Education Strategy 2020: Stakeholder Comments Emphasize Centrality of Learning to Development

September 6, 2010

September 6, 2010 ̶ From Cartagena to Jakarta, the World Bank’s Education Strategy 2020 team embarked on worldwide consultations this spring to engage stakeholders in shaping the content of its new ten-year strategy. Led by the World Bank's Education Director, Elizabeth King, the strategy team crisscrossed the globe to hear vital feedback during its first phase of consultations, from March to June, 2010. The newly released Report on Phase I Consultations reviews this input.

More than 1,100 participants from 69 countries contributed their ideas and comments during a series of multi-stakeholder consultation meetings that included targeted discussions with leading policy makers in 24 different countries. The meetings spanned a spectrum of stakeholders, from government officials and donor representatives to teachers, students, and civil society members -- attracting representatives from parliaments, academia, teachers unions, and education administration. The global public also communicated with the strategy team through the Education Strategy website and other channels.

Stakeholders expressed a broad view of what education is and what its core purpose is. In most countries, access to and quality of secondary and tertiary education are main concerns, in addition to primary education. This coincides with the fact that stakeholders widely see education as the basis of sustainable human and economic development. On every continent, stakeholders were adamant that education systems fail their mission when they do not address the needs of poor and disadvantaged populations, or when corruption and poor management result in a waste of resources.

The consultations also yielded some important messages for the Bank’s work. Most importantly, stakeholders expect the Bank to put learning and quality of education at the top of its agenda for the next 10 years. And “quality” encompasses not only the “visible” inputs to the education process, such as supplies and infrastructure, but also the competence of the teachers in imparting knowledge and skills to their students and the relevance of what is being taught to students. Competency in basic skills such as reading and math, linkages to the labor market, and technical, social and interactive skills figure high on the list of requirements for the next generation of students.

To be successful at fulfilling their mission, education systems around the world need to address the needs of poor and disadvantaged populations, as well as corruption, poor management, and wastage of resources. Low-income country stakeholders placed particular emphasis on the role of education for development, as well as the importance of teachers and education quality. Stakeholders from fragile situations reflected on the challenges posed by the difficult context of countries and students and poor capacity in the system. Middle-income country stakeholders are particularly concerned about learning and relevance of education, and equity of access to learning opportunities. Stakeholders from donor countries emphasized the role of education for development, the importance of quality and learning and the role of CSO’s and partnerships and coordination with other donors.