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Toward a Global Fund for Education?

Panelists: David Gartner, Acting Head, Fast Track Initiative Secretariat, and Bob Prouty, World Bank Education Sector
Moderator: Gene B. Sperling, Director, Center for Universal Education and Senior Fellow for Economic Studies, Council on Foreign Relations
November 20, 2008
Council on Foreign Relations


GENE SPERLING:  Hi.  We'll -- if I could ask everybody to take their seat -- George Ingram, particularly -- (chuckles).  Thank you for this inspired turnout at 9:00 in the morning.

As we're talking about going to the next level, it's only appropriate that Barbara Bruns just walks in, because -- (laughs) -- because, for those of us who are -- you know, I don't know if after seven years you get to be a veteran, but when I had my chance to -- now I'll "out" Barbara and say that she was actually a very good consultant to Civil Society when they were working on the -- it wasn't called the "Fast Track," it was the "accelerated financing mechanism."  Barbara very much, secretly allowed many of us to comment -- her and Ruth allowed many of us to comment as things went on.

So, anyways, well, thank you for coming to this discussion on Global Education Fund.  I know we have a lot people, but I'd still like to stick with the tradition that we usually here of -- because I think it's helpful for me, and everybody, to just go quickly around the room, so if we're having this discussion everybody knows who everybody is and where they're from.

[Introductions made off mike.]

SPERLING:  Well, thank you.

Let me introduce -- actually, myself and our two panelists.  I'm Gene Sperling.  I'm head of the Center for Universal Education here.  I, back in 2000, with the support of some of you, led the U.S. delegation to the World Education Forum in Dakar, and then founded this Center, and have been working on this issue and chairing the U.S. Global Campaign for Education as well.

To my right is Bob Prouty, who has also, with Barbara, been one of the real veterans at the World Bank Education Sector, through the creation, and now management, of the FTI Secretariat.  He is now the acting head of the FTI Secretariat.  And he has a long career in education in Africa -- the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda, and has -- has really been -- you know, I'm supposed to list all the things he's an expert in, but it pretty much says everything having to do with education.  So, high expectations.

But anyways, we're very happy -- I don't know if we can brag, Bob, that this is your -- this is certainly your first appearance here as acting director of FTI, so we'll -- you know, we feel like we're premiering you.

And then to my far right -- though not politically -- is David Gartner, who is senior counsel to the Global AIDS Alliance, and has -- you know, I think David, as much as any person -- or him and Paul, have really led in the United States, in Washington, bringing together the global AIDS advocacy and the universal education advocacy from issues of fees to now working on a new enhanced effort going forward.

So what we're going to do is I'm going to -- let me tell you what we have here.  I have here a -- (to staff) -- have we given that out or not; the full paper?  Well, we have a full paper that you can have.  It is in draft form.  It's on Global Education Fund.  And we're going to put this paper out either next week or right after Thanksgiving, because we want it to be out prior to the Education -- for a high-level meeting.

We did think about just kind of a officially putting it out, and then it occurred to Anda (sp) and I we didn't want to officially put out a paper and then have everybody give all these great suggestions.  So we are -- or criticisms -- so if you think your paper should be cited, there's still time. If you think an issue was missed, there's still time.  The mistakes we've made, there's still time.

So, we gave out both an executive summary, but the longer paper, we would love it if people looked, and we've already gotten some comments from Joan Lombardi and some other people.  So, we'd love comments, going forward.  Please don't actually send that out as a final, but anybody here, we will send out the final draft, you know, sometime in the next probably seven to 10 days at the latest.

So, what I was going to do is present a PowerPoint, which I usually don't do here but it's sometimes easier, I think, for a new proposal.  And then Bob is going to, you know, both comment but give his own ideas, going forward; as well as David.  And then we will -- and then we will open it up immediately to the floor.  Since I am also participating, I will not take any moderator's prerogative of asking questions, so I will let you all be the moderator, so to speak, once we're done.

So, a "Global Education Fund Toward a Global Compact on Education."  Let me just start with kind of what I didn't want, a bit, which was -- and I was just talking with David and Bob about this, which is, I think all of us who work in policy, it's very fun to put forward kind of new ideas and new proposals out of scratch because we're all policy wonks to some degree.

And as I'm going to mention, I did that myself way back in -- I guess, it must have been May of 2001, in writing up a paper that was supposed to be a Global Education Fund paper, though we called it -- I was looking for an acronym so we went for "GABE," Global Alliance for Basic Education.  If anybody wants to bring that back to life, they can feel free.  I didn't have the ability to consult with people on something shorter.

But, at that point, I did think the time was right for, kind of, completely out-of-the-box, fresh ideas.  As I'm going to discuss, as that started moving and developed, taking on a life of its own, I very much felt that this issue is way too important for us to just be at an abstract or theoretical level.  So, I think the idea here was to take very seriously moving toward something that might be called the "Global Education Fund."

But what I wanted to do, in doing that, was really ground it in the experience and the successes and the gaffes of what's gone on so far because I think it would be a -- it would be a disservice to the children that we ultimately want to help, but also to the work that's been done, to not take seriously the fact that there is, essentially, been a global education process, going forward, which is the Education For All Fast Track Initiative.  And, therefore, my feeling was any of us who want to propose anything different, or reform, have an obligation to start by looking at what works or doesn't work or can be improved on that, going forward.

So let me do, like, a tiny bit of history first.  In the year 2000, when everybody left Dakar, there was a couple of -- you know, the question was, there was a very nicely framed compact there, and I think Jim Wolfensohn even laid it out very clear, and lots of people repeated it, which was:  No country that came forward with a well-planned, you know, and well-supported education-for-all plan would fail because of lack of resources.

And in many ways, that was very much in the compact notion that was to take hold with the Millennium Challenge Account, with the Monterrey Consensus -- a developing country, nationally-owned plan coming forward; and donors, therefore, doing their part in helping to fund them.  But there was enormous awareness that in 1990 the same pledge had been made, and that everybody had gone home and that there had never been a single global financing process.

So remember, 1990, the world promises to have universal education by 2000, or so; 2000, they're kind of restarting, going, nah, never mind, what we really meant was 2015.  And so I think there was a great commitment, and particularly on Civil Society, that there be some form of global financing compact.

Now, I am a child of debt relief -- and some of the debt relief veterans, like Tom Hart, are in the room here.  But what was fascinating or just striking to me about dealing with education and debt relief in 2000 was the difference when you actually had developing countries believing there was a compact versus them not believing that.

So what struck me is that once the enhanced HIPC debt relief was passed, it was just very interesting to be in the White House at that time.  I remember being at a conference, and -- I mean, I'll give you a perfect example:  At the Education For All conference in Dakar, President Obasanjo asked for a meeting with me.  So you don't always get a head of state asking a meeting with you even if you're in a, you know, high staff position.  But he was meeting with -- wanted to meet because he wanted to lobby for Nigeria being eligible for debt relief.

I mean, there was a clear compact in debt relief -- it was laid out; it was specific.  And it was the -- and because it was so specific, there was, there was an enormous amount of energy, both in getting donor countries to fund it, and developing countries to get eligible.  The contrast, on the education side was striking.  There did not seem to be anybody you ever met who had any sense that if they had a great plan, that somebody other than their favorite, you know, local donor might fund it, et cetera.  And I think this, you know, was a gigantic gap in not having that kind of clear compact, or clear singular fund.  And I also think that not having what I think debt relief was, which was debt relief was a contingent funding -- it was certain, but contingent funding, which is extremely powerful.  If you do the right things, you -- it's conditional, if you do the right things there is "contingent," but there will be certain funding.

This seemed to me more important in education than in anything else, because in education you had -- it is such a long-term commitment; it is so dependent on heads of state making decisions -- as I like to say, "that will benefit their successor's successor;" and require a long-term commitment of often recurrent costs for teacher salaries that go on.   So, in education, as much as anyways, if there was no sense that if you did the right thing there would be long-term funding, it was unlikely that you would get the kind of major reform.

Now, let me go from Global Fund to a virtual fund.  So -- I wanted just to do kind of a minute of just my own kind of personal history in this, because I think it is very illustrative and important to understand what actually happened back in 2000 and 2001.  When I wrote up a paper for Global Fund for Education, I was essentially inspired by two things:  One was the debt relief and the idea of contingent funding, and a strong compact, but the second was the fact that there was the Global Fund for HIV and AIDS and the GAVI coming.  And, of course, if you were working in education and seeing this big gap, and you were seeing the attention that was going to the Global Funds related to health, it was not -- wasn't particularly ingenious to think, why not have a global fund for education?

So when I put forward this proposal -- this article, there were two conversations that I had that were very striking.  One was that Jo Ritzen and Ruth Kagia called me from the World Bank to say that they had not gotten sign-off yet but they were interested in doing something big.  And my guess was that after that conversation -- that was in August, and my guess was after 9/11 that got a little bit more energy, going forward.

The other thing was that I learned that there were people at Oxfam, et cetera, who, while not having published things, were trying to circulate and build some support for something similar.  So I was kind of feeling that this might be a pretty heady year, that this might be year where maybe something very large would happen.

And, in fact, it's kind of -- it's sometimes a little heartbreaking to think back to what was happening at that point, because Paul Martin was the finance minister of Canada, who was committed to this idea; and Gordon Brown was the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and we had good reason to think that Paul O'Neill, the secretary of Treasury, would be interested.

So, it was a very heady year.  Thought maybe you'd get your Global Fund in '01; one could move on to something else in life.  Well, we all know Paul Martin got canned -- got fired at finance minister; the U.S. government, to much of its credit, came out with the Millennium Challenge Corporation, but part of that was no sectoral programs at all; and suddenly we were left with a "Gordon Brown" kind of a loan, trying to push something.

But, the most interesting thing was what happened in the run-up to Amsterdam.  Ollie Buston, who now works for DATA and ONE, the Europe person, but at that time was the international education person at Oxfam, came up to me and said -- and I should explain what Amsterdam was.  Amsterdam was an effort by the World Bank, and I believe -- who was it, it was the Netherlands -- Netherlands, and, of course, in Canada, but, you know, Jo Ritzen was kind of wearing all these hats.  He had been a minister for 87 years at the Netherlands, and every different post, and he was the vice president at World Bank.

The idea was that they would bring together kind of, you know, 10, 15 key civil society, 20, kind of, key ministers for education, and try to get kind of a ratification of some kind of accelerated financing mechanism, which would later be called the "Education For All Fast Track."  And what was interesting was Ollie Buston came up and he said, "I don't think, when you speak, you should try to propose the education fund."  And I said, but I thought that's what we were trying to do.  He said, "It's just not going to happen."

And I thought, of course, this meant that, of course, it was the foes of the -- you know, for reform that were going to be against this.  And what he said to me was, "No, there was no appetite for this among, essentially, our friends -- our advocates;" and that there was -- and these were his phrase, "fund fatigue" and "fund phobia;" and that, essentially, creating the Global Health Fund had both exhausted a lot of people and had convinced some people -- and I think somewhat wrongly -- that going through a long process of doing this was unnecessary.  Just tell people to get the ball rolling.

And so the idea was let's try to get kind of a "virtual fund," was the phrase used, internally.  It would be like a fund, but we aren't going to try to get it all to go into a pooled mechanism.  And, essentially, when I got there Ollie could not have been more accurate.  The people who were mocking the idea of a fund were not the people who were being bureaucratic, they were actually advocates.  And so, sure enough, everybody kind of agreed, at least on the civil society side, that this was what would be pushed for.

And I think one of the problems that I think has long plagued the FTI was that it was, in very many ways, you know, a small group of people creating something where there wasn't a totally clear understanding of what it was.  And I sometimes sit at Education For All conferences and I feel like, in this world, after seven years you can be like "founding father" -- you're like, "And here's what happened at Amsterdam."

But the point was, there was never really this huge -- it was kind of a -- there were probably six or seven people, probably, on Civil Society actively working on it.  And there was Ruth Kagia and the Bank, and there was Daniels (ph) at UNESCO, and people kind of agreed, and it went forward.  It's not a great shocker that it didn't take long, in 2002, for different people to be giving wildly different interpretations of what the Fast Track Initiative was supposed to be.

Now, there was an understanding, and it was expressed right at Amsterdam, that even if we're going to do this kind of process where it's a "virtual fund," meaning everybody would kind of operate as a fund -- people would present there, as it is at the Fast Track, their proposal to one kind of body; or coordinated donors who would endorse, or not endorse it, and supposedly fill in the money -- that there would be some countries that would be, quote -- I don't, probably is a politically-incorrect phrase, but it was the phrase used continually, "donor orphans," a small fund.  So, the interesting thing is there was put in place the seed of a pooled fund right from the beginning.

Now, I think that, for me, at that point, this is what the world had.  You know, whether or not you would like to go back and have done things differently a bit, this was the global process at this point.  And I think most of the people at the Global Campaign for Education -- most of us actively involved in Civil Society, and I think most people, generally, decided at this point that this was the process, and trying to kind of start from scratch did not make as much sense as trying to build up the Global Fund -- I mean, the Education fast track.

And so I think if any of us are trying to put forward a bigger proposal, we have to really start by asking the question is the FTI, which has developed over six years -- with enormous development, endorsement by the G8 and FTI steering board -- which I will say, for disclosure, I'm one of the three Civil Society people on -- you know, is this enough?  Is this just such a failed thing that we should start from scratch?  Or should we kind of take a look and use this as a foundation to build from?

And my paper and my proposal is obviously the third option.  I think that you can't have an informed and responsible debate about this if you do not take a very serious look; and that you have to be able to make a case for why what you're proposing will actually work better than what is in the FTI.

And I'll jump ahead -- I'll jump one point just to say the following:  I think often when many of us are frustrated by the lack of funding, there's a temptation to say, well, let's have something new.  And I think the obligation we have to have is, you have to have a theory of the case.  You know, you can't just say, oh, if we change the chairs around we're going to get more funding.  You at least have to have a theory of the case for why restructuring will lead to more dollars, more mobilization.

Because I think what you could do is constantly move the chairs around, and constantly be frustrated because there's never enough resources, and realize that what you really needed to do was have more of a resource mobilization strategy.  So, I do think it is important to ask these questions.

Now, I look and I see four clear successes of the Fast Track Initiative that I think should be built on, and maybe others will have more to say.  First of all, I can't underestimate just how impressive it is that it exists.  I mean, I think if you have been involved in the last seven years it is worth noting that the creation of a global governance mechanism is no small task.  There is no United States Congress to go to; there is no single body; it is created, kind of, by revolving, kind of, consensus.

And I think it is important to recognize the fact that the fact that you have something that has 36 endorsed countries; that's been endorsed by the G-8; that has had billions of dollars flow through it.  Whether it's perfect or not, it is not a small thing to see something like this created from scratch.  And I think that it would be a very bad mistake for people to underestimate the depth of that accomplishment.

Secondly, I do think it is worth noting that it has very much functioned, whether -- at least towards the aspiration of a global compact it certainly has not been complete, but the notion that it is a nationally-owned plan; that it is a single plan; that, in particularly some of the FTIs you truly do see a single table, a single room like this, with donors around the table.  This is a -- is very impressive, and I think, you know, Desmond has noted before that it's been complimented -- by many of the people who set forth the Paris Declaration, as a real model of donor harmonization, or at least in a movement in that way.

Third, the fact that there is a common standard.  And, again, people disagree and argue about the indicative framework, but, again, it is not a small thing that there is such a thing at all, that there has been some effort to create a common set of standards so that each country is not dealing with each individual donor, who has its own completely separate standard.

Now, whether this works perfectly?  Perhaps not.  But I think this is important.  And I think there are principles in there that are very important.  The indicative framework kind of looks at:  Has the country met its own obligations?  It's very hard to tell donors to give more money if it doesn't look like a country has done what they -- is their fair share.  Trying to even determine what that is, or set standards, is an important concept.

And then the fourth, which I think is very important -- and I don't know if it will be completely uncontroversial but I think it's under-appreciated, and I, in my paper, am trying to highlight this and appreciate it -- which is that the Fast Track Initiative, because it has developed this pooled fund, the Catalytic Fund, and it still has everybody around the table actually offers a framework where you have one single process where a donor can give through a pooled fund, or through -- a pooled fund or bilaterally, but as part of a single coordinated process.  So, in other words, a country can be approved for the FTI, and a country can help them, bilaterally, fill their financing gap; or they can be a country who gives to the Catalytic Fund, and that fund decides how much to fill that gap.

I think this is important, and I think it's important on a political reality level, which is simply that however much some of us -- and I think I would, you know, put myself in the category of one who thinks from a pure, ideal view, pooled funding with, you know, peer review and experts giving -- you know, might be the ideal.  But we haven't seen that ideal realized.  Countries do like to give bilaterally, even some champions of education want bilateral accountability; there's, whether we like it or not, a certain amount of flag planting.

So, the idea of having a single structure that's coordinated, where you offer both options is, I think, something that's been under-appreciated.  And I know -- and I will say that I think the FTI itself, as it exists now, has to do a better job of making clear that you have these two options, that both of these options count equally; and a better way of crediting people for filling the financing gap.  But, I think it's also important because, for me, as you're designing a possible global education fund, this is a mechanism, I think, should be appreciated, going forward, and instilled.

Now, what are the gaps?  What would I improve?  And, again, this is not a criticism of the people running it, because I, really having been involved from the beginning, remain incredibly impressed and amazed by how much has been done with such a relatively few number of people in the Fast Track Initiative Secretariat.

Number one is something that we've done whole sessions on, and in which there has been progress, which is the exclusion of children of compact.  And, let me just say, without going through the whole thing, any of us working on any kind of global compact have got to understand this tension; that the ideal of helping high-performing countries get their plans endorsed -- which is a high ideal, is somewhat intentioned with the goal of "every child should go to school," because children -- a child in a completely dysfunctional country, who does not have a government you trust, is still a child who has a basic right to education.

And I think that how we resolve this is something we spent some time on -- need to spend more time on, but, needless to say, I think what's troubling is the children there tend to fall through the cracks for two reasons.  One, when they're in the emergency context -- and we had some meetings on this just yesterday with interaction in Save the Children, and others, and you hear it all the time, "they fall through the cracks."  Education only -- only in five donor countries is education explicitly endorsed as a life saving emergency.

So, education falls through the cracks there.  And they say, oh, but that's part of development.  But, then when you go over to the development side, you find out it's not a high performing country that we trust enough to give money to.  And so we have no choice but to try to fix this.  And I think one very positive thing has been that the FTI has been able to create a task team -- on the FTI fragile state task team, that has shown an ability, for some of us who care about this issue, even on Civil Society, to be very involved.

And as we're speaking right now there is an effort to now have an interim status that would allow countries to come in before they're really FTI-ready, and to turn -- to have a new transition fund with seed money from UNICEF and the Dutch.  And this is a whole discussion in and of itself, so I will not go much longer, but to say that that is a real gap.  It is a gap being closed, but it needs to be understood, as we push forward to something larger.

Secondly, the lack of substantial long-term and predictable funding.  I don't think there's any question that, as time has evolved, that perhaps the number one problem in the global education architecture is that we want everybody to get all these children in school.  But to make sure that they can have a quality education, you have to increase the teacher force.  And it's become clear -- and it's not something one just imagined or thought of, we've just seen it in reality -- finance ministers do not endorse major plans to hire 10,000 teachers unless they know they have funding for an extended period of time.

And so what we are seeing is major enrollment expansions happening without major expansions of training teachers.  And that has a lot to do with the fact that we currently do not have a way of doing long-term predictable funding.  And so I think it presents an intolerable trade-off between access and quality; or that when nations have done the right things by eliminating fees and getting all their kids in school, they are rewarded with often exploding class sizes and falling quality.

I refuse to believe that the answer to that is simply to have less kids in school.  Therefore, I do think having a stronger, long term and predictable funding becomes extremely important to our efforts.  Now, let me be self-critical here.  I don't know that changing a structure, per se, solves this issue.  This is fundamentally a political will issue.  I will argue, as we leave, that perhaps a reform and a relaunch could be a way of getting greater commitment.  But, I think, as one that's designing the Fast Track Initiative, going forward -- or, excuse me, or Global Education Fund, we need to think about what to do going forward.

Third, lack of clarity on the global financing gap.  There is just no consistency on even what people are counting.  You don't know, when you hear an estimate, whether it's for five years or eight years.  You don't know whether it's the full gap or the external gap.  You don't know if it's the external gap or the remaining external gap.  We have to come to some clarity.

My overwhelming est -- feeling is that there is a gross underestimate of this, that we underestimate how much money it costs to actually have successful interventions for the children who are the most worst off, with serious disability, child soldiers, et cetera.  We need to account for that.

And I think we should be trying to count for eight years of education, that even if you only want to account for five or six years of education, if you have everybody completing six years of education you're going to have a huge demand for seventh and eighth grade.  And I think there's a serious underestimate in all of the work that we do because of that.

Fourth is the insufficient capacity, and this is something I think Desmond and others have made a strong case for, that there really needs to be an independent secretariat.  I think the confusion over whether the World Bank owns this, whether it's Fast Track education sector, whether UNESCO, UNICEF feel exclude, et cetera -- enough; it's too confusing.  No, we can't try to unravel it anymore.  There needs to be an independent secretariat that everybody feels they have co-ownership of, and this is a major reform.

And while we do not need to go to 500 member staff, as maybe the Global Fund for Health does, 12 is pathetic.  You cannot do this, nor can you actually go to legislators and parliaments and ask for billions of more dollars and say you only have 12 people administering.  You have no fast reaction capacity, et cetera

And then the fifth issue is that there just is lack of awareness.  And I will tell you, I think part of the lack of awareness -- I think the major reason is that there has been a lack of head-of-state commitment to this issue.  I think if heads of states were more committed, we'd be in a different place.  But I will also say that the Fast Track Initiative is a bad name.  I have spent seven years explaining this.  I'm tired of explaining it.  There is something called having a name that is -- you know, that makes a candy bar sound like a candy bar and makes a global education initiative sound like a global education initiative, and I am still struck by how many very, very smart top policy makers, who know darn well that the global funds are for health and the GAVI, do not know what this is.

So I won't have to spend long on my six steps since they flow right from the critiques.  One, I think if we're doing the global education fund, we should be making sure we have one single unified process.  That means I think there should still be a gold standard mechanism and there should be more of an interim standard.  We shouldn't force a Haiti or a Sierra Leone to try to meet the standards of countries that are high-performing and in strong shape.  On the other hand, we shouldn't give them a gold standard designation when we all know that's not the case either.  We should have one process that let's everybody in and does not lead to fragmentation, and a global education fund should ratify and solidify that movement.

Two, we should have a strong, independent secretariat.

Three, as I said, I would maintain the channels of disbursement.  David may go into some of the ways we should strengthen the pooled fund.  I do think the Catalytic Fund is not strong enough in the way it is managed now and needs to be improved, and I think we should learn a lot from the Global Health Fund as we do that, but I would still try to maintain that if we seek to just have one fund that's just a collective pool, we will have the same battles that health does on bilateral versus pooled.  Let's put it all under one umbrella and have a stronger fund, a stronger Catalytic Fund, that learns lessons from the best practice of health, but let's also keep the notion that bilateral contributions can count.

Number four is greater clarity on the financing gap that we've talked about.

Number five is just to say the following:  With -- you know, what's the Spiderman line -- you know, with great power comes responsibility -- with greater funds will come greater accountability.  So I'll give you the Spiderman revision there.  You are not -- if you go from 500 million (dollars) to 2.5 (billion dollars) or 3 billion (dollars), people are going to ask tougher questions at the donor side and we're going to have to go out of our way to make sure that we have greater accountability, doing more things like what was done with Kenya, but things that show accountability; that's just the political reality.  Again, on the developing countryside it means more accountability that the money will keep flowing, that countries that do major expansions will not be cut off.

And then, finally, I would go ahead and name it a global education fund.  I realize that the phrase "fund" does not really describe the fact that this would still have different mechanisms, but I'm for a simple name that everybody understands.  The fact that Barack Obama used the words "global education fund," I don't think they have any -- there's any developed idea of what that necessarily should mean, but I'm willing to go with that.  I think global education fund sounds like a wonderful name.  If people object to the fund, I think we ought to call it a global compact for education.  Whatever it is, when you describe it, you shouldn't have to add another sentence telling people what it is after that.  So let's all be committed to that.

And then I think we really can't spend all our time trying to get mid-level people to re-launch this.  This can only be done by head of states, and we need a major moment, a major head-of-state moment, and that's when I think we have the re-launch, where you build on the Fast Track Initiative, have a new fund, have a new head-of-state commitment, and that, I think, should be the goal of advocates over the next few years.  So thank you very much.  (Applause.)


BOB PROUTY:  Thank you very much, Gene.  Gene made the point that in this business, two or three years seems to be almost an eternity, and those of us who have four or five years of experience are considered hardened old veterans.  So I'm going to acknowledge the presence of a couple of hardened old veterans who are very young, in fact, here in this room, and that's Barbara Bruns and Desmond Birmingham who have both -- I don't want to go too far with this hardened old veteran term here so I maybe better shy away from it very quickly, but there are a lot of people in this room who were veterans of this initiative, of course along with Gene himself, from the very beginning.  And while that seems now like a long time ago, in fact when you look at the numbers on the Fast Track Initiative -- whatever we decide to call it -- when you look at the numbers, the Fast Track Initiative is still barely old enough itself to go to school.  The Fast Track Initiative started in 2002 and this year we're six years old, so I guess we just made it into grade one.  More to the point I think is of course what the quality of that school is going to be and what's going to be ahead of us.

I want to thank the Council on Foreign Relations for hosting this event, and of course the Center for Universal Education.  In particular, for one thing I would say that I think the Center has been particularly notable for, and that's for never giving up, for always giving its unflagging attention to the challenge of the FTI.  And I would say that in this country, in the political climate that has prevailed -- and that is apparently the challenges still ahead -- that's no mean task to have been able to keep this kind of unchanging focus on the challenge of universal primary education, so I think the fact that Gene has come out, along with the Center, with a new paper on this topic should be no surprise.  This has been the fruit of many years of labor.

Gene does combine, I think, some various talents here: the talent of focus with the talent of impatience.  Those don't always go together well.  You know, when you've been essentially single-mindedly hammering on this issue of universal basic education for a decade, pretty much, I think if at any point over the course of that decade you had asked Gene when he wanted to have this challenge finally properly addressed, he would have said today or tomorrow or maybe next week or next month at the most.  And what I appreciate in this paper -- I don't know if you've had the chance to look at it or not, but in this paper essentially that's the message that comes through:  Look, we've been doing this long enough; I'll give you until next week, or possibly, if you really push, until next month, but let's get this thing solved once and for all.  And personally I think he's got it right.  I think that's the only way to tackle the issue.

We've had far too much of saying let's put this off; we'll solve it -- you know, there are a lot of books out there -- I won't quote everybody by name; there might be a few in the room -- a lot of books out there telling us how long it took for so many developed countries to achieve these goals.  And there has certainly been what I call an EFA-pessimism out there, that EFA is not a realistic goal.  Gene alluded to the fact that in 1990, the world community said we're going to do it.  Of course, in 1980 they had said the same thing and more or less in 1960 they had said the same thing.  And I'm sure if you went back -- I saw documents in the mid-1920s at one time which were actually referring to a specific country in Africa, but one of the colonial powers saying that they were going to achieve universal primary education in that country.

So it's something we've been doing for a long time, and to a certain extent, in 2000 you had a bit of sense that, you know, maybe for once we were kind of holding our breath and closing our eyes and stomping our feet and saying, you know, this time we really mean it.  And yet, in fact, I think if you look at what's happened since 2000, it turns out we really did mean it.  There has been some remarkable, dramatic changes since the year 2000.  There was an attempt made, I think, for once, to actually measure how we were doing it and whether we were getting closer, to see who was on board, to bring everybody along.

Gene, in his paper, closes with the classic question, is the glass half empty or is the glass half full, and he does that in the context of the current economic crisis, as we now go forward to say we've got this thing going since 2000; how do we take it forward and get it to the next step?  I think in fact, in light of the current crisis, one might actually rephrase that half-empty/half-full conundrum in saying, maybe that's a half-baked question that's out there right now.  In the middle of this ongoing financial crisis, does it even make sense to be talking about trying to yet roust up another few billion dollars -- 5 (billion dollars), $10 billion, however we count it, per year, to achieve these goals?

And something I like about this paper -- and, again, I don't know if this comes from kind of 10 years of staying with this question and looking at it from all angles -- what I like about the paper is it says, in fact, not only is that a sane perspective and not only is that not half-baked to be saying that we can actually raise these questions under the current conditions, but in fact this is probably the best time to do it.

One of the -- I think one of the -- it's always dangerous to say what's going to be remembered in the future and what's not going to be remembered, but along with yes we can, I think when this year is -- we look back at this year, one of the phrases actually that might be remembered from this year was Rahm Emanuel a few days ago when he said, "Never allow a crisis to go to waste.  There are opportunities to do big things."  And I think that's a pretty important aphorism for us to take to heart as we take a look at this challenge today:  "Never allow a crisis to go to waste."

Development aid has always had something of a countercyclical tinge to it.  Somehow I think maybe this is in fact the very nature of development aid.  When there seems to be the least prospects for going forward, that's essentially when you need most to go forward.  And we're seeing now the IMF, the World Bank and others -- they're not very far from here -- have called for massive ramping up of their own support over the coming several years.  I just looked at the numbers on the World Bank side.  Their support for education is projected to be close to $4 billion this year, which would be by far a record year for them, and want half of that for low-income countries.

So I applaud Gene for recognizing that in fact, rather than shying away from bold ideas, as Cream Wright from UNICEF would put it, in fact this is the time to embrace them.  But they're very persuasive of seizing opportunities.  And, once again, I'm not going to applaud Gene on everything here this morning, so I will applaud him one more time.  I think he actually deserves to be applauded on a lot of things, but one more thing here is that I think kind of resisting what is sometimes the appealing approach and saying let's start over from scratch -- we did it wrong the first time; let's try it again and this time we'll get it right, what I appreciate, in fact, is what I see as the real strength of this approach and this presentation that we had just a few moments ago, is that in fact it recognizes that there is something to build on.  In fact, there is a lot to build on.

I'm trying to remember how to say this in Latin because I'm from Canada and we still had Latin back when I was going to school, but my Latin is a little bit shaky now after these years, but there is the idea of primum non nocere, which is "first do no harm," and I think that his paper comes at the question of where to go next from the first do no harm perspective.  Let's figure that out and let's realize the fact that when you put big money into something you actually can do it the wrong way and you can do damage, so let's figure out first how we do this in a way that does no harm.

Essentially then this is a baby-versus-bathwater paper.  Essentially it tries to say, okay, in this whole process how do we understand what's baby and what's bathwater?  And it goes through it, of course urging us to keep the baby.  Strong country ownership, that's baby.  We have 365 countries, as Gene said, that have endorsed the FTI plan, and this is not -- you know, this is not window dressing.  This is something that's real.  In order to have an FTI-endorsed plan, there's a very rigorous process.  That plan actually means something.  It actually is a shared consensus at the country level.

One of the particular features of the Fast Track Initiative approach from the very beginning that all of the partners have agreed to has been that it's very much a country-driven approach.  It's not -- you know we have a lot of these phrases about countries being in the driver's seat, and some of these are kind of easy phrases and there have been lots of little counter-phrases that come along with those.  I heard a minister say that having a country in the driver's seat, what good is that?  We don't want to be in the driver's seat; we want to own the car.  This is from a country where the person in the driver's seat is often a chauffeur of a taxi perhaps that he doesn't particularly own and is barely able to keep up on a day-to-day basis in terms of the rent.

What does it mean to be country-driven?  I think this is something that the Fast Track Initiative partners have struggled with for a long time, and nobody would say that there is a final and pure answer, but I think that in this building the way to the future, it's going to be very important to keep this.  This is baby; this isn't bathwater.  It's going to be very important going forward.  I think for the U.S. as well, this is going to be a challenge, trying to figure out how to reconfigure a lot of the mechanisms that are currently in place in ways that allow for greater country ownership.  I think some of those processes are already underway.

Coordination -- coordination among the donors, alignment, harmonization -- a lot of these terms that are out there.  We've talked a lot recently about the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness, and the Fast Track Initiative actually -- we actually got congratulated at a -- (inaudible) -- fairly recently, so you know when this happens we have to spread it around a bit because there has been enough of the other kind of reaction that -- we actually got congratulated in -- (inaudible) -- and I think deservedly so because the partners who make up the Fast Track initiative have gone to tremendous lengths to try to see to it that they're moving away as much as possible from this old flag-waving behavior and trying to figure out what it is that countries actually need at their level to make a difference.  So I think the coordination, the determination to align practices around strong country education sector plans -- again, this isn't bathwater.  This has to be kept.  This is baby.

Indicative framework, common criteria for progress -- how are we going to measure progress?  What kinds of policies make a difference?  Once again, this is in the baby categorization, not in bathwater, and I think Gene's paper very rightly points out the strengths on which this future fund can build.

The idea of a compact -- I won't go into all of these now, but the idea of a compact has been something fairly central to FTI, and I think there's something of an existential crisis right now for us, that FTI is figuring out, what do we do with the fact that we have been, to a large extent, a performance-based initiative, saying that countries that do good things will be rewarded.  We haven't always done as well as we would like to at rewarding them, but countries that do good things will get the support they need.  How do we now, going forward, make sure that this performance-based approach doesn't preclude children who had the misfortune of being born in the country where there hasn't been very good performance?  So this question of a balance between a performance-based approach and a more needs-based approach is very much at the heart of what we're grappling with, and something I think that this concept of a global education compact, global education initiative -- I'm avoiding saying "global education fund," and I'll come to that in a moment, but I think that's something that's going to have to be very much at the heart of it.

There is no point in simply repeating the errors that we've had in the past.  The performance approach has gotten us a long way.  There are limits to where it can get us, and there's no question that the remaining out-of-school children are, for the most part -- certainly more than half of them are from countries affected by conflict.  These are children who are from disadvantaged families of one sort or another.  More than half of them -- in fact, I think it's something like 80 percent of them live in rural areas.

I won't go into the rest of the points.  I mean, Gene makes them very strongly.  There is also a very good bathwater section in what he presents.  And here I think the point is absolutely right.  The FTI record for countries on conflict has not been good.  We have had what I would consider some of our more embarrassing moments, and some of our more difficult or trying moments have been around trying to figure out who do we deal with countries like Liberia, Sierra Leone and Haiti and so on?  How do we manage to provide financing for these countries even though the plans that they may be putting forward to us don't reach the standard that we have come to expect and even to insist on?  Gene has referenced all of the discussion going forward on this, but this is a -- to me this is a seminal question in trying to figure out, what are the next steps?

Clarity on funding gaps, I won't spend a lot of time on that.  I was going to look at several people in this room who have spent far more time and effort trying to get that sort of out than I have.  I'll accept that that's in the bathwater category so far.  I think we've definitely made progress.  I think where we were a few years back, certainly before this whole FTI process began -- I think there's been a lot of progress since then.  I think ultimately there will be no perfect solution to this.  The question of a funding gap may be reaching its limits as a concept in terms of how we go forward in terms of FTI.  That's a discussion for another day, but clearly the issue of how we address it, how we've tried to mobilize funding in support of those funding gaps -- there's a lot of bathwater there that probably will have to be thrown out and reconsidered.

And as it turns out, even our name is bathwater -- FTI, or Fast Track Initiative -- the idea, of course, being that we would accelerate the progress -- help accelerate the progress towards these goals.  You know, my own thought on this FTI -- I had the thought that maybe we just need to add a letter to it, the FTIS -- first time in school initiative -- and then we can talk about making sure that every child had the first time in school, and then we would talk about making sure that the first time in school wasn't the last time in school.  So maybe just an "S" is needed there.  Maybe it's nothing more complicated than that.

The fact is, however -- and I think this is a very valid point that Gene makes, and to me it's pretty much at the heart of what we have to decide in terms of where we go next -- the Fast Track Initiative is an unusual organic sort of a program.  It really, in terms of the leadership -- it's not here in Washington; it's certainly not the Fast Track Initiative Secretariat.  There was a reference to 12 people as opposed to, say, 500 people from the other funds, but in fact there are 500 people; they're just not sitting here in the secretariat. There are hundreds of people around the world who essentially are the Fast Track Initiative.  Can that model take us further?  Is that kind of grassroots, bottom-up approach building on the country level, is that enough?

A lot of us idealistically talked about a virtual fund and we thought that we could maybe, without having to go to this big funding-type mechanism, we could get to where we needed to go.  I think that the reality of the last five or six years has shown that there are limits to that approach and this may have been a naive approach to think that that was enough, that the grassroots ground-swelling would get the job done.  And so I appreciate the fact that Gene has put these points on the table.  I think we have to figure out, how do we preserve those aspects of it?  The Fast Track Initiative has been somewhat of a people's initiative, kind of below the radar, not high political visibility.  How do we make that transition?  A lot of us are convinced we probably now have to start thinking much more seriously about that transition to attract the kinds of funding we need.

Right now we are going into our next set of meetings in Oslo in December, kind of our annual meetings, where we will be allocating funds for a number of countries, and we essentially have just kind of barely enough to meet those commitments.  Going forward we have promises, we have a lot of hopes, and we have every expectation that funding will come in place, but at the same time, you know, this is no way to run a big global initiative.  We're just going -- still cutting it too close and too fine time and time again.  I mean, this clearly needs to be shored up and it needs to be shored up with the kind of long-term predictability that Gene talks about.

I won't go into the other issues.  I thought -- generally I thought the paper raises the right things and does a great job of putting those issues on the table.  Some things I'd like to see done better, done more of, I'll talk to Gene about that.  Some other point, I think that his theory of restructuring needed a little more attention.  Exactly why is it that changing the structure would achieve the things that we haven't achieved to date?  What is it about this that would leverage other big partners coming on board?  What about the question of alignment?  How would we make it more -- the U.S. funding more untied when it hasn't always had those features in the past?  How would these funds fit into the global picture?  I hope in the discussion that follows we can have a little more talk about what might be different and what might be unique about these new funds, and how they might leverage the kind of change that we think is needed?

I'll just close with one last thought.  That is, when we're talking about the global education architecture, I think it's also helpful to think of architecture in a different way.  A good friend of mine -- (inaudible) -- who does a lot of work on classical construction of the World Bank and has just recently written an immensely informative and important paper on classical construction worldwide, he told me once that architecture -- and this may not have been an original thought with him; I'm sure it wasn't, but he nevertheless was schooling me about architecture, and he told me that architecture is not about structures, it's not about creating new structures, but it's about creating spaces.  And I think it's going to be important for us to think about the global education architecture as a process not of creating more structures, and so a global education fund or a global education compact, whatever we decide to call it, is not ultimately about creating yet another structure in rather crowded landscape, but it's about creating more spaces.

Now, obviously the most important spaces are going to be the classroom spaces, which we don't currently have, but it's also about ensuring that the various issues out there, that the dialogues that we need, the policy issues find their space, a way to discuss these, a way to bring partners together.  I think if that's the direction that we're going -- and I, again, think very much that Gene has pushed this dialogue from his side in that direction, and I think that many people around the table in this room are pushing the dialogue in that direction -- if that's where we're going, towards creating not new structures but new spaces where this work can go forward, then I think we're very much on the right track.  And I think there is every reason to believe that through this initiative we'll be able to perhaps finally get to the starting line that we had hoped we would be at five or six years ago.

Thank you.  (Applause.)


DAVID GARTNER:  Thanks.  First I just want to thank you, Gene, for having this event and allowing me to participate, and thank Bob for all his work, which I much admire, and thank all of you.  It's, frankly, a daunting task to speak to so may of the founding mothers and fathers of the global education movement, as someone who has been involved for a few years only.  But I do not want to let that make me more cautious in what I have to say because I think Bob's question deserves a serious answer, which is why changing the structure would achieve the results that we want and, quite frankly, that we haven't achieved today?

I mean, to put starkly the challenge that we face, almost 10 years ago now, in the dawn of this new millennium, the world community came together and set actually a fairly modest goal.  The goal wasn't that everyone in the world should get a Ph.D., should go through university, should get secondary schooling of a quality nature.  No, the goal was extremely modest.  It was that by 2015 every child everywhere should have a full course of primary schooling, and yet, as Gene's paper rightly points out, we are very far from this modest goal with at least 72 million young people, out of the net, and a financing gap that, at minimum, is about $10 billion, and quite possibly is closer to 13 (billion dollars).

Lastly, that date, 2015, is far enough away now that we can say quite clearly that without dramatic action this year -- not next year, not in five or 10 years, but without dramatic action this year, that extremely modest goal of primary education for every child will fail.  So setting the stakes, as I just tried to do, I want to do a handful of things in the time that I have.  First, I want to try and offer some lessons from a different arena, from the global health arena, and specifically the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

Second, building on some of what Gene had to say and responding to some of Bob's comments, I want to offer some specific suggestions for a new Global Fund for Education which would build on the strengths of FTI.

Then I want to briefly mention some of the links to the broader reform debates that are going on, both around the world and here in the United States, and finally offer a way forward in how we could get there to this Global Fund for Education and to achieving the Millennium Development Goal and beyond when it comes to basic education.

So, starting with the Global Fund, the Global Fund for AIDS, TB and Malaria, many of you, maybe most of you, are familiar with it.  But for those who are not, a couple of striking things.  It's only been around for six years.  It's already yet gotten committed $10 billion.

It is a unique and somewhat innovative international organization.  It is a public-private partnership, neither part of the U.N. nor part of the World Bank, based in Geneva.  And it's a partnership not just between governments and donors, but also with civil society, even the private sector, as well as international organizations.  And quite importantly, like the FTI -- and this is why I think it can be a helpful model -- it's a financing instrument.  It does not, nor does it seek to be, an implementing agency.

So what are the key elements, as I see it, of the Global Fund success?  Well, let me lay out four.  First, it's participatory governance.  A term we're hearing a lot these days is the team of rivals.  Well, I think it's a really interesting and important concept.  And the Global Fund, in many ways, is the team of rivals of the global community.

By this I mean it brings together as equal partners in a common enterprise the major donors, all of whom have the same share on the global board that governs the Global Fund, as developing countries, who are equal partners in this endeavor, and so too has equal voice civil society foundations and the private sector, and the notion being that without all of these sometime rivals working together toward a common purpose, we're not going to achieve our goals.

What's been really striking is to see how much evidence there is already -- and I'll get back to this at the end in terms of results -- for how this participatory form of governance not only brought in a sense of legitimacy around how the fund is used, but it also leads to much better results.

Second, and no less important, is independence.  Perhaps the best decision made when the Global Fund was started was that it should neither be part of the United Nations nor part of the World Bank.  And this wasn't done because these institutions didn't have a vital role and stake.  In fact, both are engaged actively with the Global Fund.

Its bank account is at the World Bank, and the U.N. is part of its governance -- but rather because the recognition was made at the time rightly that without this kind of independence, there is going to be no chance to maximize resource mobilization in the way that was needed to deal with the scale of the problem, firstly.  And second, it wouldn't be possible to innovate and learn from experience as going forward in the ways that are necessary to accomplish the results with this money.

The third guiding principle that I think has been very vital is mutual accountability.  First, it's built on unprecedented transparency in terms of its internal operations, its decision-making, where the money flows, and what results are gained from this money.

But beyond that, the funding to countries -- and it's not only to national governments, but it's also to NGOs, I should point out -- is results-based in the sense that, after a couple of years, if performance in terms of outputs is not shown, funding will not be continued.

But there's also accountability going back towards the donors.  There's a formal replenishment process, a regular replenishment process, that requires multiyear commitments for those donors.  And, in fact, donors' seats on the governing board is contingent on their commitment of funds.  There's no reason why, you know, monetary commitment and voice should be disconnected.

Fourthly, and perhaps most importantly, are the results that the Global Fund has been able to achieve based on these structural principles.  In the realm of HIV and AIDS, 1.75 million people are now in treatment who would not be but for the resources of the Global Fund.  Tuberculosis, where the Global Fund is responsible for two-thirds of all global funding, they have already detected and treated 3.9 million cases of tuberculosis.  Malaria, they've distributed 59 million bed nets, and 60 million people have received malaria treatment that would not have.

So that, in just six years' time, is a pretty remarkable set of results.  And I would suggest to you that this set of results would not have been possible without the structural elements that I was highlighting earlier.

So, then, moving on to the Global Fund for Education, what are the lessons that we should take away, and how should we build on the work of the fast-track initiative?  First, I want to agree with Gene that the Global Fund for Education should build on the successful elements of fast-track initiative.

And let me highlight three that he mentioned:  First, the unified process, endorsement process; second, the common standards of the indicative framework; and third, the multiple channels of disbursement, unifying multilateral and bilateral paths.

But to succeed in achieving the Millennium Development Goal that I started with, the FTI will not be able to get the resources we need or to hold accountable in the way that it seeks -- because this is not a criticism of anyone working for the FTI; this is a criticism of the authority that the FTI now has in the global system -- without a much more participatory governance structure; not just members of civil society in developing countries as participants in governance, but as truly equal partners, without whom decisions will not be made, and that that participation needs to extend to the national level.

And I left this out in terms of my description of the Global Fund, where their country coordinating mechanisms include -- in other words, proposals don't come from governments.  They come from a combination of civil society governments and other stakeholders all agreeing.  And only then does it go forward to the donors.

So the FTI process is vital in that it brings the donors together in a unified way to engage in dialogue with governments, but that's not sufficient, because unless you have the broader buy-in of the society, I think you're not going to get the kind of results you need.

So, second, independence is absolutely essential.  Unless we have an independent Global Fund for Education -- by that I mean a fund which is not a part of the World Bank as such; it could still have a bank account with the World Bank, and it should have the bank and other U.N. agencies as central stakeholders and participants in a governance structure, but it needs to have its own stature if there's going to be any hope of raising the $10 (billion) to $13 billion it's lacking.  It's just not going to happen within the current structure.

And secondly, it's going to -- it won't have the opportunity to innovate and evolve in ways different than other aspects of the bank if it doesn't have this independence.  I think we need to -- in order to elevate the cause of education, we need to make independent the Global Fund for Education.

Third, in terms of mutual accountability, we clearly need the high level of transparency with financing decision-making in the results.  But we need more than this.  We need to make sure that countries are accountable for the outputs, not just the inputs, of education.

We need to be making sure that we're getting the -- (inaudible) -- school and the quality of education and hold them accountable in terms of funding.  And we need to make sure that money's flowing to the school level -- you know, the school-level bank accounts in Kenya and elsewhere are one important model that the bank really helps to develop that we need to spread more broadly.

Lastly, on mutual accountability, the donors need to be held accountable.  And by this I mean we need a regular replenishment mechanism.  We need multiyear pledges.  And we need continued role in governance to be contingent on meeting those pledges.  We need accountability to move in both directions if we're going to have success here.

Lastly, I just want to suggest that we need enhanced multilateralism.  It is important, as Gene suggested, that we have both multilateral and bilateral channels.  But at present, you know, the Catalytic Fund is a relatively small instrument, you know, originally set up to deal with donor orphans.

And I think we need a more ambitious multilateral vision.  I think we need to be moving more toward something like a 50-50 split, which is not to exclude countries that want to move bilaterally, but it's to encourage greater coordination in multilateral investment.  And with respect to bilateral donors, we need to make sure that all of these donors are really working within the context of national plans.  It's not enough to say we're going to countries that are FTI-endorsed and doing our bilateral programs.  It really needs to be part and parcel of a national strategy.

So let me briefly touch on how this debate links up to some of the broader reform debates that are currently going on.  First, in terms of the multilateral system and global governance, it was a pretty remarkable weekend we just witnessed where, in response to the financial crisis, instead of the usual suspects of the G-8, it was the G-20.  That wasn't accidental.

The fact that, you know, emerging economies are likely to drive economic growth in the next year is part of the explanation for that.  But it suggests how -- and there was initial debate around how maybe the IMF should look different -- but leaving that question aside, what it goes to is, as we think about the Global Fund for Education, we need to think differently about who are the donors and who are the stakeholders in this new system we're building.

The Global Fund for Education, I think, could be a really exciting and important model for those looking to some of the broader challenges of global governance, if we do it right.  In terms of the bilateral aid debates, there's a lot of interest here in the United States especially in doing a new Foreign Assistance Act for the first time in many years.

And I think it would be quite important, in the context of that, to increase the kind of country ownership that Bob was talking about, as well as to increase the share of U.S. funding that actually gets to those who need it on the ground, as Bob was suggesting.  You know, and tackling both of those things in the education context, again, could be a really important model for the broader challenge of foreign assistance reform.

Lastly, there is a debate going on here in the United States about what we should do with our development structures.  I happen to take the view that we need a Department of Global Development for the same reason we need a Global Fund for Education, because without separating out and giving stature and independence to a goal, you're not going to elevate it in the way that you need to.

Lastly, let me suggest some ideas about how we get there, by going back again to the Global Fund and how it got started.  There were three different, you know, parallel inspirations for the Global Fund.  One was a piece of legislation.  A couple of pioneering members of Congress -- Barbara Lee, Jim Leach and others -- called for in legislation what at that time was called a World Bank trust fund for health.  Secondly, the G-8 called for -- this is in Japan -- called for the creation of new global health instruments, financing instruments.  And lastly, but perhaps most importantly, what grew out of this, thanks to Kofi Annan and others of the United Nations, was a truly multi-stakeholder process from the beginning.

So it wasn't building in developing countries and civil society at the end.  The whole planning process involved these team of rivals as equals from the beginning.  And that's what allowed the innovation and commitment to this institution that frankly has been so helpful when it comes to resource mobilization, in a way that we would love to see happen in the education arena.

So the good news is we have these same instruments at hand when it comes to education.  First, we've got in Congress an Education For All Act that could more explicitly link to the Global Fund for Education but that is strongly bipartisan-endorsed and that President-elect Obama has said he wants to see become law.

Second, we have President-elect Obama's commitment to start such a Global Fund for Education and we have real interest, not just Gordon Brown, who is, you know, so far the global leader on this question, but real interest from the Canadians as well.  And we need to seize that moment of opportunity.  And then lastly, I think, this could be the beginning of the kind of multi-stakeholder process that we need if we're going to get this right and get the kind of results we need.

So thanks, and I look forward to the conversation.  (Applause.)

SPERLING:  The reason we're running a tiny bit behind is all me, all my fault.  My presentation was long.  Let me just say that we will go to 10:45.  If you have to leave, you should feel absolutely comfortable to.  But for those of you who'd like to stay, that will give a little bit more time for participation.

Before I start, I just want to thank -- mention two people.  One is Anda Adams, who has really been our associate director and has been not only helpful in putting this whole event together, but just essential in all the work, including the work on this paper, as well as Vicki, who, as you know, runs everything in our world here.

And then, finally, I just do have to mention that Desmond Birmingham, who came in, has just stepped down recently as the head of the FTI.  And I think if you looked at the last five years and a lot of the big things that have happened -- (inaudible) -- and Chancellor Brown, at that point, doing the $15 billion, the expansion of the fast-track initiative, a lot of that happened as Desmond was at the Secretariat.

So I think a lot of the big things in basic education that happened in the last five years, Desmond has been at the middle of.  And since I think this is the first time I've seen him since he stepped down, I just thought maybe we could give him a small hand.  (Applause.)

And Desmond, with that, would you like to take the first word on the comments?

DESMOND BIRMINGHAM (Former FTI Secretariat):  I'm discovering that in the U.S., two weeks is a long time in politics, to go from the top table to the back of the room.  (Scattered laughter.)  The great thing about being in the back of the room is you get a different perspective, and so I'm going to share some thoughts with a different perspective.  I'm still officially on contract with the World Bank till the end of November, so I'll select some of my words a bit carefully.

But five points, really -- to go back to your history, Gene, five points from my own perspective in 2002-2003 of why the opposition to the Global Fund for Education was so strong at that stage, even in the UK, in DFID, when I was advising Clare Short at the time, because it might be useful to have those in your mind, because my second five points would be why I think the climate now has changed very radically and why actually I think it may well be the right time to launch the Global Fund for Education and to bring the UK, the Netherlands and, to pick up David's point, the G-20, of G-21, if you include Spain, in this (whole dynamic ?).

So back in 2002-2003, I was advising Clare Short -- many of you will remember her, a great hero in international development at the time -- when the idea of the Global Fund for Education came up.  And Clare Short, who was a champion of education, was adamantly opposed to a Global Fund for Education for five reasons.

Firstly, the idea at the time seemed to be very centralized, very top-down -- decisions being made in Washington, Paris, London, Brussels about what was happening on the ground in Kinshasa, Kigali, wherever.  And that was totally opposite to some key principles that DFID and many other development organizations espoused at the time.

Flowing from that, the perception that a Global Fund model would undermine the country-level process, would undermine that really important dialogue between a government, the people of a country, and the donors supporting that government, and that a centralized process would undermine it.

Thirdly, at the time, a perception -- and this one is still there, I think, and one that you'll need to deal with when you think about the Global Fund for Education -- that a sector fund can lead to fragmentation and distortion at the country level.  What's a minister of finance supposed to do when he's got a Global Fund for Health, a Global Fund for Education, a Global Fund for Climate Change, et cetera, et cetera, and he's trying to manage the budget and make sure that funds are allocated sensibly across all sectors?  That's an issue, I think, an issue that will need to be addressed in your next -- (inaudible).

Fourthly -- and this was Clare Short's big issue at the time -- the FTI at the time did not deal with the big countries.  And that's still an issue for the FTI -- Nigeria, DRC, Sudan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, where more than, I think, 50-60 percent of the children out of school are in those five countries.  Any Global Fund for Education is going to need to be able to help those countries.  AGAVnd it's not easy to have to do that.

And lastly -- and this is actually picking up on David's point, where he talked about the success of the Global Fund for AIDS, TB and Malaria now -- at the time in 2002-2003, the Global Fund was being heavily criticized for every slow disbursement, that billions of dollars were sitting in the Global Fund and they were not being disbursed.

What the Global Fund for AIDS, TB and Malaria has done very successfully over the past two or three years is found creative and innovative ways of both raising money and disbursing that money through multiple channels, including private-sector channels.  And I think some of the most exciting conversations I've had have been with colleagues at the Global Fund, and also Alice Albright at GAVI, where they're using private banks in the U.S. to channel money to private banks in developing countries, who then onward channel that money to where the money is needed.

Government has oversight.  Government regulates. But it isn't government-controlled financing delivery.  And that might well be an important lesson to your thinking as you go forward on this.

So those were five reasons at the time why there was quite strong opposition.  But as I say, I think the climate has changed, and I do think there is an opportunity there.

Now, let me give five reasons why I think the time is right.  Firstly, Gene, as you said in your paper, and as Bob underlined, the FTI has established a country-level process and a country-driven process.  And everybody in the room would agree you want to hold on to that.  Don't lose that really important dynamic of, at the country level, government and donors working together to prepare a coherent education sector plan.

What's missing, I think, we would all say, even those of us that work in FTI at the moment, is real and systematic engagement of NGOs in civil society organizations in that country-level process.  It happens in some places, but in most, if we're honest, it doesn't.  I think that might be something for the Global Fund for Education -- (inaudible).

Secondly, as I've mentioned, to learn the lessons of GAVI and the Global Fund for AIDS, TB and Malaria on innovative ways of raising money and disbursing that money, multiple channels.  David mentioned multilateral effectiveness -- multilaterals.  Other multilaterals, including regional development banks, must be a part of this, it seems to me.  Don Kaberuka is doing tremendous things with the Africa Development Bank.  And they ought to be a strong partner in any initiative to increase access to education in Africa.

Thirdly, Gene mentioned the idea -- I think this is really important and challenging, but where the Global Fund for Education could really add value -- this idea of the virtual fund, which I would agree with Gene, we've promoted heavily in FTI, but I'm not sure we have yet managed to make it stick.

And I think this is where the Global Fund for Education could really add significant value, maybe by thinking of it not as a global fund, singular, but a fund of funds, or even a financing facility, along the lines of the climate change sectoral (colleagues are working ?), where the Global Fund for education provides the umbrella.

And under that umbrella comes a set of multiple sources of financing -- the Catalytic Fund, the Education Program Development Fund in the FDI, the UNICEF Managed Transition Fund, some of the fascinating work that the Center for Global Development are doing on cash on delivery as an innovation fund -- multiple channels that the Global Fund for Education is providing the overarching umbrella for all of that, following FTI principles and building on the successes of FTI, and then, at the country level, feeding into a single education sector plan.

I think that would rally grab people's attention and it would help very significantly, I think, to bring on board the donors such as the UK and the Netherlands and others who are currently champions of FTI, because you're not saying to them, "Okay, throw away FTI now."  You're saying, "Bring FTI under this umbrella.  Be a part of this broader picture."  And I think that could work very powerfully.

SPERLING:  Thank you.  Thank you very much, Desmond.

BIRMINGHAM:  Thank you.

SPERLING:  Let me put my glasses on.  I'm sorry.

Q: GEORGE INGRAM, Education and Policy Data Center (Off mike.)

SPERLING:  Well, first of all, let me say, I think we really -- if this group is going to do something meaningful, we should keep meeting, because I think this is something I would say from a campaign context, but I'd say it when I was in government too.  I think that you should never, in the outside world, spend as much time trying to figure out what everybody else is thinking and more help them with their thinking.

There is -- I mean, the idea that on any presidential campaign that there was a lot of thought put into these type of things -- it was a plank.  It was a plank done with full knowledge of Hillary Clinton.  It was -- (inaudible) -- the Education For All Act.  My buddy who helped me when I was in the White House was on Edwards' staff.  You know, that's what's happening.

So -- and I think it's relevant to us meeting in the sense that there is a promise out there; there's a commitment out there.  But I would spend very little time having anybody trying to decipher what others mean and more try to help a new administration figure out what's the best way to fulfill that.  And I think that's why this effort is very important.

And I also do think -- this echoes one thing David said -- is that it is also important, as we're thinking, to think of sequencing a little bit.  And I guess I'm maybe giving suggestions to those on perhaps advocacy a bit, but, you know, a lot of these design issues are the types of issues of which you will want to talk when there's a team in place that is heading off to the G-8 or there's a new USAID director, et cetera.

At the beginning, the main thing you want to do is have people care about the issue overall, make a place in the budget for it, be willing to sign those things, the Education For All Act.  And there is more time to help develop something global, which is going to take place over a period of time and is not going to be whether, you know, the U.S. decided together.

The other point you said on the U.S. dominance, I think part of what was in my paper a little bit was trying to say that you can spend all your time trying to get people to move away from the bilateral funding or more dominated, or you can try to marshal it as part of something that's coordinated.

And I think that was the effort here a little bit was to say to somebody -- and I think it's the point David made a little bit about when you're in a fast-track initiative country, are you working with the overall plan; rather, whether you're giving bilaterally or through a pooled fund or budget support, are you working as part of this coordinated process with the overall plan and to spend the energy there?

Now, on the primary/secondary, I -- (laughs) -- you know, it's funny, when Nancy Birdsall was putting together the U.N. Millennium task force, which I was on -- I guess Jeff Sachs had asked her, and you're doing it -- I remember, it was one of the first kind of meetings after Dakar.  And it was quite interesting.  Several people came to that first meeting who were really outraged at how the word "primary" had kind of become so dominant.  And they said, "Well, primary is eight years in our country."

And so, you know, it struck me from the very beginning that there was never a huge meeting of the minds as to what that meant.  And the phrase "basic education" was used just as much.  So, you know, my view has always been to interpret primary, or whatever our goal is, as the goal of a quality basic education.  Most people feel that is at least eight years.

Now, Joan will tell me that I need to be focusing on the years before year one, and that's important too.  But I guess I have tried to put my focus more that I think that we should be looking at eight years.  And I've tried to give two different ways of thinking of that.  One is that is what primary is in a lot of countries, that even in countries where you don't particularly call that primary, most people still feel eight years is what is kind of the marker for more -- for a chance to have more Basic education that's functional.  And that does get you in, in most countries, into secondary level.

And I'll be totally honest, I think part of the reason people shy away from that is they don't want to deal with what that actually means, which is that if you have to deal with the costing-out of seventh and eighth grade, it is a higher cost per child than looking at the first six years, because you have to have teachers who can teach at seventh and eighth grade.

I just got back from a trip to Kenya and, you know, was really struck at how much they think it is for a child to go to seventh or -- you know, to ninth or tenth grade, as opposed.  And they say it's because you have to have science, you know, labs, et cetera.  So, this is a way of, kind of, making the gaps seem more manageable, is to say it's five or six years.

So my view is that, as we go forward on a global education fund, let's be more ambitious.  I just think there's this divide where you never really need anybody who stands up and says, "I really think five or six years is enough."  I mean, I've just -- I've been to millions of conferences, I very rarely have heard that; on the other hand, the costing and the projections.

So, in the Education For All Act bill, they actually talked -- it actually talks about nine to 10 years, as the marker.  So, I think that, you know, it's no doubt intimidating to look at what David Bloom and Joel Cohen -- I mean, their estimates of universal 12 years are mind-blowingly high.  And so I recognize there are some limits, and some limits of what is achievable.

But, it does seem to me our push should be for at least eight years, which, I think, would, at least, I think, do something else important.  In countries where you didn't have eight years, it would push people into the secondary level, and at least you would then have a focus on making that transition.  And perhaps as you make that transition towards seven or eight years, you'll have more of a focus on children reaching nine or 10.

And, just my last point -- which is just the obvious, is that even if you don't, even if you say no, the Millennium Challenge Development Goal is just six years.  If you have 100 percent of children graduating from sixth grade, you can't keep the same budget allocation for seventh and eighth grade.

And, George, you're going to remember this -- George and I went with the late Stephanie Tubbs Jones and another Congressman to Egypt.  And we were out in a rural place where somebody came up, thinking I was still part of the U.S. government, and said -- thanked me for the money that USAID, et cetera, had given.  And she said, it's -- she goes, "You know, we have 90 percent of our girls going to -- now graduating from sixth grade," she goes, "but we can only send 5 (percent) to 10 percent to seventh grade because our money runs out."  I mean, that was a real live example of us budgeting just to complete six years, and here we were -- (laughs) -- in rural Egypt, and they had virtually every single girl graduating from school, and there was no budget allocation to send any of them to seventh grade.

Let me -- I'm going to -- I'm going to diversify both gender-wise and room geography-wise, and go with Helene.  (Laughs.)

HELENE-MARIE GOSSELIN (UNESCO):  (Off mike) -- and I won't -- I will not give you, of course, the official comments of UNESCO -- I'm sure you will hear them in Oslo, but this is obviously a very brilliant paper and brilliant presentation.

I will have a very quick question; let everybody else the chance to talk.  Are you bringing that paper, Mr. Sperling, to Doha next week -- because, of course, there is an incredible window of opportunity?  You know that at the recent MDG high-level meeting in New York, several countries, both -- I mean, several stakeholders, both countries' donor and recipient have pledged, have  all recognized the serious gap in reaching the EFA education goal -- the EFA goals, and have pledged substantial new funds.

Now, we still have to see, of course, if that will get anything.  But, next week in Doha UNESCO, with the Qatar government, are organizing -- and several organizations there are going to be present -- a special event on financing education in the face of the current financial crisis.  So, are you planning to be there?  Are you planning to talk about that -- because it seems to be a very good opportunity at that point?

Another quick information, UNESCO launches next week, on behalf of the EFA partners, the Global Monitoring Report on Education, and theme is this year "Financing for Education."  It will be launched in Geneva, and I'd be happy to send you the link to our report on-line, if you -- any of you wish that.  Thank you.

SPERLING:  If I were to go to all the meetings in Doha, there would be an enormous financing gap in the budget of the -- (laughter) -- Center for Universal Education.

I'm going to just let the people right now -- I have Joe Carney, I have a lot of people.  I'm not going to have any of us answer questions, I'm just going to let people make some comments and try to do it quick.  And let's just try to see if we could get several comments in quickly before we close.

But, this is going to be the opposite of what you normally get.  Normally you're told, don't make comments, only ask questions.  So, I'm going to say, don't ask questions, just make comments.  Now, if you have any questions, we'll see if we have time to answer, but let's let people weigh in.


JOE CARNEY (U.S. Agency for International Development.)  Maybe two comments, and one of them might be a quasi-question.

SPERLING:  (Laughs.)

CARNEY:  I enjoyed the paper very much, and I want to point out, and you probably are aware, there's an evaluation of FTI that's going on.  A contract has been signed with Cambridge Education.  Now, Bob and Desmond could fill us in more on it, but it's due to be -- first have some findings -- they were aiming to have something for Oslo on two pilot case studies, but it's been held up in contract with the bank a bit where it's behind schedule.  But, I think your efforts should be coordinated with that evaluation.

And also at the working group in Paris last week there was a G-8 side-meeting where some members of the G-8 are floating an idea, which is not yet on paper, for a complete reform of FTI -- moving from such things as a dual-chair to a single-chair for three years.  So that's out there and moving along now too.

My only comment was to back George on the six goals of EFA.  And USAID gets many requests for our missions to be more involved in out-of-school youth of 14 to 25; and they're obviously concerned about security and stability, as well as employment.

SPERLING:  In the way-back there, and then John; and then Katherine and Frank; and then we'll close out.

KIT YASIN (Education Development Center, Inc.):  Okay, I'm Kit Yasin, I'm with Education Development Center here in Washington.  And I'll change my question to a comment now, and it has to do with the comment you both made, and it's made here in the paper on the "interim status nations."

We work in the DRC, and Sudan, Somalia, Haiti.  If I take two of those cases -- Haiti and Somalia, and I look at what's happened over the last 10 to 15 years of working there, I could see Haiti being an example of a possible "interim status country," but I could not see Somalia, kind of, fitting, the way it's described here.

What's interesting is that we use radio to -- the program we have in Somalia, we actually have higher results than we do in a lot of other countries.  Maybe it is making the best out of, you know, a terrible situation; maybe it's the attractiveness of the fact that we're actually reaching these kids in Mogadishu, but the impact results are incredible, not just, you know, also along health lines.

Would a Somalia -- what would happen with a Somalia, for example, with this "interim status?"  There is certainly the civil society buy-in, but there is no government that could actually try to qualify even for interim status.  Sorry that was a question, therefore, I'll turn it into a comment, which is:  Please don't allow those countries to be, sort of, written off, you know, the possible map in this task force.

SPERLING:  I will answer you very quickly, just to say, I think that -- and Bob, I think, referred to it -- I think, in the current structure, people like Bob and Desmond were in a completely lose-lose situation.  If they took in a Haiti or a Liberia, and they -- (inaudible) -- different decision -- if they endorsed them, then suddenly the gold standard had been hurt.  You know, there way no way they actually represented gold standard kind of countries.  On the other hand, if they turned them down, then they're just leaving the worst off children.

So, the interim status, I think, idea was that you are trying to help in any way that you can.  And I think if you looked at the more serious papers, and more details of it, it was definitely an idea that you would like as much government involvement as possible.  But where -- but I think it's more of an effort to do what you can do.

So, your point is noted.  And that is not supposed to be a bar that eliminates, you know, doing what you can in a country, or preventing, whatever the "coalition of the willing" is, from going forward.  But, again, I will say this is very much a work in progress, and this is something one can weigh in on as well.


MR. JOHN GRAYZEL, University of Maryland:  I'll go quick.  I've been in the back of the room longer than Desmond -- three years since I left FTI and USAID for three years.  And in the process I've a chance to reflect.  I agree with everything that's been said today, but it won't work unless you address the other issue -- Gene, that you mentioned -- the political will.

And, David, you can correct me, but from my research the way you got political will on HIV/AIDS -- so that no one in America squeaks at $15 billion, is, over time, people experienced the death of someone they knew, or they thought was important.  That's what gave the political will.  The health people thought health is a motivation, but for most people, it goes deeper.

Now, we in education sit around thinking education is a motivator, but that's not.  What is the motivator?  And this is a belief, it's not supported with the same empirical evidence of, I think, of the first (thing ?).  It's a variation of the conflict issue.  It is people, if they can understand that education will, in some way, reduce the conflict in the world -- not just of education in conflict, but reduce the conflict in the world, that's where we will get the buy-in.

And to do that -- these are just suggestions, UNICEF, UNESCO you brought up.  Education financing is important, but what's also important is, without -- not respecting sovereignty; that there is built into FTI -- also associations, activities like "education for a culture of peace," and "respect for the U.N. Declaration's  rights."  And it is by bringing those in to education, I believe that we can get a much larger constituency, because that will produce the motivation, not all the bureaucratic administrative education stuff that we've been talking about.

We believe in it, we know it, but that won't get us the constituency that we need, that we got for HIV/AIDS.

SPERLING:  Katherine?

KATHERINE MARSHALL (Georgetown University): A very quick comment.

I think -- a wonderful session, and very helpful.

I think there is room for a very thoughtful and exploratory discussion of how to bring private voices into this, because they are notably absent.  And I'm thinking -- both on the constituency side -- on the, sort of, "Big-20" NGOs, but, then there are also are two other actors who are really completely outside these processes, from what I see.

One of them is the large religious organizations -- (Latin phrase), but also the (Golen ?) movement, a whole host of other subcontinent movements, et cetera, which could really -- which are playing, by default, major roles, but also, particularly in the conflict countries, I mean, in DRC there probably is not much else, and I think that's true in other places; and then the private entrepreneurial -- which, surprisingly are very active in some of the very poorest communities, and finding ways to think through, beyond the pure public sector.  And I'd be happy to explore that with you.

SPERLING:  Thank you.  Thank you.

You're going to try to -- okay.  (Laughs.)

(Off mike commentary.)

MR. FRANK METHOD, RTI International Development Group:  I think you've made a very persuasive case for this pooled fund, and a much larger fund.  I think what we need is a contingency plan for success.  What would we do, and how would we operate if we had such funds?  I think it would be exceedingly difficult to program anything like another $10 billion using current disbursed modalities, to take Desmond's point.

At Jomtien in 1990, part of the expectation was that there would be a significant increase in sector programming, policy conditions, reform conditions, sector programming with a substantial amount of budget support.  For a variety of reasons, that didn't happen.  And there isn't time to go into all the reasons why that didn't happen, but what we got was subsector projects with very large transaction costs, and negotiated costs, and some consequence for distorting the investment of the country itself.

I think we need a very serious conversation about what kind of assisted modalities we would move to if we had such a pooled fund, because I don't think we can implement it without it, and I think we should be prepared to implement it if Gene, and other people that have more political smarts than I, can find a way to make those funds happen.

DIFD has taken some initiative to have half of their program being on budget support; Australia and Norway, Canada, and a few others have taken some.  But, I think if a pooled fund is going to work, you have to have some return to whole-sector program modalities, with a substantial amount of it being budget support.

SPERLING:  The only thing I would mention is, obviously, you do have the Catalytic Funds, where, again, here you're not starting from scratch.  I do think you are -- I do think the Catalytic Fund probably, as it grows, or as we created a pool, could take a lot of the lessons from David.  And my guess is it needs more.  So, I think we're in a -- you know, again, I don't think it's a, it's a total start from scratch position.

But, let me -- let me just ask if the two of you have any final comments you'd like to make?

Q     (Off mike.)

SPERLING:  I'm sorry?

MR. SUDHANSHU JOSHI:  Thanks, Gene, for all these efforts -- untiring efforts.

Do you see any time in the future this process, on the structure, the content and the process of such a fund being taken in the southern world with the governments, and with the civil society, and also the private sector that you get some real good reality check, and also a kind of an input that I think would really, in the true spirit of, say, the partnership, that it's not something which is driven by -- from here in Washington, D.C.?  Thank you.

SPERLING:  Barbara?

BARBARA BRUNS (The World Bank):  (Off mike) -- congratulate you on what I think is a really excellent effort to think carefully about where we are, and where we need to be, and what can change.

I think, you know, addressing the question of regular replenishment, and linking donor voice and the governance to their -- adherence to their replenishment commitments would be a fundamental and very important shift in the right direction.

I think creating a process for "interim status" treatment of countries that can't fully achieve the goal of a coherent education sector -- a credible plan, is very important.

And I think -- just to jump in on the question that George asked you, if we are able to go to something more ambitious -- like a global education fund now, I think it's the perfect moment to say that what the dialogue with the countries, and the donors in countries, should be about an overall education sector plan that provides for a strategy for reaching the MDG of universal primary completions.  But, not only that -- also thinks about where they need to go in secondary expansion; tertiary, to assure that they have the trained teachers to staff the system; and pre-primary.

So, at the outset, you know, at the beginning of the FTI we were concerned about setting that as a goal because it was just too ambitious and we thought it would take even more time to get a first -- even a first wave of countries to a state where those plans could be endorsed, and would really slow things down.  But, I think now we're at -- we're at the time where we have to acknowledge that education systems are very interlinked, and organic wholes, and we have to work with countries on something coherent that achieves more than just universal primary completion, and also pays attention to learning outcomes.

The question I have, though -- and David jumped in on saying his vision was a 50-50 split between the pooled funding and bilateral channels.  I really think we need to think more about how that pooled part would work, because I don't think the Catalytic Fund model is adequate.  The Global Fund operates through a competitive review of individual proposal where you can have very tight accountability for specific outputs.

That's quite different from the model of funding an education sector program, and basically putting the money into the government's budget where, you know, it's much harder to achieve that degree of direct accountability.  It may be possible to reconcile these things, but I think it's going to take some serious thought about how we do that. The indicative framework was an attempt to, sort of, set some of those standards for service delivery, efficiency.

But, it may not be enough if you're thinking about major amounts of money being distributed through this way.  I completely support Katherine's idea of bringing private sector and NGO partners into this much more than they have been in the past.  You know, FTI has very much concentrated on government-provided education services.

But that also raises the questions of fragmentation, and how do you make sure it's also coherent.  You know, I've heard the opposite side of the coin, from ministers of health, which is, "I don't know where a lot of the spending on health in my country is coming from, or what it's doing, because it's not in my budget and it's not really in my oversight."  So, I think we can make it work, but it's going to take some thought.  But, I can't thank you enough, and salute you enough for what you're doing on this.

A final point:  I have a lot of sympathy for what John said, though, too.  One of the challenges in education is creating a sense of emergency around increasing our gains in education.  And we struggled with that at the beginning, I don't think that was ever done nearly adequately enough, and we really have to think through how we make people feel now.  This has to be on the front burner because there's so much competition for donor time and political space.

SPERLING:  Okay.  Now I am going to give our -- I will -- I'll give each of us just a couple of minutes for final -- or to respond so -- (inaudible) questions.

PROUTY:  Just a couple of quick responses.  One question I know that I'd like to put out there is that there has been a lot of discussion about "fund qua fund," as opposed to "program," or as opposed to a broader approach.  I think it's critical to success -- getting back to some of the things that Barbara said, to take a systems approach to support countries in the system, certainly reaching out much more broadly beyond governments than we have.

But, if we reduce this to a search for some sort of a dollar amount, then I think we've lost a lot of what we have.  So, I would urge, whatever discussion goes forward, that we keep the focus on maintaining and strengthening locally-driven leadership.

It does seem to me that if there is a significant opportunity for an inflow of -- a much broader inflow of funds into the education sector, that we would be missing an important opportunity if we don't have a broader vision for what we're trying to achieve, and embrace the full set of EFA goals.

I think this has been a weakness of the FTI program.  It's a hard choice when you don't have enough funds.  You have to focus. But, I think it's been a weakness that the broader EFA agenda hasn't been embraced, and to me this would be an opportunity to do that.  That would certainly include -- if we were having to prioritize, the next thing would be early child development.  Early child development has been dramatically under supported.

In terms of increases in funding, we need not to kid ourselves.  There are real capacity constraints out there right now, on both the country level and also at the donor level.  One of the problems is that, even as funding is increasing, donor technical capacity to implement and support and help countries in developing innovative new ways of operating has also diminished.  And we're going to have to pay serious attention to our capacity to support and accompany countries using these funds effectively.

There's been some discussion about, what I would call a kind of internal cuisine, independence, where it should be situated with regard to UNESCO, UNICEF, the World Bank, and so on.  I think those are ongoing issues.  They'll never be resolved.  On the other hand, I would strongly urge us not to get sidetracked too much with those kinds of discussions.

I think that there is a pretty tight timeframe imposed on us.  David referred to it.  Essentially, it's right now, you know, we have to -- we have to move forward now.  So, I think there's going to be certainly a need for ongoing, long-term, continual tweaking of the various relationships.

But, I would hope that the main focus would be on getting significant new funds, getting the process implemented, and then moving forward.

GARTNER:  Just briefly, I want to respond especially to the very important question's come up a couple times here on political will.

I guess the basic takeaway I want to suggest is that having a new structure, or a new structure that builds up the successful features of FTI is essential to building that political will.  Because, while I think it's true that, you know, there were some structural advantages to people having experience with people living with AIDS in the United States, or dying from AIDS in the United States, it's also true that it was ignored for about two decades, and that the political will was built over -- although, built on that long history, it actually came together in just a couple of years.

And I think we may be witnessing a similar moment, at least I hope we are, in education.  But, there were two things that really helped that had to do with the Global Fund and its structure.  One is that by bringing all these diverse stakeholders in as partners, it had a built-in resource mobilization capacity that, you know, that has proven quite successful.

And, secondly, the strength of it accountability mechanisms, in terms of performance-based financing, gave greater confidence to the donors, because while the United States is still, you know, mostly -- I mean, if the leading funder of the Global Fund is still mostly bilateral, the rest of the donors are almost entirely multilateral, and that's very different than the education scenario.

And to go to the other question about the pool process, I don't think we're going to get that kind of buy-in in multilateral from, you know, even European donors, let alone U.S. donors, unless there is some real hard thinking about how you take, you know, the relatively modest ambitions of the current, you know, FTI orphan fund, you know.

And maybe this does mean you move beyond only supporting governments.  Maybe you need to, if NGOs are a full part of the process and are actually integrated with national plans, maybe you need some of those streams, and maybe we need some of the other suggestions made in terms of really multiple disbursement mechanisms.  So, I don't have all those answers, but I think that's -- I would hope that's where the conversation would go.

SPERLING:  A few comments on the points made.  One, on the broader EFA, I guess I have -- I've always been torn on this because on one hand I obviously believe we need to be doing more on early childhood, et cetera.  What I don't want -- the one thing I think has been good about the Millennium Development Goals is accountability.  And there is a little bit of a danger that if suddenly you have to do everything and there's not enough money, there's no anything you really have to do well at, or held to the -- your feet to the first.

So, I would like -- I guess, my view would be -- and I like maybe the way Barbara put it, I think we should continue to make the kind of Millennium Development Goal, a kind of a really hard task that people really have to be pushing for.  But, I like the idea that it comes forward in a -- you know, the more of an overall strategy, even though perhaps you don't pretend that, at this stage, we can actually say -- since we can't even get every child in Early Childhood in our own country, you know, that we don't make it just so large and kind impossible that nobody is accountable for anything.  And so I think that's just a balance that we have to do there.

In terms of -- (inaudible) -- view, I think on -- you know, I think -- the first thing I ever wrote back, 2001, was definitely based off the Health Fund and had peer review and much more developing country participation.  You do have developing country participation of the steering committee, so that is good; and then you do have a bottom-up process with donors around the country, so it's not as central.

But I do think the place where you could -- and I think David gave the path to it, is to look at the Health Funds as a way that, if you are going to have -- as part of this larger Global Education Initiative, whatever you call it, if you're going to have a more expanded-pool version, I think that is the place you could have a lot more reform in building in developing countries into the endorsement-approval process, which seems to be the case more in the Health Funds.

In terms of the capacity issue, you know, my view has always been you want a very certain, large contingent funding, because I think capacity and how certain funding is go hand-in-hand.  People don't often build up the capacity if they think they have no reason to, and yet without capacity you can't handle it.  So, I do think none of us should be, obviously, for the flow of money that's going to be wasted and misused, but the clarity that, if you do things right funding will be there and consistent, can actually be an inspiration to building the capacity.

On the bottom-up review, as Desmond was talking about, I do think you built up the bottom-up element of the Fast Track Initiative, and nobody is trying to get rid of that. But, you can take a good idea too far.  And I think, just to be honest, that if members of the United States Congress sat in on kind of the Catalytic Funding, you know, decisions, et cetera, and you were trying to get them to give a couple billion dollars more, I think they'd want to see a few more people.  You know, I think they'd like to know that Bob could send two people who could do an independent review for three or four weeks before somebody's going to allocate hundreds of millions of dollars.

And that was my point that with greater funds will come greater accountability.  That doesn't mean you need a top-down.  It doesn't mean you need 500 staff.  But, it -- -- there's just a certain reality.  And I will tell you, at one point, that when (Shriti Vadera?) was still over at the -- with Chancellor Brown, this conversation came up.  And Gordon Brown said, "How am I supposed to tell people to give billions more if they only have about 10 people working for them?"  So, I mean, that's not an imaginary concern.  So, again, I think it's hitting the right balance.

And then I think the last thing I would just say is on the political will.  I think it's always important for us to understand where you want to argue and what for.  I think it's part of civil society.  I think there's been a whole lot of times where we have the strategy for how you're going to lobby, you know, Bob and Joe.  You know, and I think they would love to have more money.

You know, so -- I mean, you have to have the right strategy for the right folks.  And I think what happened in debt relief and HIV/AIDS was it was directed where it needed to be.  It was directed at legislators, and parliaments and heads of state.  They have to create the ultimate political will that can give the people running these things the resources.

So, let's make this the first, not the last, of this discussion.  And thank you everybody who -- our panelists; and thank you for the equally expert members in the -- around the table.  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)








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