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Global Education at R4D

Global Education

Education is playing an increasingly important role as economies and societies become more knowledge-based. R4D’s education initiatives concentrate on education financing (specifically focusing on aid effectiveness, emerging donors and innovative financing), early learning, secondary education skills development, and innovative non-state education interventions. This area complements our work in health and governance, and cross-cutting themes include the relationships among education, nutrition and health, and supporting civil society organizations in their work to increase public sector accountability.

Featured Global Education Resources

The core of the Innovative Secondary Education for Skills Enhancement (ISESE) project, supported by the Rockefeller Foundation, was a series of 12 background studies, now publically available. Produced in partnership with regional partners, these explore a range of issues related to skills, education, and economic development in 12 focus countries across Africa and Asia. 

In April 2013, Results for Development Institute (R4D) reviewed the benefits of primary education and estimated the economic cost associated with large populations of out-of-school children in a background study for Educate A Child’s (EAC) High Level Strategic Meeting to Accelerate Efforts to Reach Out-of-School Children (Burnett, Guison-Dowdy and Thomas 2013). This report is an extension of that study. It updates economic cost estimates to reflect the latest data from the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS), further develops the estimation methodology, and expands the estimation exercise to a set of 20 low- and middle-income countries.

Global Education Resources

In the 2013 UNA-UK publication, Nicholas Burnett, Shubha Jayaram and Milan Thomas explore the skills and competencies needed to support dynamic, prosperous labour markets.

Co-authored by R4D Managing Director Nicholas Burnett, a new paper looks at the implications for UNESCO of the proposed post-2015 education goals. UNESCO has been tasked with spear-heading the global education agenda – as  part of the post-2015 development debate.

Co-authored by R4D Managing Director Nicholas Burnett, a new paper looks at the implications for UNESCO of the proposed post-2015 education goals. UNESCO has been tasked with spear-heading the global education agenda – as  part of the post-2015 development debate.

R4D and UNESCO published a report aiming to serve as a rapid reference for policymakers in the Asia-Pacific region who wish to familiarize themselves on non-traditional financing approaches. It compiles successful cases drawn from various sectors that not only break new ground but offer feasible fiscal solutions to better support educational interventions for out-of-school children. 

According to a joint UN report, adolescents are twice as likely to be out of school as primary school-age children, The report titled "Fixing the Broken Promise of Education for All: Findings from the Global Initiative on Out-of-School Children" highlights key trends and data related to out-of-school children and includes a chapter on financing needs for out-of-school children authored by R4D's Milan Thomas and Nicholas Burnett."

R4D Managing Director, Nicholas Burnett discusses international education policies, issues, and challenges in the book titled Education, Learning, Training: Critical Issues for Development. Read more...

This article, available at, reports on a Results for Development Institute (R4D) study that explored whether secondary education systems are adequately preparing young people for the workplace, and identified innovative models for delivering relevant skills at the secondary level. It found that employers are looking for three key types of skills: cognitive, non-cognitive, and technical.

R4D Managing Director Nicholas Burnett was the keynote speaker at the Quality Learning Foundation's first ever national conference in Thailand on May 7, 2014. Burnett's presentation focuses on innovative financing and spending with the goal of reducing the number of out of school children and to improve the quality of existing schooling.

Drawing on recent evidence, a literature review and interviews with experts, the "Buying Down Loans for Education" Report provides as background the necessary contextual information of the basic education needs of low- and middle-income countries; trends and prospects in aid and concessional finance for basic education; and the basic mechanics of buy-downs.

This paper explores strategies to support youth employability and the school-to-work transition. Brief examples are also used to illustrate how programmes in different regions are working to tackle these issues.

Why has the take-up of Early Childhood programs been so slow?  R4D Managing Director Nicholas Burnett suggests several reasons, especially that the discussion has been too confined to the early childhood community.

With support from the Bernard Van Leer Foundation, R4D has developed a prospectus for an Early Learning Challenge to catalyze new investment in early learning programs in pilot countries Kenya and Tanzania.

The six Education for All (EFA) goals and the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), two of which concern education, all expire in 2015. Though there are still three years to go, we now know that they will not be met on time without redoubled efforts, despite unprecedented progress in terms of primary school enrolments and completion and in terms of gender parity, the two issues that are in both sets of goals.

R4D has released a report on training models for employment in the digital economy, prepared with support from the Rockefeller Foundation. With the total size of the digital economy estimated to be about $20.4 trillion in 2013 according to the International Data Corporation, the report examines skill needs for employability. 

Significant headway towards achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Education for All (EFA) goals has been made since their inception in 2000. However, progress has been uneven across sectors and regions, and serious questions have arisen.

The Innovative Secondary Education for Skills Enhancement (ISESE) project was commissioned by the Rockefeller Foundation to the Results for Development Institute (R4D) to identify the skills required for work in the 21st century economies of Africa and Africa.

These twelve background papers were produced as part of Phase I of the Innovative Secondary Education for Skills Enhancement project, in which R4D worked with regional partners in Africa and Asia to identify the skills students in developing countries need.

In this R4D working paper entitled, "Education Resource Mobilization and Use in Developing Countries: Scope for Efficiency Gains through more Strategic Use of Education Aid," R4D expert Birger Fredriksen discusses options for enhancing the allocative efficiency of education aid by using it more strategically to increase its impact on national and global education outcomes.

This report is the result of a collective work carried out by the Writing Committee commissioned
by the Task Force on Innovative Financing for Education created by the Leading Group on
Innovative Financing for Development in March 2010.

In this paper, R4D Managing Director Nicholas Burnett and Oxford University Visiting Research Fellow Desmond Bermingham draw upon their extensive knowledge of education and on R4D’s work on innovative finance in other areas to examine how innovative financing can be applied to mobilize funds for education.

This article was written for the International Working Group on Education and discusses the importance of innovative financing for education, particularly in low-income countries.

This article by Managing Director Nicholas Burnett appears in the March 2010 Issue of Global magazine. It discusses the impact of the global economic crisis on achieving inclusive education and addresses areas of opportunity to ensure the realization of "Education for All."