Primary schools in the chosen nations, drawn from Sub-Saharan Africa, South and East Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Middle East, will receive funding to provide five to six years' schooling for all up children (see box, right).
"Some 17 million children, who do not now attend school will have the opportunity to complete primary education," the bank said in a statement. The bank insists that countries show their commitment to schooling before it will give aid. The countries announced this week are those that have met key internal investment criteria and are deemed closest to achieving universal primary education.
The bank also announced plans for non-financial aid - in the form of policy guidance and consultancy - to help the drive for education for all in the developing world's most-populous countries: India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Democratic Republic of Congo and Nigeria.
It is hoped that this will help them improve their approach and commitment to schools and join the first 18 countries in qualifying for financial aid from the bank.
"Together these five countries account for 50m of the estimated worldwide total of 113m children out of school," the bank said.
"The World Bank and donor community will work with these countries to address the data, policy, and capacity gaps that will need to be resolved for them to be eligible for grant financing support."
"Fast-track" group selected for aid from World Bank: