The first time a World Bank education team tried classroom observations in Brazil, it nearly provoked a state-wide teachers’ strike. It was October 2009 in the northeast state of Pernambuco and two members of the team, Barbara Bruns and Madalena Dos Santos, had handed out stopwatches to school supervisors newly trained in using the Stallings “classroom snapshot” method to measure teacher activities.
Two days later, the stopwatches were on the front page of Pernambuco’s leading newspaper: the teachers’ union called for a state-wide strike to protest an evaluation tool they dubbed the “Stalin method.”
“I thought the grant money we had used to train observers was down the drain,” recalled Bruns, a World Bank retiree now a visiting Fellow at the Center for Global Development. “But the governor, Eduardo Campos, was unfazed. He publicly declared: ‘No one is going to stop me and my secretariat from going into public schools to figure out how to make them better.’ The union backed down and the fieldwork went ahead.”
On her daily walk down the muddy road that connects her home with school, Beatriz would sing a cumbia and dream of becoming a professional dancer. However, she would soon find out that her aspirations were short lived. At the age of 14, Beatriz got pregnant and never went back to school. In the six years following her pregnancy, she struggled with an unstable and low-paid job, cleaning rich houses in Guatemala City. By the age of 20, without minimum skills and a secure job, Beatriz had little control over her life and a murky picture of her future loomed.
En su caminata diaria por el camino lleno de lodo que conecta su casa con la escuela, Beatriz canta una cumbia y sueña con ser una bailarina profesional. Sin embargo, pronto descubrirá que sus aspiraciones durarán poco. A los 14 años, Beatriz quedará embarazada y nunca más volverá a la escuela. En los seis años posteriores a su embarazo, tendrá que lidiar con un trabajo inestable y mal pagado, limpiando casas de personas ricas en la ciudad de Guatemala. A los 20 años, sin contar con las habilidades mínimas y un trabajo seguro, Beatriz tendrá poco control de su vida y su futuro no será muy halagüeño.
October 16 is World Food Day, a day when people come together to declare their commitment to eradicate hunger within a lifetime.
Many school-age children across the globe depend on school feeding programs for morning and mid-day meals. School feeding programs incentivize parents to keep children in school and provide students the essential nutrients to stay healthy and able to learn.
El 16 de octubre es el Día Mundial de la Alimentación, un día en que las personas se reúnen para poner de manifiesto su compromiso con el objetivo de erradicar el hambre en el transcurso de una generación.
Alternatives to the traditional public school system are actively being sought and radical approaches for expanding school accountability are being widely touted. For example, in the award-winning documentary, Waiting for Superman.
While radical approaches are needed – given the desperate state of most public education systems; just see the poor results of most middle income countries in international assessments such as PISA and TIMSS – there are more mundane approaches, already in practice, that could be made to offer so much more. Giving public schools adequate resources, the right to make appropriate decisions, and holding them accountable through the publication of school results – in short, school autonomy – has been used in countries around the world since the mid-1960s. The school autonomy approach – be it known as school-based management, whole school development, comprehensive school reform, or parental and community participation – has been tried, evaluated, and proven successful at achieving a range of education goals in many different contexts.