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We are mourning the loss of our colleague and friend, Girin Beeharry.

Girin was an intellectual force and a true impatient optimist, in the spirit of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation where he spent much of his career. He was outraged by the poor quality of schooling available to children in many parts of the developing world, and frustrated by what he saw as the lack of any serious global effort to do anything about it.

He challenged us all to think more ambitiously and in more concrete, practical terms. His relentless focus on action and results brought much needed clarity of purpose to global education debates.

Earlier this year, as Girin’s health deteriorated, we proposed a festschrift in his honor. He balked at the idea of making it about him. Instead, he said he had a final set of challenges to lay down to foreign aid agencies and international institutions working on education.

Girin laid out this manifesto in an essay, “The Pathway to Progress on SDG4,” published earlier this year in the International Journal of Education Development. CGD invited representatives from the World Bank, UNICEF, FCDO, USAID, and other donor agencies to react to Girin’s challenges, and collected a full set of reactions from scholars and practitioners in a symposium of essays.

The range of contributors and the impassioned reactions to his piece reflect the influence Girin had on so many people and organizations in the education sector. His commitment to improving learning opportunities for poor kids, and his optimism that better is possible, were a galvanizing force. 

He was a friend and adviser to each of us, and an intellectual sparring partner who kept us honest. He will be deeply missed.

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CGD blog posts reflect the views of the authors, drawing on prior research and experience in their areas of expertise. CGD is a nonpartisan, independent organization and does not take institutional positions.