Concepts and definitions

Global and regional public goods

The Commission recommends that the international community increases its investment in educational global public goods. There is now growing consensus that spending aid on global public goods is a good investment”
Education Commission Report p.116

Drawing on the Education Commission’s statement, KIX was driven by the recognition that the provision of global and regional public goods can greatly enhance national-level educational policies and outcomes, and that the funding of global public goods in education is minimal. What are global public goods in education?

A global public good is knowledge or tool that is non-rivalrous, non-exclusionary, has positive externalities, is more efficiently produced collectively, transcends national boundaries and is available across multiple countries (e.g. technical toolkits, studies, databanks, training modules, good practices, global monitoring reports).  Currently, only 3% of official development assistance in education is allocated to the production of global public goods, whereas this figure is 21% in the health sector.

According to the Education Commission, investing in global public goods can include :

  • Investing in globally comparable data on learning outcomes that will allow countries both to benchmark their progress against that of other countries and would contribute to good quality measurement tools which can be used to inform policy and improve learning. Countries need political, technical, and financial support to measure learning and use the resulting data to improve school systems and address the root causes of poor learning outcomes.
  • Investing in R&D, including experimentation with and evaluation of innovative policies and programs and how they can succeed in different contexts. Not every innovation can succeed and go to scale, so supporting innovation must include creating space for more open and uncertain experimentation. Such experimentation may be too costly for any one country to undertake, or outcomes too uncertain to attract the investment. Global public investment could create global education “laboratories” that focus on the challenges and solutions most relevant to lowand middle-income countries. 
  • Investing in a global “ecosystem” for education that will promote cross-border learning and sharing of innovations and grow the capacity of leaders and practitioners across sectors. Creating and supporting platforms for cross-border learning and leadership development can enrich global, national, and local debates around education. This might include ensuring that some international investment goes towards strengthening civil society and the capacity of non-state organizations to collaborate and scale innovations in education

The Global Education Monitoring report also addresses the importance of global public goods. In order to achieve SDG4, increased investments are needed in global public goods to facilitate knowledge sharing across borders and disseminate effective practices adapted for national or local contexts.

One cross-cutting global public good is knowledge for global development. In the case of education, such knowledge takes three forms: 

  • Data, including standards and measurement tools, which help monitor and report progress against common international commitments.
  • Research, which generates knowledge that is critical for addressing the constraints education systems face for contributing to sustainable development.
  • Networks, which diffuse existing knowledge and help countries exchange lessons from the implementation of education policies for capacity development and system improvement.

This work was supported by the Global Partnership for Education Knowledge and Innovation Exchange, a joint endeavour with the International Development Research Centre, Canada.

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