Girls' Education Challenge

The Girls' Education Challenge (GEC) will help up to a million of the world’s poorest girls improve their lives through education and to find better ways of getting girls in school and ensuring they receive a quality of education to transform their future.

For DFID funding information visit the DFID Funding Finder


The Girls’ Education (GEC) will help up to a million of the world’s poorest girls improve their lives through education. For detailed information on the GEC programme, see our development tracker. The initiative calls on non-governmental organisations (NGOs), charities and the private sector to find better ways of getting girls in school and ensuring they receive a quality of education to transform their future.

The GEC will support projects that are able to demonstrate new and effective ways to expand education opportunities to marginalised girls, and which can be robustly evaluated to widen their impact.

Countries in which GEC projects will be implemented.
Countries in which GEC projects will be implemented.

Girls’ Education Challenge – the portfolio of projects

There are 3 categories of GEC projects:

  • Strategic Partnerships
  • Step Change projects
  • Innovation projects

1. Strategic Partnerships: investing in business innovation and partnership for girls’ education

Strategic Partnerships provide match-funding to private sector partners that explore new ways of improving learning opportunities for girls in remote and/or marginalised communities.

The first strategic partnership between the Department for International Development and Discovery Communications, home of the Discovery Channel, was announced on 11 October 2013. The Discovery Project is investing £12.3 million into girls’ education in Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria, which will be match-funded by the Department for International Development. The non-profit Discovery Learning Alliance will be the initiative’s implementing partner. To get more girls in school and ensure quality education, the Discovery Project will reach over 1.2 million marginalised girls, and achieve a wider impact for boys and members of their families and communities in Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria by:

  • establishing 1,000 Learning Centres in schools, providing technology, exciting video programming, and training to 8,000 teachers on using media to improve teaching and learning, as well as implementing community outreach strategies
  • collaborating with girls and experts to develop nationally broadcast television discussion shows where issues of gender can be woven into the public dialogue
  • training and supporting communities on how to develop and their own action plans to address gender marginalisation issues including supporting self-formed girls clubs for in and out-of-school girls to encourage them to attend, stay and succeed in school

Read an article by Managing Director of the Discovery Learning Alliance on the Discovery Project.

The second Partnership was announced on 7 March 2014. The Coca-Cola Company and the UK Department for International Development (DFID) have joined forces to bolster the educational and economic opportunities of more than 10,000 marginalised girls and young women in Nigeria.

Together, The Coca-Cola Company and DFID will invest nearly £7 million in an initiative known as ENGINE (Educating Nigerian Girls in New Enterprises). The investment comes as part of the UK Government’s Girls’ Education and The Coca-Cola Company’s 5by20 , which seeks to enable the economic empowerment of 5 million female entrepreneurs across the global Coca-Cola value chain by 2020.

ENGINE will establish over 170 learning spaces where girls and young women between the ages of 16 and 19 will meet for academic support and training sessions over a 9 month period. About 5,400 girls who are still in school will receive after school tutoring, as well as training to advance their leadership and entrepreneurship skills. Additionally, a vocational training programme focused on business and employment readiness will be offered to about 12,600 young women who are currently out of school.

The third Strategic Partnership was announced on Thursday 17 July 2014. Project iMlango (‘mlango’means doorway or portal in Swahili) is a first of its kind e-learning partnership, led by global satellite operator Avanti Communications and its partners: sQuid, Whizz Education and Camara Education. The programme aims to improve learning outcomes for 25,675 marginalised girls, across 195 Kenyan primary schools.

Project iMlango uniquely addresses the cultural and financial issues that can lead to reduced school attendance and drop outs, with electronic attendance monitoring and conditional payments to families. At the programme’s core sits an internet learning platform, accessed via high-speed satellite broadband connectivity, where partners provide students with interactive, individualised learning tools.

Project iMlango delivers:

  • high-speed satellite broadband connectivity to schools
  • personalised maths tuition with a virtual online tutor, alongside digital learning content for maths, literacy and life skills
  • tuition and support to teachers to use ICT in their teaching
  • electronic attendance monitoring with conditional payments - to incentivise families to send their daughters to school – for use with local merchants
  • in-field capacity in IT, technology and support resources
  • real-time project monitoring and measurement

The final GEC Strategic Partnership with Ericsson was announced on 10 October. This partnership adds a new country the GEC portfolio as the programme, run in collaboration with UNESCO, the Earth Institute at Columbia University, Finja Five and Qualcomm, will be implemented in Burma. Ericsson is investing £3.7 million in improving girls’ education to be match-funded by DFID.

The initiative aims to improve the learning outcomes of over 14,000 marginalised girls within 2 years by connecting schools through mobile broadband, delivering educational content and teacher training - enabling students to experience a 21st century education. Up to 600 scholarships will also be provided to marginalised girls, enabling them to stay in school and complete their secondary education.

Girl pupils studying
DFID is committed to get more girls into school and improve their lives through education. Picture: Gary Calaf/Save the Children Fund

2. Step change projects

Step Change projects are led by non-state organisations and aim to quickly and effectively expand education opportunities for 650,000 girls at primary and secondary level in 9 focus countries. They complement existing support to education and demonstrate sustainability beyond the life of the GEC.

In January 2013, 15 new Girls' Education Challenge: Step Change projects (PDF, 173KB, 2 pages) were awarded funding of up to £30 million to create education opportunities for some of the world’s most marginalised girls.

The projects will provide these girls with access to education, materials, safe spaces to learn and a ‘voice’. They will help to mobilise and build capacity within governments, communities and schools, training and mentoring teachers, governors and community leaders. There will also be an emphasis on innovation - encouraging new ways of delivering learning.

Teacher and pupils in classroom.
Teacher and pupils in classroom.

3. Innovation projects

These projects present significant innovation. These include technological innovations, developing new partnerships, adapting proven solutions for new geographies, communities or age groups, and engaging females in decision-making processes.

Almost £30 million of funding has been allocated to Girls’ Education Challenge: project portfolio booklet (PDF, 1.98MB, 42 pages) in 12 countries that will support marginalised girls to succeed in their education. This will be matched by a further £6 million (cash and in-kind) identified by the organisations themselves.

Girl pupils in classroom
Girls in classroom. Picture: Sinziana Demian/International Rescue Committee

Baseline survey report on marginalised girls and their communities

​The Girls’ Education Challenge (GEC) initiative is currently implementing 37 projects which aim to improve learning outcomes for up to 1 million girls. A new report (Knowledge of learning levels, including in conflict affected countries) is available outlining the findings of the GEC baseline surveys, which surveyed over 70,000 girls across 18 countries.

The full report outlines separately the baselines surveys for the:

The Girls’ Education Challenge has a zero tolerance policy on misconduct, including mistreatment of individuals and misappropriation of funds. If you would like more information on the whistle-blowing mechanism, or to report misconduct please email The e-mail account is accessible only by a small number of individuals who have been trained on the requirement to keep the information confidential. We will follow up matters on an anonymous basis and are committed to investigate claims thoroughly and fairly.


The GEC is managed by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP in alliance with FHI 360, Nathan Associates Ltd. and Social Development Direct Ltd.

Girls’ Education
PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP
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