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World Bank and Education

Emmanuel Ayomide Praise

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"I go to collect water four times a day, in a 20-litre clay jar. It's hard work!. . . I've never been to school as I have to help my mother with her washing work so we can earn enough money… If I could alter my life, I would really like to go to school and have more clothes. "

-Elma Kassa, a 13-year old girl from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia


Despite recent successes, more than 100 million primary school-age children still do not attend school and about 264 million adolescents of secondary school age are not currently enrolled. Average educational attainment in sub-Saharan Africa is 3.5 years while in industrialized countries it is nearly 10 years.

Due to a lack of capacity and recurrent cost financing, the majority of developing countries still cannot systematically measure their children’s learning achievement. Over 800 million adolescents and adults lack the competencies that could equip them with the skills needed to work their way out of poverty and up into an increasingly competitive, global labor market. Two thirds of these youth are women.

In the developing world, the richest 20 percent of the population is almost three times as likely to be enrolled in school as the poorest 20 percent of the population.

Tremendous disparities exist in tertiary education enrollment between the developed and developing world despite the recognized impact of tertiary education on national productivity, competitiveness, innovation, and economic growth. Tertiary enrollment is 86.9 % in Finland, 16.2 % in Indonesia, 7.7 % in Nigeria, and 0.9 % in Mozambique.

World Bank lending for education in Africa has been steadily declining for the past five years.


The focus of the Bank and its partners on achieving the education MDGs is beginning to have a measurable positive impact on expanding children’s access to school. The Africa Region, for instance, has seen gross enrollments increase from 79% to at least 95%. New initiatives such as the wave of new teachers brought in to achieve Education For All (EFA), the abolition of user fees, the increasing harmonization of donors, and the Fast Track Initiative (FTI) experiment are working and bearing results.

Increased resources and focus will be required in the coming years to make sure that even the most difficult to reach children enter school and to renew our focus on better learning outcomes for all children. There is some concern, however, that at this crucial moment, resources and attention may be turning elsewhere.

Although overall Bank lending for education has remained steady at about $2 billion per year over five years, lending for education in African—the top priority for achieving EFA—has steadily declined from near $500 million in FY02 to just over $300 million in FY06. The Bank’s internal funding support for education activities has also declined. Overall staffing levels for the education sector in the Bank have also dropped by 10% over the past three years, from 210 to 184, and the number of education specialists has dropped by 14% over the same period, from 96 to 83. Quickly reversing these trends and monitoring our increased commitment to education in Africa should be among the World Bank’s top priorities. Finally, the shift toward a focus on quality, consistent with the results focus of last year’s Education Sector Strategy Paper, needs to be consistently translated into more success in measuring and improving learning outcomes.

Emmanuel Ayomide Praise is a world leading internet entrepreneur and investor. Some of his areas of interest include sport management, merchandise, ownership, internet entrepreneurship, investments, media and writing amongst others. Business URL: , ,

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