BRIEF July 8, 2019

World Bank, UNESCO Institute for Statistics Join Forces to Help Countries Measure Student Learning

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Silvia Montoya, Director, UIS; Stefania Giannini, Assistant Director General for Education, UNESCO; Jaime Saavedra, Global Director for Education, World Bank


The World Bank and UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) joined in a new partnership to help countries strengthen their learning assessment systems, better monitor what students are learning in internationally-comparable ways and improve the breadth and quality of global data on education. 

This partnership is part of a collaborative effort to tackle the global learning crisis marked by the slowdown in the improvement of access to education in recent years – leaving over 262 million children, adolescents and youth out of school— and hundreds of millions who are in school but not learning enough.

“Over half of the world’s children cannot read and understand a simple story by the age of 10 – this is unacceptable. Reading and numeracy are rights and must be tackled, urgently, to ensure children can develop the fundamental skills necessary for building the strong and resilient economies of the future,” said Jaime Saavedra, World Bank Global Director for Education. “Many countries do not undertake the systematic measurement of learning needed to track progress and inform education policies. Without this data, policymakers are flying blind.  This partnership will help ensure that countries have the right tools to measure learning and to close the data gaps underpinning the global learning crisis,” said Saavedra.

“Our focus is on supporting developing countries to strengthen their national assessments and on working with other international partners and countries to generate the necessary consensus to produce the best education statistics necessary for an evidence-based policymaking process,” said Stefania Giannini, Assistant Director-General for Education of UNESCO.  “This partnership will allow us to collaborate on supporting countries with the tools and technical support they need to track progress towards the Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4), to see what is working, what challenges remain, and where improvements can be made.” 

Both the Sustainable Development Goal on inclusive, equitable and quality Education and the education-related component of the World Bank’s Human Capital Index (HCI) released last year provide an impetus for measuring learning outcomes in internationally comparable ways, and over time.

The partnership will harness key global initiatives of the two institutions to strengthen countries’ national capacity for the design, administration and analysis of large-scale national learning assessments. The UIS is leading global efforts to expand internationally comparable data on learning outcomes, leveraging countries’ national measurement efforts. The World Bank is developing a Global Education Policy Dashboard to enable countries to monitor how well their education systems are oriented toward improving learning and educational attainment for all children.

“Several countries like Indonesia are already making progress in generating better data on learning, while others like Brazil and Kenya are using better data to inform policies that drive improvements in learning outcomes. The WB-UIS partnership aims to support similar efforts in many more countries around the world,” said Omar Arias, World Bank Manager for Global Knowledge and Innovation in Education.

“Global education data generation and exchange is another key element of the partnership.  The two organizations will create a unified data source of globally comparable indicators on education for use as a global public good,” said Silvia Montoya, Director of UIS.

The partnership is framed within the overarching Strategic Partnership Framework signed last year between the United Nations and the World Bank Group to consolidate their joint commitment to help countries implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Last Updated: Jul 08, 2019