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Towards transparency : A report on piloting the Invest-ED tool on private sector investment in education with philanthropic and impact investing actors in Asia
Education Publications
  • Prachi Srivastava, Western University
  • Robyn Read
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The market size of global education is estimated to reach USD 10 trillion by 2030. Concurrently, there has been a growth in private-sector engagement in education generally, the sector occupying the top priority for many private investors operating in Asia. However, there is a paucity of concrete data and little transparency in reporting, inhibiting knowledge-sharing. The central concern of this pilot project was to develop an openly accessible tool to begin to fill these gaps.

This report provides a detailed overview of the process of developing and piloting Invest-ED with philanthropic and impact investing actors supporting education in Asia. Invest-ED is an original data collection tool aimed to increase transparency of reporting on the investments of private-sector actors in education. The tool also aims to allow them to reflect on the motivations and challenges of operating in the education sector and to facilitate reporting and data sharing. The full version of Invest-ED is provided (Appendix I).

Invest-ED was piloted with 15 organizations across India, Japan, and Singapore in face-to-face and telephone interviews, with additional informal follow-up interviews. A further four organizations participated in background information. Participants were provided additional time to complete and return data modules of the tool. Member checking of organizational data and interview excerpts presented in this report was also conducted.

The structure of the report is as follows — Section 1: summary of the framing literature; Section 2: development process of Invest-ED and guidance notes; Section 3 pilot study design and procedure; Section 4: administration of the pilot tool, participant feedback, and rationale for revisions; Section 5 focused analysis of participant interviews in two areas — data access and systems and reporting compulsions — and the potential impacts on transparency of operations; and Section 6: concluding insights on preliminary interview data, Invest-ED tool, and potential for scaling-up the study.

The pilot study was supported by a grant from the Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, with co-funding by the Center for Universal Education, Brookings Institution.


Invest-ED was designed with the intention to enable organizations to:

1. Assess their priority areas and impact in education through the exercise of collating and consolidating internal investment and operations data

2. Reflect on the motivations and challenges of operating in the education sector

3. Facilitate transparent reporting and data sharing

It was devised as a single tool with four inter-related modules. These are:

I. Background Data on Organization (to be completed in all instances)

II. Investment in Development Sectors

III. Education Sector-Specific Investment and Activities I

V. Decision-Making, Motivations, and Challenges

The revised version (Version 2, August 2018) is presented in Appendix I. Table 1 (p. 13) provides an overview of Invest-ED. It presents each module and its main aims; the GRI disclosures that were referenced/adapted and that correspond to the items in each module; the main format of the questions in each module; and how each module was administered in the pilot. The tool was meant to be flexible in its administration and design. Organizations and researchers should feel free to use it as appropriate for their needs (see Sections 3 and 4 for specifics on protocol and feedback). It is suggested that researchers wishing to conduct a research study, pilot its administration for their purposes and on their sample. Those wishing to implement Invest-ED are encouraged to contact the Principal Investigator (Srivastava) for additional information if required.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0
Citation Information
Srivastava, P., & Read, R. (2019). A report on piloting the Invest-ED tool on private sector investment in education with philanthropic and impact investing actors in Asia. London, ON: University of Western Ontario. Available online at: