Global Business Coalition for Education

2017 Global Business Coalition for Education Breakfast

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Washington, D.C.


Remarks by Kristalina Georgieva, Chief Executive Officer of the World Bank

It warms my heart when I see a room full of people early in the morning to talk about the future of our kids. I can imagine the following, that a girl today goes to school and she learns to read. Then later in life she becomes a mother. Her child has a 50 percent higher chance to survive over five because she went to school today. Or a boy that is in school and stays there year after year after year, and then goes to work. For every year, he has been in school, income is 10 percent higher for the family and of course their contribution to society. It is a total no brainer that the best investment we can make, making the future of our children and our world, is from the day that they’re born throughout their life, to support them so they can have a better opportunity for themselves to contribute to a more secure world, to contribute to their nations.

The question is, how come we fall short of making that investment? We know the answer, and the answer is there is a lot of competition for money, so many things that need to be done. Very often, caught in our sectoral boundaries, we don’t have the imagination to prioritize our future the way we should. I am very grateful to all who are here for relentlessly making the case with institutions like ours. I look at some of my colleagues in the room. At the World Bank, we hear your voice. Since 2000 up until now, we have increased funding for education for a total of $50 billion. Gordon would come up say, “This is not enough. You can do better.” Yes, we can do better and we will do better.

I want to make four points. Normally, I try to be very Nordic and make three points but this time, I beg you for forgiveness, there will be four. My first point is that despite the fact that indeed there is difficulty in raising money for development, we have gotten a huge vote of confidence with IDA18 [International Development Assistance 18th] replenishment that is now at $75 billion for the next three years. This is 50 percent more than we got last time around. It is more and it is different. This time, we will go to markets to raise money so we can mobilize private sector participation. We have dedicated windows for refugees for crisis response. We, of course, look at this increase as a resource to invest in children in low income countries, to invest more in education.

Second, we also recognize the fact that our countries, our member countries, are in a different place. They value investment in human capital. Many of them much more. I see, President Kikwete knows in Tanzania we have done something that is not just about money, it is about results. It is called Big Results Now in Education. What it does is to not only increase the flow of money but make sure that we deliver better results with it. We have a pressure on us, thank god, coming also from our borrowing members. We need those of you who have been speaking loud about it to speak even louder. I look at one of our champions drum up attention to what would define the future of your continent and of our world.

Three, we also have learned that we can shake up the money tree more aggressively by thinking of leverage and thinking of bringing financing differently. Through the Global Financing Facility, we now bring donor money to buy down the cost of our loans for middle income countries. We do that for Jordan and Lebanon, primarily. We have already delivered $700 million in concessional finance for middle-income countries, and a big chunk of it goes to education to get the refugee kids into school but also the Jordanian and the Lebanese kids into schools. That is a model of bringing down the cost of loans. Investment in human capital can happen is a point that I want to press upon us.

That takes me to my fourth point. We have to walk on two legs in the next years. One leg, make sure the canary doesn’t die. Global Partnership for Education, we are partners and we will of course as institution, work hard for this $3.1 billion to happen. Leg two, we recognize that if we have leveraged money but we do not have larger platform, that might not be enough. Therefore, the International Finance Facility for Education is what we would very much want to see with our members, with the DAC members, materialize.

Here is a piece of good news for Gordon. He has been pounding on us on this Facility and the very first time when we had the discussion, I asked our finance complex for an opinion. They sent me a one pager, and it basically said, “For a variety of reasons, this is a tough thing, and perhaps maybe no.” Gordon as a Finance Minister, former Finance Minister, knows that this is basically the job of a Finance Minister. Whatever is the question, your first answer is, “no.” In preparation for today, I asked for a second opinion and I got a 10-page note. When you write a 10-page note, obviously the answer is not just simply, “no.” It puts out the right questions and yes, it would take us time. Let’s talk about it, these kinds of facilities, they require an effort.

Luckily for me, I have Jaime Saavedra, our new Senior Director for Education, here to do the heavy lifting for me. We also have the World Development Report this year dedicated to education. It is a fantastic opportunity to use it as platform to do the right thing. It is to have all children in school, graduating, and actually continuing with lifelong learning so they succeed and the world succeeds as well. Thank you very much.