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.
Early Childhood Development: A Smart Beginning for Economies on the Rise is one of the events at the 2016 Spring Meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank Group. It will be webcast on April 14, 4:30 pm- 6:00 pm ET.
Have you ever heard the phrase “Inequality starts at birth”? This is one of the most sobering statements in development but one that has an answer and it’s called early childhood development or ECD. No other development investment boasts a higher payoff for people and for economies than ECD.
Recent studies in neuroscience and economics show that early childhood experiences have a profound impact on brain development and thus on outcomes throughout life. A growing number of impact evaluations from low- and middle-income countries underscore the importance of preschool for children’s development (to highlight a few: Cambodia, Mozambique, and Indonesia).
April 7th is World Health Day, a day to highlight emerging global health concerns. The focus this year is raising awareness on the diabetes epidemic, and its dramatic increase in low- and middle-income countries.
People often ask me how I became the person I am today. More often than not, my answer surprises them. Sports has a lot to do with it. In many countries across the globe, soccer is a way of life. As a kid, growing up in Senegal, sport was part of my daily life. I practiced all kinds of sports but track and field and karate were my two passions. Martial arts taught me the importance of not giving up, while running kept me focused. My coaches in Senegal were true educators.
In September 2010, in his speech on the floor of the United Nations General Assembly, then-President of the World Bank, Robert Zoellick, committed the institution to increase funding toward basic education as part of a strong push towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015. Specifically, the World Bank pledged to increase MDG-related support to poor countries, including an additional $750 million in IDA funds- the World Bank’s fund for the poorest- over five years for countries furthest from reaching the education goals, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.