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2021/2 photo contest: Non-state actors in education

Every year, the GEM Report holds an international photo contest to seek out new and original images to complement its innovative findings and analysis.  A selection of the best photos feature in the Report and associated communications products.

Due out in December 2021, the next GEM Report will focus on non-state actors in education. While everyone wants to achieve the goal of providing quality education for all, who delivers it, who is engaged, and how they are engaged is a subject of much consternation. Generally, debates on the issue tend to be split between those who believe in the principle of full public delivery of education, and those who do not.The 2021/2 GEM Report aims to inform this debate with evidence-based examples, demonstrating that the matter is not “black and white”, but is one of degrees, and is highly dependent on context.


The brief

We are inviting submissions of original photographs that capture the many ways in which non-state actors are involved in education systems – providing education (private, NGO, faith-based or community schooling); providing ancillary services (school meals, technology, conducting assessments, supplementary private tutoring); influencing education system functioning and financing (equity implications; influence over national policies; additional resource mobilization prospects); and the state role in the process (regulatory frameworks, accountability mechanisms).

Photos could portray some of the most recent developments in the non-state actors’ landscape. As global corporations or philanthropic foundations increase their interest in what and how education is delivered, their influence and prominence in the global education community as well as in their dealings with countries creates new challenges and opportunities for public-private interactions. Similarly, as governments grapple with providing early childhood education for all in the SDG era, many public-private arrangements are being developed or expanded.

Further ideas for photo submissions can be found in these GEM Report blogs on the role of non-state actors in education or in the concept note for the report.


How your photo will be used

If selected, your photo will be used in the 2021/2 Global Education Monitoring Report and associated communications products including but not limited to multiple language versions, summary versions, flyers, event invitations, banners (web and print), posters, and a host of other communications materials. In accordance with UNESCO publishing policy, all UNESCO publications are to be made available in Open Access under the Creative Commons or any other open licensing system.



Your submission must be accompanied by the Grant of Rights form. You must also gain and provide UNESCO with written permission from all the people in your photos to allow them to be used by us. If the people in your photos are under 18, you must also gain written permission from their parents or guardians. Each photo should be accompanied by description text that includes a short artist biography and a caption stating where and when the photo was taken, a relevant quote if possible and the names of any people in your photo(s) as well as the credit you would like to be used if your photo is chosen (likely format Credit: YOUR NAME/UNESCO/GEM Report). Please note you will be judged on the photo alone, not the supporting text - this will purely be used for contextual purposes.


See the “Terms and conditions” for technical specifications.

The best photo will be awarded with $500

There will be two runner up winners who will each receive $200.

If chosen, you will be awarded with $500 or the runner up amounts of $200 and your photo(s) will be put forward for selection to appear in the 2021/2 GEM Report and other outreach material credited with your name.


Who can enter?

Anyone is eligible to enter the contest. Contestants may submit multiple entries but no more than 3 per photographer.


How to submit your photo(s)

Please send your photo(s) in electronic format by following the instructions below:

  1. Download the Grant of Rights form
  2. go to
  3. enter your name and email
  4. upload your .zip file
  5. enter recipient email:
  6. enter message to recipient: "2021 Photo Contest". Photos will not be accepted without the description text.
  7. click [Send] button
  8. Please make sure you also upload a completed Grant of Rights form with your photo(s).



After the contest closes at 23.59 (Paris time) on 7 May 2021, a jury will choose the best photos. Photos will be judged in terms of message clarity, composition, personification of the subject, and overall presentation.

We will announce the winning images on the GEM Report’s blog and social media accounts by July 2021.

View Terms and Conditions

Download Grant of Rights form