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Australia’s development program

Economic recovery for education


Learning disruptions from the COVID pandemic will limit economic growth in the Indo-Pacific. School age children and youth stand to lose US$10 trillion in labour earnings over their working life, equivalent to one-tenth of global GDP[1]. School closures have detrimental consequences on health care workforces, labour markets, job security and wage stability[2].

This page provides an overview of how Australia is working in partnership under the economic growth pillar of Partnerships for Recovery: Australia’s COVID-19 Development Response. It outlines key related initiatives and provides summaries of programming and related documents.

Australian Strategic Partnerships in Remote Education (ASPIRE)

$459,217, 2020-2021

The Australian Strategic Partnerships in Remote Education (ASPIRE) will convene Australian experience and expertise in open, distance and online learning to facilitate learning continuity and to enhance educational access and equity in the Indo-Pacific region. Prioritising the conditions in the Pacific, Timor-Leste and Indonesia, ASPIRE will draw on a broad range of Australian capabilities in education, international development, research, broadcasting and digital media. ASPIRE supports Partnerships for Recovery: Australia’s COVID-19 Development Response and will respond flexibly to alleviating the disruptions COVID‑19 has brought to the education sector, with a focus on the development of partner countries’ human capital.

Education Programs for Continuity of Learning in the Indo-Pacific

$33,636, 2020-2021

As a part of the Australian Strategic Partnership in Remote Education (ASPIRE), DFAT is supporting the broadcasting of additional Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) educational content, which doubles to eighteen the education programs that are available to 35 Indo-Pacific countries and territories. The ABC content provides crucial assistance in complementing formal education content in partner countries. Content is suitable for early years, primary, and early secondary education across a mix of subject areas, and will be available for a period of two years. Quality basic education supports the transition to technical and vocational education and training, higher education and skilled work.

All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development

$8.56 million, 2011-2022

Australia, together with USAID and World Vision US, is a founding partner in All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development (ACR). ACR is an ongoing series of competitions and prizes that leverage science and technology to source, test, and disseminate innovative solutions to improve the literacy skills of early grade learners in developing countries. ACR builds private and public partnerships, leveraging co-investment to extend its reach. In its current (third) round, ACR is focused on improving learning for children with disabilities, developing materials in underserved languages and engaging families and communities in foundational literacy. The tools and resources created under this partnership are supporting remote learning during global COVID-19 school disruptions. Educational equality helps to maximise human potential and alleviates labour market inequalities in and between countries.

To learn more go to the ACR Competitions webpage.

Related links

Related documents*

Name of document Year published
Annual report All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development 2019

Education Analytics Service

$3.6 million, 2016-2023

The Education Analytics Service (EAS) is a service facility that provides DFAT with access to technical expertise for analytics, advisory support and professional development in education. One of the EAS's key tasks is to undertake a longitudinal study of DFAT's teacher development programs in Timor-Leste, Vanuatu and Laos. Teacher development is essential to effective remote and accelerated learning and related schooling adaptations due to COVID-19. The three-country study reflects each program-specific context, but broadly seeks to answer the question: "to what extent does Australian investment improve teaching quality and improve student learning?". Teacher development is critical to quality education, which is the key underpinning of a skilled and educated population.

Related documents*

Name of document Year published
Conceptual Framework 2017
Timor-Leste Interim Report 2019
Timor-Leste Interim Report 2 2021
Lao PDR Baseline Report 2021
Vanuatu Interim Report 1 2021
Lao PRD Interim Report 1 2022
Vanuatu Interim Report 2 2023
Timor-Leste Final Report 2023
Timor-Leste Final Report Highlights 2023
Laos Final Report 2023
Laos Final Report Highlights 2023

Research on Improving Systems of Education

$9.86 million, 2016-2022

Australia is a partner with the UK and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in the Research on Improving Systems of Education (RISE) program. RISE is funding world class analysis in seven countries (Indonesia, Vietnam, India, Pakistan, Tanzania, Ethiopia & Nigeria) that aims to build an evidence base on what works to improve education systems, including insights on barriers to reform. Australia's investment in RISE ensures a focus on the Indo-Pacific region. RISE is providing valuable evidence and guidance to inform decisions and education sector responses to COVID-19. An effective education system is important to the development of human capital which in turn is essential to economic growth.

Related links

Research on Improving Systems of Education (RISE)

[2] Bayham, J., & Fenichel, E. P. (2020). Impact of school closures for COVID-19 on the US health-care workforce and net mortality: a modelling study. The Lancet Public Health; Psacharopoulos et al. (2020). Lost Wages: The COVID-19 Cost of School Closures. World Bank Policy Research Working Paper, (9246); Rojas et al. (2020). Is the cure worse than the problem itself? immediate labor market effects of covid-19 case rates and school closures in the US. National Bureau of Economic Research (No. w27127).

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