What comes first to your mind when you think about girls’ education? There may be a good chance that you remember a particular girl you met who could not go to primary school. Or perhaps you will visualize one of those great pictures of smiling and studious girls attending primary school in a developing country thanks to a particular project or intervention.
Both pictures are correct, but they account for only a small part of the story.
One year ago, Malala Yousafzai, a 16-year-old student from Swat Valley, Pakistan, was targeted by the Taliban and shot as she was returning from school on a bus. She miraculously survived and today continues her inspirational campaign for girls’ education worldwide through the Malala Fund.
Today, Transparency International releases The Global Corruption Report: Education, and its message is clear: When there is corruption in education, the poor and disadvantaged suffer most. Education is critical if we are to meet the goal of ending poverty and boosting shared prosperity by 2030. Corruption undermines the equally critical goal of ensuring that all children and youth go to school and learn.
While corruption hampers all development efforts, it is a debilitating presence in the education sector. In my contribution to the report, I highlight the damage from corruption in one of the most important aspects of education, teacher absenteeism.
In Pakistan, one-third of primary school age children are not in school, and girls fare worse than boys – 37% of girls of primary school age are not in school, compared with 27% of boys*. Children living in remote parts of the country often have even fewer opportunities to get an education.
In Sindh province, on Pakistan’s southeastern border, government officials and World Bank experts crafted an innovative education program twinning public subsidies with private entrepreneurs to bring schools to poor villages where none existed. The goal of the program, which is ongoing, is to help all children have the chance to get not only an education, but a good one.
The stimuli that children are exposed to from the beginning of life to age 5 have the greatest impact on development, and they define the health, personality and intellectual capacity of each child. This is why it is crucial to invest early and well in child development. Countries in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) are investing more and more in early child development, but what do we know about these initiatives?
Recently, the Indonesian Minister of Education and Culture announced the start of a program to extend the length of compulsory education from 9 to 12 years. Behind this announcement lies a desire to maximize the benefits of the country’s demographic dividend.
It has been seven months since I joined The World Bank as a Lead Education Specialist coordinating their work on tertiary education. During this short period, I have met with people from across the globe, read a variety of reports, and participated in technical review meetings and missions with government officials and institutional leaders. In summary, I have been learning as fast as I can, about how this fascinating but complex organization operates, and about its unique contribution (not exempt from controversy) to development in the world.
These past few months have taken me across the world, from Latin America, to the Middle East, Africa, South East Asia, and Europe, on a journey that has provided me the unique and privileged opportunity to reflect on the challenges and opportunities that tertiary education is facing in the world. It is precisely such reasoning that led us, at the World Bank to organize a year-long lecture and panel series entitled “Tertiary Education at a Crossroads” during which we hope to engage in collective reflection on issues and trends in tertiary education, and confront them with an ambitious agenda towards eliminating extreme poverty in the world, by enabling shared prosperity in a sustainable planet.
Turkey’s remarkable economic growth over the last decade has been a much quoted success story. One often hears that the country trebled its per capita income, and has become the 16th largest economy in the world. One hears less often that this economic growth has been inclusive, accompanied by reduced poverty and expanded access to social services in health and education. And yet even these debates on expanded social services rarely move beyond quoting the headline numbers to look at the dynamics of change in the sector(s). This omission is unfortunate because the dynamics of change in the social sectors can be a harbinger for future progress. I want to draw the reader’s attention to the unheralded progress in the education sector.
When I heard the news last autumn that 15-year-old Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan had been shot simply for standing up for her right as a girl to get an education, I was horrified.
It also reminded me how lucky I was.
When I was offered a rare scholarship to study abroad, it wasn’t acceptable for me, as a young married Indonesian woman, to live apart from my husband. My mother laid out two options: Either he would join me, which meant giving up his job, or I had to decline the offer.
I know it was her way to advocate for my husband to support me, which he did without hesitation. We both went to the United States to complete our master’s degrees. I combined it with a doctorate in economics, and we had our first child, a daughter, while we both were graduate students.
In the story of Aladdin, the hero finds a magic lamp, which, when rubbed, releases a genie who grants him his every wish. Not surprisingly, this soon gets him into trouble. Recent announcements by the OECD suggest that the genie is out of the lamp for international assessments of educational achievement, and like Aladdin, we should choose our wishes wisely.
Barbara Ischinger and Andreas Schleicher of the OECD recently came to the World Bank to discuss the OECD’s new initiative called PISA for Development. Most of us are already familiar with the OECD’s PISA exercise, which assesses the reading, mathematics, and science competencies of 15-year olds around the world. The aim of PISA for Development is to identify how PISA can best support evidence-based policy making in emerging and developing economies that, until now, have been unable or unwilling to participate in the main PISA survey. This will be done through the following adaptations to the PISA design: