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Topics Overview
The Systems Approach for Better Education Results (SABER) is an initiative to produce comparative data and knowledge on education policies and institutions, with the aim of helping countries systematically strengthen their education systems. SABER evaluates the quality of education policies against evidence-based global standards, using new diagnostic tools and detailed policy data collected for the initiative. The SABER country reports give all parties with a stake in educational results-from administrators, teachers, and parents to policymakers and business people-an accessible, objective snapshot showing how well their country's education system policies are oriented toward promoting Learning for All.

A child’s earliest years present a window of opportunity to address inequality. The potential benefits from supporting early childhood development range from healthy development to greater capacity to learn while in school and increased productivity in adulthood. In fact, investing in young children through early childhood development programs is one of the smartest investments a country can make to address inequality, break the cycle of poverty, and improve outcomes later in life. Developing countries have expanded access to preschool provision in the past decade, with all regions of the world increasing pre-primary enrollment. Yet, today, far too few children, especially those from the poorest families, benefit from this critical human development service. SABER-Early Childhood Development (ECD) allows policymakers to take stock and analyze existing early childhood development policies and programs, identifying gaps and areas needing policy attention to promote healthy and robust development for all children.

Information is a key ingredient in an effective education system. Assessing the state of education in a country demands information about the inputs, resources, governance, operations and outcomes of its education system. An education management information system provides systematic, quality data in a well‐structured enabling environment that facilitates utilization of the information produced in planning and policy dialogue. SABER-Education Management Information Systems (EMIS) aims to help countries improve data collection, data and system management, and data use in decision making, thereby improving different elements of the education system and contributing to the end goal of improving learning for all children and youth.

It is widely recognized that countries need strong education systems that promote learning, life skills and social cohesion. However, systems struggle to deliver education services in adverse contexts such as natural disasters, political crises, health epidemics, and pervasive violence and armed conflict. Paradoxically, education can also help mitigate the risks of such adversity, and help children and youth to succeed despite severe challenges. This is one dimension of the kind of resilience people, communities, and the institutions that serve them must develop to recover, succeed, and experience positive change in the face of adversity. The World Bank Group’s Education Resilience Approaches (ERA) program is a special set of tools designed to provide contextual analysis of resilience processes in education systems, based on local data on adversity, assets, school-community relations and education policies and services in adverse contexts. This complements the Systems Approach for Better Education Results (SABER) platform that countries have been using to benchmark and analyze various aspects of their education systems.

An education system is composed of all the learning opportunities that are available in a society, including those provided by government schools as well as those offered by a diverse range of providers (government, community, faith-based, and for-profit) and funders (state and non-state). In recent years, the private sector is playing an increasingly important role in expanding school enrollment for all students, including underserved children and youth. SABER-Engaging the Private Sector (EPS) assesses how well a country’s laws and policies are oriented toward ensuring that the services of non-state providers address issues of access, quality, and equity to promote learning for all children and youth.

At the World Bank Group, equity and inclusion are at the core of the Bank’s twin goals of eradicating extreme poverty and building shared prosperity. Within the Education Global Practice, promoting equity and inclusion is a core component of the World Bank Group’s Education Strategy 2020: Learning for All, which aims to help countries improve the capacity of their education system to improve learning, including among the most disadvantaged populations. At the global level as well, equity is also a guiding theme in the newly adopted Sustainable Development Goals. SABER-Equity and Inclusion aims to help countries ensure that children and youth from disadvantaged groups benefit from equitable access to a quality education.

Globalization and rapid technological change have made knowledge a critical determinant of competitiveness in the world economy. With globalization, the information revolution, and increasing demands for a highly skilled work force, it is clear that nations must accord high priority to building the capacity to effectively utilize technology in education. SABER-Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) aims to improve the availability of policy-related data, information, and knowledge on what matters most in using information and communication technologies to improve the quality of education. SABER-ICT is being developed in close partnership with other development institutions, building on their initiatives to improve the knowledge base on their use.

School autonomy and accountability are key components of an education system that ensure educational quality. The transfer of core managerial responsibilities to schools promotes local accountability; helps reflect local priorities, values, and needs; and gives teachers the opportunity to establish a personal commitment to students and their parents. Benchmarking and monitoring indicators of school autonomy and accountability allows countries and World Bank Group partners to rapidly assess any given education system, setting the stage for improving policy dialogue, planning and implementation. The SABER-School Autonomy and Accountability (SAA) tool assists in analyzing how well developed the set of policies are in a given country to foster managerial autonomy, assess results, and use information to promote accountability.

Finance is the lifeblood of any education system, making it possible to build schools, hire and train teachers, and equip classrooms with learning materials and technology. School finance is an essential component of every education system, but comprehensive guidance on what matters in school finance systems is lacking. SABER-School Finance documents and analyzes the policies and processes that determine where education resources are focused and how they are distributed to help countries improve the efficiency of their resources and align their priorities with their finances.

The provision of quality schools, textbooks, and teachers can result in effective education only if a child is in school and ready and able to learn. Poor health and hunger interfere with the ability of school-age children to get an education, by reducing their attendance and hampering their learning even when they do attend. School health and school feeding programs can help overcome these barriers to learning for all—especially among children and youth from poor households, who are most likely to suffer from health and nutrition problems. SABER-School Health and School Feeding (SHSF) documents and analyzes school health programs for children of school age and helps governments strengthen these programs.

An assessment system is a group of policies, structures, practices, and tools for generating and using information on student learning. Effective assessment systems are those that provide information of sufficient quality and quantity to meet stakeholder information and decision-making needs in support of improved education quality and learning outcomes. National governments and international agencies recognize the key role of student assessments in building an effective education system. The assessments provide information on whether all students in an education system are learning and how well. Without good assessment information, it is impossible to know whether a system’s policies and practices are working or how they might be changed. SABER-Student Assessment documents and analyzes the quality of student assessment systems to help countries generate and use better assessment data.

Few individuals exert as much influence on children’s future as do their teachers. In today’s world, teachers are no longer just a source of information and knowledge. The role of teachers today is to equip students to seek, analyze, and effectively use information, so that they develop the abilities— critical thinking, problem solving, and team work—needed for healthy and productive engagement in society and economy. SABER-Teachers gathers and analyzes data on the teacher policies that govern public schools in education systems around the world.

Tertiary education systems play a critical role in creating the knowledge and human resources needed for global competitiveness, economic growth, and poverty alleviation. Despite rapid growth in tertiary education in the world, many important challenges remain—in areas that include expanding access, promoting equity, improving learning achievement, strengthening knowledge generation and technology transfer, and encouraging desired values, behaviors, and attitudes. SABER-Tertiary Education offers a conceptual framework and benchmarking tool to help countries meet those challenges by evaluating the appropriateness of their policies.

Equipping the workforce with job-relevant skills is a continuing challenge around the world, and mismatches are a persistent concern. Many school leavers and graduates are unable to find jobs commensurate with their education and training while employers complain of difficulty in filling their vacancies. Workforce development in most low- and middle-income countries is not functioning as well as might be desired. To be productive and employable members of society, education must equip young people with relevant market skills that blend knowledge and technical knowhow with soft and hard skills. Employers want workers who have technical expertise, communication skills, can work collaboratively in teams and know how to analyze problems by thinking critically. SABER-Workforce Development (WfD) focuses on the effectiveness of the education and training system in generating skills demanded by employers and on the availability of channels for employers to articulate and communicate their skills needs.