KEY ISSUES – Access, Quality and Relevance, Curriculum, Assessment, Teaching, Techology.
DATA – Secondary education indicators in the EdStats database, plus other data resources
PROJECTS – Examples of recent initiatives supported by World Bank lending and knowledge programs in secondary education
Secondary education is a gateway to the opportunities and benefits of economic and social development. Demand for access to higher levels of education is growing dramatically as countries approach universal primary education. The global Education For All (EFA) effort provides added momentum for the growth in secondary education. Furthermore, globalization and the increasing demand for a more sophisticated labor force, combined with the growth of knowledge-based economies gives a sense of urgency to the heightened demand for secondary education.
In today’s world, secondary education has a vital mission – one which combines the policy peculiarities of being at the same time terminal and preparatory, compulsory and post-compulsory, uniform and diverse, general and vocational. Secondary education is now being recognized as the cornerstone of educational systems in the 21st century. Quality secondary education is indispensable in creating a bright future for individuals and nations alike.
What is the World Bank doing to support secondary education?
Since World Bank lending for education began in 1963, the Bank has played a prominent role in assisting developing countries in their efforts to expand secondary education and to improve the quality of institutions and programs.
Over the past two decades the Bank has advocated lending for secondary education mainly in countries that have already achieved universal access to primary schooling. The Bank recommended cost recovery accompanied by selective scholarship schemes, and the encouragement of private and community schools to improve quality and efficiency in education through competition. Based on its experience in many countries, the Bank has advocated for a more holistic approach to secondary education, rather than one which focuses on vocational education.
In countries with high secondary education enrollments, Bank interventions have focused on (a) improving employability and productivity of school leavers through support to vocational secondary schools and (b) increasing country competitiveness by improving the quality of general secondary education to raise the overall productivity and trainability of the labor force. In countries with low secondary education enrollment, Bank projects have focused on (a) meeting specific shortages of educated manpower in the public and private sectors by raising secondary school completion rates and (b) improving the social conditions of the poor and reducing inequality by expanding access to secondary education.
How much lending takes place in the area of secondary education?
The World Bank is currently assisting 51 countries with the development of their secondary education systems. Lending for secondary education totaled US$ 4.4 billion between 2003 and 2012, with projection of US$ 193 million in new lending for 2013. Additional support for secondary education efforts is included as part of the general education lending each year.
Since the mid-1990s, four factors have promoted a rapid increase in the share of lending to general secondary education. First, as primary completion rates have risen, the demand for secondary places has grown. Second, the equitable and sustainable financing and management of secondary education has become a major challenge, especially in low-income countries. Third, the role of secondary education in economic and social development is being reassessed in the context of globalization and competitiveness in the information age. Fourth, changes in secondary education are being driven by rapid transformations in technology and labor markets.
The objectives of World Bank-supported secondary education projects can be grouped into six categories:
expansion of secondary education
poverty and equity focus