What 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 www.worldbank.org/educationstrategy2020.