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Education and Fragility



The World Bank recognizes that state fragility and conflict pose significant challenge to achieving the Millennium Development Goals. In an effort to address the unique needs of conflict-affected fragile states, the World Bank has formally identified fragile and post-conflict states as one of the institution's six key corporate “strategic themes”.

Consequently, the work will focus on identifying and institutionalizing technical approaches to the education sector that simultaneously contribute to the provision of quality education in fragile in environments, and strengthen a state’s resilience to prevent further political and economic deterioration.

What is it and why is it important?

Education in fragile environments confronts almost all of the same development challenges that affect education in non-fragile contexts. For this reason there are many lessons to be learned from experience in contexts that are not classified fragile. However, the mix and urgency of the challenges that face fragile states are usually different, which is why fragile states warrant a significantly more intense approach. For example, frequently there is an additional legacy of conflict, including massive schooling and infrastructure backlogs, additional constituencies that require urgent attention (e.g. child soldiers, refugees/returnees, demobilized or alienated youth) and additional demands on the education system issues (e.g. peace-building, vocational training, psychosocial support). Fragile situations often call for different modes of interaction with education authorities, which may be conflicted, fragmented, de facto, or illegitimate, and interaction with different international partners, including peace-keeping, humanitarian and diplomatic partners. 

Where we work?

The World Bank will focus its work on fragile situations that meet criteria agreed between the World Bank and other multilateral development banks.

These criteria include evidence of low institutional capacity, and presence of peace-keeping or political missions. Thus low income countries with a Country Policy and Institutional Assessment (CPIA) score of 3.2 or lower (formerly known as LICUS countries) automatically qualify, to which are added IDA-eligible countries without CPIA scores, and two territories without internationally recognized sovereign status. In addition, this definition adds countries (or “situations” within countries) with peace-keeping or political missions. The number of countries that meet one or both of these criteria changes from year to year.

Moreover, the World Bank will also address situations that exhibit symptoms of fragility in countries that do not meet these criteria.

Key Partnerships

The Fragile States work program has, and continues to support the Fast Track Initiative (FTI) to promote greater access to education in fragile and conflict-affected states. Members of the team have played an active role in the development of the progressive framework and interim financing initiative to channel resources more effectively to assist countries meet the education Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the EFA goal that all children complete a full cycle of primary education by 2015.When possible, field work of the work program will be designed in collaboration with FTI to promote greater synergy between the World Bank and FTI and avoid duplication of efforts.

The World Bank has been a partner of The Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE) since its inception in 2000, and is an active member of the INEE Steering Committee. The Bank currently chairs the INEE Working Group on Education and Fragility, which is working with members to design policies and development intervention strategies concerning education in fragility. The Working Group’s goals include the following:

  1. Strengthen consensus on what works to mitigate state fragility through education while ensuring equitable access for all.
  2. Support the development of effective quality education programs in fragile states.
  3. Promote the development of alternative mechanisms to support education in fragile states in the transition from humanitarian to development assistance.

For more information regarding the Working Group please visit

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