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Call for proposals: Strengthening education systems with proven innovations in developing contexts

Frequently Asked Questions

Watch the FAQ webinar that took place on September 9.

Watch the FAQ webinar that took place on August 14.


1. What do you mean by research? 

KIX global grants are intended for “research for development" projects. These types of  projects are problem-focused, action-oriented, and designed to generate new knowledge and evidence. They also creatively identify, engage, and involve multiple types of knowledge users to ensure that research is relevant and accessible. Users typically co-create the knowledge alongside researchers. Projects are designed to be relevant to inform policy, practice, and technological development.

2. What do you mean by “proven innovation”?

Innovation refers to a tool, practice, policy, program, technology, approach, methodology, or any other intervention.

“Proven" means there is systematic, credible, documented evidence that the innovation "works". That is, there are demonstrated results that this intervention strengthens education systems or improves access to or quality of education. The proof may include, for example, an evaluation of impacts or outcomes, a research study that tested the results of the intervention, or a peer review process.

Ideally, the evidence should provide nuance about the type of results the innovation had and for whom. The evidence should have been developed by independent individuals or organizations with no stake in the innovation.   

3. What do you mean by “conducting research in support of scaling innovations across selected countries and regions”?

Many innovations are proven effective but their impacts are isolated. KIX global grants seek to test whether and how good ideas that already demonstrate positive impacts can be scaled up. Scaling impact requires adaptation of an intervention, further evaluation, and the involvement of different actors. Trade-offs, unanticipated consequences, and the positive and negative impacts of scaling should be identified.

What can we learn about the innovation and the ways that it can be scaled for optimal impact? For each project, teams must identify the proven innovations that (1) address thematic priorities in Global Partnership for Education (GPE) countries and (2) that use research processes to systematically test how they can be adapted and scaled. The results that arise must also be identified.  

4. What do you mean by “match funding”?  

Matched funding of leveraged resources refers to additional sources of funding or parallel sources of funding. These funds must be included in your proposal budget and recognized as a contribution by other donors.

No match is expected, but all matching or additional contributions from other funders/organizations must be reported.

5. What should be included in the theory of change and results framework in the proposal?

The proposal’s theory of change (ToC) and results framework should lay out the intentions for the duration of the project, identify the broader or longer-term changes to which it expects to contribute, and explain how the project’s activities and strategies will achieve or contribute to those changes.

Proposals should develop theories of change and a results framework that will be useful for guiding design, coordinating among implementers, tracking progress, learning and adapting, and providing information for reporting and accountability. It is not necessary to use a specific format for your ToC, please use systems and formats that you deem useful.

We anticipate that KIX grants will have outputs and outcomes related to knowledge generation; adapted and improved innovations; capacity building; influencing policy, practice, and behaviour; and the use of technology and systems. A theory of change and results framework should clarify how the project intends to ultimately contribute to improvements in education access, quality, and systems functioning.


6. May funding be used to cover the implementation costs of the interventions being studied?

The call focuses on research, and although it is expected that some expenses associated with implementation (monitoring, training, etc.) may be included, most funds must be focused on research. The call is not intended to implement innovations, it is intended to build research and evidence on these innovations and the conditions for scalability. 

7. Will KIX global grants support the actual scaling of proven innovations within the selected countries and regions? 

No, large-scale implementation of these innovations is beyond the available budget. The projects will fund applied research in support of scaling the selected innovations. This could include:

  • Measures to adapt and refine the innovations to the contextual needs of the selected countries;
  • Developing and testing means and models to scale them;
  • Supporting capacity-building of people or groups who will be trying the adapted approaches; and
  • Assessing results.

8. Will KIX global grants support projects that focus on one GPE member country?   

No, KIX global grants will only support multi-country and multi-regional projects. Projects must involve at least three GPE member countries in at least two GPE regions (see Appendix A for the list of GPE countries and regions in the detailed call for proposal document). 

9. Will KIX global grants support projects that focus on improving post-secondary education in GPE member countries? 

No, KIX global grants will focus on early childhood, primary, and secondary education. However, training programs are an exception: KIX global grants will fund projects aimed to improve teacher training and professional development. 

10. Are innovations in the technical and vocational training sector eligible?

This grant will fund projects in basic education, secondary education, and teacher education. Technical and vocational education and training (TVET) projects are not eligible for this call.

11. What if the project includes technology that is not open source? Is that acceptable?

IDRC and GPE share an open access policy for all outputs resulting from the project. They also encourage and provide support for organizations to develop their own adapted open data plans so that valuable data produced as a result of projects is available in the public domain. With regards to open source, we accept both open and proprietary solutions. That said, we strongly believe that the role of KIX is to produce global public goods that are made broadly available to GPE member countries and partners. 


12. What do you mean by “individual organizations”?   

Individual organizations may be civil society organizations, universities, regional and national think tanks, network secretariats and associations, non-profit organizations, private sector organizations, and multilateral agencies. These organizations may be based anywhere.

Please note that IDRC has extensive experience directly funding organizations in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East.

13. What do you mean by “consortia”?

Consortia refers to the organizations receiving direct KIX funding to implement a project.

14. What will you be looking for in a lead organization?

  • Ability to manage a large-scale grant from a financial and operational point of view;
  • Presence in the field;
  • Thematic experience in the subject of the proposal;
  • Ability to articulate multiple partners and members of a consortia (if that is the case); and
  • Ability to participate in knowledge exchange dynamics with the other cohorts of projects approved. 

15. May consortia have additional partners?

Yes, consortia may name additional partners to be involved in the project. It may be necessary to include additional partners, such as teachers associations, a relevant NGO, or people with specific research expertise. Each project should consider stakeholders relevant to the project’s objectives — including stakeholders relevant to knowledge mobilization strategies — and how to best engage them.

16. May consortia include national governments?

No. The vast majority of GPE funding goes directly to governments to implement their education sector plans. KIX is an additional mechanism in support of education sectors that targets different actors.

However, applicants are encouraged to include national and local governments as strategic partners in their projects. Scaling in education systems will most likely need connections with governments.

17. Do consortia need to include Canadian organizations? 


18. May organizations from non-GPE member countries apply for global grants and receive funding?   

Yes, organizations based in non-GPE member countries may apply for KIX global grants. However, proposed projects must focus on and take place in GPE member countries. It will be considered an asset for consortia to include an organization from a GPE member country where a project will take place.

19. May organizations participating in KIX regional hubs also participate in this call?

Yes, calls are open and competitive. Organizations can apply for regional learning partners and for global grants. However, attention will be paid to applicant diversity during the selection process.

20. May an organization be a lead applicant on more than one application? 

Yes, one organization may be a lead applicant on more than one application and/or they may be involved in multiple applications.

Applications will be short-listed and ranked based on quality and merit.

In the final stage of project selection, IDRC will ensure appropriate diversity across geographic regions, themes, applicants, and organizational types across the top-ranked proposals.

21. In terms of legal and compliance issues, do all organizations in a consortium have to comply, or only the leading organization?

We only require that the lead institution be a legal entity, but the lead institution must ensure that any terms and conditions of the grant are downloaded to any of the sub-grantees or sub-contractors.

22. What is the range of organizations that can be funded through this call?

We expect to receive proposals from a broad range of organizations, including civil society organizations, national or regional think tanks, network secretariats, consulting firms, other private sector actors, universities, and multilateral organizations.

The global grants will be awarded based on an independent competitive process. The grant management, legal, and senior leadership teams of IDRC have been working to ensure that all types of organizations will be able to receive funding directly through IDRC if their proposals are selected.

23. May for-profit organizations apply for KIX global grants?

Yes, for-profit organizations may apply for KIX global grants. For-profit organizations that work on the development of educational technology, curriculum, and other resources are eligible. However, for-profit organizations that provide core education services (e.g., private schools), are not eligible for KIX funding. ​KIX will remain consistent with GPE’s private sector engagement strategy.

Proposals that include private sector actors should demonstrate how private sector resources (for example, financial or technical know-how) will contribute to the project.

​All grant recipients, including for-profit organizations, must comply with IDRC’s Open Access Policy.


24. Do KIX grants fund both qualitative and quantitative research?

Yes, the global grants can support both qualitative and quantitative research.

25. An innovation can be an integration of various tools and methodologies that have proven measurable impact independently, but have not been studied in combination. Could this type of innovation be considered for the grant if underpinned by a robust theoretical framework?

A combination of various tools and methodologies is perfectly acceptable as a proposal. In this case, a strong theoretical framework will be required. It must be complemented by evidence on the separate elements and an empirical approach must be built into the research. 

26. Please clarify whether secondary research, for example systematic or literature reviews covering global evidence, would be eligible.

Secondary research or literature reviews are required in the proposals, but we also expect to see empirical evidence that describes proving innovations. 


27. Which ethical guidelines and approval bodies need to be consulted? Are separate ethics reviews required for each GPE member country?

Please provide details of the potential ethical issues in your proposed research. It is also important to include the steps that will be taken to ensure the highest ethical standards and the greatest protection of research participants. Please refer to the Canadian Tri-Council Policy Statement on Ethical Conduct of Research Involving Humans, particularly if you do not have access to standard ethics guidelines in your country or in the countries of your proposed research.

Each country has individual ethical requirements and approval bodies, therefore it is your responsibility to check the requirements in all of the countries where the proposed project will take place.


28. At the time of application, is it necessary to have a memorandum of understanding with the government of the country in which the project will take place? 

No. We understand it might be early to have an official memorandum of understanding before a project begins. However, established relationships with the government and its support of the project would be considered as an asset.

29. What do you mean by work plan? 

The work plan should be a comprehensive timeline of the project that includes proposed dates for key project milestones and deliverables. 


30. What types of expenses are eligible under this call?

Please consult the IDRC funding page for full details.

31. What rates of pay will be employed for the project staff and budgeting purposes? Are there any guidelines?

IDRC funds actual costs, therefore rates of pay for existing staff charged to a project should reflect the actual cost of the resource. There are no pre-set rates for new staff, but IDRC limits staff cost to 25% of the overall budget, therefore rates must reflect this proportion of the budget.

32. Are there any particular requirements on overheads?

Yes. Where and when needed, IDRC will allow indirect costs up to 13% of all recipient-administered costs, including the amount awarded toward the procurement of equipment that will be vested in your institution and excluding the amount of the indirect costs themselves. These costs must be actual costs, and support of these costs is required to satisfy potential audits.

33. Can information and communications technology (ICT) equipment be included in the budget?

Yes, ICT equipment is allowable. All items with a value greater than CA$5,000 must be separately itemized. All equipment purchases above CA$5,000 must be acquired through a competitive and open process governed by your institution’s policies and procedures on procurement.

Please refer to IDRC’s funding page for more information.

34. What currency should the budget be submitted?

The budget needs to be submitted in the working currency of the lead applicant as indicated in the IDRC budget template. However, please note that while the applicant is required to submit the budget in their working currency, they need to convert the total amount requested into Canadian dollars to answer question 1.6 in the online application. 


35. Please clarify how this call for proposals relates to the regional learning partners call for proposals.

Regional learning partners will receive synthesis results from ongoing research funded by this call because regional hubs will contribute to the knowledge synthesis. However, they will not be directly implicated with the development, management, or monitoring of the research. 

36. Will the forthcoming regional-based call have a greater focus on implementation?

The forthcoming regional call will also focus on research and innovation and it will take the same approach regarding the implementation of interventions. The differences will be on the regional vs. global focus and the specific themes to address.


37. Is it possible to modify the proposal before the closing date of October 1st if it has already been submitted?

Once you click the submit button, you may not modify your proposal. We encourage you to double check your application before submission to ensure that all information is correct.

38. How do you start an online application?

For instructions on how to start an application, please refer to timestamp 31:00 of the webinar video from September 9.

FRENCH VIDEO: For instructions on how to start an application, please refer to timestamp 41:00 of the webinar video from September 9. 


39. When will the results of the KIX global grant call competition be announced?

The results will be announced in the first half of December. Note that due to a high volume of received proposals the timeline outlined in the call document has been modified.