Final year results from the Quality Education India Development Impact Bond
World’s largest education Development Impact Bond results released: students learn 2.5 times more than those in other schools despite COVID-19*
New Delhi, 29 September 2022: The Quality Education India Development Impact Bond (QEI DIB), the world’s largest education development impact bond, has released its final results which show improved learning and a reduced learning gap for students despite the impacts of COVID-19.
The $11m DIB aimed to improve literacy and numeracy skills for primary school children and demonstrate the benefits of outcome-based funding to drive innovation in the global education sector.
While India has made considerable progress towards achieving universal primary school enrolment, the quality of education remains a key challenge. Many Indian children still lack basic literacy and numeracy skills, exacerbated even further with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Reaching 200,000 students, the programme exceeded its outcome targets over the last 4 years and closed the learning gap many other students saw during the pandemic, demonstrating the potential to transform the quality of education at scale.
Key findings from the final, independent evaluation of the programme included:
- Students saw increased levels of learning, despite the COVID-19 pandemic:Students in the programme learned 2.5 times more than those in non-participating schools. Despite the challenges of COVID-19, students continued to show learning gains in the programme. Twice as many students achieved age-appropriate learning levels compared to non-participating schools. Personalised and Adaptive Learning through technology showed 5x the learning gains for students. Community support also played a significant role in increasing engagement and learning gains as it involved higher contact time with the students.
- Shifting to an outcomes-based funding approach can be a catalyst for change: Outcomes-based funding programmes support flexible and adaptable programme delivery and help create a high-performance environment with high levels of accountability. Education providers were able to create a step change in learning outcomes achievement (50% higher on average) compared to their previous grant programmes. Factors which helped drive this success included robust performance management, regular engagement with each education provider and flexibility in funding and approach. This suggests funders may need to consider how they can create more opportunities to fund outcome linked programmes over those which are activity or input based.
- Funders got better impact because they were paying for outcomes: The outcomes of the programme were delivered at a significantly lower price per outcome than anticipated. The actual price per outcome was 46% lesser than the original expected price, showing that DIBs can provide better value for money for funders.
- The investor achieved the targeted return:The investor, UBS Optimus Foundation received a return of 8% on its investment, showing that impact focussed investors can make a return, whilst assuming the responsibility for implementation and the associated risk in such programmes.
In the DIB, four education partners implemented proven models to improve learning outcomes. The approaches were a mix of direct and indirect programmes:
- Kaivalya Education Foundation delivered an indirect, whole school management programme that focussed on school leader training
- Gyan Shala delivered a direct classrooms programme for children in urban slums
- Society for All Round Development implemented two interventions, one direct model (remedial education) and one in-direct (teacher training)
- Educational Initiatives and Pratham Infotech Foundation delivered a computer-based adaptive learning platform (Mindspark) to close learning gaps and provide actionable data to teachers to improve learning.
Abha Thorat-Shah, Executive Director Social Finance, British Asian Trust said:
“The QEI DIB learnings highlight the opportunity to shape our education systems and change life outcomes for a whole generation. It is evidence that outcomes-based financing models like DIBs can successfully improve learning. There are new solutions for difficult social problems and ways to create greater impact from every unit of money spent. This radical approach was the first of this size for the education sector in South Asia and has proved itself as a compelling model for a more effective approach to philanthropy at scale.
“Now more than ever we need to test and create models which help mitigate the devastating learning losses from COVID-19, but also find cost effective ways to finance them and make them scalable. The future of education in India looks promising, but we need to engage the government, funders and policy makers to act now if we really want to drive change at scale.”
Dhun Davar, Head of Social Finance, UBS Optimus Foundation said:
“We are extremely pleased with the learning results achieved. Outcomes based financing programmes are clearly showing their ability to drive impact at scale and this programme has been an excellent proof point for that. This should send a strong signal to funders interested in achieving more and better outcomes not only in education, but in other areas as well.”
Samar Bajaj, Director for India Programs, Michael & Susan Dell Foundation said:
“The success of the QEI DIB shows how outcome-linked models can bring efficiency and transparency to India’s education system. The program has generated rich evidence over the last four years to demonstrate how children learn when supported by the right teaching practices, technology and school environment. These data sets can be used by the ecosystem, including state governments and other funders to structure high performing programs that will help millions of children in India thrive in school.”
Gagandeep Nanda, Associate Partner Dalberg Advisors said:
‘’We are extremely pleased with the results. The outcome targets that we set initially were not only exceeded, they were exceeded by a large margin. The education partners also improved on the outcomes their programmes had historically seen before QEI DIB. This makes a strong case for continuing to link funding to outcomes as opposed to inputs or activities.”
Krishna Chaitanya, Research Projects Manager, ConveGenius Insights said:
“The QEI DIB, a torch bearer for Development Impact Bonds, is a pathbreaking tool in the way education outcomes are approached. As a measurement and research think tank for education in India, we believe that the assessments are the fulcrum of development impact bonds. In a model where outcomes are directly linked to the payments, the outcome evaluator has a crucial role to play and to address this. ConveGenius Insights (CGI) has taken a rigorous yet realistic approach with the adoption of quality research and scientific methods that helped us set ambitious yet achievable targets for the education providers. CGI is excited about the observed results, not only because of the targets that have been achieved by education providers but also the way data had been used throughout the project cycle. Education providers used the data as evidence to improve and strengthen their interventions. We are looking forward to more programs adopting models such as QEI DIB to transform educational outcomes for millions of children across the country.”
More information can be found at https://qualityeducationindiadib.com
*On average a student in the QEI DIB programme gained 50 points of learning each year, compared to 20 points in non-participating schools on a proprietary scale used by the evaluator CGI
Notes to editors
The QEI DIB programme evaluation was the world’s first large-scale evaluation for an education outcomes-based financing program. The evaluation is unique due to the diversity of the portfolio of interventions evaluated, the focus on measuring education outcomes (vs outputs), the ambitious level of the targets which were set to ensure sustainable outcomes over 4 years, and the ability to adapt and complete a rigorous evaluation process despite COVID-19. The evaluation was conducted by an independent evaluator.
The QEI DIB involved the following partners, led by the British Asian Trust, Michael and Susan Dell Foundation and UBS Optimus Foundation.
- Investor: UBS Optimus Foundation
- Anchor Funder:Michael & Susan Dell Foundation
- Convener/ intermediary: British Asian Trust
- Supported by: Comic Relief, The Mittal Foundation, and The Larry Ellison Foundation
- Education partners: Gyan Shala, Kaivalya Education Foundation, Society for All Round Development, Educational Initiatives and Pratham Infotech Foundation
- Performance Manager: Dalberg Advisors
- Outcome Evaluator: ConveGenius Insights
- Knowledge & Technical Partners: Foreign and Commonwealth & Development Office (UK Government), Tata Trusts, Center for Universal Education at the Brookings Institution & Ecorys
- Corporate Partner: BT
- The Mavericks PR Agency:firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
- British Asian Trust: Social Finance Communications Officer firstname.lastname@example.org or Director Communications and Marketing email@example.com
- Infographics and a video featuring Education Providers can also be supplied
Additional quotes from education providers
Pankaj Jain, CEO, Gyan Shala:
“The amount and nature of engagement with the children kept changing dynamically during COVID-19 lockdowns. The DIB has been learning curve of adaptability and scalability. Building solutions was a gradual process – collecting data, measurement, creating design projects and the final impact. How do we keep up with this dynamic sector? How do we adjust to the changing environment? We implemented various solutions from providing learning material to children at their homes, phone-based engagement by teachers, engaging children in small groups at their homes, engaging children in small groups in community classrooms through TV based video lessons. DIBs, with its outcome focussed approach, act as that innovative tool that has enabled and strengthened our ability to adapt and learn.”
Aditya Natraj, Founder, Kaivalya Education Foundation & CEO, Piramal Foundation:
“I consider myself a DIBs convert, and it was its result-oriented approach that changed my mindset. The idea that we have the freedom to be flexible in our tools and inputs, with a focus on not HOW we derive those outcomes, but that we achieve those outcomes eventually, is what made me see DIBs in a different light. At the end of four years, we are happy and proud of having been part of the change journey of 216 schools across two blocks. We made a difference to the lives of 50,000+ students, 1,500+ teachers, 200+ Headmasters and 300+ volunteers!”
Prem Yadav, Co-founder and CEO, Pratham Infotech Foundation:
“The QEI DIBs journey was a learning of patience, collaboration and sharing best practices to strengthen one another (and therefore the system), enabled by our performance manager, Dalberg.”
Sudhir Bhatnagar, CEO, Society for All Round Development (SARD):
“COVID-19 disrupted many plans in this project, but the adaptive nature of DIBs is what led us through. SARD was very fortunate to be nominated as a nodal agency by the North and South Municipal Corporation of Delhi to minimize the learning loss among children and teachers. SARD developed interactive content related to Maths and Language through audio, videos, and puzzles aligned with the school curriculum which was later approved by the Ministry of Education, Govt. of India. SARD also mobilized immediate support to 500 children and their families who lost their family members and around 800 children benefited from North& South Municipal Corporation Schools through dry ration, and support to the families with covid/chronic illness. SARD also mobilized support through stationery to 25,000 children, tablets, and computer devices for teachers and mentors who were developing content through DIB partners.”
Ritesh Agarwal, AVP, Educational Initiatives:
“DIBs accelerate change through scalability. Whilst focussed on setting high benchmarks, this project was a deeply empathetic process, and therefore a truly path breaking journey. What stood out the most was the significance of building trust between our group of partners which really was the secret to its success.”