The Bank has averaged about $2 billion in annual IBRD and IDA lending over the past five years, representing nearly 10 percent of total annual lending, although the share of overall education lending for Africa has steadily declined over this period. On average about 25 countries receive a loan or credit for education from the World Bank each year. Although it varies from year to year, about half of all education lending - about $1 billion per year - is devoted on average to basic education (primary and lower secondary levels); about half of education lending on average is also in the form of IDA credits. About 1/3 of education lending is through multi-sector programs such as social funds, urban development, poverty reduction and public sector governance. As of July 2006, the Bank’s education portfolio consisted of 136 operations in 88 countries, amounting to $7.74 billion in net commitments.
In addition to its own lending, the World Bank has been a leader in creation of the Education Fast Track Initiative, which is beginning to make an important contribution in terms of mobilizing and coordinating financing for education from other donors. As of July 2006, 54 low-income countries are receiving financial or technical support from the FTI, 20 as fully endorsed partners and another 34 through the FTI’s capacity building fund (the Education Program Development Fund).
An equally important element of Bank work in education is knowledge sharing and capacity building. This includes research in key areas of education such as lifelong learning, teacher training, education quality, tertiary education, school-based management, bilingual education, labor market outcomes, private sector participation, girls education and economics of education, as well as training courses organized by World Bank Institute and others.
Taking Concrete Actions To Improve Education
The Bank expects to lend slightly more than $2 billion in its 2007 fiscal year and to exceed its recent average of 25 countries receiving support. Lending for Africa is expected to increase somewhat to slightly over $400 million. Further increasing lending for Africa in coming years should be a high priority for the institution. The Bank could expand its lending for education considerably if more IDA funding and internal funding for education were available.
An additional 40 countries are expected to join the FTI partnership by 2008. Depending on increased support from the Bank and other donors, the FTI initiative hopes to enroll some 70 million out-of-school children by 2015, 42 million of whom are girls, and to help millions of others who are already in school to receive a higher quality of education.
However, funding shortfalls jeopardize donor credibility and the scaling up of further investments. While recent commitments to the FTI Trust Funds of US$299 million represent a significant step forward, the needs are greater, growing, and longer term in nature than resources currently committed. The current 20 FTI endorsed countries require a total of US$1.1 billion annually in external financing, and the funding gap for these countries alone is $510 million for 2006. If 40 more countries join over the next two years, as expected, the annual financing gap will reach US$ 3.7 billion per year. Along with increasing its own support for education, leveraging increased support from others in education should be one of the Bank’s highest priority.
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