IIEP's Chairman addresses the Education Commission at the 39th UNESCO General Conference

03 November 2017

Mr Nicholas Burnett's address to the Education Commission on 3rd November 2017 as Chairman of IIEP's Governing Board.


Distinguished Delegates,

My name is Nicholas Burnett. I have the honor of chairing IIEP’s Governing Board. In the time available for this report, I will focus on five points. Please refer to document 39/C REP-2 and also to IIEP’s 10th Medium-Term Strategy, and IIEP in Action, copies of which are available as you exit this room. In addition, you are all very welcome to attend the Open House on November 9th on IIEP premises.

IIEP has been recognized repeatedly as a center of excellence, through internal and external evaluations. It has three offices: its main Office is here in Paris, with a global reach, and its two regional offices are in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and in Dakar, Senegal, the Pôle de Dakar.


1.    IIEP’s mandate of capacity development in education policy and planning is more relevant than ever to the Education 2030 agenda and to Member States


Over the biennium, IIEP has continued to play its unique role within the UN system in providing Member States with crucial support in fulfilling the Education 2030 agenda through the many facets of educational policy, planning and management.

This mandate is very demanding but, in spite of its modest size (110 staff) and budget (USD 19 million per annum), the Institute has obtained impressive quantitative and qualitative results. It is now positioned as a key actor in the global education landscape to help Member States deliver on SDG 4.

These results are in the Institute’s core areas of training, training support, member state capacity building, research and thematic online portals. I will discuss each briefly.

IIEP’s training leads to increased organizational capacity of Ministries. Those skills are key to taking up the challenges of SDG 4 in particular as well as other related SDGs to which education contributes.

  • IIEP harnesses all available training modalities:
  • face-to-face training in its offices or in countries,
  • an expanded distance training offer (now 26 courses),
  • MOOCs,
  • partnerships with universities in Senegal and the Gambia.

In the last biennium, almost 9,000 people from 129 countries were trained through these different modalities including over 3,000 from every UNESCO region through MOOCs. Surveys and evaluations show that IIEP’s training leads to increased organizational capacity of Ministries.

Because IIEP is focused increasingly on results, it has been more systematic in supporting national training centers in education policy and planning, expanding from four in 2012 to eight in 2017. These centres trained an estimated 1,000 education staff in education planning and management, often in national languages and at decentralized levels.

With development partner support, IIEP is growing its portfolio of extra-budgetary projects to provide Member States with more capacity development opportunities. Over 40 countries – almost half in Africa – benefitted directly from such support in developing more evidence based policies. In the last biennium, IIEP’s projects permitted the on the job mentoring of an estimated 600 Ministry staff in real-life policy, planning and management processes and tools that are essential to attaining SDG 4.

Finally, through its research and thematic online portals, IIEP generates new knowledge and tools and makes them available to Member States and the global education community. The areas covered are core to the SDGs: gender equality, improved learning outcomes, Internal Quality Assurance in Higher Education, Teacher Management, accountable governance, and system resilience to conflicts and disasters.

2.    IIEP’s 10th Medium-Term strategy helps advance the Education 2030 agenda


The next biennium will open a new four-year strategy focused on SDG-4 priorities: quality, equity, education financing, accountable governance, and crisis-sensitive planning.

The Education 2030 agenda is ambitious and broad: to achieve it successfully, Members States need strong planning processes to translate such priorities into policies and to support plan implementation. Specifically, the Institute will assist Member States with:

  • integrating the SDG 4 agenda into credible national policies and plans;
  • making use of achievement data to improve quality and learning of children and youth;
  • strengthening coordination among partners, including at the humanitarian and development nexus;
  • adapting existing and creating new tools for relevant and responsive policies and plans; and
  • updating M&E frameworks and practices.

3.    IIEP is working well within UNESCO and with partners


A vital part of its Integrated Capacity Development approach is IIEP’s technical cooperation with Member States, often in partnership with UNESCO HQ, Field and Regional Offices, and other UNESCO institutes. IIEP’s multi-stakeholder governance model allows it to work closely with UN agencies like UNICEF and UNHCR, and organizations such as the World Bank, the European Union, the Global Partnership for Education, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, Education Above All, and the Education Commission.

IIEP is also invested in the UNESCO-wide effort to enhance the effectiveness, efficiency and accountability of its programs. With greater emphasis on Results Based Budgeting, Structured Financing Dialogue, Streamlined Regular and Extra-budgetary funding, better cost recovery and the adoption of International Aid Transparency Standards, IIEP has brought its own experience to the Headquarters “Core System Redesign” project where all these building blocks are brought together for programming, managing and reporting purposes.

4.    IIEP is a sustainable institute, with the right level of autonomy within the whole of UNESCO


To deliver strong results successfully in its 10th MTS and contribute to the wider Education Sector in close alignment with the 39 C/5 programmatic lines, the Institute must be allowed to remain agile in responding to Member State needs. This requires ensuring that IIEP’s Governing Board remains apolitical and technical and its leadership retains the authority to manage its most vital resource, its staff, while following all UNESCO rules and regulations. IIEP has many safeguards in place to ensure it never becomes a liability for Headquarters, including a strong stabilization reserve fund for non-recurrent costs, a chartered accountant as AO, annual financial audits and external programme evaluations. The financial situation of the Institute is bright with a high level of cost recovery including staff cost recovery.

5.    IIEP expands its impact through successful fundraising, allowing more support to more Member States


IIEP has been successful in mobilizing extra budgetary support, with five long-standing and generous core donors: Argentina, France, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland. They should be thanked for significantly increasing their support in recent years.

However, IIEP’s limited list of core funders illustrates the urgent need for the international community to address the severe underfunding of the type of global public goods provided by UNESCO and its institutes.

By financing IIEP with untied funding, your governments can ensure that all Member States can retain access to the technical support, knowledge and training they need to achieve the SDGs.

I began by noting that IIEP is a recognized center of excellence. I hope you share that view, having now heard what the Institute is doing. I want to stress to you the unanimous determination of the IIEP Board to maintain it as a center of excellence, that effectively supports Member States and that Member States can effectively support.

Thank you for your kind attention.