United NationsDepartment of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

Through Educate a Child progremme, EAA enables millions of the hardest-to-reach out of school children (OOSC) around the world to realise their right to education.

Education Above All (
Non-governmental organization (NGO)

    Since 2012, EAC’s mandate has been to influence the enrolment and retention of over 10 million children who are out of primary education EAC reaches the most marginalised children; particularly those in poverty; who face social or cultural barriers, and affected by crisis and conflict-affected environments. Acting from a rights-based approached, working in partnership and emphasising innovation, scale and sustainability are core elements of EAC’s approach to bringing education to vulnerable OOSC.

    Implementation of the Project/Activity

    EAC supports direct interventions linking OOSC with education access. EAC works where the need is and serves as a scaling mechanism for effective programmes. It works with NGOs and international agencies that apply for support by demonstrating their ability and experience in finding and educating the hardest to reach. Our focus is on overcoming the range of barriers that prevent OOSC from getting a quality education. EAC does not identify what it will support--requiring that partners demonstrate that the approaches they use are successful and adapted to the context. Only about 10% of Expressions of Interest are supported. Once a project is selected it reports twice a year, providing evidence of meeting its targets. EAC has a rigorous M&E system, to which partners must agree. EAC verifies data regularly, and may visit or employ an external expert to check data quality. EAC’s work is conducted by a small HQ team—it does not field staff, believing that partners on the ground are the best equipped to address local problems. Resources for EAC projects are varied. EAC finances projects on a co-funding basis. To date it has invested over US $760 million, which it has leveraged with an additional US $1.2 in partner funding. It has employed a number of creative funding partnerships, which are also designed to facilitate sustainability. Partners are required to contribute at least 50% of project costs, which may come from a range of sources, including in kind, government support, and funds or activities from donor projects. EAC does not charge its own operating costs to projects and it limits partner overhead to 6% of direct costs. Overall, EAC has an approach that builds toward sustainability in every aspect of its model.


    Many quantitative results include commitments of over 13 million children--9.9 million already enrolled, 2,204,854 individuals trained, 5,509 schools constructed and 17,347 classrooms refurbished. Probably more important are the qualitative ones, including: • Increasing number of partners that credit EAC for more robust M&E; • The ASEAN inter-governmental declaration on OOSC; • Comments on EAC’s value as a flexible partner regarding project design • Partner value of EAC funding as flexible and requiring them to find other financial partners Our work directly links to leaving no one behind. EAC has gained recognition as an innovative knowledge partner on primary level OOSC. Our work engaging multilateral banks to support OOSC with hundreds of millions of dollars is a major impact, going beyond financing to funding policies. A key challenge is multiple requests for us to expand our scope. We retain our desire to see the job of universal primary education completed.

    Enabling factors and constraints

    Enabling factors: • Leadership vision and willingness to invest • Creative, competent, dedicated staff whose opinions and experience are respected • Courage • Partnership, M&E and financing model • Solid partner selection • Team work across national boundaries • Building theory from practice • Risk taking • Shared commitment • Focus, focus, focus Constraints: magnitude of the problem; sceptics who said it could not be done. Overcome by delivering high quality product with solid M&E Innovations— high visibility and financing for under-funded problem; low per child investment; not the usual development assistance model.

    Sustainability and replicability

    Model could be replicated in several ways: • More investment in primary education—we receive more good applications than EAC can fund • Replicate as a post-primary education programme • Model could be used in other sectors for other goals e.g., access to health care for all, nutrition, clean water EAC is a catalytic funder. Its model is designed to leave processes in place that serve as a foundation for sustainability. This is beyond replication to rooting expansion in communities. EAC will continue with its current focus—access to primary education for the hardest to reach as this serves as the foundation for subsequent levels of learning. Those without primary are denied much of the rest of formal education globally. We are in the process of developing a creative adaptation of this model to address universal primary education. This will likely be launched December 2021.

    COVID-19 Impact

    As was the case for many organisations, EAC had been impacted by the onset of COVID-19. With a view to support efforts to build back better, EAC implemented various measures to continue to reach OOSC with education. In April 2020, EAC issued guidance to its partners in recognition of the extraordinary times and enable recovery. To that end, EAC was able to share and amplify practices, such as education delivered via TV, radio, social media and WhatsApp; online teacher training; and quarantine building to assure school construction. Further, EAC hosted a 4-part Keep Children Learning webinar series to explore the different ways partners helped children to keep learning during the pandemic. EAC also helped organise Education and the Trying Times of COVID-19, a side event to the UN HLPF 2020.

    This initiative does not yet fulfil the SMART criteria.
    01 November 2012 (start date)
    31 December 2025 (date of completion)
    Education Above All
    1 3 4 5 6 9 10 16 17
    Other beneficiaries

    These children live in:  rural remote areas far from school buildings,  areas where the natural environment is challenging,  conflict-affected areas where schools cannot operate,  densely populated urban areas where schools may be over-crowded and dangerous,  severe poverty and may have to work instead of going to school. EAC’s stakeholders include parents, institutions, and communities--engaging all associated with eliminating barriers.

    More information
    Contact Information

    Salwa, Head of Policy and Research