With unrivaled access to information about economic conditions in developing countries, and with the help of neighboring school systems in Washington, D.C., and its suburbs, the World Bank has produced a media kit for high schools, ''Toward a Better World.''
Designed for 10th- and 11th-grade world geography, world history, world studies, and current issues classes, the kit includes a general text, ''The Developing World,'' three case studies of development projects in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, a filmstrip, and teaching guides.
The values of the teacher would be very important in using this kit.
My experience in teaching contemporary world affairs at the senior high school level revealed how discouraged some students feel when they become aware of the magnitude of problems in poor countries. The complexity of factors that must be unraveled if permanent progress is to be made sometimes overwhelms them.
If the teacher is cynical, the statistics will appear to support that view; if the teacher is compassionate and concerned, that view will prevail; if the teacher believes that improvement is possible, the materials provide ample evidence to support that view.
The materials necessarily deal with such problems as poverty, overpopulation, and traditional attitudes that block progress. They present statistical indicators of harsh conditions in the countries examined. But specific development projects described give the impression that a better life is possible for these people and can be accomplished by intelligent action.
The teaching guides have complete lesson plans, work sheets, tests, and suggestions for a variety of individual and group activities such as role playing, map study, statistical analysis, and supplemental suggestions for highly motivated students.
The teaching guide recommends that the teacher in the introductory lesson pose such questions as ''Do you think high school students should learn about world poverty? Why or why not?'' and ''What does the term 'standard of living' mean?'' This approach respects student attitudes, too.
The World Bank is an international institution founded in 1945 and owned by 141 countries. Together with its affiliate, the International Development Association founded in 1960, it makes loans to the developing countries for projects that strengthen their economies and improve the standards of living of their people.
Either the complete kit ($180) or separate components can be ordered; review packets come in two formats costing $12 without filmstrip or $20 with filmstrip. Descriptive information and order forms for ''Toward a Better World'' are available from International Learning Systems Inc., 1715 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, D.C. 20009.