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Case study

Unifying Egyptian education initiatives to avoid aid overlap, enhance local ownership, and fast-track impact

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Increasing coordination for aid effectiveness

We were asked by an Arab donor institution to harmonize competing higher education initiatives and suggest ways to improve coordination and effectiveness. With so many entities involved in foreign assistance initiatives, the sector was suffering from conflicting objectives and duplication of efforts. We supported a stakeholder consultation to consolidate emerging and established Egyptian education quality initiatives and gain the support of the UN, UNESCO, and World Bank to establish an integrated initiative that could be scaled nationally.

Identifying overlap

With the goal of creating a locally-driven, civil society institution to coordinate across the various higher education quality initiatives, we first started by identifying areas of program and funding overlap. We developed a framework to classify program activities to identify synergies for cooperation between quality programs as well as areas of overlap which could benefit from consolidation.

Creating a central, coordinating institution

We supported a stakeholder meeting to convene more than 10 institutions to consolidate emerging and established Arab quality initiatives into an integrated program. The conference established that there was full agreement on the urgent need to develop an Egyptian institution to lead higher educational quality initiatives alongside the UN, UNESCO, and World Bank. The entity would serve as a locally grown umbrella organization with a mandate to coordinate efforts in Egypt as well as at the regional level with the transparent oversight of a joint board.

Establishing a renewed, joint vision with local buy-in

We developed consensus on the vision and focuses of the new entity to ensure integration and coordinated action. The institution would be tasked with:

  • Aligning higher education quality dialogue with Arab needs
  • Driving change through regional consolidation of and cooperation between quality initiatives
  • Building membership networks to spread good practices
  • Enhancing local responsibility and institutional capacity for regional impact


With the emergence of well-funded Arab donors, this engagement was one of the first initiatives where a home-grown institution was empowered to take a regionally-driven developmental approach free from aid contingencies and the underlying politics of foreign assistance programs. The institution was able to take the lead in promoting local solutions to local higher education quality problems. With sufficient resources, the experience of the United Nations and World Bank was leveraged to create a strong, national institution to enhance the learning of millions on young people.