Reforming education : what can philanthropy achieve ? (EN)


Laurence Piccinin, déléguée générale de l’Alliance des mécènes pour l'éducation

In many Western and emerging countries alike, reforming public education has become a national priority. While governments struggle to alleviate complex and urgent issues such as illiteracy, dropouts, and integration of migrants, private actors play an increasing role in education reform. Joining traditional non-profit organizations are a growing number of powerful, innovation-driven philanthropic foundations with great ambitions to change the system. There are many levels where philanthropic money is targeted for education, ranging from preschool to university, and very different “theories of change” are advocated. However, the scale of the problems is huge and governments hold a legitimate mandate from their citizens to provide universal access to quality education. Thus, even the wealthiest foundations must carefully define their strategies in order to have any meaningful impact. Besides, the intrusion of private money in education is still regarded with suspicion by many, especially in Europe. Where can philanthropy play a decisive role alongside governments in reforming education systems ? What strategies should philanthropic actors pursue to become legitimate and effective stakeholders in this field ?

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