The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) for education calls for learning for all. This includes ensuring that, by 2030, all students achieve relevant learning outcomes by the end of their primary and lower-secondary schooling. An important way to measure the attainment of this target will be to look at the percentage of children in each country achieving- at the very least- “minimum proficiency” on standardized math and reading tests.
In Haiti, about 90% of primary school-aged children are enrolled in school. While still falling short of universal enrollment, this is a big improvement over just two decades ago. But enrollment is just the first step in building human capital – many children will repeat a grade, and about half will drop out before completing primary school, leaving the school system without having mastered even basic language and math skills. Why does participation in school produce so little?
María is a single mother with two young children who spend about five hours a day in school. Since she has a full time job, it’s a challenge for her to care for them and not lose her only source of income. This may be a hypothetical situation but it’s replicated, every day, in many countries in Latin America that have a reduced school day.
In Latin America, several countries – Chile, Colombia, Uruguay, and Brazil – have introduced programs to lengthen the school day. The goal: to improve student learning, reduce student dropouts, and to ultimately shrink income inequality.
At the Global Conference on Equity and Excellence in Basic Education, in Shanghai, China, May 17-19, 2016, the World Bank will be discussing Shanghai’s eminence in ranking highly in international achievement tests. The conference will also cover how good policy can help improve education quality in other countries. See slideshow, press release, key findings .
“Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime.”- Laozi (老子), ancient Chinese philosopher and writer, known as the reputed author of the Tao Te Ching. He is the founder of philosophical Taoism and is worshipped as a deity in Taoism and traditional Chinese religions.
There are more children in school today than ever before. For example, in 1950 the average level of schooling in Africa was less than two years. It is more than five years today. In East Asia and the Pacific, the schooling of the population went from two to seven years between 1950 and 2010. This is a more than a 200 percent increase! Globally, average years of schooling are now projected to rise to 10 years by 2050. This is larger than a five-fold increase within a century and a half.
Malaka runs a tight ship. The principal of an all-girls primary school nestled deep in the heartland of Balkh – a mountainous province in Afghanistan – what sets Malaka apart isn’t her formidable management skills. It is the unwavering commitment to her students.
How can we improve the research, writing, and presentation skills of middle and high school students? Can internship and mentorship programs help students graduate from high school and prepare them for colleges and careers? What type of support is needed for the most disadvantaged youth, including those who suffer from homelessness? Do tutoring programs help elementary school students learn?
The West Africa Ebola crisis of 2014-15 killed more than 11,000 people, caused economic and social disruption in a massive scale, and left tens of thousands of children orphaned. In Sierra Leone, schools were closed for eight months, resulting in a lost year of learning. With the closure of schools and banning of public gatherings, Sierra Leoneans, having lived through years of civil war, knew the setbacks that lost educational opportunities would inflict on a young generation. The government, working with donor partners, initiated a number of interventions to mitigate these losses.
When I joined the Mexican ministry of education in 2008, one of the first challenges I had was to identify effective policies to reduce dropout rates in upper secondary (grades 10, 11 and 12). Eight years, two randomized control trials, numerous workshops, and several diagnostics later, I still don’t have a precise answer.
Four years ago, while sitting on a plane heading for a business development trip to Asia, a colleague asked me if I had heard of a new course from Stanford University in which more than 100,000 students enrolled after it was put online. A nascent company called Coursera was behind the initiative, he told me. My interest piqued, I contacted Coursera founders Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller. A few short months later, the IFC decided to invest, the start of a relationship that continues to blossom.
“My elder sisters could not get an education because at that time, there was no primary school in the village. For me it was difficult too, my school had no facilities, no water, toilet or rooms for 80 girls. Had this school not been built I would be out of school.” These are the words of Zarghony, the youngest child in a family of six and a beneficiary of the Promoting Girls’ Education in Balochistan Project (PGEB). Zarghony was once among the 62 million girls around the world who are out of school but now she benefits from a safe and secure learning environment.