• Education is a human right, a powerful driver of development and one of the strongest instruments for reducing poverty and improving health, gender equality, peace, and stability.

    Education delivers large, consistent returns in terms of income and is the most important factor to ensure equality of opportunities. For individuals, it promotes employment, earnings, health, and poverty reduction. Globally, there is a 9% increase in hourly earnings for one extra year of schooling. For societies, it drives long-term economic growth, spurs innovation, strengthens institutions, and fosters social cohesion. Indeed, making smart and effective investments in people is critical for developing the human capital that will end extreme poverty.

    Developing countries have made tremendous progress in getting children into the classroom and more children worldwide are now in school. But learning is not guaranteed, as the 2018 World Development Report (WDR) stresses. For about half of students, schooling is not learning. Hundreds of millions of children cannot read or write despite having attended school. In Sub-Saharan Africa, almost 90 percent of students do not have the minimum skills in reading and math.

    And not even all children are in school. Some 260 million children are still out of primary and secondary school.

    The World Bank Group (WBG) works with countries to strengthen and align their education systems so that the focus is on ensuring that all children learn. Education is fundamental to building the human capital that allows people and countries to thrive.

    Our Priorities

    Ensuring that kids are off to a good start
    In the developing world, only half of all children between the ages of three and six years are in preschool. In low-income countries, only one in five are in preschool. We are working to ensure access to a fulfilling preschool experience for all children by promoting and supporting quality early childhood education.

    Revamping teachers’ professional development
    A good teacher makes all the difference. For learning to happen, teachers must be in the classroom and be qualified, motivated, and focused on making sure all students learn. We are working with governments and partners to improve how teachers are recruited, paid, rewarded, incentivized, assessed, and trained. Teachers’ responsibilities are immense. Countries that succeed are those that recognize this and value teachers.

    Integrating curriculum and instruction for learning
    Learning happens through rich interactions between students and teachers. Improving the quality of those interactions is at the center of our work. We support countries in defining what competencies and knowledge should be taught, in supporting teachers and schools in effective instruction strategies, and in measuring what students learn.

    Building implementation and management capacity
    Education systems must deliver a complex service, day after day, to millions of students. Great program designs, even when resources are available, can fail if they lack financial management, procurement, and administrative capacity. Implementation and managerial capacity is critical for a successful education system. We are working with countries to build their capacity to organize and manage education systems.

    The WBG is the largest financier of education in the developing world. In 2018, we provided about $4.5 billion for education programs, technical assistance, and other projects designed to improve learning and provide everyone with the opportunity to get the education they need to succeed. Our current portfolio of education projects totals $17 billion, highlighting the importance of education for the achievement of our twin goals, ending extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity.

    We work on education programs in more than 80 countries and are 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.

    Last Updated: Nov 12, 2018

  • The World Bank Group’s global education strategy is focused on “learning for all” and ensuring that all children can attend school and learn. We are 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. The WBG helped draft and is a signatory to the Education 2030 Framework for Action, which guides countries through the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goal for education.

    To make this vision a reality, the WBG works with countries to improve their education systems and identify the best ways to deliver learning for children, young adults, and those who need skills later in adulthood and for whom the future of work poses new challenges.

    Our Principles

    We take an integrated approach to the education system to ensure learning throughout the life cycle. Education services from preschool to primary, secondary education, and beyond to university and other tertiary education, need to be aligned and consistent.

    We work to ensure progressive universal access to quality education Realizing true universal access requires equality of opportunity. We must meet the educational needs of children and young adults in fragile or conflict affected areas, those in marginalized and rural communities, girls and women, displaced populations, students with disabilities, and other vulnerable groups.

    Our approach is inclusive and focused We understand the needs of governments and work with them to ensure that education works for everyone.

    We want to strengthen financing tied to results Funds need to be appropriately directed and spent smartly across regions and schools, using data and evidence of how processes are being followed and the impact of interventions to guide improvements. By 2018, almost 40 percent of our operations were through results-based financing schemes.

    We use metrics to guide improvements Metrics are critical to identifying regions and schools that are achieving results, recognizing good practices, and learning what works. We invest in developing global public goods such as SABER and EdStats and work with countries on their data systems.

    Moving Forward

    An increasingly automated economy demands that people of all ages be equipped with the skills to keep learning, adapt to changing realities, and thrive in a dynamic global marketplace. With this in mind, the World Bank is ensuring that embedded in our work is a focus on:

    Socio-Emotional Skills
    Our economy places a premium on skills such as critical thinking and problem solving, grit, persistence, curiosity, creativity, and the ability to communicate and work in teams. These are critical complements to the foundational skills of literacy and numeracy and should be integrated into classroom curricula throughout the education cycle.

    Schools of the Future
    The schools of the future are being built today. These are schools where all teachers have the right competencies and motivation, where technology empowers teachers, and where all students learn fundamental skills, social-emotional skills, including the ability to retain what is learned, and digital skills. These schools are safe and affordable to everyone and are places where children and young people learn with joy, rigor, and purpose.

    Lifelong Learning
    The changing nature of the labor market demands that youth and adults be equipped with the tools to continue learning—whether it’s gaining basic literacy and numeracy later in life, accessing higher education, or receiving training, both before and during employment.

    Last Updated: Nov 12, 2018

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

    In Belarus, the Belarus Education Modernization Project is improving the quality of its general education by rehabilitating schools across the country, as well as building a comprehensive Education Management and Information System. Through this project, Belarus is also participating for the first time in the 2018 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), in an effort to measure student performance in mathematics, science, and reading. The Bank Group is also working with the Government on developing and piloting a per-capita student financing mechanism, which is covering 642 schools—about a fifth of all schools in the country. 

    In Haiti, Bank Group support is providing more than 437,000 tuition waivers, making it possible for an estimated 180,000 disadvantaged youth to attend school. In addition, daily quality hot meals to more than 372,000 students and financial support to an estimated 2,800 schools allowed many educational institutions to reopen following the devastation of the 2010 earthquake. Bank Group support is also focusing on education quality: An accelerated pre-service teacher training resulted in an additional 3,570 qualified primary school teachers.

    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 15,000 teachers across 25 districts were trained to provide early childhood education as part of the Early Childhood Education Smart Generation in Villages program. The program, which was initiated in 2016, strengthened collaboration between various ministries to further early childhood development opportunities, particularly in the country’s poor and rural areas. In Indonesia, an estimated 20,000 villages – or about 30 percent of all villages in the country – don’t have access to early childhood education facilities.

    In Jordan, the Government has integrated more than 130,000 Syrian refugee children into public schools and is planning to expand this number to 160,000 with support from the new Bank Group-financed Education Reform Support Program. Bank Group support is also helping the country revise its early grade curriculum and expand preschool access, with the goal of reaching an 85 percent enrollment rate over the next five years. Jordan has also rolled out a new Education Information Management System (OpenEMIS) and is reforming its national assessment system to measure and monitor student learning and provide relevant support to students.

    In Lebanon, the Government has integrated 220,000 Syrian refugee children into public schools, increasing the number of students in public schools by more than 80 percent in just four years. The Bank Group-financed Support to Reaching All Children with Education 2 is continuing to support the Government in providing access to education for refugee children, improving the quality of education for all, and strengthening education systems in the country.

    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 Nigeria, the Bank Group 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.

    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 6,300 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 Bank Group 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. In 2017, the program celebrated its expansion to East and Southern Africa.

    In Yemen, the Bank Group 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 World Bank Group education results here.

  • The World Bank Group 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 WBG’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 the Arab World Initiative, the Building Evidence in Education (BE²) Group, the Early Childhood Consultative Group, the Global Book Alliance, the Global Reading Network, the Malala Fund, and Teach for All.




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In Depth


Human Capital Project

The Human Capital Project is a global effort to accelerate more and better investments in people for greater equity and economic growth.


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.

Additional Resources

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