International Working Group on Education

IWGE is an informal group of aid agencies and foundations. It was created in 1972 to enable donor agencies to exchange information and work closely together on education issues. Since 1982, it has devoted itself to the development and promotion of basic education. It played a catalytic role in the Education for All (EFA) Conference in Jomtien. 

40 to 50 participants representing some 25 to 30 organizations attend meetings

The IWGE meets, on average, once every 18 months. Participants discuss issues of common interest relating to international co-operation in the field of education. Sessions are structured around three themes:

  • sharing of information on agencies' activities 
  • discussions of one or several substantive topics relating to current challenges in education development 
  • discussions on aid modalities and improvement of interagency co-operation.


Membership is open to all aid agencies and foundations involved in education development work, either multilateral or bilateral, governmental or non-governmental. A planning committee, assisted by a secretariat (IIEP), ensures management. 

Members of the committee include: the Aga Khan Foundation, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GMBH, the World Bank, the Swedish Co-operation Agency (Sida), UNICEF, UNESCO, and USAID. 

History and origin

The 'Bellagio Group' was launched in 1972-73 during two inter-agency meetings. These were organized in Bellagio, Italy, at the initiative of the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations. 

Addressing the need for donor agencies to work more closely together

After the excessive development optimism of the sixties, there was a need to clarify the complex education/development relationship and to provide better co-operation services.

Agencies agreed to undertake self-financed specific research to support discussions. Between 1973 and 1982 discussions focused on: brain drain, higher education in Africa, literacy, financing of education, and education and training for public management. 

The group was renamed IWGE, and a light management structure was agreed on. A small planning committee was in charge of the overall guidance of the activities (made up of 5 members and later enlarged to 7). Membership is open.

IWGE has become a privileged forum where agencies freely discuss the modalities of international development work - including donor co-ordination, implementation of sector-wide approaches... 

The 2014 meeting focused on Inclusive Education and was organized by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).


2012 : From Schooling to Learning 

2010 : Financing education: redesigning national strategies and the global aid architecture 

2008 : Making education work for all: financing for equity, capacity development, and data management 

2006 : Advancing in education: reaching rural people, developing capacities 

2004 : Progress in Education for All: focus on governance 

2003 : Critical issues in education for all: gender parity, emergencies  

2000 : Sector-wide approaches in education: issues for donor agencies arising from case studies of Zambia and Mozambique

1998 : Disadvantages, dialogue and development co-operation in education 

1996 : Selected issues in development assistance to education 

1996 : Education policy formulation in Tanzania: coordination between the Government and international aid agencies

1994 : Education aid policies and practices  

1994 : Recent trends in education aid: towards a classification of policies