ADB's Work in the Education Sector

ADB is well-positioned to provide leadership in the education sector in Asia. With over $8.2 billion in loans and grants to the education sector over the past forty years, ADB has a long track record in assisting its developing member countries (DMCs) achieve the goal of quality education for all.

ADB provides finance and advisory assistance to its developing countries for education services to tackle key challenges such as

  • increasing enrollment (access)
  • improving education outcomes (quality and relevance)
  • reducing education inequality (equity and inclusiveness)
  • reducing costs (finance and cost-efficiency)

ADB has supported the decentralization of basic education in Nepal, Pakistan, and Uzbekistan; the modernization of secondary education in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and Viet Nam; higher education projects in the Lao People's Democratic Republic; distance education in South Pacific countries; and open university systems in Bangladesh.

Strategy for change

With its well-developed framework for planning, project preparation, and analysis in education, ADB is well positioned to provide leadership. Education is one of the five core operation areas of Strategy 2020, ADB's long-term strategic framework. It reaffirms ADB's commitment to step up education sector operations and contribute to the further development of human capital and a skilled labor force in the region. Strategy 2020 provides a mandate to explore opportunities for new approaches. Partnerships between governments and the private sector can contribute to improving the quality and relevance of education, and to raising the cost efficiency of education delivery, including to disadvantaged groups.

Approved in 2010, Education by 2020: A Sector Operations Plan reflects ADB's commitment to increase and align its support in the education sector to meet the changing needs and priorities of its developing countries. The plan identifies key educational challenges in Asia and the Pacific in the coming years, and proposes ways for ADB to meet those challenges and stresses the importance of utilizing new and innovative models of education service delivery and financing. To achieve these goals, ADB is scaling up its programming of loans, grants, and technical assistance, and strengthening economic and sector work. Besides assisting comprehensive educational programs in developing countries that bring basic and secondary levels up to international standards, ADB is supporting postsecondary education, including vocational and higher education, as well as social protection measures that help girls and disadvantaged students to attend school. For 2012-2014, ADB has programmed support to education development in the region, totaling about $2 billion.

How does ADB influence development in the region through its educational investments?

  • ADB, DMCs, and other development stakeholders agree that nations need to reach and maintain a critical level of basic skills to provide the social and economic means for societies to grow and prosper.
  • If ADB can help each DMC in Asia to strengthen its own formal and informal education and training system, then each country and the region collectively will stand a better chance to compete in the global economy.
  • ADB offers scholarships through the ADB-Japan Fund for Scholarship Program as well as internship and research fellowship opportunities to eligible candidates from DMCs.
  • ADB and the international community stress the importance of reaching the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) including universal primary education with gender parity and near universal primary school completion through grade 6. 
  • ADB recognizes that universal basic education goes hand-in-hand with expansion of post primary education, teacher education, and skills training that together rest on the strong primary school foundation. ADB helps each DMC develop a good mix of financing across the various school subsectors.
  • ADB assists middle-income DMCs in determining the best strategy for human resource development to make the knowledge economy work for people. As development funds are scarce, ways will have to be found to allow more students to also acquire quality higher education and skills and training programs at competitive cost.