Let's Make it Learning for All, Not Just Schooling for All


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The World Bank Group Education Sector StrategyWhat a thrill I had this past Friday listening to our World Bank President Bob Zoellick launch the Bank Group's new Education Strategy 2020: Learning for All. Having spent nearly 18 months traveling the world to consult with our partners (government, civil society, NGOs, development agencies) about the best experience and evidence of what works in education and about the role of the Bank Group in the next decade, I feel somewhat like I've given birth, in this case to a global framework for education which we believe is the right one for the coming decade.

What will our world look like in 2020? It's anyone's guess. But we must prepare our youth today for the world we hope to realize: A world in which people can escape the bonds of deprivation and disadvantage to become their own agents for development and prosperity. To get there, we know that investments in education must focus not just on inputs like new classrooms, teacher training, textbooks, and computers, but also on all the policies, incentives, and financing that make education systems work. To ensure that developing countries can be competitive in today's global marketplace, we must equip the next generation with the essential cognitive skills and the skills for critical thinking, teamwork, and innovation. Knowledge and skills can expand the horizons of our youth and enable them to take advantage of emerging opportunities. We must also measure what students learn, and hold governments and educators accountable if they don't.

Unfortunately, in too many countries today, although millions more are going to school, young people are leaving school without the knowledge and skills they need to secure jobs and take care of their families. That's why our new strategy focuses not just on helping young people go to school, but also to make sure they learn. Our strategy's premise is simple:

  • Invest early, because the ability to learn throughout life is best acquired in early childhood.
  • Invest smartly, because national, family and donor resources are limited compared to our education mission and must yield results.
  • Invest for all, because learning opportunities must be available to all and not just to the smartest or richest.

If you have just three minutes, please watch our video that captures the main messages (
www.worldbank.org/education/learningforall). And if you like it, please pass it on. I hope you will join me and my colleagues at the Bank in making this the decade of Learning for All.

Get additional information on the World Bank Group Education Sector Strategy at 

Education Strategy 2020 (full document) 
Executive Summary
Strategy Brochure
Learning for All video




Elizabeth King

Non-resident Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution

Join the Conversation

Education Team
May 05, 2011

See what Nancy Birdsall, President of the Center for Global Development, had to say about the World Bank Group Education Strategy. Check our her recent blog post: The New Education Strategy at the World Bank: Time for a Millennium Learning Goal?

Tom Schuller
May 09, 2011

I was interested and pleased to see the emphatic shift to a focus on outcomes in the New Education Strategy report. It continues a growing general trend to focus on what actually happens as a result of public and private investment in education of all kinds.
I come at this from a slightly different angle; as head of the OECD's Centre for Educational Research and Innovation, I initiated a project on Measuring the Social Outcomes of Learning, which is now in its third phase - see http://www.oecd.org/edu/socialoutcomes/cohesion. We raised the issue of the wider goals of education, in particular improving health and strengthening civic participation. One of the issues we had to wrestle with is the fundamental methodological one of getting to grips with causality: not being trapped in simplistic (though maybe in one sense sophisticated) approaches which seek to isolate single variables or causes. It's the multiple interactions between education and (particularly) health which count, even if it makes analysis more complex and less amenable to single-number outcomes. This has had weighty support from the Stiglitz/Sen report for President Sarkozy, on measuring economic performance and social progress.
I recognise that the 'learning outcomes' which the WB deals relate specifically to progress in educational terms, whereas at CERI we extended this still further, to non-educational outcomes. But this is all part of a major, and welcome, shift towards focussing on what actually happens as a result of all the public and private investment (of time and effort, as well as money).