Education is a powerful driver of development and is 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—many more children attend schools and girls’ education has markedly improved—58 million children are still out of school. Even when children complete school, they often do so without acquiring basic skills necessary for work and life. This is particularly detrimental when unemployment is high and labor markets are demanding more skilled and agile workforces than ever before.

Last Updated: Apr 01, 2015

The World Bank’s 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 strategy encourages countries to “invest early” because foundational skills acquired early help lifelong learning, “invest smartly” in efforts proven to improve learning, and “invest for all” children and youth, not just the most privileged or gifted.

World Bank support to education focuses on areas that matter to developing countries:

  • Ramping up Early Child Development (ECD) investments to enable a lifetime of learning and raise future productivity.
  • Ensuring that children who are in school are actually learning foundational skills.
  • Lowering barriers to quality education for girls and children from disadvantaged communities.
  • Fixing the wide disconnect between skills development, higher education and the labor market.
  • Addressing systemic issues at all levels, to increase efficiency and transparency.

It’s important for education systems to provide students at all levels with the skills necessary to promote productivity and growth.

Investing in young children (from birth to age 5) 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 improve outcomes later in life. The recent “Stepping Up Early Childhood Education” report is a practical guide for policymakers and practitioners about how to invest in young children.

Quality education can only be achieved with excellent teachers. A recent report on the quality of teachers, “Great Teachers: How to Raise Student Learning in Latin America and the Caribbean”, distills the latest evidence and practical experience with teacher policy reforms.

The World Bank is also focused on increasing labor market productivity by examining 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, and several regional skills reports, including the Lao PDR Development Report 2014, Developing Skills for Innovative Growth in the Russian Federation, and the Vietnam Development Report 2014.

The World Bank is helping countries address systemic education issues by building a robust evidence base to guide reforms. The Systems Approach for Better Education Results (SABER) initiative helps over 100 countries assess their education policies and identify actionable priorities.

The World Bank conducts and supports rigorous impact evaluations to generate stronger evidence about what works in education under different conditions. 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 World Bank’s EdStats website features more than 2,500 internationally comparable education indicators on access, completion, learning outcomes, expenditures, and more.


Last Updated: Apr 01, 2015

In fiscal year 2014, the World Bank’s new support for education totaled $3.6 billion, up sharply from $2.9 billion in 2013 and boosted by increased support for basic education.

The World Bank is one of the largest external education financiers for developing countries, managing a portfolio of $11 billion, with operations in 71 countries. The World Bank supports education through an average of $2.8 billion a year in new financing for the poorest countries as well as for middle-income countries.

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

In the three Ebola-affected countries (Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone), approximately 18,365 schools will benefit from World Bank support as they reopen after the crisis.

In India, 78% of public school teachers working in elementary schools are now receiving improved in-service training, up from 50% in 2012. Under the Third Elementary Education Project  in 2014, girls enrolment rose to over 48% . In addition, 85% of schools now have separate toilets for boys and girls, up from 72% in 2012.

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. Under the Bermutu project (2007-2013), over 1.7 million teachers have acquired the mandated four-year college degree. The project is supporting further development for teachers through training, research, and establishment of professional working groups at the local level.

In Laos, 443 schools were built, approximately 4,000 teachers were trained, and more than two million textbooks were distributed up from 1993 to 2013, under the Education Development Projects.

In Haiti, 1,000 adolescent girls received training in non-technical and soft-skills to facilitate their school-to-work transition and improve their employment and earnings potential from 2012 until 2013.

In Nigeria, the World Bank supported government efforts to expand access to post-basic education, primarily through the Lagos Eko Project, which will be completed in December 2015. Senior secondary school students’ grades in Lagos state surpassed expectations, and the proportion of students obtaining grade B and above in science and technology was more than double the expected result.

In Djibouti, over 100 new classrooms in both urban and rural areas increased access to primary education for more than 7,000 children, including 3,300 girls (2005-2011).

In Bangladesh, between 2004 and 2012, “second chance” primary education was provided for more than 790,000 out of school children (more than half of them girls) from the 90 poorest sub-districts of the country.

Working together,  World Bank and GPE support improved education outcomes around the globe. In Moldova, for example, access to quality early childhood education increased from 66% (2004) to 77% (2011).


Last Updated: Apr 01, 2015

The World Bank collaborates with United Nations (UN) agencies and development partners to support progress toward the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and position education in the post-2015 development agenda.

The World Bank, a member of the Global Education First Initiative, organized and co-hosted several high-level Learning for All events. The World Bank is a co-convener of the World Education Forum (May 2015; Incheon, Korea)—the most important global event on education in a decade.

The World Bank was instrumental in creating the multi-donor Global Partnership for Education (GPE), 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.

The World Bank partners with bilateral donors. Through the Russia Education Aid for Development trust fund), the World Bank is supporting activities to strengthen student assessment systems.  It also partners with Norway for the REACH program, which will support the World Bank’s efforts to build evidence on what works for a systems approach to education reforms and investments.

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

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

Last Updated: Apr 01, 2015

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