Quality Education in Developing Countries

In 2014 the Hewlett Foundation completed its 8-year initiative to improve Quality Education in Developing countries. The initiative was launched by the Hewlett Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in 2006 with the intent of moving education policy beyond enrollment and to ensure that children in low-income countries learn to read, to do math, and to begin thinking critically by the end of third grade. Through its grantmaking globally and in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Mali, Senegal, and India, the initiative contributed to a greater appreciation of the learning crisis in developing countries, stimulated commitments by both national governments and international donors to focus on learning outcomes, and strengthened the base of evidence about the effectiveness of specific approaches that can be introduced into classroom settings to improve early-grade reading and math.

These advancements were achieved through two strategies.

First, we supported organizations that assess whether students are learning, and make a case for establishing international and national goals defining what students should learn. The achievements of grantees like ASER in India, Uwezo in East Africa, Beekunko in Mali, and Jangandoo in Senegal in generating information that can be used to hold governments, schools, and international donors accountable for the results that matter most is documented in this film called Every Child Counts (And Reads): Measuring Learning for All.



Second, the Foundation made grants to identify effective and affordable teaching approaches. From 2007 to 2013, we funded eleven organizations to develop approaches to improve learning in the early grades of primary school. We then funded evaluations to determine the effect of these approaches on student learning. The randomized, controlled studies funded by the Foundation significantly added to the body of evidence on how to improve student learning. To see a list of evaluations that have been conducted on the Quality Education in Developing Countries Initiative click here. The lessons across these evaluations have been synthesized in this report on Learning to Improve Learning.


Although the Quality Education in Developing Countries Initiative has drawn to a close, the Hewlett Foundation is maintaining its commitment to improving learning outcomes in developing countries as part of our transparency, participation and accountability grantmaking. You can find out more about this second phase of our international education work in this strategy document. For more information on the Quality Education in Developing Countries initiative, we invite you to consult the following resources:

  • Q&A on the end of the Quality Education in Developing Countries Initiative
  • Quality Education in Developing Countries Initiative strategy
  • Blog on Learning to Improve Learning, and a follow-up blog
  • Blog on citizen-led, household-based assessments of learning outcomes
  • New York Times article on QEDC-funded work in India
  • Interview with Lynn Murphy and Ward Heneveld on the initiative
  • Interview with Lynn Murphy with reflections on the initiative