Apr 2015 – Jul 2019

Early Learning Partnership (Phase 2)



Multiple countries – Global

To partner with the World Bank to build programmes, policies and research to increase scale and ensure quality of early learning for children in Africa and South Asia.

$23,665,000 Grant Value

$1,000,000 evaluation budget


Other funders

  • DFID

Working across an estimated 24 countries, the Early Learning Partnership will prepare more than 12 million children for primary school through improved early learning policies and funding at a national and global level.

The Early Learning Partnership invites World Bank colleagues and partners to apply for funding to support early learning and early childhood development in their work programmes. Through a competitive process, the partnership responds to country needs and opportunities, and ensures funding goes where it can be used effectively. 

This is delivered by partnering with governments, development agencies, academic institutions and ultimately communities. 

Critical to the programme is the emphasis on working with countries to develop their capacity to scale access to quality early learning. Analytical work, action research and innovation are central to the ambitious work programme. 

The approach builds on a previous phase one grant.

Strategic Impact Evaluation Fund

Part of the funding for this programme is going to the Strategic Impact Evaluation Fund (SIEF), which will fund ten world-class impact evaluations that will provide a significant boost to the evidence base for early childhood development and education. 

SIEF invests in impact evaluations of innovative early child development and education programs in low- and middle-income countries, and then works directly with policymakers and other key stakeholders to use the results to build better policies and programmes that improve children’s lives. 

These evaluations will be conducted in the following countries: Cambodia, China, Ethiopia, Ghana, Indonesia, Kenya (x2), Malawi, Nicaragua and Rwanda.

A list of the projects which have received funding can be found here (PDF).


We expect at least five countries to take early childhood education programmes to scale using domestic resources and International Development Association and Global Partnership for Education funding. We expect a further 19 countries to have a more supportive policy and operational environment for quality early childhood education. 

The first round of grant funding -- totalling $2.3 million -- has been awarded to 18 country teams.

Below are a few examples of how the Early Learning Partnership is supporting countries with their early childhood education programmes. You can read about all country support through the Early Learning Partnership by clicking here.

In Kenya, the Early Learning Partnership is supporting a range of activities, including:

  • decentralising early childhood development to the county level - working with the national government and county governments of Kirinyaga, Nairobi, Nyamira and Nyeri to develop county-level costed implementation plans
  • evaluating the delivery of early childhood education for the poor through private sector innovation - including a comparison of the Bridge International Academies model of low-cost pre-primary education against government-run pre-primary schools

In Bangladesh, funding through the Early Learning Partnership is supporting the integration of early childhood policies and practices in the country's social protection sector. Through this support, early childhood development activities will be incorporated into the existing conditional cash transfer programme. You can read more about this programme - the Income Support Program for the Poorest Project - by clicking here.