The Seoul Forum on Financing for Sustainable Development

Global Financing for Education

SEOUL, May 18 – Today, the Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) and the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) hosted the Seoul Forum on Financing for Sustainable Development. The Forum brought together high-level participants from policy, academia, and civil society to discuss 1) A Global Framework for Financing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), 2) Mobilizing Increased Global Financing for Education, 3) The Challenge of Climate Financing, with a special focus on the Green Climate Fund, and 4) New Providers of Concessional and Non Concessional Finance.

The session on Global Financing for Education was co-hosted by SDSN, the Global Partnership for Education and the Brookings Institution. It focused on the necessary financing architecture to scale up education delivery in developing countries. It discussed trends in the quality, magnitude, and allocation of domestic and international public finance and private financing; the experience to date in supporting scaled-up investments across countries; and the development of a global fund for education building on the Global Partnership for Education.

Panelists included: Ms. Julia Gillard, Chair of the Board of the Global Partnership for Education, Professor Jeffrey D Sachs, Director, SDSN and Special Advisor to the UN Secretary-General on the MDGs, Dr. Liesbet Steer, Senior Fellow, the Brookings Institution, Professor Sungsang Yoo, Seoul National University, and the State Minister of Education from Ethiopia, His Excellency Omer Fuad Ibrahim.

The Forum recognized that the proposed SDG on education is the most ambitious global commitment to education in history, covering universal completion of quality primary and secondary education for all girls and boys, universal access to pre-primary education, and increases in access to quality vocational and tertiary education.

Achieving this goal will require greatly increased resources to finance the strengthening and scaling-up of education systems. Dr. Liesbet Steer from Brookings referred to initial estimates by UNESCO that calculate the annual financing gap to achieve universal pre-primary through lower-secondary completion to be around $22 billion per year. She described the challenges in quality and magnitudes of current international flows to education, estimated at approximately $6 billion. In particular, she described the fragmentation of donor resources and need for greater coordination and multilateral aid. The overall scale of aid for education and present funding through the Global Partnership for Education are not consistent with the bold scaling-up required to reach the education SDG.

The panelists discussed mechanisms, including scaling up the Global Partnership into becoming a global fund for education that leverages national resources and technical expertise, with international aid to fill the gaps in education financing, access and achievement.

Ms. Julia Gillard spoke of the need to highlight past successes in improving educational outcomes as motivators for future action. She also spoke of ongoing efforts to scale up the Global Partnership for Education and to prepare it for a larger scale-up of education financing. Professor Sachs described the need for scaled-up ambition in the education sector and a global fund for education that builds on the existing platform of the Global Partnership for Education. He pointed to the example of the health sector which has mobilized 3-4 times as much international financing as the education sector, partly through the creation of the Global Fund to FightAids, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

The panelists agreed that the Republic of Korea could play a crucial role in encouraging such a global fund. The panelists agreed that Korea serves as a global example of educational excellence. Through the transformation of its education system in 3-4 decades, Korea has laid the foundations for its economic successes – an example that offers lessons for many other countries. As a strong supporter of the Global Partnership for Education, Korea is ideally placed to spearhead the scaling up of international financing in education.

There was agreement on the need to bring in private philanthropists, foundations, private companies, and new donor countries. Ministers of education from different countries supported the idea of a global fund that builds on the Global Partnership for Education that can support government efforts across different levels of education. In addition to supporting countries to create goal-based, scaled-up national education plans, and linking funding to results in the form of improved access and learning outcomes, such a global fund could help address common problems like teacher quality and the accessibility and costs of technology, assessments, curriculum, books and learning materials. The panelists also concurred that education in humanitarian emergencies needs specific attention and funding.

The proposal for a scaled-up global fund for education building on the platform of the Global Partnership for Education will be discussed at the World Education Forum at Incheon from May 19-21, 2015 and at the Financing for Development Conference in Addis Ababa on July 13-16, 2015.



For media inquiries and additional information, please contact Jung Myung Cho, KOICA, at or Chandrika Bahadur, SDSN, at

Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), is the leading aid agency of the Republic of Korea.

The Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) is a global network of 300 universities, think tanks and civil society organizations that promotes sustainable development.

The Global Partnership for Education (GPE) is the is the largest multi-stakeholder partnership in education working with developing countries, donor countries, multilateral institutions, civil society organizations and foundations to ensure that every child receives a quality basic education, prioritizing the poorest, the most vulnerable and those living in fragile and conflict-affected countries.

The Brookings Institution is one of the world’s leading public policy organizations that focuses on high-quality, independent research on domestic and international policy issues.