Launch of the Education Services Joint Fund and Common Fiduciary Oversight Arrangement

ESJF and CFOA handover.JPG
Handover of the ESJF and CFOA from the Norwegian Ambassador to the Minister of Education in Malawi. Photo: RNE.

On April 12th Development Partners and the Government of Malawi marked the signing of a Common Financing Mechanism for the Education Sector in Malawi. The event took place at the Muzu Primary School in Lilongwe West. The arrangement is signed by the Government of Malawi and the Governments of Norway and Germany, the World Bank, UNICEF and DFID.

Lero ndi tsiku labwino chifukwa tikukhazikitsa ntchito yokudza mayendetsedwe a za ndalama. 

Let me start by thanking the Government of Malawi and the Director of Muzu primary school for inviting us out here today to mark this important event. The signing of what we refer to as the Education Common Financing Mechanism in Malawi. This important commitment to support Malawi’s education is made between the Government of Malawi – the Ministry of Finance, Financial Planning and Development and The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology – and the Education Development Partners in Malawi – represented by the Governments of Norway, Germany and the United Kingdom – and UNICEF and the World Bank.

The joint mechanism consists of two parts:

  1. The Education Services Joint Fund (ESJF), and
  2. The Common Fiduciary Oversight Arrangement (CFOA)  

The Government of Malawi and the Governments of Norway and Germany, the World Bank and UNICEF have signed the Education Services Joint Fund.

The ESJF is a multi-donor fund that provides earmarked support to some of the key priorities in the education sector. It is not a return to budget support, but it  is an arrangement designed to provide critical support to key Government priorities and education sector activities. This comes with externally contracted oversight and control in the form of a Fiduciary Agent. It provides control and oversight to the planning and exercising of financial, accounting and procurement activities.

Funding channeled through the ESJF aims to contribute to the quality reform of the sector for an improved education system - and is in line with the National Education Sector Plan (NESP). For funds management it is intended to be as aligned as possible with the regular systems of the Government, whilst at the same time reducing the risk of misuse of funding.

In the first year of its operation, the Development Partners intend to commit US$19,4 m (K14 b) to the Education Services Joint Fund.  The World Bank, Norway and UNICEF will contribute funds in 2017 and Germany will follow in 2018. 

In the first year of operation, the ESJF will:

  • Contribute to improved promotion and retention in primary grades.
  • Support improved equitable opportunities in primary school, for the most disadvantaged learners and with a special focus on girls’ education
  • Provide support to target teenage girls’ retention and strengthened effects on improved learning outcomes, accountability, and cost-effectiveness at school level
  • Partner with the Government in the development, endorsement and operationalisation of strategic policy frameworks, particularly in the areas of:
    • improved learning environment in early grades
    • improved retention of girls in upper primary
    • promotion of efficiency measures to reduce repetition in lower primary grades

The Common Fiduciary Oversight Arrangement (CFOA) accompanies the ESJF. This agreement is not a commitment to funding.  It is rather an intention for DPs and Government to work cooperatively to strengthen the Government’s fiduciary systems through such activities as joint technical assistance, sector audits, procurement oversight, and stronger financial reporting.

We all know that developments in recent years has forced development partners to move away from funding the sector directly through government systems. As partners, we can achieve necessary control with individual projects, each with their own bank account and accounting regimes. This, however, would be a fragmented system that undermines government ownership and oversight, and challenge the stewardship role of the government.

With the CFM, the common financing mechanism, we have created a system that allows for harmonised planning, management, implementation and monitoring of several funding sources. At the same time ensuring fiduciary risk control as required by the donors and our taxpayers.

If implemented successfully, it is hoped and intended that the CFM will bring in additional donor partners to the arrangement.

As we bring in resources through this agreement, we expect these resources  to be additional. This means we – the development partners expect the Government of Malawi to maintain its level of funding to the sector and not take advantage of our support to divert the GoM’s contribution to other sectors. The Government, through the Global Partnership for Education, Malawi Education Sector Improvement Plan project, has committed to target 20 percent of its national budget to the education sector.

Equally, the principle of additionally includes high expectation from DPs to results in the education sector. Our respective governments expect documented, evidence-based results in the areas of equitable access, retention, completion and learning. This is important to – first and foremost, the children, learners and students the sector serves – but also for development partners to prove the need for continued support to Malawi’s education sector. 

As partners to the education sector in Malawi, we are aware of the dire needs and the shortfalls faced at the school level and the challenges the school directors, teachers and communities are facing every day.

DPs represented today are here for the long term. We have the intention to remain predictable partners in the long-term reform process of the education sector. As for Norway, we have recently had a confirmation for Malawi. In the just released White Paper on “Norwegian Development Aid” - to be debated in the Parliament in Oslo next week – a group of countries are defined as a long-term partner for sustainable development. Malawi belongs to that group.

I am addressing you today as critical decision makers and stakeholders for the success of the program and its results for children, schools and communities. I wish you a heartfelt success in your continued endeavor ensuring equitable quality education for all. We are looking forward to being key partners in this process and expect to take active part in the planning process, the monitoring process and the assessment process. In this way we will work together with the Government for effective and efficient implementation.

Education is key to reducing poverty. Education is key to development. Let us all work together!

Mafuno abwino kwanonse!