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Blazing a trail: How EOF is working to deliver measurable results amid COVID-19 uncertainty

On the same day the Education Outcomes Fund (EOF) announced that it was moving to UNICEF as an independent trust fund, EOF CEO Dr. Amel Karboul spoke at the Global Steering Group for Impact Investment (GSG) Global Impact Summit—a three-day showcase of the actions that can put impact at the heart of COVID-19 response and recovery.

During her keynote interview with Alexandra Mousavizadeh of Tortoise Media, Dr. Karboul spoke about the global learning crisis, the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic, and how EOF’s new hosted partnership with UNICEF will help amplify both organizations’ impact.

Prior to the pandemic, 250 million children were out of school, and an additional 300 million were in school but failing to learn. Approximately 90% of children in low-income countries are unable to read and write by the age of ten. Dr. Karboul commented, “we need to achieve better outcomes, to achieve [tangible] results…while this [learning] crisis has been known in the education bubble, we are now trying to bring it to the global sphere.”

At the peak of the coronavirus pandemic, 90% of the world’s children had their education majorly disrupted. As the pandemic has progressed, it has become clear that distance learning solutions must be prioritized in education systems: in Ghana, distance learning was accessible by less than 30% of children and only available for six hours per week; and even in the United Kingdom—a high-income economy—30% of students were struggling to get any access to online learning platforms.

The education crisis has been historically misunderstood—siloed as a sector-specific issue, and often not receiving sufficient resources to address its root causes. Now EOF aims to bring the crisis to global attention, and also deliver measurable, innovative solutions for the problems being faced. These are highlighted in a new video from the Save our Future initiative, which calls for education to remain front and center amid the crisis, with funding for the sector prioritized. EOF is proud to be a partner in this initiative.

Dr. Karboul highlighted EOF’s aim to help ten million children through its laser focus on outcomes and partnerships with governments in areas where the learning crisis is at its worst. She commented that it is when payments are made based on outcomes, rather than a set of activities and rigid programing, that collaboration can really work, creating space for private investors to finance and encourage innovative delivery:

“When you hold people accountable for outcomes and not for activities…you invest more in ed-tech, you invest more in distance learning. So, you start creating new solutions because you’re held accountable for that outcome.”

Dr. Karboul also spoke about how challenges lie in changing the way people work and think about funding programs. The time has come to take innovative new approaches to education that can get children learning:

“We are very proud to be the trailblazer. The first doing this at scale. We see tomorrow many, many outcomes funds basically transferring the developmental challenges into investable opportunities and crowding in more private money to solve these.”

Dr. Karboul closed by highlighting how EOF’s hosting arrangement with UNICEF will allow EOF to scale innovative approaches in education and work to keep children learning through COVID-19 and beyond.

You can watch the full interview below.

Read the full announcement about EOF joining UNICEF as an independent trust fund here.


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