Let’s Put Education First

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Today in New York, the U.N. Secretary General announces the launch of his Education First initiative to raise the political profile of education, strengthen the global movement to achieve quality education and generate additional funding through sustained advocacy efforts. 

It’s an exciting step on the road to achieving the Millennium Development Goals, and reconfirms the world’s commitment to education as a basic human right and fundamental building block for development.  

At the World Bank, we’re proud to be a partner in this new endeavor, which strengthens our work to put kids in school and ensure they learn. Through our ten-year “Learning for All” strategy, we’re helping countries put education first through financing, knowledge, and partnerships.  Highlights include:

• IDA, the Bank’s fund for the poorest countries, committed $1.5 billion in FY12 to help countries meet the MDGs and help remaining out-of-school children go to school and learn. 

• Our Systems Approach for Better Education Results (SABER) initiative is helping more than 100 countries analyze the quality of their education policies, strengthen their capacity to assess student performance, and build evidence to show which policies and investments make a difference.

• Through our membership in the Global Partnership for Education, which brings together governments, bilateral and regional donors, development banks, the private sector, and local and global civil society organizations, we’re working to deliver on the promise of getting all children into school to learn.

•  In India, we’ve worked with the government to enroll 20 million out-of-school children in primary school since 2001. In Mozambique, our evaluation of the impact of early childhood development centers on subsequent performance in school is helping the government identify priorities for future investment.

Clearly, we’re seeing positive results, but much remains to be done. So, how can we – the global community – coalesce around the Secretary General’s initiative? As World Bank Group President Jim Kim noted in his remarks at the Education First launch today, building strong education systems, including financing, policies and incentives, information and accountability mechanisms, will be key, as will investing in related sectors, including women’s health, transport and infrastructure.
Basic education is the foundation for all long-term development progress and core to the Bank’s mission of reducing poverty. Through supporting initiatives like Education First, we’re committed to ensuring the world’s children get the quality education they need and deserve. 


Elizabeth King

Non-resident Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution

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