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Education for All the World’s Children: Donors Have Agreed to Help First Group of Countries on Education Fast-Track

Press Release No:2003/155/HD

World Bank
Phil Hay; Global Phone ++1 202 409 2909; 
Rachel Winter Jones;  +322.552.00.52/39(direct)
Mobile +32.476.470.930;

European Commission
Michael Curtis

BRUSSELS, November 27, 2002--Representatives of the international donor community, meeting in Brussels today, have agreed to help seven developing countries in Africa and Latin America--Burkina Faso, Guinea, Guyana, Honduras, Mauritania, Nicaragua, and Niger--make their education plans a reality. Work is now proceeding with these countries to build the required capacity, and to close a financing gap, currently estimated at approximately US$400 million over the next three years (2003-2005).

This agreement under the Education For All Fast Track Initiative (EFA - FTI) will begin the process of ensuring that developing countries reach the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goal to provide every girl and boy with a complete primary school education by 2015.

Donors attending the Brussels meeting--hosted by the European Commission, with UNESCO and the World Bank as co-convenors, and Canada and the Netherlands chairing proceedings--expressed their conviction that achieving education for all the world’s children by 2015 is the collective responsibility of the international community. “The agreement we have reached today is a promising step in a process that will eventually include all countries determined to give every child a complete basic education.”

The financing for the first wave of seven countries will help educate roughly 4 million girls and boys and who at the moment are unable to attend primary school. In addition, many more who would otherwise have dropped out of school will now have the chance to complete their basic education. Financing will also train new teachers, pay teachers’ salaries, build new schools, help education systems respond to HIV/AIDS, and put in place other steps to ensure a quality primary education for all children.

These seven countries are the first group of developing countries to benefit from the Education For All Fast Track Initiative, launched in June this year. At that time, donors invited 18 developing countries[1] that had completed a full Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers[2] (PRSP) and had on-going education sector programmes to participate in the FTI.

A further five high-population countries--India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, DR Congo, and Nigeria-- significant for their large numbers of out-of-school children, especially girls, were also invited to carry out additional policy work so they can join the FTI  in the future. Together these 5 countries account for 50 million of the estimated worldwide total of 113 million children out of school. The donor community is committed to work with these countries to address the data, policy, and capacity gaps that will need to be resolved for them to be eligible for EFA financing support.

The Education For All Fast Track Initiative

Devised as a new development compact for education, the Fast Track Initiative offers donor financing for countries willing to prioritize primary education for all children, and embrace policies that improve the quality and efficiency of their primary education systems. In addition, donors have decided to share both their resources and expertise to enhance existing coordination between them, with the objective of improving development impact. A key lesson of aid effectiveness is that where government commitment is strong, and a sound policy framework is in place, development assistance can be very effective.

The first seven countries are part of a larger group of low-and middle-income countries, which, without special national and global efforts, will not achieve the 2015 goal of a complete primary education for every girl and every boy. Research now shows that children who learn to read, write, and count earn roughly ten times as much in their working lives than other children who were unable to attend school.


Children out of School (in ‘000)

Completion Rate

Burkina Faso

























With the first group of countries now approved for education financing, the other 11 countries invited to join the Fast Track Albania, Bolivia, Ethiopia, Ghana, Mozambique, Tanzania, The Gambia, Uganda, Vietnam, Yemen, and Zambia  are considered to be on the right track and enjoy considerable support among the donors. 

At the next meeting of the Development Committee of the World Bank, Spring 2003, Ministers will be presented with a progress report on donor funding commitments in support of FTI-approved education plans.

For further information on donors’ work in the area of education, visit:

[1]Burkina Faso, Guyana, Honduras, Mauritania, Nicaragua, Niger, Ethiopia, Guinea, Mozambique, Tanzania, The Gambia, Uganda, Yemen, Albania, Bolivia, Ghana, Vietnam and Zambia.

[2] A PRSP describes a country's macroeconomic, structural and social policies and programs to promote growth and reduce poverty, as well as associated external financing needs. PRSPs are prepared by governments through a participatory process involving civil society and development partners, including the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

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