata Institute of Social Sciences – Center of Excellence in Teacher Education (TISS-CETE) assistant professor and IFE-2-Leave No One Behind researcher Emon Nandi.

The CIES 2024 conference, whose theme this year was The Power of Protest, was hosted in Miami, USA between 10-14 March and boasted 16 NORRAG events, including two impactful panels from the Innovative Finance in Education team. The first panel, “Financing Higher Education in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia,” was chaired by Marina Dreux Frotté (NORRAG) and included presentations of findings from researchers at University of Cape Town – Graduate School of Business (UCT-GSB) and Tata Institute of Social Sciences – Center of Excellence in Teacher Education (TISS-CETE): Allan Kimaina, Justine Burns, Yageshree Moodley, and Kamlesh Goyal. As the discussant, Tristan McCowan provided insightful comments on the relevance and application of the research findings to higher education in low-and-middle-income countries.

The second panel, “Innovative Financing for Education: Leveraging Private Capital” was chaired by Gita Steiner-Khamsi (NORRAG) with presentations from NORRAG’s Arushi Terway, Marina Dreux Frotté and TISS-CETE’s Emon Nandi and Archana Mehendale. The discussant, Amrit Thapa provided critical comments to the panellists and posed questions to the audience on the use of public-private partnership models as financing solutions for education.

On March 18 and 19, IFE-2-Leave No One Behind research manager Anna Tauchner Hoover and research assistant Georgia Thorne from NORRAG attended the Outcomes Finance Alliance Summit in Zurich, Switzerland. Ozsel Beleli, Head of Learning and Engagement at the Education Outcomes Fund, presented and discussed the Ghana Education Outcomes Fund and Sierra Leone Education Innovation Challenge, two of the initiatives being studied under the IFE-2-Leave No One Behind project. The NORRAG team contributed to the conversation on the importance of generating high-quality evidence on innovative finance in education even when facing challenges such as in data collection or in political will, and how the current push for scalability and reproducibility of interventions must necessarily also consider the evidence base and contextuality of proposed solutions.

On 7 May 2024, NORRAG staff members attended the most recent EFN EduFinance Learning Group meeting which delved into the topic of Blended Finance through three case study examples. It explored the International Finance Facility for Education (IFFEd), The Future of Work Fund and CATALYZE EduFinance. NORRAG’s role in this learning group is to contribute expertise on IFE, share relevant resources for each thematic session, and provide critical reflections on what we know and what we do not know yet on whether, and under which conditions OBF is effective in meeting education sector challenges.

Between 8 April and 7 May, Emon Nandi, Assistant Professor, TISS-CETE visited the NORRAG offices in Geneva, Switzerland from Mumbai, India on a research exchange sponsored by a Knowledge to Action (K2A) mobility grant from Swissnex. K2A mobility grants are designed to promote collaboration and cooperation in research between researchers in Switzerland and South Asia. During her research visit in Geneva, Dr Nandi engaged in a number of activities in addition to her IFE-2-Leave No One Behind collaborative research work. These included a guest lecture in NORRAG academic director Chanwoong Baek’s course “Knowledge-based Governance in Comparative and International Education”, a panel presentation on Innovative Finance for Education for the Geneva Impact Investing Association’s 2024 Forum on Impact Investing, and a panel presentation in the May 7 NORRAG event Private Sector Actors and Approaches in Education. Emon shared insights from her work on the Quality Education in India Development Impact Bond, and on corporate social responsibility in India and its impacts on the educational sector.

On May 21, IFE-2-Leave No One Behind research partners Tata Institute of Social Sciences – Center of Excellence in Teacher Education (TISS-CETE) and NORRAG at the Geneva Graduate Institute recently co-hosted a virtual workshop as a part of the SUDAC & KFPE Annual Conference 2024: Sustainable, equitable partnerships in North-South collaboration – Lessons learned for future funding models. In keeping with KFPE’s goal to promote efficient, effective, and equitable research cooperation between Switzerland and low- and middle- income countries, the conference focused on several topics pertaining to North-South collaboration, including best practices in developing equal partnerships, funding models for collaboration and the design of potential future funding models.

These events in 2024 have been critical in engaging a wide array of stakeholders in evidence-informed policy dialogue on whether, how, and under what conditions innovative financing mechanisms may contribute to improving educational outcomes for vulnerable and marginalised groups in low-and middle-income countries.

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