In his recent Huffington Post blog, World Bank President Jim Kim spoke about how the learning crisis is one of the greatest obstacles to development. According to the United Nations, an estimated 171 million people can lift themselves out of poverty if all students in poor countries acquired basic reading skills.
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Tomorrow, a Learning for All Ministerial Meeting will bring together development partners and ministers of finance and education from Bangladesh, the DRC, Ethiopia, Haiti, India, Nigeria, Yemen, and South Sudan – home to nearly half of the world’s out-of-school-children – to address challenges and steps to ensure that all children go to school and learn.
When President Obama announced a number of investment priorities for his second term that would expand the economy and strengthen the middle class, his focus on bolstering early childhood education caught my attention. I agree with his premise and furthermore think that what is good for the United States is also good for developing countries. But what stands in the way of a more aggressive, nationwide emphasis on early childhood development worldwide? Are opportunities being missed because of lack of knowledge or coordination failures?
In a recent trip to India I had the opportunity to visit schools in Tamil Nadu and observe the application of a new teaching approach in government schools. The Activity Based Learning (ABL) approach is a teaching technique in which learning is accomplished through activities, rather than through the traditional rote teaching we often observe in many schools across the developing world.
These government schools are serving mostly disadvantaged children. In the schools we visited, a majority of students are classified as scheduled casts/scheduled tribes. The infrastructure is basic -in one school children were working in the dark because the electricity was out - a regular occurrence in many schools in Tamil Nadu. Yet, there was significant learning going on.
At last month's Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon shared the stage with Western Union President Hikmet Ersek, Nigerian Minister of Communication Technology Omobola Johnson, World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim, UN Special Envoy for Global Education, Gordon Brown and Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt, during an hour-long panel entitled, "The Global Education Imperative."
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called upon participants to strengthen efforts to achieve global targets related to education and health, stressing the importance of building a better future for all. He noted that progress in this critical field has stalled in recent years, which was the impetus for his recently launched Education First Initiative.
At a time of fundamental uncertainty on global financial markets, how should the World Bank help countries respond? Mohamed El-Erian, CEO of the global bond management giant PIMCO, took on this question during his recent talk at the World Bank, which was part of the PREM seminar series. One of his answers may come as a surprise: Invest in girls' education!
First, some background: El-Erian is one of the most influential figures in the world of finance. His firm manages $1.8 trillion in assets, an amount that comfortably exceeds Japan's foreign-exchange reserves, and he's on Foreign Policy magazine's list of Top 100 global thinkers. As a longtime former IMF official, El-Erian is also intimately familiar with international financial institutions.
Last week, I had the honor of being part of the fourth World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE), in Doha. Pratham, the recipient of the 2012 WISE Prize for education, was praised as a renowned leader in the field of education for providing innovative, low-cost solutions for mass literacy and numeracy in developing countries. Pratham’s CEO and co-founder, Madhav Chavan, received the award, which recognizes “world-class” contributions to education.
While in Doha, I had the pleasure of being part of a WISE panel debate with Mr. Chavan, which also included Financial Times correspondent Chris Cook and Dr. Talal Abu-Ghazaleh. Anver Versi, editor of African Business and African Banker, was the moderator. During this panel, we discussed innovative financing and the role of public-private partnerships in education. Mr. Chavan began his remarks stating that, “Education is too important to be left to governments alone.”
Recently, I was part of the Global Economic Symposium held in Rio de Janeiro. This year’s theme was Growth through Education and Innovation; I presented as part of a panel entitled Effective Investments in Education.
My presentation focussed on the fact that a growing and compelling body of research shows that teacher effectiveness varies widely - even across classrooms in the same grade in the same school. Getting assigned to a bad teacher has not only immediate, but also long term, consequences for student learning, college completion and long-term income.
Today, October 11, 2012, the World Bank is proud to join others around the world in celebrating the first International Day of the Girl Child. The World Bank, working with governments and other partners including the United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative, is committed to supporting interventions that are proven to address gender equality because we know that gender equality is smart economics. Enabling girls and young women to have the chance to learn in order to lead healthy, productive lives so they can positively contribute to their families, their communities, and their countries requires sustained investments in data collection, research, dialogue, and effective interventions. Today we celebrate the progress achieved and recognize the work ahead.
The following are select resources on girls' education to help you celebrate the International Day of the Girl!