Investing in Knowledge Sharing to Advance SDG 4

Coauthored by the Center for Global Education at Asia Society, Results for Development, Teach For All, The Boston Consulting Group, and World Innovation Summit for Education

“A new paradigm in global development is needed to sustain the progress of the last generation,” explains Larry Summers in the Foreword of this report. For global education, a key element of this new paradigm is improved knowledge sharing across borders.

In 2016, The Learning Generation report called for the international community to invest in a global education ecosystem that could “promote cross-border learning and sharing of innovations and grow the capacity of leaders and practitioners.” This report supports that call by advancing a more robust vision for effective global knowledge sharing based on 16 months of research, interviews, and consultations with more than 200 education leaders. The report argues that in order to accelerate progress towards SDG 4, global, national, and local actors should embrace the following findings:

1. Knowledge sharing should integrate global public goods, capacity development, and networks
Global public goods, while important, are not enough. Capacity development is necessary to enable practitioners to adapt and use global public goods effectively, and networks help ground them in local needs, make them widely available, and facilitate their improvement over time.

2. Key criteria should be followed to ensure the effectiveness of knowledge sharing efforts
Knowledge sharing efforts sometimes fail, in predictable ways. Criteria for investments in knowledge sharing, as well as effective global public goods, capacity development efforts, and networks can provide guidance for investments of time, talent, and financial resources.

3. More and better investment is needed to fund knowledge sharing infrastructure
In addition to more funding, better funding is needed for knowledge sharing in education. Funders should consider flexible funding approaches and recognize alternate approaches to measuring impact to enable further investment in knowledge sharing.

In addition, the report outlines four case studies from the perspective of different education actors that demonstrate the import of these findings.

Chalo Parho Barho: a program developed by Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi, which leverages global knowledge sharing to improve learning outcomes in Pakistan

The Education Workforce Initiative: an initiative of the Education Commission with the goal of transforming the global education workforce

Moving Minds Alliance: an emerging network focused on coordinating action to improve Early Childhood Development in emergency situations

Omidyar Network: a philanthropic investment firm that prioritizes sector-level impact, including investments in knowledge sharing infrastructure

All education actors have a role to play in hastening the spread of effective practices and accelerating progress toward the vision of the Learning Generation and the objectives of SDG 4. This report provides insights and tools to help both funders and practitioners advance knowledge sharing across borders.

I hope this report mobilizes the funder community to adopt a set of criteria for effective knowledge sharing and to dedicate more funds to this cause. Such investments are required to sustain the success of global development for another generation.

Lawrence Summers
Member of the Education Commission

While there are vast differences between countries, there are also remarkable similarities in the roots of the inequities that face children. The silver lining in facing common afflictions is the solutions will also be common, even as the particulars will vary from one place to another. This report highlights both the potential for knowledge sharing to accelerate progress, and what it will take to do this effectively.

Wendy Kopp
CEO and Co-founder, Teach For All

We have seen the promise of knowledge sharing in health and agriculture. In order to achieve SDG 4, we will need to strengthen our approach in education. This report is a pivotal step in defining this path forward.

Dr. Randa Grob-Zakhary
Board Member, Global Partnership for Education

We are glad that the recommendation the Commission made in The Learning Generation report to invest in a global ‘ecosystem’ for education that will promote cross border learning and sharing has been further elaborated upon in this report. We hope this will inspire and enable education actors to share tools, approaches, data, and programs across borders to advance progress towards Sustainable Development Goal 4. All children should have access to a quality, equitable education, and this is one part of making that a reality.

Dr. Liesbet Steer
Director, Education Commission