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World Bank to prioritize investment in education through EFA Fast Track Initiative

©UNESCO / L.Lugo
Photo of primary school children in Sri Lanka.

Bank president promises continued support to EFA Fast Track Initiative

The World Bank is committed to help countries improve their education systems and has pledged to continue supporting the EFA Fast Track Initiative (FTI), a global partnership between donor and developing countries to ensure accelerated progress towards the Education for All and Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of universal primary education by 2015.

“I am fully committed to ensuring the Bank invests its full energy – on the global and country level – to help poor countries improve their education systems and send more boys and girls to quality classrooms,” World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz said during a press briefing on 21 April 2006, in Washington.

The press briefing was part of the 22 and 23 April 2006, World Bank and International Monetary Fund Spring Meetings. UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown, Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Netherlands Executive Director Jan Willem van der Kaaij were also part of the press conference.

The UK has committed US$15 billion in aid over 10 years for education on top of the $178 million it has allotted for the FTI over the next two years, while the Netherlands expects their assistance for basic education in developing countries to increase by US$840 million per year starting in 2007.

The World Bank-led EFA FTI was launched in 2002 and is the first global compact on education aimed at supporting countries accelerate progress towards quality universal primary education. Twenty developing countries are currently receiving support under the FTI, which translates to helping 16 million out-of-school children. Another 40 countries are preparing their education plans with the goal of joining the FTI by 2008.

The World Bank President noted that FTI is proving effective in coordinating efforts to assist countries and stressed the Bank’s continued support to the initiative.  “The FTI partnership is starting to provide a glimpse of what development could look like across all sectors,” he added as he asked that donors do more to ensure long-term and predictable financing to support effective country education plans.

He highlighted the importance of investing in education as a way of rooting out poverty in countries. “We know that investment in education, particularly for girls, can help slow the spread of AIDS, contribute to economic growth and break the cycle of poverty. But around the world, there are still over 100 million children out of school, including 58 million girls,” he said.

“Poor families know how important education is for their children’s future. We need to recognize how important it is for the future of the world and for the dream of a world free of poverty,” he added.

Visit the EFA FTI website for the full remarks of Paul Wolfowitz or the transcript of the press briefing.


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