- Mobilizing OFID’s private sector to meet SDG education targets
Mobilizing OFID’s private sector to meet SDG education targets
Substantial financing will be needed to strengthen education and vocational training to meet the fourth Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) of inclusive, quality education for all and the promotion of lifelong learning. OFID is rising to the challenge using private sector mechanisms.
Much progress has been made to raise global school enrolment levels and increase access to education, yet some 103 million youth worldwide—60 percent of whom are women—still lack basic literacy skills.
Inclusive, viable education requires investments in infrastructure, teaching staff and support to develop coherent and effective education systems. However, in 2009, education account for a mere two percent of humanitarian aid. With aid allocations falling steadily— according to OECD reports, aid to basic education is currently six percent lower than in 2010—the United Nations has called on the donor community to focus more attention on this vital sector, especially in the poorest countries.
“The private sector needs to get involved to bridge the massive financing gap,” said Tareq Alnassar, OFID’s Head of Private Sector and Trade Finance Operations.
An example of OFID’s intervention is the organization’s participation in the Abraaj North Africa Fund II (ANAF II – see below), which has supported an investment in CIRA, the largest K-12* education group in Egypt. With more than 20 schools operating under the brand ‘Future Schools’, CIRA provides affordable quality education for Egyptian families. The additional equity provided by ANAF II is helping CIRA increase the number of Future Schools facilities across the country and build the new Badr University in Cairo, with room for 20,000 students.
“The education sector is a key pillar of Egyptian economic growth,” said Dr Hassan El Kalla, Chairman of CIRA. He explained that the company focuses on the largely underserved mass market segment, which represents almost 70 percent of the Egyptian population.
OFID’s Alnassar says this is indicative of how private sector engagement can increase the effectiveness of school systems: “Our involvement is as much about helping to raise environmental, social and governance standards, in addition to improving management capacity, as it is about mobilizing resources.”
The schools—built, owned and operated by CIRA—offer national and international curricula with integrated skills-based subjects, such as technology and foreign languages. By serving students in parallel to the public schooling system, CIRA is lightening the burden on already overstretched public infrastructure.
*K-12 is a term used to define publicly-supported school grades prior to college.
The Abraaj North Africa Fund II
In 2014, OFID participated in the Abraaj Group’s second dedicated North Africa private equity fund ANAF II. The fund invests in high growth, midmarket businesses in Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia. ANAF II targets investments that meet or exceed the financial return requirements of investors, while also supporting social and environmental outcomes. This is important for accelerating inclusive economic growth and employment creation in a region with high population growth. ANAF II also focuses on sectors that aim to support the continued growth of the expanding middle class in its target countries, such as healthcare, education, consumer goods and services, business services, materials and logistics. See for more information.
The refugee crisis in 2015 saw some 130,000 registered Syrian refugees in Egypt. In reaction to this, CIRA created a special program for Syrian refugees. Using the existing infrastructure of a ‘Future School,’ an evening school for Syrian refugee children was set up in Cairo. Children are taught by qualified teachers from the same refugee community, 80 percent of whom are women. The school fees are subsidized to alleviate the financial burden on families. Since the pilot program commenced more than 18 months ago, more than 800 Syrian refugee children have been enroled (with a waiting list of over 1,000). CIRA is currently working to obtain government permits to roll out this model at other schools.