The Global Partnership for Education and the World Bank Group: The Facts

January 23, 2018


  • The World Bank Group (WBG) is a long-standing member of the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), which was established in 2002 as the Education for All Fast Track Initiative.
  • The partnership was created to accelerate progress toward the Millennium Development Goals 2 and 3 (achieve universal primary education; promote gender equality and empower women) as well as the Education For All goals agreed in Dakar in 2000.
  • The WBG supports the partnership in several ways: as a Board Member, a host of the GPE Secretariat, a Trustee and as Grant Agent (formerly known as supervising entity) for the majority of GPE grants.


WBG and GPE Collaboration

  • The GPE 2020 Strategic Plan seeks to achieve equitable quality education for all by 2030. The WBG’s Education Strategy 2020 is well-aligned with GPE’s strategy, aiming to improve equity and learning outcomes in developing countries through strengthened education systems.
  • Better and more equitable learning outcomes are a particular focus of GPE. GPE investments cover both early childhood development and primary education. Research has shown that children who have access to quality early childhood programs do better in primary school and will have better education outcomes later. The WBG has significantly increased its support to the early years (nutrition, stimulation, and protection) in the past decade as a way to level the playing field so all children can start school ready to learn. The WBG is also helping countries set up sustainable early grade reading assessment systems.
  • The WBG works with GPE and other partners to increase equity by addressing the needs of the poorest and most disadvantaged children, particularly girls, ethnolinguistic minorities, children with disabilities, and children in fragile and conflict-affected states. Most recently, GPE funded WBG-led research on the Economic Costs of Child Marriage and Disability Gaps in Educational Attainment and Literacy.
WBG Education Financing for the Poorest Countries
  • The WBG is the largest external financier of education in developing countries, from pre-primary and primary education through higher education. Since 2000, the WBG has invested more than US$45 billion in education.
  • Over the past decade, the WBG has provided more than US$17 billion in International Development Association (IDA) financing for education in the poorest nations. During the same period, the WBG managed US$3.3 billion in GPE grants, a fourth of which was co-financing for IDA operations.
  • Over the past three years, the WBG has provided strong support to education through IDA, our fund for the poorest, for a total of more than US$5.3 billion, and remains firmly committed to accelerating our progress towards Learning for All.


WBG as Grant Agent for GPE Grants

  • Over 75% of GPE funds are executed by the World Bank in low-income countries. The WBG plays a key role in providing implementation support to the GPE Developing Country Partners’ governments during the implementation of project activities funded by GPE grants.
  •  Since 2004, the WBG has helped prepare and supervise about 80% of GPE Education Sector Plan Implementation Grants (ESPIG) in six countries and one region for a total of US$3.7 billion.
  • By the end of 2017, the WBG supervised GPE projects in 29 countries and one region (comprising 4 countries), totaling US$1.6 billion, in addition to US$1.1 billion in IDA co-financing.


Innovation in Education

The WBG has helped introduce a number of new and innovative education initiatives to GPE countries, including:

  • Results-based programs where project disbursement is linked to specific indicators, such as improvement in basic literacy and numeracy in primary schools in Uganda, Senegal, Gambia, Cameroon, and Pakistan.
  • Community-run school canteens to improve school attendance in Niger, Benin and Madagascar.
  • Cash transfer programs for Koranic schools achieving proficiency in literacy and numeracy in Senegal, which has resulted in an additional 14,000 students learning the official curriculum, including French and mathematics.
  • Digitizing information from more than 45,000 schools in Pakistan’s Sindh province, including data on 200,000 school staff so that salaries for absentee teachers can be frozen.
  • Increasing the number of female school principals to ensure gender-parity as part of a results-based finance approach in Ethiopia.  
  • Improving quality of learning and teaching through the use of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) by introducing an interactive white board system in The Gambia; a computerized system for transparent staff management, hiring and training in Senegal; and an e-learning system that uses curated content in Ethiopia.



Working together, support from GPE and the WBG has improved education outcomes around the globe. Some results:

  • Senegal: 100% of all new teachers are trained using an updated curriculum, 195 news schools have been built in rural areas, middle schools are implementing a new math and science program and learning assessment is now used in primary schools to better understand what children are learning. The program has benefited more than 1.8 million people, exceeding the original target of 1.3 million.

  • Democratic Republic of Congo: The net enrollment rate for basic education increased from 65% in 2013 to 85% in 2017. The country has also trained close to 35,000 teachers and delivered 20 million textbooks (French, math, science) to schools.

  • Mongolia: The development and implementation of mobile kindergartens housed in yurts that travel with nomadic families each summer and are equipped with furniture, teaching materials and toys has provided access to preschool for more than 3,700 nomadic children who might not otherwise have had access to early childhood education opportunities.
  • Niger: Teacher training has been provided to 4,500 contract-teachers, about half of whom are women, as well as to 3,300 teacher trainers, inspectors and academic advisors. Together with the World Food Programme (WFP), school canteens are benefitting 47,592 children during the 2017/18 school year, including 21,116 girls.
  • Mauritania: The number of girls in lower secondary education increased by 35% in the six poorest regions and in rural areas; and 13 lower secondary schools were built to allow girls to transition to secondary education. Teacher training has also improved: more than 1,000 new teachers were trained in bilingual education, the number of new teachers meeting minimum standards increased by 5% annually and some 300,000 pedagogical kits were distributed to students in primary and lower secondary schools serving poor and disadvantaged students.
  • Tajikistan: More than 5,400 primary teachers have been trained, two million new learning materials have been distributed to grades 1-4, and 160,000 primary students are using a new and updated curriculum.
  • The Gambia: An additional 45,000 students have enrolled in school, thanks to the construction of early childhood development centers, lower schools, and lower secondary schools. The country also introduced free education from Grades 1-9, and grade three students have increased their English-language learning outcomes.
  • Cambodia: An estimated 100 formal schools and 1,000 community-based new preschool facilities have opened and more than 47% of children between 3-5 years old are now enrolled in preschools, directly benefiting some 125,000 young children. 
  • Ethiopia: More than 100,000 primary teachers and 17,000 secondary teachers are upgrading their teacher qualifications through training. Major gains have been made in learning outcomes as national assessments indicate that the share of students achieving proficient and advanced levels in Grade 4 mathematics increased from 13% in 2011 to 19% in 2015.

  • Sudan: More than 850 new classrooms have been constructed, with an additional 260 underway.