Is the World Bank Reaching Out-Of-School Children? an Analysis of World Bank Commitments to Basic Education in Relation to Out-Of-School Populations


As the world prepares a final push to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015, global attention has turned towards getting the remaining out-of-school children into the classroom. With the World Bank as the world’s largest external financier of education, RESULTS has reviewed the financial support it has provided to the development of basic education systems in the world’s poorest countries from 2000 to 2012 in relation to their populations of out-of-school children. This report finds that World Bank investments in basic education have been largely aligned with out-of-school populations. From 2000 to 2012, two-thirds of basic education commitments from the International Development Association (IDA) went to the fifteen countries with the highest out-of-school populations worldwide. Overall, there is a strong positive correlation between the level of IDA support a country received for basic education from 2000 to 2012 and its population of children out of primary school over that period. However, there are critical exceptions to the trend. Namely, the Central African Republic, Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia, Papua New Guinea, and Zambia have large populations of out-of-school children but have received little basic education support from the World Bank. These countries represent particular opportunities for impact. As they are also members of the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), these countries offer the potential to coordinate World Bank investment in basic education with program implementation grants from GPE. The analysis presented in this report found World Bank programmatic assistance to basic education to more strongly relate to decreases in out-of-school populations in GPE member countries than non-member countries, evidencing the power coordinated support has to leverage greater results as well as the opportunity that is lost when such coordination is absent. Similarly, the analysis found that while the World Bank is struggling to support conflict-affected and fragile states in relation to their out-of-school populations, World Bank education interventions in such environments prove to be particularly impactful in terms of expanding access. making increased engagement by the World Bank in these settings even more critical. Looking ahead at 2013, IDA investments in basic education have the possibility of reaching a historic high with $1.2 billion already active and another $350 million in the pipeline. Finally, this report takes a special look at the eight participant nations of the global education summit co-hosted by the President of the World Bank Dr. Jim Kim, the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and the United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown in Washington, D.C. on April 16-18, 2013. This report examines the extent to which World Bank investment in basic education has aligned with populations of out-of-school children from 2000 to 2012. It then identifies the countries that have fallen farthest from the general trend and thus merit immediate action from the World Bank.