Promoting access to quality, safe, and relevant education for all persons affected by crisis

Education Financing

External Education Financing 

The INEE Reference Guide on External Education Financing is a resource that explains donor education funding strategies and mechanisms. It focuses on external education financing in low-income countries, including those in fragile situations. Governments in these situations (crisis, post-crisis or the risk of crisis associated with conflict, natural disaster or challenges to government legitimacy) typically face challenges in delivering core public services, including education.

Why was the Reference Guide developed?

The Reference Guide was developed by the INEE Working Group on Education and Fragility 2008-2011 in response to requests from education specialists for an easily accessible description of the different types of external assistance for education. In particular, it responds to recommendations made by participants at the 2008 INEE Policy Roundtable on Education Finance in States Affected by Fragility, held in Brussels. The purpose of the Reference Guide is to enable national decision-makers to better understand:

  • what donors seek to achieve in the education sector
  • how donors provide education assistance
  • the constraints on donor funding
  • how various funding mechanisms work
  • why donors choose one funding mechanism over another

What is the Reference Guide?

The Reference Guide is a reference written from the donor point of view that explains the design, goals and constraints of existing types of external education assistance. It is not an analysis of the pros and cons of different funding mechanisms, nor is it a “how to” guide that helps education ministries more successfully apply for external education assistance.

Who will benefit from reading the Reference Guide?

National education policy-makers will gain a better understanding of funding mechanisms, making them better able to navigate country-donor relationships. Nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) and other civil society organisations, together with local education donor groups and their education partners, may increase their knowledge of donor goals, strategies and funding mechanisms in the education sector. As a result, they may become more effective at holding governments and donors accountable for the use of external education funding.



The Reference Guide was presented in a series of INEE regional tool launches that began in Dakar, Senegal on 25 June 2010. In addition, launches were held in Paris, Geneva, New York, Washington D.C, Bangkok, Nairobi, Oslo, Lima and Panama City in 2010. If you would like further information, please contact


View and download the INEE Reference Guide on External Education Financing