Education as a development priority at the global, regional, and country levels


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“Education” is at the top of the world’s development agenda, the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and the focus of the upcoming 2018 World Development Report of the World Bank.  The World Bank monitors views of development experts around the globe and finds consistently that “education” is perceived as key to development at different levels.
In the past five years, the World Bank’s Country Opinion Survey Program surveyed more than 25 thousand opinion leaders in the field of development in nearly all client countries across the globe. In some countries the surveys were conducted two or even three times during 2012-2016.
"What is the most important development priority for your country?"[1] was one of the questions to representatives of national and local governments, multilateral/bilateral agencies, media, academia, the private sector, and civil society in developing countries.
At the global level, -- where 57 million children in the world still remain out of school[2], -- “education” has emerged amongst survey respondents as one of the top two development priorities across the regions.

Percentage and number of opinion leaders seeing “education” as a top development priority by region (123 developing countries, 2012-2016).​


At the regional level, -- when the data are unwrapped for Sub-Saharan Africa, where more than half of children are not enrolled in school[3], -- development experts in 30 out of 44 surveyed countries indicate “education” among top three development priorities.

Percentage of opinion leaders seeing “education” among top three development priorities by country (44 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, 2012-2016).

At the country level, -- unpacking the data further, and taking the conflict-affected Democratic Republic of Congo as an example (an estimated 50 percent of out-of-school children of primary school age live in conflict-affected areas)[4], -- “education” is considered key for the country development by majorities of development partners, parliamentarians, top level officials, and pluralities of respondents from the private sector and academia.

Percentage of opinion leaders in the Democratic Republic of Congo seeing “education” as a top development priority by stakeholder group (respondents N=317; 2016).

Visitors to the World Bank Group website between 2015 and 2016 seem to concur with the view that “education” is a top development priority. Survey data from visitors to the World Bank website show that “education” is considered the top development priority by respondents from donor countries (N=4,687), and the second most important development priority by respondents from developing countries (N=2,804).
[1] This question is asked in the questionnaire as following "Listed below are a number of development priorities in the DRC. Please identify which of the following you consider the most important development priorities in the DRC? (Choose no more than THREE)", and it lists 35 sectoral areas (e.g., education, health, transport, agriculture) as response options.


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January 24, 2017

Excellent posting - many thanks Svetlana!

Archana Sharma
January 31, 2017

It is imperative to remember that education while being a priority in developing economies, is surrogate to the family support structure and at what stratification of economic level the person belongs to.

Narayana Chiba
January 30, 2017

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