Education Above All (EAA) and the Islamic Solidarity Fund for Development (ISFD) are joining forces to diversify the way education is financed. The major move was made during the United Nations General Assembly, and is set to transform the way low-income countries can access loan funding to invest in the enrolment of out-of-school children in primary education.


Government of Mali, First to Sign Up for the the Programme

During the UN General Assembly, at an event co-hosted with UNESCO and the World Bank, EAA and the ISFD signed their partnership agreement. The Government of Mali announced that they would be one of the first countries to sign up for the programme, with a US$31 million loan.

This will support trilateral funding partnership with EAA and the Qatar Fund for Development, along with the Education Development Centre (EDC).  Mali’s project will focus on the most marginalised out-of-school children across the country, as the nation looks to continue its recovery from the 2012 political and security crisis.

With the world struggling to come to terms with the global education funding crisis, the new programme will help qualifying countries overcome a lack of access to credit on the international financial market. 

Through ISFD of the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), financing programme will be available to low-income IsDB member countries on a concessionary loan basis, for education projects which are co-financed with non-government organisations, the government, or the private sector.

Education Above All, the global foundation that has advocated for this approach, will also be responsible for monitoring and evaluation of projects in line with its world-leading out-of-school processes that, together with partners, have commitments to provide primary education to over 10 million children so far.

Mali is set to benefit through the EDC-led Programme d’accès à l’éducation pour tous les enfants au Mali or Access to Education for All Children in Mali (PACETEM), which aims to reach almost 600,000 out-of-school children with quality primary education. The project trains teachers, provides learning materials, works within communities to engage parents, and tracks attendance records, as part of its aim of increase student retention.

According to the Ministry of National Education which represents the government of Mali, the implementation of the project is of upmost importance since the programme will accelerate the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals in Mali. It constitutes one of the main indicators of the Human Sustainable Development Index, without which Mali cannot benefit from the increased support of the international community. This programme, with the recruitment of teachers, will contribute to reducing youth unemployment. Mali is grasping the financing opportunity put forward by the ISFD-EAA funding programme, a support that is sorely needed in Mali’s education system.

ISFD Director General Dr Waleed Al Wohaib said they can see that many of their member countries struggle to access finance on the global credit market

With our mandate to promote growth and development for our member countries, we are launching this dedicated fund, with the support of all our members, to finance educational initiatives that will help to improve educational outcomes for the next generation. It is only by giving children access to education that we can truly help lift more families out of poverty and encourage sustained economic growth for our member nations.

13-year-old Salimata Youssouf, who has just finished the EAA-ISFD catch-up programme for children at risk of falling behind in Bamako City, Mali, said that she goes to school because she wants to become a doctor.

I didn’t take school seriously before, but now after taking the catch-up programme, I love coming to school. It is more engaging and more interesting, it has helped me see the fun and value in coming to school.’

Education Commission data estimates that every $1 invested in primary education generates $10 in economic returns, and UNESCO has found that every extra year of schooling can add 0.37% to a country’s GDP, and 10% on average to an individual’s earnings.  If marginalised and vulnerable out-of-school children miss out on education, a significant proportion of them will be unable, as adults, to find jobs or start families. Many, without the opportunities that education provides, will become social and economic burdens to their communities or, forced to become economic refugees in their host nations.

It is expected that at least three other IsDB/ISFD member countries will be supported through this programme, with more partnerships set to be announced in the coming months.

For updates and more information about the programme, visit