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Education Year in Review 2009

Education Year in Review 2009

This full version of the brochure offers an in-depth look into the work of the World Bank in education during fiscal year 2009. It also provides the full text of this year’s report, from new knowledge activities to our global portfolio of lending operations and key partnerships that work to bring quality education to people around the world. In addition to the complete report, this brochure also offers some special features. The related annexes contain full text access and links to our newest work, including research, publications, reports and new operations.

Download Full Text Brochure (PDF, 1.4MB)
Download Full Text Background Document (PDF, 2.5MB)

For a hard copy of the brochure and accompanying CD-Rom containing full text access to all World Bank publications and reports produced this past year please contact the Education Advisory Service at  


Mission: Learning for All 

To ensure quality education for all people to achieve their potential and for all societies to eliminate poverty, stimulate growth and innovation, and ensure long-term development

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How We Work 

Three quarters of countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, Europe and Central Asia, and East Asia and the Pacific have met or are on track to meet the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of universal primary education completion. In contrast, a near majority of countries in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa are not on track to meet this MDG. In addition, an estimated 264 million youth are not enrolled in secondary school, and there is a growing demand to expand tertiary education so that countries can enhance their skilled labor force. The World Bank addresses these challenges in three main ways:


The World Bank serves as a knowledge bank for data, research findings and best practices in policy design and implementation. Generating and sharing this knowledge through media, training activities and technical advice is a Bank priority.


The World Bank is the largest source of external aid to education. It uses a variety of instruments to provide financial support to governments of developing countries, helping them design and implement education sector plans. Through more decentralization to field offices, the Bank works closely with governments at the ground level, increasing collaboration and enabling country ownership.


The World Bank works with a wide range of partners to align donor aid with country objectives. It works with the donor community, through partnerships and co-financing, to help ensure the greatest impact.

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In Focus: Education and the Global Economic Crisis

The global financial crisis is creating an emergency for development and threatening countries’ ability to reach the 2015 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Basic education relies heavily on public funds, so large reductions in public revenues could affect school operations, teacher salaries, and scholarships. Secondary and tertiary education also rely on out-of-pocket spending, so widespread job loss can put postbasic education out of reach for poor students.

Previous crises have demonstrated that enrollments, at least for a short period of time, can be sticky for two reasons: parents and governments want to protect past education investments and the opportunity cost of schooling decreases in times of higher unemployment. However, sustained reductions in education investments also have a potential impact that is less visible than lower enrollments, harder to measure, and ultimately harder to recover from—a deterioration in the quality of instruction and learning.

Education and skill formation are critical to a country’s recovery from the current financial crisis and to its long-term development. Even the world’s richest nations include education investments as part of their economic stimulus plans. Protecting education access and investing in quality while improving the efficiency of education systems make good economic sense.

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Year at a Glance

In 2009, the World Bank provided US$3.4 billion in new funding to education projects in key areas and regions of high-need. This sum represents a substantial increase in support from a previous average of US$2 billion per year. In the past year, the Bank also produced more than 100 knowledge products on education, including sector analyses, research and technical advice.

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Investments in Education

Active Education Projects143136131141152
New Education Projects2525282525
Active Education Portfolio (US $ m)8,2007,7087,4227,3628,823
New Education Lending (US $ m)*1,9511,9912,0221,9273,445
Education lending as % of Bank total8.7%8.1%7.4%6.9%7.1%

* Represents all new lending to education, including education components in operationsmanaged by all sector boards.

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Focus of New Operations in 2009

US$1.6 billion (almost half of total education lending) supports the poorest countries through IDA funds
US$1.5 billion of total education lending supports basic education
75% of new education operations address teacher development
50% of new education operations improve learning assessments
44% of total lending to education is part of multisector operations
20 education projects are co-financed by bilateral and mulitlateral agencies, representing an additional US$ 1.2 billion in funding
11 new operations in fragile or conflict afflicted states include education components; education lending is active in 70% of such states

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Dramatic Increase in Support to Education 

Dramatic Increase in Support to Education

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Financing the Entire Sector with a Focus on the Basics

Financing the Entire Sector with a Focus on the Basics

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Active Operations in 2009

Active Operations in 2009

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2009 Highlights

Ensuring Quality and Equity in Basic Education

More than 40 percent of World Bank lending focuses on increasing access to primary schools and enhancing the quality of learning. In Namibia, Mexico and Indonesia, governments are using conditional cash transfers (CCTs) as financial incentives to ensure that disadvantaged students, especially girls and rural children, attend school. An important 2009 publication on CCTs finds that their cost effectiveness relies on the ability of governments to adequately target CCTs to the intended beneficiaries. A study of school feeding programs finds that these programs keep low-income children in school, especially during an economic downturn. In more than 70 percent of new operations, the Bank is supporting quality enhancing reforms. Rigorous evaluations are assessing the impact of teacher performance pay and teacher contracts on student learning outcomes in India and Nepal. In Morocco, reforms in teacher training address obstacles to better teacher performance. Early childhood development programs to ensure school readiness are significant components of projects in several countries, including Panama. These extraordinary efforts aim to help countries achieve the education Millennium Development Goals.

Expanding Post-Basic Education

Demand for secondary education is rising quickly, borne up by higher primary completion rates—but there are issues of equity and quality to address. In the low-literacy districts of Pakistan’s Punjab and Sindh provinces, stipends are being offered to increase girls’ low enrollments in secondary schools. Through a program that offers stipends and cash prizes to the poorest students, Bangladesh has achieved stunning results in decreasing dropout rates. In the Brazilian state of Pernambuco, an innovative accelerated program is correcting the age-grade distortion, also reducing dropout rates. In Armenia, the Bank is helping to integrate up-to-date computer technologies into classroom instruction.

Linking Education to the Knowledge Economy

Vocational training programs and tertiary education equip workers with the skills to be more productive and more employable, thereby enabling economic growth. A study of Niger’s workforce concludes that reading and writing skills, along with reasoning capacity and life skills, lay the foundation for capabilities later in life. A study on countries in Europe and Central Asia calls for partnerships among various government ministries, education providers (public and private), and employers to design training programs that meet labor market demands. Egypt is working on improving educational services to enhance skills and competitiveness. Chile’s Promoting Innovation and Competitiveness project strengthens the educational base for advancements in science and technology. A well-received book on world-class universities outlines key characteristics of top ranked universities and highlights challenges in reforming the tertiary sector. In an effort to establish incentives for reform, Vietnam is modernizing universities through competitive grants that are awarded to institutions based on good governance and performance.

Making Education Systems 

Work Better Education systems deliver when they are more accountable and able to measure and use results. At the school level, giving more authority and autonomy to providers has the potential to improve outcomes, according to a study of countries’ experience with decentralized decision-making in schools. In Indonesia, a block grant program allows local educators to choose how to best allocate school resources. More, better, and timely information is critical to sound policy-making. A series launched this year makes the case for learning assessment systems. New learning assessment tools in Uzbekistan and other countries are measuring academic achievement through standards-based testing. In Senegal and The Gambia, Early Grade Reading Assessment toolkits are being prepared to help schools and policymakers diagnose learning shortfalls early in the school cycle. Analytical work in Peru has demonstrated that this information tool can spur remedial action by school personnel and parents.

Leveraging Private Sector Capacity 

Through loans and financial tools, the World Bank Group’s International Finance Corporation (IFC) has been facilitating private sector investments in education in emerging economies since 2001. In Brazil, the IFC’s Anhanguera Educacional Participações project is expanding educational access for low- and middle‑income working adults who could not otherwise enter Brazil’s public universities. In the past two years the project"s community outreach program has reached over 800,000 people. Two new Bank publications review the global experience on public-private partnerships, including school vouchers and religious education, focusing on lessons and evidence from developing countries.

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Global Connections

The challenges of improving education outcomes throughout the developing world are immense. The World Bank partners with multilateral and bilateral agencies on knowledge products, investment operations and programmatic initiatives. Collaboration with a host of development partners, in particular with UN Agencies such as UNESCO, UNICEF, WFP, promotes global commitment towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and better quality education.

The World Bank continues to host the Education For All - Fast Track Initiative (EFA-FTI) Secretariat. The EFA-FTI is a global partnership to accelerate progress on universal primary completion by improving country capacity and, harmonizing and raising external assistance from donor countries. Today, 38 developing countries are endorsed by the EFAFTI and receive financing and technical support.

Ongoing partnerships with Australia, the European Commission, Ireland, Korea, the Netherlands, Norway, Japan, Spain, and the United Kingdom on knowledge activities and co-financing of operations have been valuable to achieving greater results. This year marks the inauguration of the Russia Education for Development (READ), a program that aims to help countries in Asia and Africa promote learning outcomes by improving country systems to use student learning assessments.


Education Year in Review: 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2008

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Last updated: 2009-09-21

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