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June 2016

Here’s the evidence that low cost reading programs can have a big impact

Harry A. Patrinos's picture
Photo: © Dana Smillie / World Bank


The importance of literacy for economic growth and development is already well established in economic research.  Literacy enables people to access information and improve their productivity.  I believe that literacy is crucial to the diffusion of new technologies, especially among the poor. It produces high economic returns, so much so that early literacy is viewed as a threshold for economic development.

Globally, periods are causing girls to be absent from school

Oni Lusk-Stover's picture
Also available in: Español  |  Francais
Student at primary school in Freetown Sierra Leone. Photo © Dominic Chavez/World Bank

A UNESCO report estimates that one in ten girls in Sub-Saharan Africa misses school during their menstrual cycle. By some estimates, this equals as much as twenty percent of a given school year.

Many girls drop out of school altogether once they begin menstruating. Should young women miss twenty percent of school days in a given year due to a lack of facilities or a lack of information or a lack of sanitary products?

Finding a reasonable target for math and reading test scores

Marguerite Clarke's picture
Young girl studying. Photo: Khasar Sandag / World Bank


The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) for education calls for learning for all. This includes ensuring that, by 2030, all students achieve relevant learning outcomes by the end of their primary and lower-secondary schooling. An important way to measure the attainment of this target will be to look at the percentage of children in each country achieving- at the very least- “minimum proficiency” on standardized math and reading tests.

Why school enrollment is not enough: A look inside Haiti’s classrooms

Juan Baron's picture
Also available in: Español | Français
This page in: Haitian Kreyol
Students reading in class. Photo: ©World Bank

In Haiti, about 90% of primary school-aged children are enrolled in school.  While still falling short of universal enrollment, this is a big improvement over just two decades ago.  But enrollment is just the first step in building human capital – many children will repeat a grade, and about half will drop out before completing primary school, leaving the school system without having mastered even basic language and math skills.  Why does participation in school produce so little?