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:
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.