Supporting civil society in education 2017-2021

Civil society organizations working in the field of education are invited to submit project proposal for initiatives in Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali.

Update: Ready for stage 2

Ten organizations have been invited to participate in the next round by presenting full project proposal for stage 2 of the application process. 

The deadline for submission is 4 June 2017 (for invited organizations ONLY). The ten invited organizations can find forms and guidelines relevant to the submission below.

Norad received 48 applications under this call for propocals and processed the 44 applications that fulfilled the formal requirements. 

Outside of the formal requirements, the following criteria were used as a basis for selection:

  • The quality of the concept note seen in relation to the priorities and the assessment criteria indicated in the call for proposal.
  • The organizations management and implementation capacity.
  • Previous experience and results working in the education sector in the project country/project area.

See questions and answer received in advance of stage 2 at the bottom of this page, below the call for proposals. 

Forms and guidelines for stage 2: 

Please note that the applicants need not follow the page limits indicated in forms.

Also, from 2017 all education projects supported by Norad need to be planned and report in according to Norad’s Education Results Reporting System, which does include an indicator menu for projects. Your will find all information about this system on our website:

The projects supported can run for a period of three to five years, with a start-up date between 1 January 2017 and 1 September 2017 at the latest.

Project proposals must have a minimum budget of 5 million NOK per year and not more than 25 million NOK per year.

Norwegian NGOs, International NGOs and national NGOs working in the project countries are eligible.

Who can apply? 

Project proposals can be submitted by Norwegian Civil Society Organisations (NGOs), International Non-Governmental Organisations (INGOs) and national Non-Governmental Organisations (NNGOs) in the project countries. Organisations based in the global south will be prioritised.


Civil society can play an important role in efforts to achieve education goals in every country, by implementing programs that stimulate cognitive development in early childhood, managing schools and other educational institutions, keeping a critical eye on whether good-quality education is available to children and young people, and playing a major role as driving force and agent for change at local, national and global level.

Civil society has been a main channel for Norwegian development support to education. With different grant-schemes, the education support channelled through civil society made up 24 per cent or 690 million NOK of Norwegian development assistance to education in 2015. 

The overall purpose of Norad’s grant scheme for support to civil society and democratization is to strengthen civil society in developing countries and their ability and capacity to enhance development in their own countries. Norwegian, international, regional and national organizations can contribute to the strengthening of local capacity. Accordingly, Norwegian civil society organizations, international organizations and networks, as well as national civil society organisations can be supported through this call.

Available funds and own contribution

Up to 80 million NOK a year is available for support under this call. Project proposals must have a minimum budget of 5 million NOK per year and not more than 25 million NOK per year.

Applicants based in OECD countries must have adequate funds to cover at least 10 per cent of the expenses associated with the project. The value of assets, work or in-kind contributions cannot be calculated as a share of this requirement.

Duration of projects and start-up

The projects supported can run for a period of three to five years, with a start-up date between 1 January 2017 and 1 September 2017 at the latest.

Geographical scope

Funding will be prioritised to projects addressing the education sector in Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso

Sub-regional projects including at least one of these countries may also be eligible for support.


The main priority of this call is projects focusing on equity and quality of education for children and youth from early childhood care and education to secondary education. This includes technical and vocational education and training. Initiatives to improve equity and quality related to the furthering of the quality of education of teachers and school managers is included, as well as efforts to strengthen the dialogue between civil society and government regarding the field of education.

The purpose is to fund a limited number of strategic education projects. Existing presence and established partnerships on the ground are favoured.

The call aims to strengthen civil society and their cooperation with private and public education providers and local/national authorities. Priorities for the Norwegian Government’s support to civil society include efforts to ensure good governance, anti-corruption, and transparency on financial flows. These efforts can involve a number of different approaches, including, but not limited to, advocacy, campaigning and grassroots mobilisation.

Girls’ education and reaching out to marginalised and excluded groups are amongst the main priorities of Norwegian education support, and initiatives will be expected to show how the concerns of these groups are incorporated in the project.

Successful proposals will clearly show the project’s approach to strengthening local civil society organisations.

Projects that seek to enhance the dialogue between local civil society organisations and government with regards to funding for education, resource distribution (such as taxation, teacher distribution), policy development and testing of new approaches are of particular interest. Innovation and creative thinking are sorely needed at all levels of the education sector. Proposals with a main focus on innovation or elements of innovation will be regarded positively.

Priority will be given to actors based in developing countries. The grant scheme will credit projects that demonstrate alignment with local/national education authorities and cooperation with other education providers. 

Organizations that can document strong results and solid financial management systems will be prioritised.

For organisations new to Norad, a partner review may be required before the signing of an agreement.

Expected results

The applicant will have to choose one or more of the following objective(s) and outcomes that are most relevant for their programme/project:

  • Objective 1: All children start and complete basic education
    • Outcome 1.1: Parents and local communities are engaged in education
    • Outcome 1.2: School infrastructure
    • Outcome 1.3: Education policies and plans promote equality and inclusion

  • Objective 2: All children and young people learn basic skills and are equipped to tackle adult life
    • Outcome 2.1: Schools have improved teaching and learning materials and methods
    • Outcome 2.2: Improved teacher workforce

  • Objective 3: Young people develop skills that enable them to find gainful employment
    • Outcome 3.1: Improved capacity and relevance of TVET-provision and upper secondary education

How to apply

The application process is carried out in two stages. In the first stage, the applicant submits a concept note. In the second stage, a selected number of applicants are invited to submit a full project document.


By 20 April 2017: Submission of a concept note of maximum six pages where the project is presented and the involved partners are identified. Use both templates.

The applicant must demonstrate relevance and competence within the thematic focus of this call. Concept notes that do not fall within the above thematic areas or relate to the overall expected results will not be considered.

Based on the relevance and the quality of the received concept notes, Norad will select a limited number of applicants to invite to participate in the next round. 


By 28 April 2017: Invitation from Norad to the selected organisations.

By 26 May 2017: A full application according to the requirements presented in the call is submitted by invited organisations only. 

By end of June 2017: Successful applications are selected and the respective organisations are informed.

Assessment Criteria

During Stage 2, the full project proposals submitted under this call will be assessed after the following criteria: 

  • The applicant’s strategy.
  • Development competence and capacity. Documented presence/experience/results from the education sector in the target country/area.
  • The organization’s financial sustainability and financial management. Organisations are expected to describe their system for monitoring and financial management.
  • Context analysis and local needs. Alignment with the education system in the target country/area or justification for why such alignment or cooperation is not possible. Relevance to the local context/harmonisation with other education actors.
  • Documented cooperation with the relevant local civil society partners. The choice of cooperating partners is well argued, and the applicant demonstrates reflection on the partnership model, i.e. division of labour and responsibilities.
  • Degree to which local/national civil society organisations are strengthened by the initiative 
  • Description of the intervention and the approaches chosen.
  • Number of youth and young adults or teachers to be educated/trained and explanation of how issues of gender, marginalisation and exclusion are addressed.
  • Quality of the results framework including the information on how results will be assessed (M&E plan) We do not require the full results framework in the concept note, but an outline that presents expected impact, outcome(s), and outputs with a suggestion of the most important indicators to measure achievement of results. 
  • Feasibility of the project.
  • Risk management and adherence to crosscutting issues. 
  • Cost-effectiveness and distribution. Relative size of contribution used for direct implementation in target country/area, proportion of funding channelled through local civil society partners. 
  • Sustainability and exit strategy.

Please note that any project financed through this call must be in accordance with EEC state support-regulations.


 Risk Management

All applicants must present an overview of potential risks. The risk assessment must include the most important risk factors (internal and external) that may impede results achievement. In addition, applicants shall identify significant risk factors that may have a negative impact on the four cross cutting issues, and shall analyse and manage these risk factors throughout the project cycle. A more comprehensive risk analysis with assessment of probability and impact will be required of those organisations who are invited to submit a full proposal.  

The cross cutting issues in official Norwegian development assistance are: human rights, women’s rights and gender equality, climate and environment, and anti-corruption. The risk assessment shall be scaled to the significance of the project, including its scope and duration.


This grant scheme shall contribute to the development goals set by

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development officially came into force on 17 January 2016. These goals will be a central framework for Norwegian development assistance towards 2030. The development goals have relevance for the life and well-being of children and youth, such as SDG 3 on Good Health and Well-being, SDG 8 on Decent Work and Economic Growth, SDG 5 on gender equity and more.

The achievement of Sustainability Development Goal 4 Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all is guided by Education 2030 Framework for Action. The framework sets a clear focus on increased access, inclusion and equity, as well as quality and learning at all levels of education.

There are clear links between education and other SDGs such as ensuring the health of small children and their mothers, the availability of reproductive health services for youth, combatting child labour, reducing the proportion of youth out of employment or education and more.

Preparing for stage 2 - Q&A

See questions and answers received in advance of stage 2. 

Question 1: Regarding the “Education Results Reporting System” (1)

Question: In the “guidelines for use” 1.3 point 2 it says «do not use our generic objectives and outcomes – develop your own programme specific output and outcome statements». In the first half of the sentence it is referred to «objectives» and «outcomes», while the second part refer to «output» and «outcomes». This sentence does not quite give meaning as it refers to different levels in the first and second part. Are “objectives”, “Outcomes” and “outputs” all to be formulated according to the project/program? As we understood it we are supposed to use the objectives indicated in the call.

Answer: Yes, all levels of the programme specific objective and outcome statements should be developed so they are tailored to the programme and context. The objectives and outcomes listed in the goal hierarchy are quite ‘wide’ and generic and can be considered ‘umbrella’s’ that your programme should fall under. The objectives, outcomes and output statements that you develop should therefore fall under these ‘umbrella’s’, but has to be made more specific to make sure that they will in fact reflect what your programme is specifically aiming to achieve. This means that organisations have a great deal of flexibility in adapting the generic statements to ensure a better description of the programme they want to implement.

For example:

  • Generic programme objective 1: (listed in column a in menu of indicators): All children start and complete basic education.

  • Contextualised objective 1: More students, including those with disabilities, in district xx and xx, complete primary school. 

  • Generic outcome statement 2.2: Improved teacher workforce.

  • Contextualised outcome statement 2.2: Teachers in target school are followed up regularly.

Question 2: Regarding the “Education Results Reporting System” (2)

Question: Under point 1.3.3 is is indicated that one is supposed to choose a minimum of one outcome indicator and a minimum of three output indicators. Does this mean that we need to have three output indicators for each outcome indicator- or does it mean we only need three output indicators in total? 

Answer: This means that you in total choose 1 outcome indicator and 3 output indicators. In addition to these indicators you have to report on the mandatory indicators listed above the menu of indicators (row 3-7). Since these indicators on purpose are made quite ‘wide’ as to ensure that data can be included from as many agreements as possible, they might not be that useful for your own internal monitoring. Therefore, feel free to include them in a separate section in your results framework if you feel they do not naturally fit in under any of your contextualized outcome statements.

Question 3: Maximum length of the proposal

Question: We have a question regarding the maximum length of the proposal. Part 2 of the proposal contains a series of questions about our partners (section 2.1). Given the fact that we have several partners we will present the information in a separate attachment, as suggested in the format (“if there are several partners, please use an attachment”). Our question: Does the maximum of 10 pages include this attachment or not?

Answer: The 10 pages does not include this attachment. To ensure that partners and the programmes can be well described we are waiving the page-limits on the forms.

Question 4: Clarification about question 2.7 (part 1)

Question: I would like to ask a clarification about question 2.7 (part 1): 2.7 Is the organization applying for other funding from Norad, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (including embassies) or other donors this year? My question concerns the phrase other donors. Do you mean ANY other donor, or only INSTITUTIONAL donors or other Norwegian donors?

In the specification, we can list many details (donor, theme, budget, countries, duration, etc). Could you perhaps indicate to what level we need to provide details of funding from other donors ?

Answer: This question is meant to give us an overview of possible new supporters. We are talking about all donors here. We would suggest that you give a general overview, and come with details if you are soliciting support from other donors to the programme your are presenting through this call or to projects that are directly relevant to that programme.

Question 5: Results monitoring framework

Question: The results monitoring framework template, which has been sent to us on Monday 8 May 2017, and the results framework of the Education Results Reporting System are slightly different. We are getting a little bit confused as to how the different concepts ‘objectives’, ‘outcomes’ and ‘outputs’ are to be used in the results framework.

We will focus on objective 1 and 2 and have already some outcomes and outputs linked to each of the objectives. For this reason, it seems logic to us to take the logic of the results framework of the Education Results Reporting system as starting point. In that results framework, ‘objectives’, ‘outcomes’ and ‘outputs’ are all incorporated, while the ‘objectives’ are not to be found in the template which has been sent to us.

As the results framework is to be considered “the basics” for each project, we really want to assure that we both understand the results framework in the same way. In attachment, you will find the results framework template which we slightly adapted by adding the objectives to the results framework. At this level, we would like to know whether it is right to set up the results framework in this way to make sure that we are using the right logic of working.

Answer: We suggest that you use the Education Results Reporting system as the basis for developing your results framework. The results frameworks template should be used more as an example of how you can set the information up in an organized fashion. In other words, if there are discrepancies rely on the Education Results Reporting System.

Question 6 & 7: How to present a consortium partner

Question: We are applying in partnership with another INGO and each organisation will have an implementing local partner with whom we will do some of the planned activities. We are the lead organisation applying, so how exactly should our consortium partner be presented in the proposal, both in the narrative section and the budget?

Answer: Norad can only have one agreement partner and the Application form part 1 is meant to mainly describe the prospective agreement partner and how it engages with other partners. We suggest that you spend some space in the narrative to describe how the partnership will be set up (how funds will flow from one to the other, follow-up procedures, how are decisions made when it comes to for instance project changes, changes in budget, reporting and more). With respect to the budget for the individual projects, it is helpful if the budget shows how much funding stays with you, and how much goes to the consortium partner as well as other partners.

Question: As a consortium does Part 1 only need to be filled out by the lead applicant (the prospective agreement holder), or the co-applicants too? The guideline indicates: ‘Part 1 requests information about the applicant organization, and only one copy should be completed.’ In line with the concept note form my interpretation would be just the lead applicant. Correct?

Answer: This form should only be filled out by the lead applicant, but you can attach/include information on the co-applicants should you find this appropriate.

Question 8: Regarding the budget

Question: From the guidance, it is unclear whether we should submit a separate document with budget narrative listing all of the lines in detail, or if a short description in the budget will do. If we must submit a budget narrative, should it be done for the total budget only or for every submitted budget? At this stage, developing a detailed budget for each of the local partners is challenging. For the two budgets of the local NGOs, can we limit ourselves to the main budget lines instead of going into detail for each cost?

Answer: Please use application form part 1 point 4 as a guidance of elements we would like to see in the budget, and encourage that you provide as much detail as possible. Should it be difficult to provide budget details, this can remarked upon in comments to the budget/the narrative. It will be up to you to decide whether or not you want to submit a narrative just for the total budget or for more detailed project budgets. Norad need as much details as possible in order to assess the cost level / unit cost. For larger programs, the level of details may be less, however we may ask for more details based on a selection.

Question 9: On attachment no 1

Question: Could you tell us a little bit more on what is expected in the mandatory attachment n° 1: Strategy/overarching plan for the development assistance ?

Answer: What we expect to be attached here is any overall strategy your organization has for your development assistance- outlining for instance your long-term plans, thematic and geographic priorities. If you have an overall strategy for the organizations work in education that can also be included. We do not expect any new strategy to developed for the sake of this call.

Question 10: Clarification about the Application Form Part 2

Question: When it comes Part 2 , section 2.1 Partner: is this indeed to be filled out by the local partners in the countries only?

Answer: This is to be filled out with information on your partner organization and on the project you are asking support for. It does not have to be the local partner that fills out the form.

Question 11: Information to be provided about partners

Question: Co-applicants do not have to submit organization information such as audited accounts. Correct?

Answer: This is correct.

Published 19.03.2017
Last updated 16.05.2017