Learn more: The What, Why, and How of the SABER

Who has applied SABER?

Countries from all regions of the world have applied SABER tools and have used SABER for policy dialogue and reform (see all relevant documents under Publications in the RELATED section). Since its inception, SABER tools have been applied in over 100 countries to assess and benchmark education systems against global best practices, a fundamental step toward meaningful reforms. Countries identify which parts of the education system they want to assess and improve -for example, a government may want to understand what should be done to improve early childhood development- and then they work with the World Bank and other development partners to apply the relevant tools and analyze their related policies and institutions. The tools themselves have been refined over the years, and new ways of analyzing education systems have been incorporated to better capture what is happening in schools themselves.

Transitioning to SABER 2.0

SABER initially focused on assessing how well a country's education policies and institutions aligned with its education goals, and benchmarked these policies against global evidence of what works to improve learning. Later SABER began developing a framework for measuring and analyzing service delivery at the school level, providing a much-needed feedback loop to help countries hone their policies and institutions to better meet their education goals such as SABER Service Delivery, Teach, and In-Service Teacher Training Survey Instrument (ITTSI). These efforts resulted in a large body of tools and information to help countries diagnose constraints in education systems. However, scaling up the use of these instruments is difficult and costly.

SABER 2.0: Measuring learning and its drivers

The release of the World Development Report (WDR) 2018, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the World Bank's World Bank's Human Capital Project (HCP), and the World Bank's Learning Target, by drawing attention to the global learning crisis, raised the ambition for the measurement agenda on learning and its drivers, and increased the demand for comprehensive, streamlined, and cost-effective instruments that build on the existing SABER tools to measure the drivers of learning, and that can be scaled up to all countries to better identify binding constraints to improving learning, guide policy decisions, and monitor progress on policy efforts to address them.

To support these priorities, in 2018 the SABER program introduced the following initiatives:

  1. The Global Comparability of Learning Outcomes (GCLO) to harmonize existing international, regional, and national learning assessments to make learning data from different assessments comparable across countries by expanding the Harmonized Learning Outcomes (HLO) global dataset, and creating the Global Learning Assessment Database (GLAD) and the Learning Poverty database. The GCLO also served as main input to produce COVID-19 simulations.
  2. The Global Education Policy Dashboard (GEPD) to measure and track progress of the key drivers of learning outcomes in basic education around the world at the service delivery, policy, and politics level, with specific attention to their impact on policy dialogue and policy decision making.
  3. The Education Policy Design Labs (EPDLs) to identify the key constraints to learning and set the priorities for policy intervention and implementation to remove such constraints in a given country.

The COVID-19 pandemic amplified the global learning crisis that already existed. In this context, these initiatives are even more relevant today as they can facilitate countries' efforts in response to the pandemic: the GCLO activities and tools within the harmonized learning measurement agenda can be used to either simulate potential learning losses due to the pandemic, or to measure actual learning losses once schools reopen; the GEPD can provide the baseline upon which countries can identify what is needed and the priorities for strengthening as their education systems reopen; and the EPDLs can help prioritize and build shared understanding on how to accelerate learning.

More information can be found in the SABER Annual Report 2020.


The SABER Umbrella Facility (SABER-UF) was created in 2013 as a multi-donor trust fund to enable partners and donors to support SABER activities. With SABER-UF support, the World Bank had been able to expand the reach of SABER activities. SABER-UF initially (SABER 1.0: 2013-2018) funded by Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and the United Kingdom's Department for International Development (DFID, now renamed FCDO), and later (SABER 2.0: 2019-Present) funded by the Bill and Melina Gates Foundation (BMGF) and UK's Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO, formally DFID).

Many other partners and donors have also supported the development and application of SABER, including Russia (through the Russia Education Aid for Development, or READ); the Children's Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF); the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO); the Arab League Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization (ALECSO); the World Food Programme (WFP); the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF); the Netherlands BNP Paribas program; the Korean Trust Fund program; and UNESCO's Education for All Teacher Task Force.

With the World Bank's recent Trust Fund (TF) reform, the SABER-UF has transitioned into the Foundational Learning Compact (FLC) Umbrella TF. The SABER 2.0 initiatives, such as GCLO, GEPD, and EPDLs, will continue to be supported under the FLC Umbrella program.


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World Bank Group published this content on 23 June 2021 and is solely responsible for the information contained therein. Distributed by Public, unedited and unaltered, on 24 June 2021 18:16:00 UTC.