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Thanks for your questions, which are important. I hope other readers will chime in. My thoughts are: 1. The ways people measure learning outcomes in poor countries is simply testing whether the child can read and write, and do simple arithmetic. In rural Peru, for instance, the RECURSO program sends the child home with a paragraph and asks the parents to test whether the child can read the paragraph in one minute. Even here, teachers object by saying there's more to education than just being able to read and write, but I would think reading and writing is a minimal test. 2. Yes, there are cases where the de-politicization of learning outcomes has been achieved. One is in East Asia. We don't know whether this is due to the strong Confucian ethic of learning, or the de-politicization of other aspects of society, but many countries have achieved strong learning outcomes (Shanghai consistently scores at the top of student achievement rankings). I once asked a Taiwanese scholar how they avoided teacher absenteeims in his country (when it had per capita incomes close to Africa today). His answer: After the war, the government decided to post ex-military officers in the schools as inspectors, intending that they would help keep discipline among the students. But these inspectors also monitored the teachers, who always showed up on time.