From schooling access to learning outcomes: an unfinished agenda: an evaluation of World Bank support to primary education

Organisation(s): World Bank. Independent Evaluation Group

Publisher(s): World Bank

Date: 2006

Pages: xxxii-127 p.


Basic knowledge and skills—not years of education —are key to reducing poverty. Raising enrollments and completing primary schooling are necessary but not sufficient for ensuring basic knowledge and skills. Developing countries and partner agencies like the World Bank, need to focus on raising learning outcomes, particularly among disadvantaged children, to realize the poverty reduction benefits of investing in primary education. The Education for All (EFA) movement, launched in 1990, has resulted in an extraordinary mobilization of World Bank and country resources in support of basic education over the past 15 years. World Bank EFA financing, mostly focused on primary education, has become increasingly progressive—targeting the most disadvantaged countries and often the disadvantaged within countries. In most parts of the world, Bank and country investments have led to significantly improved access to primary education through the construction of new schools and the reduction of other physical, financial, and social barriers. Nevertheless, tens of millions of children in the developing world—mostly girls, the poor, and other disadvantaged—remain out of school, hundreds of millions drop out before completing primary school, and of those who do complete, a large proportion fail to acquire desired levels of knowledge and skills, especially in the poorest countries of South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. Beyond achieving universal completion of primary education, a Millennium Development Goal, the remaining EFA challenge is to ensure that all children, particularly the disadvantaged, acquire the basic knowledge and skills that are crucial for poverty reduction.

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