This is a major accomplishment that offers important lessons to countries around the world. In the rest of the region, however, up to 60% of students are in under-performing schools that fail to equip them with the skills necessary for success.

Under the themed “Growing smarter: Learning and equitable development in East Asia and the Pacific”, the report argues that improving education is necessary to sustain economic growth and highlights the ways that countries in the region have been able to improve learning outcomes.

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“Providing a high-quality education to all children, regardless of where they are born, isn’t just the right thing to do. It’s also the foundation of a strong economy and the best way to stop and reverse rising inequalities,” said Ms Victoria Kwakwa, World Bank Vice President for East Asia and Pacific.

East Asia and the Pacific is home of a quarter of the world’s school-age children, some 331 million. Up to 40% of them attend school in education systems whose students are ahead of the average students in OECD countries. These schools are not only in wealthy countries such as Singapore, the Republic of Korea and Japan, but also in middle-income countries such as Vietnam, and China.

Student performance isn’t necessarily tied to a country’s income level. By age 10, for example, the average Vietnamese student outperforms all but the top students in India, Peru and Ethiopia.

Another key finding of the report is that across the region, household incomes do not necessarily determine children’s educational success. In Vietnam and China (Beijing, Shanghai, Jiangsu and Guangdong provinces), for example, students from poorer households do as well, if not better, in both math and science, as compared to average students in the OECD.

The report complements and builds on the World Bank’s World Development Report 2018: Learning to Realize Education’s Promise, which was released in September 2017 and found that without learning, education will fail to deliver on its promise to eliminate extreme poverty and create shared opportunity and prosperity for all./.

ATP