Today, on World Autism Day, I’d like to highlight the impact of education on what persons with disabilities are capable of achieving. More than one billion people – 15% of the world’s population – experience some form of disability. One-fifth of the estimated global total, up to 190 million people, encounter significant disabilities. Persons with disabilities are more likely to experience adverse socio-economic outcomes than persons without disabilities, such as less education, worse health outcomes, less employment, and higher poverty rates.Most persons with disabilities are in developing countries.
At last week’s Comparative and International Education Society annual conference in Washington DC, Najeeb Shafiq put together a special panel honoring the work of pioneering education economists Martin Carnoy and George Psacharopoulos (formerly of the World Bank). Martin and George were supervised by Theodore Schultz, a Nobel Prize winning economist, who made human capital theory an important force- not just in economics- but the social sciences in general. Their work paved the way for thousands of researchers who followed in their footsteps.
At the recent Africa Higher Education Summit, I saw encouraging signs that African countries are investing in higher education. But while enrollment is increasing in tertiary education, there is still the need to improve the quality and relevance of programs. Today, Africa needs to urgently build the scientific and technological capacity to add value to its agricultural produce, minerals, oil and gas—as well as to meet urgent development needs. There is in fact growing demand from African countries for holistic support to education at all levels, starting from early childhood development programs through to higher education, with a focus on equitable access for all.
Here are my main takeaways from the summit:
On International Women’s Day, let’s remember the challenges girls face in education.
What would your life be like with only five years of schooling? For many girls around the world, this is the most education they can expect and they are the lucky ones. Across Africa, 28 million girls between the ages of about 6 and 15 are not in school and many will never even set foot in a classroom.
How did a new training college in Jamaica win a Caribbean-wide award that recognizes the best innovations for solving complex problems?
Jamaica’s National College for Education Leadership (NCEL) was just established in 2011 but it has already bagged a Bright Spot Award in innovations by the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development.
Today, as the Millennium Development Goals draw to a close and the development community is thinking of new development targets, many children are not learning in school. But, in addition, more than 120 million children and young adolescents still remain out of school. That is almost one in ten children of primary school age, and one in seven children of lower secondary school age. For these children, the right to education remains a distant dream.
The latest evidence on the private rates of returns to schooling shows that the returns to primary education are no longer the highest, having been surpassed by tertiary education. In my blog, Make the Rich Pay for University: Changing Patterns of Returns to Schooling, I argue that this suggests three things:
About a year and a half ago, I wrote a blog about the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) PISA for Development initiative.
Most of us are already familiar with the OECD’s PISA exercise, which is a test that 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 support evidence-based policy making in developing countries that, until now, have been unable or unwilling to participate. The expected outcome is to produce a set of enhanced student assessment instruments that are tailored to the needs of these countries, but which also produce reading, mathematics, and science scores on the same scale as the main PISA survey. In that earlier blog, I made three wishes for the initiative.
Have any of my wishes been fulfilled?
In some fragile states, where the education sector has faced direct attack, physical monitoring of development programs becomes a hugely complex and dangerous task. In this context, Afghanistan is an excellent example of how investment in Education Management Information Systems (EMIS) can strengthen overall monitoring systems in a country. In some provinces, there has been an improvement in accountability and transparency but challenges remain.
The title of the recent blog written by my colleague Harry Patrinos couldn’t be more direct and clear: “Make the Rich Pay for University”! This is an idea that makes sense. However, is this idea as easy to implement as it sounds? Are there any disadvantages or limitations? What is the rationale used in countries that have opted for the opposite direction?