© IIEP/Participants to the meeting on Innovative financing in education, Dakar, Senegal, 8-9 dec. 2011.

Innovative financing for education in Africa

IIEP, Microsoft, and Orange will launch a joint initiative

Traditional development financing, including in the field of education, has shown its limits. Thus, the international community, notably through the Leading Group on Innovative Financing for Development, has for several years been looking at new mechanisms to close the funding gap for development.

Within this framework, IIEP has played an active role in discussions concerning education and, in particular, public-private partnerships (PPP) in the education sector. "On PPP, IIEP is playing a key role within the Task Force on Education of the Leading Group on Innovative Financing launched in 2010", says Ilona Genevois, head of PPP projects at IIEP.

Education management information systems (EMIS) are considered to have great potential in this area. "In many countries, management and monitoring of the education system faces the permanent problem of quality of data. This limits the possibilities for an accurate assessment of the education system, and thus the development and monitoring of strategic plans and appropriate reforms", noted Khadim Sylla, an expert on EMIS projects at IIEP.

The private sector is a key ally in the ICT area

In partnership with Microsoft, IIEP held a round table on the Implementation of Public-Private Partnerships for the Education Management Information Systems, in Dakar, Senegal, on 8–9 December 2011. Discussions explored approaches to achieving sustainable solutions for strengthening national information systems. The private sector contribution to ICT was seen as crucial. Participants agreed that, for a partnership to be effective and sustainable, it must be conceived in a comprehensive way: a mere financial contribution will not suffice. Providing expertise and organizing transfer of skills can help achieve the partnership’s objectives and ensure sustainability of achievements.

The meeting was also an opportunity to launch a joint initiative between IIEP, Microsoft, and Orange to collect data on education systems using mobile media. The pilot phase of the project, which is being finalized, will take place in one of six African countries that participated in the meeting (Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, and Senegal). All have expressed strong interest in the project, as it would provide an important opportunity to collect and analyse quality data about their education systems and pupils. "The unavailability of reliable and timely information has a negative impact on the education system at national level, but it also restricts the possibilities for international comparative studies, as well as the work of financial and technical partners", said Sylla.

In addition to the six African countries and the organizers, the meeting was also attended by the companies Orange Device Group, Mbodj SYSTEM, and SOLID, the NGO Aide & Action, and representatives of the Leading Group on Innovative Financing for Development. France and Germany were represented, respectively, by the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs and the German development agency GIZ.