Getting textbooks to every child in Sub-Saharan Africa: Strategies for addressing the high cost and low

Birger Fredriksen; Sukhdeep Brar; and Michael Trucano

Despite extensive technical support and funding from external partners, making textbooks affordable and available to students remains an elusive objective for most countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. This study asks why it has been so hard to improve textbook provision comparative to other regions, exploring the cost and financial barriers. Recognising that progress has been ...» more

Where have all the textbooks gone? Towards sustainable provision of teaching and learning materials in Sub-Saharan Africa

Tony Read

This study is based on the multiple experiences of over 40 years’ of working in the education sector in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). It takes an evidence-based approach as it seeks to explain why adequate and effective TLM (Teaching and Learning Materials) provision has remained so elusive despite decades of funding, and suggests what needs to be done to make quality TLM ...» more

Transporting materials to schools

Most programmes have faced similar challenges and limitations in transporting materials to schools, and have found transferable approaches to what works. These are: Financing: the burden of paying for delivery falls on different actors. The literature is clear that either the government or the publishers should cover the costs, but often it has been teachers who travel to ...» more

The legitimacy of states and armed non-state actors

Somalia (UN Photo/Stuart Price)

Legitimacy is a crucial aspect of all power relations. Without legitimacy, power is exerted through coercion; with legitimacy, power can be exerted through voluntary or quasi-voluntary compliance. Legitimacy lies at the core of state-citizen relationships and thus of the whole state-building agenda. This Topic Guide explores the meaning of legitimacy in relation to state and ...» more

Comprehensive sexuality education

Comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) has strong support in the international discourse, and is supported by a relatively robust evidence base. In general, the evidence suggests that CSE has positive impacts on behaviour change, such as increased condom use, girls’ empowerment and delayed sexual debut. This is achieved through increasing knowledge and changing attitudes. ...» more

Opening the Black Box: The Contextual Drivers of Social Accountability

Helene Grandvoinnet, Ghazia Aslam, Shomikho Raha

What are the factors—enabling and disabling—that shape the possibility of TAIs achieving their goals in a particular context? This report focuses on social accountability (SA) and solely on the accountability of public officials. It aims to fill three specific knowledge gaps and provides guidance on how to assess contextual drivers of SA effectiveness. Its principal ...» more

Adapting development: improving services to the poor

Leni Wild, David Booth, Clare Cummings, Marta Foresti, Joseph Wales

This report argues that if we are to avoid reproducing the pattern of uneven progress that has characterised the MDG campaign, there must be more explicit recognition of the political conditions that sometimes enable, but so often obstruct, development progress. In this context, domestic reformers and their international partners must pursue innovative and politically smart ...» more

Service characteristics and engagement with citizens

Richard Batley, Joseph Wales

This briefing note aims to provide some practical guidance on how different services can offer differing opportunities and challenges for improving service performance through increased accountability and, especially, citizen engagement. It illustrates an approach to identifying these opportunities, using examples from two services: curative health care and urban networked ...» more

Education and building legitimacy during conflict

This rapid review summarises the available evidence of how far support to education has strengthened governance during conflict. The main points made by the literature on education delivery during conflict and strengthened legitimacy for those delivering it includes: Service delivery and state legitimacy: expectations for services vary and this has an impact on the ...» more

Political economy constraints for urban development

Experts highlight evidence gaps in particular on the political economy of urban service delivery; social and political participation by urban poor people; the relationship between urbanisation, urban poverty and urban violence; the relationship between state fragility, state legitimacy and the national political settlement; and what works and what does not in tackling political ...» more

Delivering education during conflict

Education is important for children’s wellbeing, development and future prospects, as well as for a country’s peace, stability and economic development; and is often a priority for those directly affected. Despite the challenges of delivering education during active conflict it is possible; and UN agencies, NGOs, and donors have supported governments, communities, and local ...» more

Non-state provision of skills development in South Asia

Development practitioners increasingly see skills development as a way to improve the employment and incomes of the poor. However, findings on the effectiveness of such trainings are typically mixed. Only programmes that entail linkages with the labour market have had a significant impact. Even with such linkages in place, what has worked and what has failed in implementation ...» more

Political economy of energy in southern Africa

Some African states, with encouragement from international donors, have developed regional power sharing arrangements as a strategy to deal with the continent’s energy problems. Power pools aim to balance electrical loads over a larger network, lower electricity prices, and expand access by encouraging trade and investment in the sector. The Southern African Power Pool ...» more

Social policy

The development of social policy as a discipline is associated with the emergence of welfare states in European countries. This reading guide provides the user with some key texts and narrative. The development of European countries involved the progressive extension of rights, civil rights in the 18th century, political rights in the 19th century, and…» more

Public service reform

The focus in this Pack is on action: on the public service reform intervention, conceived as an exercise in helping. The readings included in this pack have been chosen to be interesting and fresh rather than comprehensive; that is, to stimulate thinking rather than necessarily to ‘cover all the bases’ in public service reform as…» more

Textbook development in low income countries: A guide for policy and practice

This manual on textbook provision in low income countries serves as an accompanying publication to a World Bank elearning course. It responds to the challenge of getting affordable books to school children when and where needed and aims to be a practical resource that covers key issues encountered in textbook development, ranging from authorship through to publication and ...» more

Function versus form in public sector reform

Brian Levy

This book chapter aims to broaden the options for public sector reform. It explores micro-level initiatives that aim to support the emergence of institutions capable of fulfilling governance expectations. One approach is to focus on comprehensive reforms along Weberian principles with trickle-down principles. The other is more incremental via targeted efforts and ...» more

State of the industry 2014: Mobile financial services for the unbanked


Now available in over 60% of developing markets, mobile financial services (MFS) are firmly established in the financial sectors of the majority of the developing world and are increasingly being used to increase access to low-cost financial services including payments, transfers, insurance, credit and savings. This report outlines 2014 trends in availability, accessibility and ...» more

The political economy of education systems in conflict-affected contexts

Mario Novelli; Sean Higgins; Mehmet Ugur; Oscar Valiente

This rigorous literature review offers insights into the global, national and local governance of education systems in conflict-affected contexts. It finds that the literature is nascent, fragmented and partial, yet provides rich and complex insights into the challenges of improving education systems in conflict-affected contexts. The review concludes with a theory of change ...» more