Millennium Development Goals

Goal 2

Achieve Universal Primary Education by 2015

Q: How can education improve the health of mothers and their children?
A: Women with some formal education are more likely to seek medical care during pregnancy, ensure their children are immunized, be better informed about their children’s nutritional requirements, and adopt improved sanitation practices. As a result, their infants and children have higher survival rates and tend to be healthier and better nourished.

World Bank: Investing in Education for Half a Century

The world has made considerable progress on Goal 2. Between 2000 and 2012, the total number of out-of-school children worldwide declined from 100 million to 58 million, and the global primary completion rate increased from 81% to 92%. However, 58 million children are still out-of-school. Even when children complete school, they often do so without acquiring basic skills necessary for work and life. Yet, of all the goals, educating children—particularly girls—has the greatest impact on eliminating poverty. Studies show that an extra year of secondary schooling for girls can increase their future wages by 10 to 20%. Education is a powerful driver of development and one of the strongest instruments for improving health, gender equality, peace, and stability. The World Bank has placed education at the forefront of its poverty-fighting mission, and is one of the largest external financiers of education in the developing world.

A young girl finishes a day of school in Bangladesh A young girl finishes a day of school in Bangladesh.
A girl with a 5th grade education is likelier to:
marry at a later age
have fewer children
decrease her chances of being infected with HIV/AIDS
find employment later in life
seek medical care
vote in her community
gain access to credit

Making Strides in Education

The World Bank supports education through an average of $2.8 billion a year in new financing for the poorest countries as well as for middle-income countries. Support for primary education has been a priority over the past decade for the International Development Association (IDA), the Bank’s fund for the poorest countries. IDA integrates education into national economic strategies, and creates education systems that empower children to become productive citizens.

Our Education Strategy

  • Measure education outcomes, especially for poor people and disadvantaged communities
  • Offer innovative incentives, like cash for attendance, to keep kids in school
  • Ensure that education leads to learning skills, and that it is relevant and of good quality
  • Establish standards for teachers and schools
  • Train teachers, especially those who serve disadvantaged communities

Some of Our MDG 2 Results

With IDA’s help, countries recruited or trained more than 3.5 million additional teachers from 2002-2012, and built or renovated more than 2 million classrooms for 105 million children, and purchased or distributed about 300 million textbooks from 2000-2010.

  • Afghanistan: 2.7 million girls were enrolled in school in 2012, up from 191,000 in 2002; nearly 140,000 teachers have been trained, of which 39,000 are women.
  • Bangladesh: Between 2004 and the end of 2012, “second chance” primary education was provided for more than 790,000 out of school children (more than half of them girls) from the 90 poorest sub-districts of the country.
  • Chad: Between 2003 and 2012, 2.6 million books were distributed to schools, 400 classrooms were built and equipped, 20,000 people were taught to read and write, and 11,700 community teachers were trained.

How’s the World Doing?

  • 91%rate of primary school enrollment in developing regions.
  • 58million children of primary school age remained out of school, as of 2012.
  • 2 milliondecline in the number of out-of-school children, between 2007 and 2012.
  • 100ratio between enrollment rate of girls, and that of boys, for all developing regions, in 2012.


ICT in Education

VIDEO: Philippines: ICT Making Monitoring Easier

Check-My-School: Monitoring made easy with dedicated volunteers and ICT tools

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Results Profile

Education Key to Achieving MDGs

Between 2000 and 2012, the number
of out-of-school children worldwide declined from 100 to 58 million.

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World Bank’s Commitment to Education

  • The Bank continues to be the largest external financier of education in developing countries, from pre-primary and primary education all the way to higher education.
  • Since the MDGs were launched in 2000, the Bank has invested over $35 billion in education, including more than $19 billion from IDA.
  • In FY14, new support for education totaled $3.6 billion, up sharply from $2.9 billion in 2013 and bolstered by increased support for basic education.


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