New RESULTS Report: Is the World Bank Reaching Out-of-School Children?
Recently, a global education summit was convened to rally efforts to achieve universal basic education for all children and youth by 2015. In preparation of this event, RESULTS conducted a special inquiry into the role that has been played by the world’s largest external financier of education — the World Bank. Specifically, RESULTS reviewed the extent to which basic education investments from the International Development Association (IDA) — the World Bank’s “Fund for the Poorest” — have aligned with populations of out-of-school children from 2000 to 2012.
While the report broadly examines IDA investments in basic education, it also takes a special look at World Bank support to basic education in developing country partners of the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) and conflict-affected and fragile states (CAFS). It then identifies the countries that have fallen farthest from the general trend and thus merit immediate action from the World Bank.
Strong correlation between IDA support to basic education and out-of-school populations
Overall, there is a strong correlation between the level of IDA support a country received for basic education from 2000 to 2012 and its population of children out of primary school. This is a good indication that IDA financing for basic education is effectively aligned with out-of-school populations.
Some “left behind” countries
Some countries with high out-of-school populations have received notably low levels of basic education support from IDA. Since 2000, five IDA countries with above-the-median average populations of out-of-school children (over 150,000) have received below-the-median levels of IDA support to basic education (under $25 million). These countries are the Central African Republic, Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia, Papua New Guinea, and Zambia.
A weaker correlation but potentially greater impact in GPE member countries
IDA commitments to basic education are less correlated to the numbers of out-of-school children in GPE member countries than in non-member countries. This suggests that the World Bank has not succeeded in targeting education support to this subset of countries as much as it has elsewhere.
On the other hand, IDA investment in basic education more strongly correlates with decreases in the numbers of out-of-school children in GPE member countries than in IDA countries that are not members of GPE. IDA support to basic education was shown to potentially be twice as effective at decreasing out-of-school populations in GPE countries than in non-member countries.
No correlation in CAFS, but potentially more powerful results
There is no correlation between the amount of IDA support provide to basic education in conflict-affected and fragile states and their average populations of out-of-school children of primary school age from 2000 to 2012. This attests to the reality that World Bank education interventions in conflict-affected and fragile states are too inconsistent, too disrupted by other factors, or both.
However, IDA commitments to basic education more strongly correlate to decreases in out-of-school children of primary school age — and may have twice the impact — in CAFS than elsewhere.
RESULTS urges the World Bank to take the following actions to advance education for all:
Inform ministries of finance of developing country partners of the GPE of the power of leveraging implementation grants from GPE with IDA resources.
The utilization of IDA allocations for basic education more strongly correlates with decreases in the numbers of out-of-school children in countries employing GPE program implementation grants than in other IDA countries. Preliminary inspections suggest that IDA funds for basic education may have a larger effect on out-of-school populations in GPE countries than in countries that are not part of GPE.
Increase support to conflict-affected and fragile states by exploring new inroads offered by GPE’s expansion of support in these areas.
While some of the strongest relationships between IDA support to basic education and the reduction of out-of-school children are in CAFS, IDA commitments to basic education in CAFS are nevertheless at a period low. GPE’s strategic focus on CAFS may lay new groundwork for the World Bank to improve their processes, mechanisms, and speed of delivery.
Immediately consult the Central African Republic, Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia, Papua New Guinea, and Zambia as to the possibilities of utilizing IDA for basic education.
Despite having over 150,000 children out of primary school age, these five countries have received less than $25 million from IDA for basic education since 2000. As these countries are taking advantage of resources offered by GPE, the lack of IDA support represents opportunities lost to leverage such funds for greater results.