Students in a Malawi classroom. While Malawi has dramatically raised the number of children in school, most students are not learning to read.
Students in a Malawi classroom. While Malawi has dramatically raised the number of children in school, many students never learn to read.

It was 2011, and Robert Prouty, then head of the World Bank’s Global Partnership for Education, stood before representatives from 52 donor nations in Copenhagen. The goal: to raise $2.5 billion for the next three years of the partnership’s work, aimed at ensuring every child receives a primary education.

Heading into Copenhagen, the partnership and its forerunner, the Education for All Fast Track Initiative, had fallen short, despite spending roughly $2 billion over nearly a decade. It was hardly on track to meet its original goal of universal primary education by 2015. More importantly, even when children in developing countries were getting to school, after four years fewer than half were learning how to read.

Rather than addressing its record, however, the partnership’s chief unveiled a new, more ambitious set of promises.

With the support of donor nations, he pledged, the partnership would cut in half the number of third-graders who could not read in 20 countries within five years. It would reduce the number of children out of school by 25 million and raise primary school graduation by 7.5 percent. It would train 600,000 new teachers, and distribute 50 million textbooks. It would nearly double the partnership’s presence in conflict-ridden states by 2013.

The promises would underpin the credibility the Global Partnership for Education, or GPE, part of a broader omnibus campaign to mark the new millennium with an unprecedented commitment from the industrialized world to end the ills of underdevelopment—in health, poverty and education.

The Global Partnership, a trust fund of the World Bank, backed its ambitious goals of 2011 with a pledge to hold itself accountable, by reporting annually on progress meeting the targets listed country by country.

That has not happened. The partnership has issued many reports. But they do not address, much less measure, progress in meeting the promises as laid out in 2011.

“[T]he growth in quantity hasn’t been met by equal growth in quality,” conceded Yvonne Stassen, a member of the partnership’s board and deputy director of Social Development at the Dutch Foreign Ministry. The Netherlands is the second-biggest funder of Global Partnership after the Great Britain. “We have been overoptimistic on the goals,” Stassen said.

“Nobody talks about them anymore,” said a senior employee, who asked not to be identified because the employee was not authorized to speak to the media. “There was a feeling that they couldn’t meet the goals, or that it was not a priority.”

On Wednesday, the Global Partnership will again seek the support of the world community, with the goal of raising $3.5 billion at a major replenishment conference in Brussels. In an Op-Ed in Monday’s Washington Post, Jeffrey Sachs called on wealthy nations to support the Global Partnership as “the main world advocacy group for children who won’t learn to read, write and count unless the world steps forward to help.”

But a 100Reporters investigation of the partnership’s record has found that enrollment gains have not translated into improvements in learning outcomes or even elementary school graduation.

For example:

  • The Global Partnership showed early success in reducing the number of children out of school in poor countries, but enrollment has largely stagnated since 2008. Between 2008 and 2010, children out of school in sub-Saharan Africa actually increased by 2 million.
  • After four years in school, fewer than half the students in Global Partnership countries have learned how to read, write or do math, according to an independent monitoring report issued earlier this year.
  • Among adolescents, the number of children not attending school has remained virtually unchanged since 2007.
  • After initial gains, the share of primary school dropouts has stagnated at about 25 percent.

In addition, the partnership has disregarded its own research on the importance of uniform standards in building global literacy and on interventions that work in teaching children in poor countries to read. It appears to have abandoned the recommendation of an earlier replenishment report, that it impose a single uniform standard for success: the share of children who complete elementary school with reading and math skills. Instead, the partnership allows each country to set its targets in national Education Sector Plans, which vary widely. Some do not even include measurable goals for student achievement.

In an email, Prouty said that following the Copenhagen meeting, the partnership created a Monitoring and Evaluation unit to ensure transparency in disbursements and report on results, and has produced annual reports on its projects. Literacy was difficult to measure with any uniformity, because countries define literacy in a variety of ways, he wrote.

Alice Albright, the current director of the partnership, declined an interview request, although Charles Tapp, the communications chief, defended the Global Partnership’s record. In an email, Tapp wrote that primary school completion had risen from 58 percent in 2000 to 75 percent in 2011, adding, “Such progress in the poorest countries in the world can hardly be characterized as a failure.”

Current and former employees, consultants and others close to the Global Partnership describe a “see no evil” culture that discourages tough questions about the partnership’s policies and actions, and a long-standing disregard for internal checks on power. Emails from senior staff show a preoccupation with fundraising, and pressure not to insist on hard and fast educational standards.

Moving Money

The partnership’s predecessor, the Education for All Fast Track Initiative, came into being in Dakar, Senegal in 2000, as part of a larger commitment to eight Millennium Development Goals aimed at ending the scourge of poverty and underdevelopment by 2015. The centerpiece of these efforts is the global funds that serve as vehicles for corralling  development assistance from wealthy countries in a single source for maximum effect and efficiency.

Kevin Watkins, executive director of the British Overseas Development Institute and former member of the Global Partnership for Education’s board of directors, believed the model held great promise, and advocated for its creation. “What we had in mind was something like the global health funds – mechanisms that would pool resources, facilitate the development of new public-private partnerships, and deliver results on the ground,” said Watkins, formerly the lead author of UNESCO’S Education for All Global Monitoring Report.

In health, that effort has largely been seen as successful.

The Global Alliance for Vaccine and Immunization, for example, contributed to immunizing 46 million children.  The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria identified and treated 9.7 million new cases of TB over the last five years, and is providing anti-retroviral drugs to 4.2 million people infected with HIV.

But in education, Watkins said, “The results were derisory, especially in the poorest countries. And the GPE has struggled to carve out a distinctive identity and clear sense of purpose.”

Since 2002, the partnership has received some $3.7 billion, ostensibly to promote education in the world’s poorest countries. Its secretariat in Washington has grown from under 10 employees to more than 70. It enjoys the support of 20 countries and the European Union, and counts Great Britain’s Department for International Development as its largest contributor, with a commitment of $857 million. The U.S. Agency for International Development has contributed  $43 million.

The Global Partnership for Education has recently won praise for awarding grants more swiftly and reducing red tape. A U.K. government report said the changes “make it easier for fragile countries to access support” and praised the partnership for having “increased the number of fragile states it funds.”

Leadership Lacking

Current and former employees, however, say that the quickened disbursements have come at a cost. The fund no longer provides direct “technical assistance” to states on their plans for improving education, instead giving states wide latitude and advising them to hire consultants to help design and execute their national education plans.

That approach virtually ignores the Global Partnership’s own research into what works.

In 2010, the Global Partnership undertook several major studies of its record. One study candidly reported poor learning outcomes in the countries where the partnership was active.

For example, in Mali and Niger, more than 83 percent of second graders and 63 percent of fourth graders could not read a single word. Only 2.2 percent of students in Mali and almost none in Niger could read at 45 words per minute, the minimum speed needed for comprehension. In Gambia, 54 percent of second-graders could not read a single word by the end of second grade; In Liberia, 35 percent.

“This deficiency compromises the large enrollment increases brought about worldwide through donor coordination and the Education for All Fast Track Initiative (EFA FTI),” the report said. In response, the partnership set benchmarks for partner countries for reading fluency goals for grade two and for elementary school graduation.

More importantly, the EFA examined pilot interventions, those that worked and those that didn’t. For example, a pilot intervention the Hewlett Foundation sponsored in Mali and Niger, called Systematic Method for Reading Success, showed significant reading gains in pilot schools in just four months. It involved 30 minutes a day of extra reading instruction built around two booklets that emphasized phonics.

The results were impressive. In Mali, 42 percent of first-graders correctly read 50 percent of the words on a word list, compared to two percent of students in the national schools. In Niger, 22 percent of the nine- to 15-year old students learned to read fluently after a year in the program.

The EFA report seemed a striking demonstration of the Global Partnership’s potential for bringing professionalism and expertise to build literacy in the poorest corners of the planet.  A second report called the partnership to shift its focus from access to learning outcomes.


What was required, the reports suggested, were measurable standards and the adoption of proven techniques to get children reading quickly. And that would take leadership.

But the partnership appeared to disregard its own findings, moving away from insisting on tough performance standards as the price for assistance, in favor of rallying political support for the cause. Luis Crouch, lead specialist on education until 2013, steered the partnership away from defining reading proficiency as the ability to correctly read 45-60 words per minute—which educational research suggests is near the minimum speed necessary by second grade for good comprehension. The rate rises in higher grades.

Rather, Crouch wrote in a document seen by 100Reporters, the Global Partnership should focus on building a social movement for universal education under the Global Partnership’s banner.  “Even if the science is clear and you can establish some [correct words per minute] goal, I think it is politically unwise and will minimize action,” Crouch wrote.

“This is not about science,” he added. “It is about generating social momentum.”

Crouch did not respond to a request for comment.

Modest Goals

The shift away from hard and fast criteria for literacy opened the way for countries to set more subjective, and often lower, goals for learning in a variety of areas.

Mozambique, which has received $160 million through the Global Partnership since 2007, does not pledge any learning outcomes in its education plan. Though Mozambique has doubled the number of children in elementary and secondary school, it packs more than 60 children in a classroom with one teacher—roughly double the number of students in a public school classroom in the U.S. Only half the children in Mozambique complete primary school.

Liberia’s education plan allows for the introduction of literacy and math tests “during the lifetime of the sector plan”, but sets no benchmarks.

Tapp, of the Global Partnership, defended the dismantling of central technical support teams. He said that that technical expertise moved to “country support teams,” whom he described as “international education experts with many years of experience working in all regions of the world.”

Insiders, however, say that administrators, not educators, dominate the country support teams. “There is no one who knows anything about learning,” said one former employee. “They do have experience administering programs. That’s what they wanted–administration.”

Increased Enrollment

The Global Partnership has contributed to reducing the number of children out of school to 57 million in 2011 from 102 million in 1999. The gains were steady until about 2008, then flattened out before rising slightly between 2010 and 2011.

Heather Simpson, senior director of education at Save the Children, faulted education development experts for seeking to boost school attendance by focusing on the children who were easiest to reach, and overlooking those in remote areas or in fragile and conflict-ridden states. In addition, there appears to have been little understanding that building schools alone was not enough to boost educational achievement.

Of 180 million children in the countries where the Global Partnership supports education, only 80 million students reach grade 4 able to read, write and do math, according to the partnership’s own reports.

A series of annual reports the partnership is releasing, while labeled “Results for Learning,” focus on fiscal stewardship, not academic achievement. The 2013 report, for example, is about “Facing the Challenges of Data, Financing and Fragility.”

Pictures of Success

Current and former employees say that in the absence of statistics that demonstrate academic progress in teaching children in developing countries to read and do math, they are pressured to find anecdotes of particularly bright or successful children.

Asked recently for its progress reports on student learning, Alexandra Humme, a spokeswoman for the Partnership, provided a “Pledge Monitoring Report,” along with the Global Partnership’s showcase paper for the replenishment conference, called “250 Million Reasons to Invest in Education.” The title refers to the number of children who still cannot read after four years in school.

In terms of results, the paper notes that countries receiving aid from the Global Partnership increased domestic spending on education as a share of Gross Domestic Product by an average of 10 percent. The number of children who completed primary school grew 12 percent faster on average after a country joined the partnership, the paper said. It projects that primary school completion in those countries will rise to 78 percent in 2014 from 74 percent.

But the paper says nothing about the learning outcomes achieved in the countries where it has operated. Looking to the future, it reports that 90 percent of the Education Sector Plans approved incorporate student achievement in the proposal. It points specifically to Ethiopia, saying the country’s plan “set ambitious targets to boost quality and ensure relevant learning for all children and youth.”

But Ethiopia’s plan seeks only very modest gains on national exams in core subjects. It projected raising the share of fourth graders who would correctly answer half the test questions in core subjects, to 23 percent by 2013 from 20 percent in 2008. Among eighth graders, Ethiopia’s goal was for just 13.5 percent of students, up from 10.2 percent, to answer half the questions correctly.

The actual performance of Ethiopian students surpassed the goals, but still left 71 percent of fourth graders, and 82 percent of eighth graders, unable to answer half the questions right on achievement exams.

In an interview in April, one former employee recalled asking Tapp, chief of communications for the partnership, how the partnership would address the absence of impressive learning gains.

The ex-employee quoted Tapp as responding, “It’s okay. We’ll put videos up of children learning to read.”

“We had these Potemkin Village stories,” said the former employee. “We all looked for these charming stories. And as the months passed, I realized that no one was asking the right questions.”

Tapp rejected the characterization. “There are many measures to show the success of GPE, as discussed above and in various GPE publications, so this suggestion is without foundation,” he wrote in an email. “We have also sought to provide case studies of country-level process improvements in countries after they have joined the partnership.”

Earlier this month, the GPE posted a video of two 10-year-old Ethiopian children, Aberash Tsegaye and Yosef Yebas, who “have big dreams” at the Hidassie school in Addis Ababa. Aberash hopes to become a doctor when she grows up; Yosef, an engineer.

“I like coming to school to learn, study and read different books,” said Aberash.

The most recent reading assessment of primary school students in Ethiopia found that even in Addis Ababa, which has the highest scores in the country, more than 80 percent of students could not read proficiently, and one in four second-graders showed zero reading comprehension.

The picture was far worse away from the capital. “In Sidama (72.8 percent), Tigray (56.9 percent) and Benishangul-Gumuz, more than half of the regions’ children in Grade 2 did not understand a story at all,” according to a recent assessment by the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Though the Global Partnership has promised to focus on the most marginalized children in its next phase, Hidassie, the school featured in the video, is a private school, built with Global Partnership funds for 1,600 students. The average class size is 55 students.

In Malawi, the government embraced “Education for All,” opening classrooms to all children. The result, said Simpson at Save the Children, was classrooms with 300 students to one teacher.

“There were no learning materials at school and the kids weren’t learning anything,” said Simpson. “The teachers didn’t know how to teach the basics. We can’t just assume teachers know magically how to teach and parents magically know how to support kids’ learning at home.”

Results of reading tests show that 96 percent of students in Malawi are reading zero words per minute by the time they enter second grade. The country’s Education Sector Plan, its blueprint for educational advancement using Global Partnership funds, does not contain a single goal for learning results.

“Nobody wants to admit that these kids aren’t learning,” said an education specialist that works with the partnership.

Value for Money

Contributing nations like the U.K. periodically assess the effectiveness of multi-lateral agencies like the Global Partnership for Education. These reviews are supposed to present an unvarnished account of “value for money,” so that policymakers can determine whether to continue supporting the aid programs.

Because of the emphasis on independence, Michael McDowell, a former communications chief of the Global Partnership, said he was shocked to hear at a staff meeting in January 2011 that Phil Rose, head of the Education and Skills Team at the British Department for International Development, had successfully lobbied an internal panel in his agency to raise the Global Partnership’s rating in its independent review.

Rose had been a forceful advocate for increasing the U.K.’s contribution, making it the single largest donor to the partnership. McDowell quoted a senior employee, on assignment to the Global Partnership from the British development agency, saying at a staff meeting that the partnership owed a great debt to Rose: He had persuaded the evaluators to designate the partnership “good value for money,”—their second-highest rating—rather than “adequate value for money”—the second-lowest.

“These reviews are supposed to be independent and protected from interference,” McDowell said in an interview.

McDowell subsequently sent emails to the British development agency, alerting officials there to possible interference in the evaluation process, and asking for an inquiry. Following initial confirmation that his letter was received, McDowell said he heard nothing further from British development officials.

Asked about McDowell’s charges, officials at DfID, the British development agency, at first said they had never heard of the accusations.  After being sent McDowell’s original email exchange with the agency, however, the agency sent McDowell a letter saying that it had looked into the claims but found no evidence of interference in the evaluation process.

McDowell said his boss at the partnership “didn’t want to hear any critical comments from me about DfID upping the scores,” because the partnership “was heavily dependent on the U.K. money, which was biggest of all. But I was a U.K. citizen and I had a responsibility on this issue to my own government.”

McDowell, a former reporter for the BBC, was forced out of his position at the Global Partnership, and successfully challenged his dismissal. A World Bank tribunal largely vindicated his claims, awarding him six months salary and legal costs.

As leaders of the Global Partnership approach donors once again this week, enthusiasm among once-generous contributors in Europe is waning. Poor learning outcomes may be partly to blame. The Netherlands was once the second largest donor to the Global Partnership, contributing $649 million over the years. But that will not continue, said Stassen, of the Foreign Ministry.

“A lot of donors’ interest in education is changing,” she said. The Dutch are curbing aid to basic education, channeling support instead toward vocational and professional training.  “We are not the only ones,” Stassen added.

“We were hoping that other donors would fill the gaps,” Stassen said. “The trend, however, is that others are also considering cutting back.”

To make up for the losses, the partnership is seeking new support, notably from Qatar and other oil-rich nations of the Middle East.

It is also launching a high-profile public relations campaign to promote education as a multiplier of social benefits: a way of reducing poverty, saving children’s lives, lowering the risk of war and raising crop yields. Each of these benefits, however, depends not on children attending school, but on what they are able to learn once they get there.

Diana Jean Schemo

Diana Jean Schemo

Diana Jean Schemo is co-founding executive editor of 100Reporters and an award-winning former foreign, national and cultural correspondent for The New York Times and the Baltimore Sun.
Simon Clark

Simon Clark

Simon Clark is a member of 100Reporters and staff reporter for the Wall Street Journal, based in London.

26 COMMENTS

  1. […] The GPE’s evolving support to fragile and conflict-affected states is part of a larger extension of global policy and practice on the part of donors, NGOs, and UN agencies. Its role in raising the prospects of sector-wide and longer-term development-focused funding in situations of fragility and conflict is unique and holds the potential for transformative change in educational opportunities for some of the world’s most marginalized children. Nevertheless, great challenges remain for GPE. The GPE has been subject to well-grounded criticism, including related to its dependent relationship with the World Bank. It has also been critiqued by some as falling short of its initial financing targets and its lack of attention to learning goals. […]

  2. I like how you follow your assertion re ‘mountains of data’ with ‘Unfortunately the data have not been used to design effective policies and strategies.’ Now, whose mandate do you think it was to find mechanisms for countries to work with one another and to strengthen their own monitoring and evaluation systems, something that, like you point out in your response, GPE has been unable to do? That’s just one among many failures of leadership on GPE’s part. GPE is supposed to work in -dare I say it?- partnership with countries, and other stockholders. Again, the P in GPE is supposed to address this and other technical and organizational gaps individual countries cannot always meet by themselves. Instead, you go back to the fundraising shilling points as if by virtue of its ability to pass the hat around Brussels and collecting enough money to keep the GPE’s bureaucracy alive, somehow this makes GPE a success.

    • Let me be clear. I have no problem raising funds to support strategies that work, i.e. those that provide education opportunities to poor children that are at least equivalent to those that are provided to the rich. I have a problem though raising funds to support the kind of programs that consistently have failed to do so. Funding more of the same should not be acceptable to the donors that prioritize these issues.
      Similarly I would be happy to pay the even higher salaries perks and benefits to GPE staff and board members if they were able and ready to consistently produce results. But you get what you pay for. The WB has consistently reduced salaries and benefits of staff over the past decade. Many of high performing staff have left for academia, consulting firms and NGOs. The Bank (and the GPE, I presume) is no longer competitive internationally and finds it very difficult to recruit experienced, high performing mid-career professionals. The resulting decline in technical expertise combined with a get-out-the-money culture probably goes a long way to explain the disappointing results of many donor supported education development programs. I would argue to pay them well but hold them accountable for results on the ground, possibly through bonuses for demonstrable outcomes. Indeed personnel is policy!

      • Your point about the World salaries as below par is nonsense. “I” levels, like the hapless A Albright, the CEO of GPE, and the risk-averse Beth King, the Director of Ed at the Bank, earn fsalaries in the range of $300,000 — tax free!; i.e., the equivalent, gross of $400,000! Plus of course wonderful retirement benefits. And then they return to do freelance work for the Bank, with their old mates, for top-dollar consultancies. It’s a racket! What academic, except a Nobel prizewinner like Stiglitz or Krugman could come near that? And the latter are FAR better qualified and distinguished than Albright or King (or her since-fired boss Atinc, who earned about $500,000 gross!).The level below Albright and King, H, has a tax free setting of about $200,000, or, $265,000 or more, gross. The main level of “senior” officers, G, get about $200,000 gross! For heaven’s sake get real. The “Bank” is a DEVELOPEMENT organization, not a real Bank, not Wall Street. This canard, which is peddled by Bank PR (dozons of THEM on the same high salaries) has conned Dr. Jim Kim, the Pres, into saying on NPR, etc, that Bank staff could work on Wall St for double or whatever. Then LET them! It’s a bluff. Wall St doesn’t want them! NGO heads and their senior people earn nothing like these salaries. Heavens above, the developing country staff at the Bank are making out like millionaires compared to the elite in their own countries! The Bank jobs are SOUGHT after. And many of these so-called “academics” at the Bank are failed-tenure people who just aren’t good university standard. I have no sympathy for people, as the adage goes, who reduce world poverty……one Bank salary….at…a…time! As for GPE with about 70 staff and numerous highly paid consultants, this is a disgraceful waste of aid money. Carol Bellamy, the raging abusive chair of GPE until she was at last eased out last summer, long before her tenure finished, was getting $2,000 plus perks! An outrage. An empty seat would have helped GPE more. At least poor innocent abroad Julia Gillard only gets her expenses.

  3. This is a timely report, which highlights the substantial unfinished agenda for EFA and the GPE. The fact that 25 years after the Jomtien conference some 20% of primary school age children remain out of school and that of those that are in school half do not acquire even the most basic competencies , should challenge all committed to EFA to reflect on the reasons for it and consider remedial action. unfortunately the report does not provide much
    guidance on the latter.

    With the support of GPE and donor agencies enormous progress has been made to document levels of learning achievement in developing countries. Most now have systems that monitor student learning. In the Africa region CONFEMEN and SAQMEC have made major contributions in this regard. PISA, PIRLS, MICS, MLA, TIMMS and DHS have produced mountains of data on student learning. The evidence that poor students especially those living in slums and rural areas are not learning, is overwhelming. Unfortunately the data have not been used to design effective policies and strategies.

    The report and the comments so far highlight management problems
    in the GPE secretariat and in the World Bank sector. It seems to me this is a distraction from the real challenges. The reasons for the persistence of poor quality and gaps in access are much more profound than the alleged incompetence, fecklessness and squabbles of Bank and GPE managers

    The more important issue is the failure of all involved –GPE secretariat, WB and bilateral donor agency education managers and staff and analysts in academia and NGOs – to critically examine the effectiveness of the dominant delivery model that relies on civil service teachers and education managers, assumes five or six grades in separate classes taught by a single teacher, instructional strategies that emphasize rote learning curricula that are rigidly uniform, and largely ignore language of instruction strategies. Financing for this model has emphasized largely teacher salaries and civil works at the expense of instructional materials and teacher training and support. All need to recognize that this model has largely failed to deliver the quality education that every child is entitled to those that do not belong to the urban elites.

    Experiments and innovations have largely driven by donor funding and even when demonstrably successful are rarely taken to scale. The problem is not any more the absence of knowledge on the levels and progress of student learning. There is also a substantial knowledge base on the features of successful quality improvement programs such as the ones in Mali and Niger. The challenge is to develop strategies for the large scale implementation of successful experiments and innovations. Education managers would do well to look at strategies that private sector companies are using to deliver goods to poor people ( see e.g.:The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid by C.K. Prahalad) or the opportunities of social business (Muhammad Yunus)

    This will require abandoning the government monopoly on education provision. Partnerships with private sector providers, social entrepreneurs and NGOs who would be allowed to deliver an education service outside the rigidities of existing public regulations. These efforts would of course need to be supported with government and donor financing on a performance contracting basis. This suggests what is needed is not defunding the GPE but refunding it with a substantial proportion of the funds earmarked for supporting the design and implementation of large scale innovations outside
    the traditional delivery model for public provision. It will also require a commitment to building technical capacity in the multilateral and bilateral agencies to share knowledge and provide support to countries that are ready to go down this road. This is especially urgent as the WB and bilateral
    agencies are reducing financial support and specialist staff for basic
    education and those staff that remain are being used largely as program
    administrators and procurement managers. Maybe the Education First initiative will provide an opportunity to address these issues.

    • In Washington, there is an adage: “PERSONNEL IS POLICY.” That doesn’t mean that individuals/managers are critical to achieving progress, but they are a vital part of it. Leadership, political, and managerial are key to change here. GPE since the start has been incredibly weak on management. Either they were World Bank paper pushers with no courage or morals except careerism, as recently, including the VP and Director of Ed who “supervised” GPE (not), or they took the big money (six figure salaries for the current half dozen “leaders” of GPE, all without taxes) and just produced a “product” which was a myth! The “results” they boast of are a sham. It is disgraceful that the World Bank, GPE, and those incredibly irresponsible aid officials, particularly in DFID and AUSAID — the top two donors — plus CIDA (Nora Fyles, for example) have not been held to account by the donor governents, who are asleep at the switch. You have to have smart, dedicated, results-focused personnel to produce and implement the policy! So, in GPE, the Potemkin Village of global education, personnel WAS policy. Deeply depressing. Time to throw out the 70 plus staff, the dozens of consultants, the vast expenses, the business class air fares grossly wasted and start…..again.

  4. Fundraisers must first be donors!Anyone begging donors for taxpayer money should first show what they as individuals are willing to put to the cause.

    Come on Ms. Albright. Can you contribute just $100,000 from your stock portfolio? your rental income? Your plush World Bank salary? Your savings from your VP job at Export-Import bank?

    Have a heart Ms. Albright. Please give to the poor so that they can buy just 1% of the books that your children have.

    [The GPE website has blocked such comments]

    • Is GPE accepting terrorism money??
      Despite the flashy break-all-bank accounts replenishment event last June, GPE got only promises. Too many questions dogging them about failure to teach children and just mind their own salaries and plush travel….
      Specifically the British Development Agency (DFID) will only give its promised share when GPE raises about one billion $ from some other sources.
      This has made GPE court governments that support terrorists. Everyone in that office is running of to Qatar in hopes of getting that billion. The management and its fundraisers are kissing the hands and asses of the emirs and sheiks. To get their money and salaries for the next 5 years, they could have dinner with Al Qaeda and Hamas!
      And it’s not just GPE. Brookings institution has gotten a grant from Qatar to do little more than lobbying. Brookings is closely linked to GPE because the GPE director of evaluation lives with the Brookings director of education.
      In the midst of all this, Senator Grassley has expressed strong concerns about US think tanks getting funds from foreign governments. Qatar financing Brookings is one case in point. GPE will claim that they World Bank, international, pro-children, and it’s fine for Qatar to finance them.
      But is it? Qatar may send money that may buy teacher salaries in Mali while financing the terrorists who have taken over the northern parts and closed the schools. Qatar may give some crumbs to poor Nigerian schools while financing the islamists who abducted the girls who were going to school.
      Overall it’s best if the European Union and DFID put good taxpayer money to better use than join Qatar to ‘educate’ the world.

      Where can all this be discussed? Nowhere else. The GPE site refused to permit this post, and so did the EFA site by Unesco. (After all, beggars like unesco cannot be chooses.) This is the only place in cyberspace. Let’s hear others!

  5. It’s widely known that GPE staff get higher grades and salaries than the
    regular Bank and regularly violate Bank norms in travel expenses.

    At least let them put their money where their mouth is.

    Come on, Ms. Albright: Can you spare just $100,000 from your $400,000 salary and tax reimbursements?

    And staff? Put a pledge sheet up to show your personal contributions and dedication!

    And by the way, let the world know how much the replenishment event cost
    the donors. How much did it cost to fly (business class) and house
    over 40 ministers and their entourage in Brussels? Which important
    tasks did these ministers have to abandon in order to get there?

  6. Still, all the toxicity and destruction of careers and good intentions aside, bottom line is that GPE has little -if any- value added to offer and is being propped up by inertia and lack of creative interventions that could restore the credibility of a global approach to education; one that does not rely on cookie cutter ideas or is unable to deliver any kind of useful results.

    • Yep, as you say, the bottom line is that, tragically, for children all over the world, GPE, despite the BILLIONS of dollars spent (and it IS billions) has made so little difference thanks to the complete shambles of GPE under Prouty and Bellamy and now the latest crew of Albright and Tapp. And where was the World Bank as the overall “manager”? Heading for the hills too….shame on all of them. God bless the children who lost out while others were making out like bandits……

  7. Some of us saw first hand the pernicious impacts of Prouty’s remarkable incompetence and spinelessness aided and abetted by the likes of Sandra Barton, a seconded employee from DFID, who was particularly toxic and spent a great deal of energy doing Bellamy’s abusive bidding throughout her time at FTI/GPE. At least seven staff were forced out or outright fired by Prouty and his crew. By the time walking-conflict-of-interest turned literacy coach Luis Crouch showed up, the place was in shambles. It was time to run for the hills…

  8. By the way, the GPE was in trouble long before Tamar Atinc and Beth King entered the scene. Global partners rightly demanded more control in GPE governance because the initial WB management screwed it up. And all this turmoil and waste at the insitutional level is paid for by young children in the world’s poorest countries. It is enough to make one throw up….

    • Sorry, you are cutting far far too much slack for Atinc and King. They allowed Bellamy to abuse staff horribly, dominate the weak and cowardly Bob Prouty, who wouldn’t/couldn’t stand up to her and allowed her to run amok. Atinc and King made political calculations to sacrifice staff and do nothing. One very brave H level won that person’s unfair dismissal action — connived at by Prouty, as the judges ruled in March 2013 in a landmark decision on the gaming of OPEs to skew badly against the staff member — and was awarded damages, the negative remarks removed entirely from the personnel files, and legal costs paid in full. Atinc and King did not defend abused staff. They are a disgrace. They also did not act as good stewards of DFID and other major donors large donations. Jim Kim saw that in Atinc’s case, and should have seen it in the weak paper-pushing Beth King case. Shame on all three of them. And good riddance to all of them. And the dreadful Bellamy. As one major education expert said of her tenure: “an empty chair would have been of more use.”

      • I didn’t follow this sorry chapter in the GPE’s history too closely, but as I recall it was Tamar (and not her predecessor) who had the courage to get “the dreadful” Bellamy pushed out — which required standing up to the US, no mean feat…

        • wish I could agree, but you are sadly misinformed. it was, above all, Dr. Kim who moved against Bellamy, not Atinc or King. They shilly shallied for years and let abused staff twist in the wind. I welcome your other pertinent remarks about what FTI/GPE SHOULD have been. Indeed. But the secretariat heads picked were wholly wrong, to say the least. This needed a strong moral manager with some courage. The last one had neither of those attributes, and everyone knew it, but King and Atinc allowed this bad mess to drift on and on. Strong leaders would have put in a strong manager who would have led and encouraged and allowed GPE to thrive. They didn’t.

    • Atinc was, with Carol Bellamy, the joint appointer of Alice Albright. Fact. Albright was Bellamy’s pick. It was in the World Bank’s interest to select someone really qualified, not just on the education side — Albright has no speciality in education, only finance of health — so why was she selected? Atinc clearly bowed to Bellamy, whose candidate Albright was. So much for introducing “change management” (not) and building back damaged staff morale at GPE.

  9. This report, and in fact the whole history of the GPE, is profoundly depressing. As co-author (with Alain Mingat) of the 2002 report that made the case that faster EFA progress required not only additional financing but also more coordinated donor funding pooled into baskets that could support countries’ recurrent costs (teacher salaries, books and materials) AND ongoing research about what national strategies were most cost-effective (through a common monitoring framework, called the “indicative framework”, it has been terribly sad to see our ideas watered down and progressively lost over time. From a highly efficient and motivated team of 6 staff in 2003 (one DfID, one Canadian CIDA and one French secondee plus myself and one WB research assistant) running the entire program, the FTI has evolved into an ever-larger bureaucracy with an increasingly complex governance structure, overhead costs and declining results on the ground. It is highly ironic to me that the mantra of the development partners who supported the WB in launching the FTI in 2002 — the Netherlands, DfID, Norway and France — at the time was “no new bureaucracy — we do not want to repeat the experience of GFATM, losing 2 years in setting up a new organization that has not yet disbursed”. Yet today, the Global Fund is seen as a success compared to the FTI/GPE. I guess I should have foreseen that my vision of efficiently-channeled, depoliticised aid was just that! The sad lessons for me are that: i) global aid always ends up funding overhead that enriches developed country staff and practitioners as much as the children, teachers and communities on the ground that so desperately need support; and ii) once established, the primary mission of an aid organization (like all organizations I suppose) becomes the protection and advancement of its own institutional interests — for more staff and more funding and less accountability for results….

  10. Bank management, as someone rightly said in this thread here, specifically Beth King, just didn’t want to get involved in correcting management mess and incompetence within GPE, or sheer abuse by Carol Bellamy, the raging highly paid chair,nor did King’s boss (since fired, T Atinc) and the two of them just let decent GPE staff who asked questions, twist in the wind. Shame on both of them. It is disappointing that Dr. Kim didn’t fire King too, altho she is leaving later this month. This is why the Bank staff have so little confidence in their “bosses.” And that is what the 360s of all the Bank and twice inside GPE showed 00 morale is awful because of who “leads” (not) in GPE especially. Careerists who seek “consensus” (which means don’t say anything mildly critical, no matter how professional) and take the big bucks and don’t lead but just climb up the greasy pole. This happened big time under dry stick Zoellick who rubber stamped promotions of nonentities to Director, VP, even MD for heaven’s sake. At least Kim pushed out one Zoellick promoted MD. I hope Kim clears out a lot more of these unimpressive paper pushers who are often failed academics who lost out on tenure or ivory tower economists types who wouldn’t know practicality if it hit them in the face. Depressing. God help the poor out there. GPE and parts of the Bank who reduce poverty one WB salary at a time…..

  11. The biggest sin is the wasted time and opportunities of the poor who go to schools that can’t teach them.
    The staff of the donor agencies know this very well and could fix things. Instead they remain idle at the life disasters of the poor. They cynically enrich themselves with high salaries, fly business class around the world and give empty speeches. Their children of course go to the best schools. Shame on you World Bank, UNESCO, UNICEF!

  12. A very worrying report, rich in detail, and with very unsatisfactory responses from the GPE. They have questions to answer and aid ministries must investigate the so-called “results” which GPE is claiming. This is hundreds of millions of pounds, dollars, Euros in public funds, running into billions, with little, it looks like, to show for it. As for 70 staff — and no doubt dozens of World Bank paid consultants — this place has grown like Topsy, with all those six figure Bank salaries which are free of tax and with really nice benefits! How can this be rationalised when there is no significant evaluation/quality assessment mechanism here? And why has the World Bank management, which is responsible for donor money, ultimately, not held this trust fund to account? There have always been troubling stories about FTI/GPE mismanagement, so who at the World Bank was managing the managers? Questions for Elizabeth King the (outgoing, now?) eduction director of the World Bank, to say the least. You can bet that other serious journalists like these two will be picking up this investigative story.

  13. 1. They keep talking about
    evaluation showing that “The Global Partnership
    showed early success in reducing the number of children out of school in poor
    countries,..” , but this is wrong as GPE simply
    substitute other investments from multi-lateral institutions. An evaluation
    without a counterfactual is meaningless.

    2. There is a point that nobody
    seems to notice and it is the role that individual members of the Local
    Education Groups play. Some like UNICEF, and this is only one of several
    examples, make sure that their programs become part of the Government’s
    education plan. This is questionable to say the least, as UNICEF has to approve
    the education plan presented by the Government. There is a clear conflict
    of interest here.

    3. UNICEF has become the
    Supervising Entity in several countries without the necessary experience to
    play that role. This has created an artificial market for retirees of multi-lateral
    institutions with experience in designing and implementing country-wide
    programs.

    4. Finally, GPW has become an intermediary
    step without adding any value added in content when designing or supervising
    projects.

  14. An excellent, probing report. This is an indictment of the Global Partnership management and of the World Bank for not doing due diligence on one of its trust funds. Noone wants poor children to go unschooled and learn but the shocking waste of billions of dollars here, beggars belief. And I write as a development supporter. GPE seems to act like an automatic teller bank machine with few questions asked and just processing money out the door. Taxpayers of any donor government should be questioning any future funding. There needs to be an independent investigation of GPE and not by the World Bank, UK DFID or any other agency. And if GPE suggests this report is wrong then let an independent set of assessors look at the “evidence” of “success” and let the chips fall where they may in vindication (unlikely) or praise. GPE needs to PROVE its case, not waffle on about “success” which looks increasingly dubious.

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