Asia-Pacific

Jan 31, 2012

Is the World Bank failing girls and kids with disabilities?

A report suggests the World Bank is getting it wrong on the role of girls and kids with disabilities in its development programs -- but AusAID comes out OK.

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

A new report has found the World Bank is badly letting down girls and students with disabilities in its educational aid programs in developing countries, while AusAID’s programs and those of the Asian Development Bank are significantly better.

2 comments

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2 thoughts on “Is the World Bank failing girls and kids with disabilities?

  1. Packham Sue

    Great article! Even though Australia is giving generously to support education in developing countries, we must increase contributions for equity in access to education. Last October Mr Rudd, Minister for Foreign Affairs, said, “Australia regards education as one of the best investments we can make at home and overseas …. /That is why we have made education the flagship of our aid program.”

    Why prioritise education? Because it’s an effective tool for reducing poverty and generating economic growth and facilitating economic inclusion for individuals. It seems that an adult literacy rate of at least 40% is required for a country to ever achieve sustained economic growth. And for individuals, an additional year of schooling raises a person’s income on average, by 10%. That’s such a good return!
    As a retired teacher, I feel that education is a basic human right which allows people to make informed decisions that determine their destiny.
    With 67 million children around the world still out of school, we must support programs that are equity based, and inclusive for girls and disabled kids.

  2. Benveniste Luis

    The Results International (Australia) report reminds us that we all must continue working toward achieving Education For All, with special focus on gender and disability. These issues are a high priority for the Bank, as evidenced in the World Bank’s new Education Strategy 2020, our 2012 World Development Report on Gender Equality and Development, and the first-of-its-kind World Report on Disability, jointly published by the World Bank and WHO last year.

    Unfortunately, the Results International report has a number of inaccuracies and omissions. For example, in the Philippines, a rigorous impact evaluation of the Bank’s program conducted by the International Food Policy Research Institute found that our education investments helped girls far more than boys. In Papua New Guinea, the report fails to mention the Bank’s support for open distance education centers, which will benefit girls and all young people with disabilities who can’t reach campus. In Indonesia, Results International overlooks how Bank support for basic education has helped increase the school enrollment rate for the poorest households from 52% to 60% (from 2007-2010), narrowing the gap with the wealthiest households by 13 percentage points. The report also fails to highlight how the gender gap in Indonesia in the transition from primary to secondary school disappeared 10 years ago, and that the World Bank is working with the government on trying to stem the dropout rate for boys, since boys tend to drop out at a slightly higher rate than girls.

    The bottom line is that the World Bank already has a strong record helping countries to get more girls in school, promote gender equality, and improve the lives of persons with disabilities, and we have challenged ourselves to do even more in the coming years.

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