CEB proposes an innovative framework for investments in education

5 March 2021

PARIS – The Council of Europe Development Bank (CEB) published Constructing Education: An Opportunity Not to Be Missed, a report which proposes an innovative framework to guide investments in education infrastructure so that they can better promote student learning outcomes.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is having a significant impact on education and is reinforcing the challenges faced by our member countries in keeping with their commitment to quality education,” said Rolf Wenzel, CEB Governor. “Constructing Education: An Opportunity Not to Be Missed aims to respond to some of these challenges by proposing a new framework to enable sustainable financing decisions and effective education investments.

The report builds on the Bank’s long-term experience in financing the education sector as well as on in-depth Thematic Reviews conducted in Espoo, Finland (2018), Seine-St-Denis, France (2019), and Malmö, Sweden (2020). The framework proposes a series of activities along four distinct phases of the construction process, from the initial design brief to the full occupation and use of the new premises, which will contribute to a more effective use of the future learning environments. Some of the proposed  activities include:  ensuring the direct involvement of school principal and teachers and operations and maintenance staff in the design of the planned education infrastructure; including professional development activities focused on developing the teachers’ environmental competencies while construction is ongoing; supporting school principals in the transition to the new buildings and carrying out systematic post-occupancy evaluation to collect data on the use of the new spaces by the students.

The report argues that public decision-makers can make a critical difference for an effective learning environment by including these activities already at the planning and design stage, at generally marginal costs. And financial institutions can play a key role by encouraging the inclusion of these additional costs in the financing they provide to the former.

The framework has been developed in cooperation with and reviewed by scholars from different countries and by education experts from the European Commission and International Financial Institutions that are part of the ‘Network for Effective Learning Environments.’ The CEB is pleased to be able to have received positive feedback:  

  • Stefaan Hermans, Director Policy Strategy and Evaluation, Directorate-General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture, European Commission: “This innovative approach to financing education infrastructure contributes to moving the standard focus from only bricks and buildings to what really matters: promoting students’ wellbeing and their learning. The framework represents an important step in the direction of promoting innovative, digital and green schools.”
  • Jo Ritzen, former Minister of Education of the Netherlands, former Vice President for Human Development, World Bank: “Do not miss this excellent and innovative report that links educational building to the quality of education. Space matters to make students succeed in pursuing their ambitions.”
  • Merja Narvo-Akkola, former Facility Development Manager, Educational and Cultural Services, City of Espoo, Finland: “This report provides an excellent framework to involve the users of education facilities in the planning and use of the new learning environment for improved educational outcomes. We look forward to testing the framework in Espoo.” 
  • Wesley Imms, PhD, Associate Professor, Melbourne Graduate School of Education, Learning Environments Applied Research Network (LEaRN): “Sustainable and effective school re-generation requires effective interplay between those who bring modern schools into existence, those who occupy them, and those who evaluate their impact. The proposed funding framework, built on quality research and exhaustive fieldwork, provides exactly this: a practice-based strategy, a long time in coming.”

The framework will be piloted and tested in the coming four years on a selection of education investments co-financed by the CEB and the European Investment Bank. The first pilots were launched last week in Finland.

Set up in 1956, the CEB (Council of Europe Development Bank) has 42 member states. Twenty-two Central, Eastern and South Eastern European countries, forming the Bank's target countries, are listed among the member states. As a major instrument of the policy of solidarity in Europe, the Bank finances social projects by making available resources raised in conditions reflecting the quality of its rating (Aa1 with Moody's, outlook stable, AAA with Standard & Poor's, outlook stable, AA+ with Fitch Ratings, outlook stable and AAA* with Scope Ratings, outlook stable). It thus grants loans to its member states, and to financial institutions and local authorities in its member states for the financing of projects in the social sector, in accordance with its Articles of Agreement.

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