Innovations in Global Education

Our United Nations Representative in New York, Elisabeth Kofler Shuman, attended the September 30, 2016, launch of UNICEF’s “Journey to Scale,” a report on five innovative approaches to education. The event was co-hosted by R4D’s Center for Education Innovation (CEI).

The past two decades have marked a significant increase in the number of children who have access to education. Nevertheless, over 263 million children and youth between the ages of 6 and 17 are out of school globally, and those who are attending are often not learning. In Africa, 37 million children will learn so little in school that they are not much better off than those who never attended school.

In response to this growing learning crisis, promising innovations in education have been developed in a range from result-based financing, pedagogical instructional techniques, and play-based learning practices. Successful innovations in education must be identified, tested, scaled, and well documented so others can learn from them. This was the goal of CEI’s and UNICEF’s “Innovation in Education Initiative,” a comprehensive search of ideas and practices in education. Over 160 innovations were sourced, with five named as finalists. The Journeys to Scale report tells the story of these five innovations, which attempt to scale and ultimately improve learning outcomes. Based on a number of criteria, such as learning, access, equity, and system strengthening, education programs from Brazil, Ethiopia, Peru, Sudan, and Ghana were named finalists.

In Ethiopia, teachers are using a two-month curriculum for 6-year-old children to promote pre-literacy and pre-numeracy and positive attitudes toward school; in Ghana, volunteer mothers are trained in play-based learning and health activities to improve school outcomes; and, in Sudan, children who have never attended school use solar-powered tablets to access self-guided learning programs.

Over the past year, the people and organizations implementing these different innovations have tried to build their programs and measure their impact. This report sheds light on their journeys to scale, and notes that scaling is often a slow progress that can be accompanied by many obstacles. The report also lays out specific recommendations for implementers, policymakers, donors, and researchers who want to support scaling of innovation in education.

For more information:

Center for Education Innovation (CEI):


To download the Journeys to Scale Executive Summary, click here.

To download the full report, click here.

Anne Bauer