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PO Box 2826
Carol Stream, Illinois 60132

Toll Free: 1-800-793-9455

© 2024 Opportunity Internationala 501(c)3 nonprofit. EIN: 540907624.

Education Finance

Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.

Sustainable Development Goal 4

To end extreme poverty tomorrow, we must educate children today.

Opportunity's Education Finance (EduFinance) program partners with financial institutions to increase the ability of independent non-state local schools to provide affordable, quality education. At the same time, it helps parents access the resources necessary to send their children to those schools. By connecting private sector finance to education providers in low- and middle-income countries, we are tackling the global education crisis and helping more children attend better schools.

The Need

Research shows that giving children access to good education reduces poverty and inequality, increases life expectancy, and gives women and girls more decision-making power. However, even before the COVID-19 pandemic, 617 million children worldwide were not meeting basic proficiency levels in reading and mathematics—or are not in school at all. When children lack good education, it perpetuates poverty and global inequality, generation after generation.

Students, Ghana
Students, Ghana

Our Programs and Products

School Improvement Loans

School Improvement Loans set the stage for rapid and sustainable school improvement, ensuring more students gain access to a better education. These loans are used by school owners to invest in their schools' most pressing needs. 

School owners use School Improvement Loans for:

  • Infrastructure and expansion, like building new classrooms, bathrooms, or dormitories—all of which are especially important to improve attendance and enrollment, especially for girls
  • Improving educational provisions by hiring new teachers to reduce class sizes, or purchasing textbooks, classroom supplies, desks, or computers
  • Enhancing health and safety by adding metal roofs, concrete floors, security fencing, and wells, piping, or filtration systems for clean water

Digital Tools for Education

Our EduQuality program uses a Teacher Mentor approach to equip teachers to train their peers; providing tablets facilitates this training. Using a data-driven approach that combines in-person coaching and digital content, Opportunity Education Specialists work with teachers toward a set of recognized professional standards, build their confidence, and develop their careers. Using an app called Chalkboard, teachers and trainers can conduct coaching observations, access training guides, and complete knowledge quizzes.

School Fee Loans

School Fee Loans help parents who earn irregular or seasonal incomes keep their children in school year-round. A lack of cash at the beginning of the school term often results in a child not enrolling or being pulled out of school. School Fee Loans ease the pressure of upfront educational costs, effectively spreading out the costs of children's education. These loans prevent school dropouts or missed classes during times of household financial uncertainty, when parents may struggle to pay for school fees, uniforms, materials, or transportation.

School Fee Loans help:

  • Students stay in school. Even when students attend free public schools, parents must pay for expenses such as transportation, uniforms, food, and classroom materials. When families are unable to cover the costs, children skip a term or drop out.
  • Girls go to school. When money is tight, parents will often choose to send their sons to school before their daughters.
  • Students improve their learning. When students can't attend school consistently, they have trouble progressing through the curriculum and keeping up with their studies.
Student, Colombia
Student, Colombia

EduQuality

EduQuality is a holistic three-year school development program that is derived from the "Self-Improving School System" model. This model uses a bottom-up approach to empower local educators to self-organize into a peer network for mutual collaboration and learning.

EduQuality training and support is delivered by our regional Education Specialists, who work with educators in low- and middle-income countries as they strengthen the quality of their affordable non-state schools through improved infrastructure and a better environment for teaching and learning.

USAID in Ghana

Advancing Partnerships for Improved Learning is a U.S. Government funded project in partnership with the Ministry of Education to enable proprietors, teachers, communities, financial organizations, professional networks, and the Government of Ghana to improve student learning outcomes and financing options for low-fee schools over a five-year period in the Northern, North East, Upper East and Upper West Regions of Ghana.

Learn more here >>

School Clusters

The majority of affordable non-state schools are run by sole proprietors that operate without the benefits of a network of peers for mutual collaboration and learning.

To address this gap, Opportunity International invites schools to participate in School Clusters—small networks of local, affordable non-state schools that work as a group to share common challenges, generate solutions, and develop best practices. Each cluster is supported by a local Education Specialist that provides additional training and support.

Pathways to Excellence

Opportunity’s EduFinance team developed Pathways to Excellence (P2E), a guide for school leaders to diagnose the quality of education at their schools using 18 measurable indicators. Using this self-assessment, school leaders are able to work with stakeholders in their school community to create a development plan to improve upon their identified areas of greatest need.

Designed in collaboration with international education experts for holistic school improvement, P2E covers topics including: school culture, school environment, teaching and learning resources, pedagogy, teacher professional development, teacher retention, school management, child-centered learning, early childhood education, behavior management, and child protection.

Based on the results of their self-assessment, leaders are encouraged to target two to five areas for improvement each year, using action points and support resources outlined in P2E. Ultimately, EduQuality empowers school leaders to continue building their strategic planning skills for school improvement, institutionalizing an iterative improvement process that can be sustained beyond the three-year program.

Students, India
Students, India

Technical Assistance for Financial Institutions

Our team offers our financial institution partners technical assistance in the following areas:

Market Research

We conduct a thorough analysis of the scale of the Education Finance market for each of our partner financial institutions. We combine our global expertise in Education Finance with local insight by conducting hundreds of interviews with affordable private school owners and the parents of their students.

Read the EduFinance Market Knowledge Report

Product Design

Based on the outcomes of our market research, we work with financial institutions to design financial products that meet the needs of the parents and school owners that use them.

Read the EduFinance Product Development Report

Student. Ghana
Student. Ghana

Staff Training

We run training programs for branch managers, loan officers, credit and risk officers, and head office staff to ensure the successful launch, growth, and management of the education lending portfolio. We take a modular approach to staff training so that content and sessions can be customized based on the needs of the individual financial institution.

Read the Edufinance Staff Training Report

Portfolio Analysis

Our Business Intelligence team provides our partners with a monthly dashboard displaying analysis of their education finance portfolios. Analyses are used to improve the management, risk mitigation, and profitability of our partner financial institutions' portfolios.

Read the EduFinance Portfolio Analysis Report

Automated Credit Assessment

The EduFinance Algorithm is a calculation that uses Education Finance borrower data to predict default rates for School Fee Loans and School Improvement Loans and improve lending decisions. Our unique system models default predictions, which can then be deployed by financial institution staff. The assessment tool is tablet-based so that loan officers can deliver real-time lending decisions.

Read the Edufinance Algorithmic Scoring Tool Report

Andrea, EduQuality Team, Colombia, photo by Edrei Eli Cueto Oñate
Andrea, EduQuality Team, Colombia, photo by Edrei Eli Cueto Oñate

Professional Development for Educators

In addition to School Clusters and P2E, Opportunity also offers EduQuality Professional Development to partner schools.

School Leadership Professional Development (SLPD)

Affordable private schools are established by entrepreneurs with a variety of education backgrounds—from business to teaching. Because of these varied backgrounds, school owners often note that they do not have all of the skills they need to be successful proprietors. As part of the EduQuality program, senior school leaders are offered professional development training with a focus on instructional leadership and management best practices.

The EduQuality team offers two-day SLPD workshops several times per year, covering topics that are most relevant to school leaders, including business and financial management, school marketing, teacher retention, and child protection. This training helps school owners improve their schools, both as businesses and places of learning.

Teacher Mentor Training

Teachers in affordable private schools often have a wide range of educational backgrounds, and many have had limited access to formalized teacher training or ongoing professional development. EduQuality is identifying and equipping teachers to become mentors for their peers through professional development sessions, classroom observations and feedback, and ongoing coaching methods. The team uses a data-driven approach, combining in-person coaching and digital content to help teachers work toward a set of recognized professional standards, build their confidence, and develop their careers.

Data, Monitoring, Evaluation, and Business Intelligence

EduFinance’s monitoring, learning, and evaluation team harnesses the power of data to drive better service delivery to financial institutions, schools, parents, and donors. The team captures and monitors data and reports sent from financial institutions, schools, our own staff, and third parties. By organizing these data into databases and through rigorous analysis and monitoring results, we are able to efficiently identify key areas of success, points for improvement, and new ideas. We share our deep knowledge and best practices with partners across the sector, working to build capacity and put more children into better schools.  

Our Impact

$202.8 MILLION
Total capital released
1.9 MILLION
Children reached
13.1 MILLION
Cumulative children reached
7,056
Schools financed
34,916
Education fee loans disbursed
23
Countries where EduFinance works
103
Financial Institution Partners
2,930
Schools in EduQuality

All impact metrics are as of Calendar Year End 2023. Capital released is the aggregate amount (in US$) of all loans made by Opportunity’s financial service partners, during a given time period, to schools, students, smallholder farmers, agribusiness enterprises, or microbanking loan clients.

Meet the Team

Meet the Team

Andrew McCusker

As Head of Education Finance, Andrew oversees Opportunity’s work investing in schools and students around the world, helping…

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Renée McAlpin

As the Director of EduQuality for Opportunity International, Renée McAlpin is responsible for the global strategy, design, and…

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Scott Sheridan

Scott is responsible for operations, monitoring and evaluation (M&E), and business intelligence for Education Finance’s global…

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Karri DeSelm

Karri DeSelm is Director of Operations at Opportunity International EduFinance.

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Mathieu Fourn

Mathieu Fourn is the Director of EduFinance Technical Assistance at Opportunity International EduFinance

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Andrew McCuskerHead of Education Finance
Renée McAlpinDirector, EduQuality
Scott SheridanDirector of Operations, Education Finance
Karri DeSelmOperations Manager (US)
Mathieu FournEduFinance Technical Assistance Manager (UK)

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