IFC is freezing investments in K-12 private, fee-charging schools. This decision will apply to our direct investments, advisory work, and indirect investments resulting from new investments in private equity funds. We are taking this step in response to concerns by external stakeholders about the impact of private schools on education quality and access. In addition, we will request that the World Bank’s Independent Evaluation Group evaluate IFC investments in K-12 private education and review impacts on educational outcomes, access, poverty and inequality. This evaluation will be followed by an inclusive and transparent consultation process, bringing together the World Bank Group’s Board, education experts, and civil society, to determine whether there are any circumstances under which future IFC investments in private, fee-charging K-12 schools could be made.
This freeze will not impact our work to invest in new tools, such as in education technology and infrastructure, that can help improve learning and access for all students. IFC will also continue its work in higher education, including universities and vocational schools, and in early childhood services.
Demand for education is soaring. The number of higher education students is projected to more than double by 2025. Most of this growth will come from the emerging markets. While the number of children out of school globally may have dropped sharply during the 1990s, it remains unacceptably high in some regions, especially for girls. Meanwhile, youth unemployment continues to grow globally, even as employers report difficulty in finding workers with the right skills.
It is not easy to make an online-based higher education experience as enriching for students as an on-campus experience. We spoke with Clery Luz Neyra Vera, Director of Innovation and Transformation at UPC in Peru, a university at the forefront of the digital transformation process, to learn about its approach. UPC is a pilot participant in IFC’s Digital for Tertiary Education Program (D4TEP) in which IFC’s education specialists advise universities on how they might develop their online offerings.
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