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The Road to Academic Excellence: Lessons of Experience

Jamil Salmi's picture

Cover of The Road to Academic Excellence

When I published my first book on World Class Universities two years ago, I certainly did not anticipate the world-wide exposure it received. Now, I sometimes worry about having contributed to raising expectations about the importance of world-class universities. 

 

When I visited Nigeria last year, I was told that the country wanted to have 20 World Class Universities by 2020. Recently, Sri Lanka announced that it would increase its higher education budget in the hope of having at least one world-class university. Today we launched The Road to Academic Excellence, a new book I edited with Professor Phil Altbach, and already, the burden of guilt regarding the possible consequences of the new book haunt me.

Education for All: How We Can Leverage the Non-State Sector to Reach Our Goals

Harry A. Patrinos's picture

Many have argued this past week for an increased financial boost to achieve the education Millennium Development Goals -- universal primary completion and gender parity in education. But what should spending focus on, and how can we get the best from both public and private financing?

Not only are we missing the mark in terms of the MDGs for education – currently 69 million children of primary age are out of school, but this is only part of the story. Millions of children drop out early every year, and many of those who do graduate are still not mastering the basic skills in reading and math that are necessary to help them find gainful employment. As we scale up efforts, we must leverage the resources and participation of all, including private and non-state actors, to help reach these goals.

ThinkEQUAL: What Would Educational Opportunity Mean for Women and Girls Around the World?

Although the gender gap in education has been decreasing over the past decade, many girls continue to lag behind their male counterparts in equal access to schooling and acquisition of basic skills such as literacy. In Sub-Saharan Africa, 17 million girls are still out of school; in South Asia, another 9.5 million are shut out.

What would equal educational opportunity mean for women and girls around the world?

Opening Education Data: EdStats Unveils StatPlanet, an Interactive Mapping Tool from Apps Contest Winner

Christine Horansky's picture

Want to watch the expansion of schooling in Sub-Saharan Africa over the past three decades? Or chart the difference in growth of educational attainment between South Korea and Mexico? Maybe you just want to easily compare with one click whether a bar or line graph better communicates your data. Now you can! EdStats, the World Bank's free database for global education statistics, has launched EdStats StatPlanet -- an exciting new data visualization and mapping dashboard for exploring country, regional and global performance on 19 key education indicators through interactive, animated world maps, charts and tables.

Can the Private Sector Play a Helpful Role in Education? It Can, If it Targets Disadvantaged Students

Harry A. Patrinos's picture

The following piece appeared as a guest blog in the UK's Guardian this past week.

Students from Harlem Childrens' Zone with its president, Geoffrey Canada. A good public education system means public spending – but not necessarily public provision.

In OECD countries, more than 20% of public education expenditure goes to private institutions – communities, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), faith-based organisations, trade unions, private companies, small informal providers and individual practitioners – and about 12% is spent on privately-managed institutions.

But does private participation mean higher quality education? Does it bring better exam results? Can it encourage greater equality?

Are Alternative Pathways into Teaching Bad for Students?

Emiliana Vegas's picture

In the vast majority of education systems, there is a well-defined path to become a teacher. In most cases, this path begins early on in an individual’s career choices. At the time of graduation from high school or entrance into higher education, individuals enter initial teacher training programs. When the profession is attractive (based on not just salary but also working conditions and career opportunities), competition into these programs can be very intense, such as in Finland, Korea and Singapore.  In these cases, systems can be selective in who they admit into teaching, and new teachers are among the brightest, best educated, hardest working, and most motivated workers in society.

But the profession is very attractive in only a few countries. In most other nations, the number of teacher applicants does not exceed the number of teacher positions by much, and when it does (as in India), selection processes to assign the teacher positions are seldom set up to choose the very best. As a result, in many countries around the world, the best and the brightest are entering professions other than teaching. This is troubling because a substantial body of research convincingly shows that teacher quality is the most important school-based predictor of student learning. Indeed, several consecutive years of outstanding teaching can even offset the learning gaps between advantaged (socio-economically, racially or ethnically, by gender) and disadvantaged students. 

Getting to Know Our Schools Better – From Atlanta to Bali

Harry A. Patrinos's picture

There is certainly one way to really get to know our school systems, and fast – through a scandal. A recent article in The Economist reports on a case in Atlanta, USA, where it was found that teachers had engaged in wide-spread cheating since at least 2001, all to improve student test scores.

Some teachers gave pupils answers. Some filled in answers themselves. Some pointed to answers while standing over pupils’ desks. Others let low-scoring children sit near—and copy from—higher-scoring ones. One group of teachers had a test-changing party over the weekend.
(Low Marks All Round, The Economist, July 14th 2011.)

My team and I presented a better, albeit less dramatic way to get to know our schools at a conference in Bali this summer. The System Assessment and Benchmarking for Education Results (SABER) program is a flagship initiative of the World Bank’s new Education Strategy 2020. SABER enables policy makers to look inside the black box of their education systems, and better understand the different policy domains that make up the whole.

SABER: Innovative Assessment Tool Helps Countries Use Evidence to Guide Global Education Reform

Robin Horn's picture

Effective education reform? Evidence-based policy making can light the way.At the launch of the World Bank's new Education Strategy for 2020 during the "What Works in Education” Policy Research Colloquium this spring, World Bank President Robert Zoellick urged the international development community to focus on interventions that produce learning results and emphasized the vital role that evidence must play in propelling smart investments in education. The strategy also emphasizes the Bank's role in helping countries move beyond the provision of inputs to a system-level approach for improving the quality, performance, and outcomes of education programs.

To improve learning for all, we are rolling out an innovative assessment tool to help our partners use knowledge more effectively to drive education reform.

The System Assessment and Benchmarking for Education Results (SABER) initiative is being designed to help countries systematically examine and better understand their education system's policies.  SABER's policy diagnostics are being built upon a solid evidence base and draws from research on the education policies of well performing or rapidly improving education systems. By leveraging global knowledge, SABER fills a gap in the availability of policy data and evidence on what policies matter most to improve the quality of education and achievement of better results.

Who's Talking About Learning for All? A Round Up

Christine Horansky's picture

In the months since we released our new Education Strategy 2020, we have been happy to see many of our development partners and counterparts talking about "learning for all," our new mantra that promotes global efforts to ensure all children, everywhere, are in school and learning. (See "Let's Make it Learning for All," for more from our Education Director Elizabeth King.) Here's a round up from our partners. Check out their great blogs below...

Making an Impact in Education, USAID Impact Blog, by David Barth 

The New Education Strategy at the World Bank, Time for a Millennium Learning Goal? Center for Global Development, by Nancy Birsdall

From Education for All to Learning for All, PREAL Inter-American Dialogue

New Reasons Why School-Based Deworming is Smart Development Policy

Donald Bundy's picture

In the complex world of education policy, some experts comment that school-based deworming may be the closest we have come to finding a "magic bullet." In regions of the world with high worm burdens, such as Africa and South Asia, deworming children for mere pennies a year results in an incredible range of educational and social benefits, from higher school attendance rates to healthier children who are better able to learn in the classroom.

Globally, more than 1 in 4 people are infected by intestinal worms. In Sub-Saharan Africa high infection rates prevail, particularly among school children. Worms can cause anemia, stunting, lethargy and other problems that derail children's development. The positive impact of deworming on both health and educational outcomes is routinely cited as an example of aid effectiveness, including by Nicholas Kristof in the recent column “Getting Smart on Aid,” in the New York Times. Schools are also the best delivery mechanism for reaching children with safe, mass treatments.

While deworming has proven to be one of the most cost-effective interventions to get children into school, promising new research suggests that deworming children can also result in many long-term benefits, including higher wages, healthier individuals and stronger communities. The World Bank hosted a special panel on Rethinking Deworming this month, featuring guest speaker Michael Kremer, co-Founder of Deworm the World and Gates Professor of Economics at Harvard, who presented the new research findings of a study in Kenya.

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