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2017 in review: The top ten World Bank education blogs

Anne Elicaño-Shields's picture
Celebrating education. (Photo: World Bank)


As the editor of the World Bank’s education blog, I get weekly submissions from our education experts from all corners of the globe. Provocative and informative, our bloggers write about some of the education sector’s most hotly debated issues today.

Here are 2017’s most-read blog posts:

#10 There are cost-effective ways to train teachers

Teachers are the single most important factor affecting how much students learn. However, talent and heart aren’t enough to make a good teacher- as in all professions, one must train (and continue to train!) to be truly effective. This can be a big challenge in countries with fewer resources for education. Read about how 8,000 teachers in disadvantaged districts in Ghana upgraded their skills while simultaneously teaching in schools.

The next generation of African scientists need a more sustainable career path

Rama George-Alleyne's picture


Today, Turkey hosts more refugees than any other single country—almost 3.3 million. The vast majority are fleeing the civil war in Syria, and almost half are under the age of 18. A devastating consequence of the children’s flight is the disruption of their education, with about one in four Syrian refugee children in Turkey—mostly in urban areas in southeastern and southern provinces—not in school.  Even so, due to tremendous efforts by the government of Turkey, about six in ten school-aged Syrian children now have access to either formal education facilities or temporary education centers in Turkey—a remarkable achievement, given the scale of the need and the rapidity with which it developed.

By the end of 2017, the Government aims to achieve full educational enrollment for all Syrian children.

The most effective services for well-rounded higher education students in India

Jessica Lee's picture

The buzz around satellite imagery over the past few years has grown increasingly loud. Google Earth, drones, and microsatellites have grabbed headlines and slashed price tags. Urban planners are increasingly turning to remotely sensed data to better understand their city.

But just because we now have access to a wealth of high resolution images of a city does not mean we suddenly have insight into how that city functions.

The question remains: How can we efficiently transform big data into valuable products that help urban planners?

In an effort a few years ago to map slums, the World Bank adopted an algorithm to create land cover classification layers in large African cities using very high resolution imagery (50cm). Building on the results and lessons learned, the team saw an opportunity in applying these methods to secondary cities in Latin America & the Caribbean (LAC), where data availability challenges were deep and urbanization pressures large. Several Latin American countries including Argentina, Bolivia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama were faced with questions about the internal structure of secondary cities and had no data on hand to answer such questions.

A limited budget and a tight timeline pushed the team to assess the possibility of using lower resolution images compared to those that had been used for large African cities. Hence, the team embarked in the project to better understand the spatial layout of secondary cities by purchasing 1.5 meter SPOT6/7 imagery and using a semi-automated classification approach to determine what types of land cover could be successfully detected.

Originally developed by Graesser et al 2012 this approach trains (open source) algorithm to leverage both the spectral and texture elements of an image to identify such things as industrial parks, tightly packed small rooftops, vegetation, bare soil etc.

What do the maps look like? The figure below shows the results of a classification in Chinandega, Nicaragua. On the left hand side is the raw imagery and the resulting land cover map (i.e. classified layer) on the right. The land highlighted by purple shows the commercial and industrial buildings, while neighborhoods composed of smaller, possibly lower quality houses are shown in red, and neighborhoods with slightly larger more organized houses have been colored yellow. Lastly, vegetation is shown as green; bare soil, beige; and roads, gray.

Want to explore our maps? Download our data here. Click here for an interactive land cover map of La Ceiba.

Are we obsessed with university rankings?

Francisco Marmolejo's picture

Ce blog a été co-écrit par Mourad Ezzine et Simon Thacker.

Pour une région qui n’est pas réputée pour sa promotion de l’équité envers les femmes, le Moyen-Orient réserve quelques surprises quand il s’agit de la scolarisation des filles, où la région obtient des résultats à plusieurs égards meilleurs que le reste du monde. Pour l’instant cependant, cette réussite académique ne se traduit pas forcément par des avancées notoires pour les femmes dans l’enseignement supérieur ou sur le marché du travail.

The Road to Academic Excellence: Lessons of Experience

Jamil Salmi's picture

Cover of The Road to Academic Excellence

When I published my first book on World Class Universities two years ago, I certainly did not anticipate the world-wide exposure it received. Now, I sometimes worry about having contributed to raising expectations about the importance of world-class universities. 

 

When I visited Nigeria last year, I was told that the country wanted to have 20 World Class Universities by 2020. Recently, Sri Lanka announced that it would increase its higher education budget in the hope of having at least one world-class university. Today we launched The Road to Academic Excellence, a new book I edited with Professor Phil Altbach, and already, the burden of guilt regarding the possible consequences of the new book haunt me.

Tertiary Education: Blind Spot or System Failure?

Shanta Devarajan's picture


إننا نعيش في واحدة من أندر لحظات التاريخ حين تشير الدلائل الاقتصادية والبحوث العلمية إلى الاتجاه ذاته: الاستثمار في تنمية الطفولة المبكرة يحقق عائدات عالية طوال الحياة.  فالأدلة الاقتصادية، استنادا إلى تقييمات دقيقة للأثر قام بها جيمس هيكمان وآخرون، تشير إلى أن الطفل الذي يقرأ له أهله ويلتحق برياض الأطفال ويجد عموما أنشطة محفزة  منذ مولده وحتى سن الخامسة، صبح  أكثر احتمالا للانتظام في الدراسة ويكون أداؤه وصحته أفضل وإنتاجيته أعلى وهو بالغ.  

Evolution of a World-Class University: Balancing Local Growth and Global Appeal

Jamil Salmi's picture

If the nation which has bestowed to the civilization such giants as Tchaikovsky and Shostakovich, Tolstoy and Bulgakov could manage its economy as splendidly and robustly as its culture, Russia would be doing just great! Unfortunately, it’s not the case. The resource curse is affecting the economy in a negative way and even more seriously than certain counterproductive habits and mental inertia from the old times of statist, centrally planned economy.  

I’m afraid there is not much time left for Russia. If it wants to catch up with the advanced world – and become a true member of the G8 group of developed countries –  it must use wisely for investment in restructuring and diversification of its economy the windfall revenue from exploitation of vast natural resources. Otherwise, the process of deindustrialization without offsetting by the nowadays service sector will continue and this great country – with huge potential for fast, durable, and sustainable development – will miss the chance to become one of the leaders of world economy. This decade will decide the fate of Russia for the whole 21st century. And the time runs fast. 

An Uphill Struggle? Equity in Higher Education for People with Disabilities

Jamil Salmi's picture

Open Data in UruguayDoes open data have economic value beyond the benefits of transparency and accountability? Does it have the power to fuel new businesses and create new jobs? Does it have the potential to improve people's lives by powering new services and products? If so, what should the World Bank be doing to help this along? These were questions we had in mind as we set out to bring together open data entrepreneurs from across Latin America for an Open Data Business Models workshop in Montevideo, Uruguay.

Call for Action: Help Shape Our Work on Equity in Higher Education

Jamil Salmi's picture
What is this? Read on to find out.

Riddle us this. In what country are...
  • 450 million ceiling fans already in use, 40 million new ones sold every year?
  • 350 million fluorescent tube lights already in use, 10 million new sold every year?
  • 30 million air conditioners already in use, three million new sold every year?
If you guessed India, you are right.

With a population of about 1.2 billion, India is one of the largest consumer markets in the world. So it’s no surprise that household appliances account for several gigawatts of electricity usage across the country. As India’s middle class grows and people move from villages to towns and cities, electricity usage is only increasing. In fact, hundreds of millions of electric appliances will be added over the next few decades. This poses a serious challenge for India’s energy security since there already are electricity supply shortages, which often lead to chronic outages and blackouts. The surge in household appliances is also a climate change challenge—India, the world’s third-largest CO2 emitter, is predicted to continue increasing its greenhouse gas emissions at least until 2030.

But India is turning this challenge into an opportunity by tapping into energy efficiency solutions, a relatively new area with already a few major successes. Considered globally as the “first fuel,” energy efficiency is rising to the forefront of India’s quest for innovative solutions to provide 24/7 reliable and affordable electricity for all.

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