Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 04/2009

A Global Education Fund: Toward a True Global Compact on Universal Education

Gene B. Sperling

January 2009

Council on Foreign Relations


Around the world, 72 million primary-school-aged children and another 226 million adolescents will not attend school this year. While global awareness of the silent crisis of education in developing nations has been growing, education has not experienced the large increases in resource mobilization that have taken place in support of HIV/AIDS, debt relief, and malaria over the last ten years. This shortfall in funding has raised the question as to whether the world needs a new Global Education Fund to elevate education on the global agenda. In this Center for Universal Education Working Paper, Gene B. Sperling argues that there are important design elements of the existing global education architecture—the Education for All Fast Track Initiative—that reflect a promising model for a coordinated, global effort on education that should be built upon. Yet he also finds that a new Global Education Fund must employ serious reforms and have a major rebranding and relaunching moment by heads of state that mobilizes a greater global commitment to more resources and sound program implementation to make significant steps. toward achieving quality universal education for the world’s poorest children.