On International Literacy Day, let’s review some of the efforts that the Global Partnership for Education is making to ensure that more children in developing countries are learning.
How can donkey carts help improve access to education? They ensure children attend school daily and address parents’ concerns that they can make the long distance to school safely.
The Gambia received US$35 million from GPE and the World Bank to increase access to early childhood education, basic education, and koranic centers. The grant will also help improving teacher...

Education in The Gambia

The Gambia’s formal education system follows an ECD-6-3-3-4 structure. The Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education (MoBSE) and the Ministry of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology (MoHERST) are jointly responsible for education policy and implementation. Over the past fifteen years the MoBSE has focused on the same policy priority areas of access, equity, quality and relevance and improved sector management. This policy consistency and fidelity over time has strengthened the principle components of the education system. More children accessed school, education infrastructure was built, teacher supply was increased, and there were greater efforts to support teachers through content and pedagogical training.

While the country made considerable progress in the earlier part of the decade, for the last five years, key education indicators have stagnated, and the system faces several challenges related to access, equity, learning outcomes and efficiency. The context for education in relation to these domains is outlined below against key ESP strategies and the GPE results framework indicators.

To inform the vision of the new government leadership, together the MoBSE and the MoHERST developed the Education Sector Strategic Plan (ESSP) 2016-2030, which is a revision of the ESSP 2014-2022. The plan represents a critically important step in articulating Gambia’s national priorities and educational vision, covering all education sub-sectors, from early-childhood to higher education, and including specific strategies on equity, efficiency and learning outcomes.

The ESSP is aligned with the national development poverty reduction strategy and the medium-term expenditure framework. The 15-year sector plan offers the broad strategy with evidence base and targets, and it is further detailed in the MTSP which reflects the broad strategy, but outlines specific activities with targets and a budget for the medium-term. The MTSP is operationalized through a 3-year implementation plan.

The ESSP priorities are to:

  1. Increase Access & Equity
    • Increased access to and improved equity within basic, secondary, technical and vocational education and training, tertiary and higher education achieved
  2. Increase Quality & Relevance
    • Improved delivery of quality and relevance of basic, secondary, technical and vocational education and training, tertiary and higher education achieved
  3. Expand Research & Development
    • Research in the critical fields of development, mainly health, agriculture, basic sciences and human resource development and management promoted and strengthened
  4. Improve Education in Science, Technology & Innovation
    • STEM national processes as envisaged in The Gambia’s development plan to ensure sustainability of all STEM interventions harmonized, coordinated and integrated Sector
  5. Increase Management Efficiency
    • Effective and efficient delivery of education and training services achieved


All amounts are in US dollars.

Grant type Years Allocations Disbursements Grant agent
Program implementation 2018-2022 5,300,000 - IBRD
2014-2018 6,900,000 6,579,424 IBRD
2009-2013 27,998,912 27,998,912 IBRD
2006-2008 9,400,000 9,400,000 IBRD
2004-2005 4,000,000 4,000,000 IBRD
Sector plan development 2016 387,824 - IBRD
2012 250,000 249,717 IBRD
Program development 2017 199,800 - IBRD
2013 197,500 195,341 IBRD
  TOTAL 54,634,036 48,423,394  


Source: World Bank - Education Data
Data on education are compiled by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Institute for Statistics from official responses to surveys and from reports provided by education authorities in each country.


Primary completion rate (%)

Lower secondary completion rate

Out-of-school rate for children of primary school age

Out-of-school rate for adolescents of lower secondary school age

Pre-primary gross enrollment rate

Gender parity index for out-of-school rate – Primary and lower secondary

Public expenditure on education as share of GDP (%)

Public expenditure on education as a share of public expenditure (%)

Students/trained teacher ratio

Teachers trained (%)

GPE in The Gambia

The current GPE grant awarded to the Gambia of US$6.9 million co-finances the Results for Education Achievement and Development (READ) project, which supports the implementation of the government’s education sector plan. In addition to the GPE grant, the READ project includes financing from the International Development Association (IDA) and from the government of the Gambia.

The objectives of this project are to increase access to basic education, improve the quality of teaching and learning in lower basic schools, provide technical and institutional support and strengthen education systems.

  1. Increasing access to basic education by:
    • Constructing multi-grade schools and early childhood development (ECD) centers.
    • Providing donkey carts to communities where lower grade students have difficulty walking to school because of long distances.
    • Improving ECD teacher training.
    • Providing school grants to lower and upper basic schools and stationery to all students in lower basic education in poor areas.
  2. Improving quality of teaching and learning by:
    • Strengthening teachers’ competencies in pedagogical and content knowledge.
    • Scaling up incentives to deploy qualified teachers to remote areas.
    • Enhancing teacher training.
    • Evaluating early reading programs to gauge good practices with the objective of developing reading curriculum guidelines.
  3. Providing technical and institutional support by:
    • Developing a strong communications strategy.
    • Improving data systems, providing short term training in statistical analysis, and management training.
  4. Strengthening the education system with a focus on governance and management results by improving access to education and improving teacher and student performance.

The local education group in the Gambia is led by UNICEF, and includes the following donors: French Embassy, the Islamic Development Bank, Arab Bank for Economic Development, UNICEF and the World Bank. The LEG includes strong participation from civil society: the Peace Corps, Action Aid, the National Campaign for Education, and the Teachers' Union.

In April 2016 an additional US$1 million was contributed from the Early Learning Partnership to support ECD activities under the project.

In June 2016 an additional US$7.5 million was added to the project by IDA to mitigate the impact of an acute financial crisis on the education sector, notably mitigating the impact on teacher salaries and school grants.

Source: World Bank Project Appraisal Document. February 2014


The Gambia has made great progress in the education sector. The most recent GPE funds have contributed to achieving the following results:

  • 46,731 students in hardship areas (located further than 3 km from a main road) received stationary packages.
  • 1,906 additional qualified primary school teachers have been recruited or trained.
  • 40 multi-grade schools have been built in remote regions and students are enrolled in these schools.
  • 24 upper basic and senior secondary schools have been outfitted with solar panels,
  • A classroom observation tool has been developed with a view to improve the quality of teaching and learning,
  • A unified approach to teaching literacy in national languages in early grades (preschool to grade 3) has been developed and is being used (called “Gambia reads”),
  • 550 student teachers have been enrolled in the revised Primary Teachers Certificate program.

Source: World Bank Implementation Status and Results Report. December 2017

Last updated April 16, 2018