• 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 260 million children are still out of primary and secondary school, and 250 million children globally still can’t read or write, although many have been to school.  

    Education has large, consistent returns in terms of income and counters widening inequality.  For individuals, it promotes employment, earnings, health, and poverty reduction. For societies, it drives long-term economic growth, spurs innovation, strengthens institutions, and fosters social cohesion.

    Mounting evidence shows that the skills acquired in school are what drive growth and equip individuals for work and life. Without learning, education fails to deliver fully on its promise as a central driver of poverty elimination and shared prosperity. Schooling without learning is not just a wasted opportunity, but an injustice to the children who need it most.  

    Developing countries have made tremendous progress in getting children into the classroom and primary school access has seen unprecedented expansion. The majority of children worldwide are now in school and the number of years of schooling completed by the average adult in the developing world has more than tripled in recent decades, from two years in 1950 to more than seven years in 2010.

    Last Updated: Sep 19, 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, lays out the WBG’s agenda for achieving “Learning for All”  over the next decade. Additionally, the 2018 World Development Report, “Learning to Realize Education’s Promise,” puts a laser focus on the learning crisis and argues that schooling isn’t the same as learning. As the report notes, having millions of children attend school without learning how to read and write isn’t just a wasted opportunity—it’s a moral failure. The report also provides policy guidance on how education systems can be reformed to improve learning so that all children are acquiring skills for success later in life.

    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 July 2017, the WBG reported that child marriage can cost developing countries billions of dollars by 2030 and recommended how this could be stemmed.  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.

    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. More than half of this has already been delivered, ahead of schedule.

    Other WBG education online tools

    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. The WBG is expanding the collection of SDIs to new pilots in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Lao PDR.

    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: Sep 19, 2017

  • Between 2000 to 2017, the WBG invested more than $45 billion in education. The WBG’s lending for education for fiscal year 2017 was $2.85 billion, highlighting the importance of education for the achievement of the WBG’s twin goals, ending extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity. 

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

    These are some of the WBG’s education results at the country level:

    In Bangladesh, the WBG is working on 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 in 2016, compared to just 40 percent before the start of the project in 2010.

    With WBG support, Cambodia 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, WBG support between 2012 to 2016 provided more than 430,000 tuition waivers, allowing disadvantaged children to attend school free of charge. Daily meals, vitamins, and deworming were also provided to more than 370,000 students. The project provided school access to an estimated 6,500 children in poor, rural Haitian communities. An accelerated pre-service teacher training resulted in an additional 3,570 qualified primary school teachers. After Hurricane Matthew in October 2016, the project began to rehabilitate 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, more than 3,600 residential schools are now supporting the education of 400,000 girls ages 10 to 14. These residential schools, part of the Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya program, provide room and board, as well as full-time secondary education, and 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 Kuwait, the WBG is working with the Ministry of Education and the National Center for Education Development on a School Education Quality Improvement Project to support capacity building, improve the quality of the country’s teaching and learning, and build on earlier work to provide systematic improvement to the country’s education systems. Since 2015, curriculum and standards have been developed for all subjects for grades 1 to 9, 10 schools have introduced innovative strategic leadership and management, and more than 1,000 core professionals have been supported in transformational school-based management and reform.

    In Latvia, the WBG worked with the government to develop a performance-based financing model for tertiary education. As part of the project, 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 helped certify more than 2,300 community preschool teachers—about a quarter 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 Sindh School Monitoring System—the country’s first digital monitoring system in the education sector— is leading to the transparent and effective monitoring of staff, students and school infrastructure as a way to reduce absenteeism and other challenges faced in the area’s school system. As part of the program, which was implemented in 2017, more than 210,000 teaching and non-teaching staff have been profiled using biometric information, covering more than 26,200 schools.

    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.

    As part of Tanzania’s Education Program for Results, primary and secondary school learning has improved across the country. For grade 2 students, the average number of words read per minute in Kiswahili is up from 17.9 in 2013 to 23.6 words per minute in 2016. In mathematics, the number of correct answers per minute, also among grade 2 students, increased from 7.6 to 9.1 during the same period.  

    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 the West Bank and Gaza, the Teacher Education Improvement Program has helped train teachers for grades 1-4 in an effort to improve learning quality for Palestinian primary school children. 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 4,000 students have received entrepreneurship and soft skills training, to better prepare them for the job market.

    In West & Central Africa, 22 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. This Africa-wide program is financed by the WBG and implemented by national governments. 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. Earlier this year, the program celebrated its expansion to East and Southern Africa.

    In Yemen, the WBG implemented the Secondary Education Development for Girls Access Project in five governorates. A total of 14,350 teachers received training and 89 new female teachers were trained and hired, which encouraged parents to send their daughters to school, especially at the secondary school 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: Sep 19, 2017

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

    In 2002, the WBG was instrumental in creating the multi-donor Global Partnership for Education (GPE), an important partner in basic education. 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, which is bringing together governments, development partners, civil society, parliamentarians, and the private sector to increase investments in early childhood development.

    WBG President Jim Kim is one of the high-level commissioners of the Education Commission, which was convened  to chart a pathway for increased investment in order to develop the potential of all of the world’s young people.

    The Early Learning Partnership is a multi-donor (Hilton Foundation, the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation or CIFF, and Department for International Development or DFiD) trust fund managed by the WBG. The WBG is working with countries to promote increased investment in children’s early years through research, policy planning, project design, and finance. 

    The WBG partners with bilateral donors, including 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. It has also partnered with DFiD and CIFF on the Strategic Impact Evaluation Fund (SIEF).

    Other trust fund partners include Australia, the European Commission, Korea, Japan, and Russia.

    The WBG is also working with 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 Book Alliance.

    Last Updated: Sep 19, 2017




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In Depth


Impact Evaluations

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


Results-Based Financing

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


Education Systems

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


Mapping Our Education Work

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

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