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    Education is a powerful driver of development and one of the strongest instruments for reducing poverty and improving health, gender equality, peace, and stability. Although there has been great progress in the last decade, some 121 million children are still out of primary and lower secondary school, and 250 million children cannot read or write although many have been to school.

    Education has large, consistent returns in terms of income and counters widening inequality, but this potential is too often unrealized due to alarmingly low learning levels. Providing all children with a quality education that teaches them skills for work is critical to end poverty by 2030. 

    Last Updated: Mar 29, 2017

  • The World Bank Group (WBG) is committed to helping countries reach Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4, which calls for access to quality education and lifelong learning opportunities for all by 2030. It helped draft and is a signatory to the Education 2030 Framework for Action, which will guide countries through the implementation of SDG4. 

    To make this vision a reality, the WBG is mobilizing all available resources. The Education Sector Strategy 2020, “Learning for All,” emphasizes that the knowledge and skills youth gain through learning help lift them out of poverty and drive development.

    The WBG’s support to education focuses on areas that matter to developing countries:

    Investing in young children (from birth to age five) before they even enter primary school—ensuring they have the right stimulation, nurturing and nutrition—is one of the smartest investments a country can make to address inequality, break the cycle of poverty, and boost productivity. The “Stepping Up Early Childhood Development” report is a practical guide for policymakers and practitioners about how to invest in the early years.

    Quality education can only be achieved with excellent teachers. The Great Teachers: How to Raise Student Learning in Latin America and the Caribbean” report distills the latest evidence and practical experience with teacher policy reforms. “How Shanghai Does It” highlights how the most impressive aspects of Shanghai’s education system is the way it grooms, supports, and manages teachers, who are central to any effort to raise the education quality in schools.

    Support to girls and women is key to the WBG’s twin goals of eliminating extreme poverty by 2030 and boosting shared prosperity. In April 2016, the WBG committed to investing $2.5 billion over five years in education projects that include adolescent girls (aged 12-17) as direct beneficiaries. About 75 percent of this investment will be in low-income countries, largely in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. In less than a year, WBG has already committed $600 million in projects that foster positive change through the education of adolescent girls.

    To help increase labor market productivity, the WBG examines how education can play a role in addressing the skills mismatch present in many countries around the world. The Skills Toward Employment and Productivity skills measurement survey is shedding light on skills gaps and mismatches by generating new, internationally comparable data on adult workers’ skills. Other recent reports on skills include Out of School and Out of Work: Risks and Opportunities for Latin America’s NiNis and the Globalization of Labor Markets and the Growth Prospects of Nations.

    Achieving learning for all also means moving beyond financing the inputs that education systems need, to strengthening these systems to deliver results. There is growing demand from countries for results-based financing, which is a set of tools to better align incentives and desired outcomes by making financing contingent on the achievement of pre-agreed results.

    This approach has shown promise and could help countries leverage the financial resources needed to achieve the SDGs. In May 2015, during the historic World Education Forum in Incheon, Korea, the WBG committed to double its results-based financing support for education to $5 billion over the next five years. Over half of this has already been delivered, ahead of schedule.

    Other WBG education online platforms

    The WBG’s Systems Approach for Better Education Results (SABER) platform is helping assess education policies and identify actionable priorities around the world.

    The WBG conducts and supports rigorous impact evaluations to generate stronger evidence about what works in education under different conditions. Also, in Africa, Service Delivery Indicator (SDI) surveys track performance and quality of service delivery in education and health across countries and over time.

    At a global level, the WBG’s EdStats website features more than 2,500 internationally comparable education indicators on access, completion, learning outcomes, expenditures, and more.

    Last Updated: Mar 29, 2017

  • Between 2000 to 2016, the WBG invested $50.6 billion in education. Over the same period, the share of education in lending has doubled from five percent to about 10 percent, showing the importance of education in the overall portfolio. The WBG’s lending for education for fiscal year 2016 was $3.6 billion.

    In many countries, WBG funds are also helping to crowd in much larger resources from governments, as well as other development partners, resulting in harmonized education programs and lower transaction costs for governments.

    These are some of the World Bank Group’s education results at the country level:

    In Bangladesh, WBG is engaged in the entire range of the education sector – from primary education to technical training and tertiary education. Under the Primary Education Development Program III, around 127,000 schools received more than 110 million textbooks within the first month of the 2016 school year, and 22,444 additional classrooms have been constructed in remote and underprivileged areas to reduce overcrowding in schools.

    In Bulgaria, nearly 80 percent of the vulnerable children (including ethnic Roma) who received early childhood education under the Bulgaria Social Inclusion project successfully passed the school readiness diagnostic tests (2016), compared to just 40 percent before the start of the project in 2010.

    With WBG support conducted its first national assessment of the Khmer language for students in 2006 and again in 2009. Results showed that reading levels were very poor. From 2010-2012, Cambodia focused on reading skills in pilot schools. Thousands of students received their own copy of books and thousands of teachers and education officers were also trained in teaching. In 2014, the national assessment showed that almost all grade 8 students were capable of reading and comprehending text.

    In Haiti, from 2012 to 2016, over 430,000 tuition waivers were financed, allowing disadvantaged children to attend school free of charge. Daily meals, vitamins, and deworming and Vitamin A were provided to over 370,000 students. The project provided school access to over 6,500 children in poor, rural Haitian communities. An accelerated pre-service teacher training resulted in 3,570 additional qualified primary school teachers. Following the passage of hurricane Matthew in October 2016, the project started rehabilitating 120 schools, which could also be used as shelters. In addition, it provided emergency school feeding to 22,000 students in 89 schools.

    In India, over 3,600 Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya residential schools across India are now supporting the education of 400,000 girls between the ages of 10 and 14. These residential schools, which provide room and board as well as full-time secondary education, are supported under the India Third Elementary Education Project. 

    In Indonesia, more than half a million children aged 0-6 in poor, hard-to-reach districts received early childhood education between 2007 and 2013. In 2016, more than 15,000 teachers across 25 districts in Indonesia were trained to provide early childhood education, as part of the Early Childhood Education Smart Generation in Villages program.

    In Jordan, as part of a comprehensive reform effort supported by the multi-donor-financed Education Knowledge for Reform Economy program, the country revised its early grade curriculum, expanded access to pre-primary education from 50 percent in 2009 to 60 percent in 2015, and rolled out a new information management system (OpenEMIS). The country also implemented a merit-based teacher recruitment process and school accountability system to improve teacher quality.

    In Kuwaita competence-based curriculum was developed and implemented for general education. Since 2015, curriculum and standards documents have been developed for all subjects for grades 1 to 9, 10 schools have introduced highly innovative strategic leadership and management, and over 1,000 core professionals have been supported in transformational schoolbased management and reform.

    In Latvia, the WBG worked with the government to develop a performance-based financing model for tertiary education. As a result, the sector received a six percent increase in public funding, which was allocated to universities based on their performance.

    In Nicaragua, the Education Sector Strategy Support Project contributed to the certification of more than 2,300 community preschool teachers (27 percent of the national total) through a two-year training. Additionally, the project distributed 191,000 books for secondary school students in five key subjects: Spanish Language and Literature, Mathematics, Natural Sciences, Social Sciences, and English.

    In 2016, in Nigeria, the WBG approved an additional $100 million for the State Education Program Investment Project that will contribute to the return of students—particularly girls—to schools in the North East states of Borno, Yobe, Adamawa, Bauchi, Gombe, and Taraba. Together with partners, the project will help identify out-of-school children, especially girls, and strategize on ways to bring them into school.

    In Pakistan, the first digital system in the education sector--implemented in 2017-- is leading to the transparent and effective monitoring of staff, students and school infrastructure. More than 210,000 teaching and non-teaching staff have been profiled using biometric information, covering more than 26,200 schools. To date, disciplinary action has been initiated against 40,000 absent teachers and 6,000 absconders. 

    In Romania, the WBG is working with the government to address early school leaving, tertiary education, lifelong learning, and education infrastructure. Some of these strategies —  which will impact the lives of 4.1 million people — are required for the country to access European Union funds, and include measures to address the needs of disadvantaged groups and Roma students.

    Tanzania’s Education Program for Results has significantly contributed to improvements in learning at the primary and secondary school levels. The average words read per minute in Kiswahili for grade 2 students is up from 17.9 in 2013 to 23.6 words per minute in 2016. In mathematics, the number of correct answers per minute among grade 2 students went from 7.6 to 9.1 between 2013 and 2016. 


    In Vietnammore than 8,000 poor students received tuition subsidies to attend non-public upper secondary schools and professional secondary schools. Using a results-based financing approach, the project linked the payment of a tuition subsidy with student performance. This helped increase access to upper secondary school education and reduce dropout rates among disadvantaged students in 12 provinces. In addition, a WBG-supported project provided home-based sign language education for over 250 deaf children under six to prepare them for formal schooling. It also helped train 200 teachers in the use of sign language.


    In West Bank and Gaza, the Teacher Education Improvement Program contributed to increasing the ratio of qualified class teachers for grade 1-4 from 39 percent in 2010 to 62 percent in 2015. In addition, the Education-to-Work-Transition project is strengthening the relevance of tertiary education programs through strategic partnerships with the private sector. To date, about 4000 students have received entrepreneurship and soft skills training, leading to higher employability.

    In West & Central Africa, 19 university-based “Africa Centers of Excellence” were created in seven countries to teach young students science-related subjects that are critical for Africa’s development. The ACE for Genomics of Infectious Diseases at Redeemer’s University in Nigeria has published crucial research on the Ebola virus. Currently, there are 2,410 regional students enrolled in short-term courses, Master’s, and PhD programs.

    In Yemen, the WBG implemented the Secondary Education Development for Girls Access Project in five governorates. A total of 14,350 teachers were trained in subject modules and 89 new female teachers were trained and hired. This encouraged parents to send their daughters to school, especially at the secondary education level. In addition, the project built 43 schools and equipped 50 schools with libraries, and science and computer laboratories.

    Find out more about WBG education results here.

    Last Updated: Mar 31, 2017

  • The WBG collaborates closely with United Nations agencies and development partners and will strongly support countries as they work towards the SDGs.

    The World Bank Group was instrumental in creating the multi-donor Global Partnership for Education, an important partner in basic education, in 2002. Efforts to better coordinate education financing from GPE and the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s fund for the poorest countries, are underway.

    Together with UNICEF, the WBG launched the Early Childhood Development Action Network (ECDAN) in 2016. Together with partners, the Network is bringing together governments, development partners, civil society, parliamentarians, and the private sector to increase investments in early childhood development.

    The WBG partners with bilateral donors, for example, with Norway, the United States, and Germany for the Results in Education for All Children (REACH program), which is supporting efforts to build evidence on results-based financing in education.

    Other trust fund partners include Australia, the European Commission, Ireland, Korea, the Netherlands, Japan, Spain, Russia, and the United Kingdom.

    The World Bank Group is also working with new partners including Teach for All, the Arab World Initiative, the Early Childhood Consultative Group, the Global Reading Network, the Building Evidence in Education (BE²) Group, and the Global Compact on Learning Donor Network.



    Last Updated: Mar 29, 2017



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In Depth


Blog: Education for Global Development

Our global team of education and development experts share their insights.


SIEF: Strategic Impact Evaluation Fund

Research that measures the impact of education policies to improve education in low and middle income countries.


REACH: Results in Education for All

A program that supports education services by focusing more sharply on results.


SABER Education Systems

SABER evaluates the quality of education policies against evidence-based global standards.


Interactive Tool: Smarter Education

Explore where the World Bank supports countries on both the financing and knowledge fronts.

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