Buildings, classrooms, laboratories, and equipment- education infrastructure - are crucial elements of learning environments in schools and universities. There is strong evidence that high-quality infrastructure facilitates better instruction, improves student outcomes, and reduces dropout rates, among other benefits.
For example, a recent study from the U.K. found that environmental and design elements of school infrastructure together explained 16 percent of variation in primary students’ academic progress. This research shows that the design of education infrastructure affects learning through three interrelated factors: naturalness (e.g. light, air quality), stimulation (e.g. complexity, color), and individualization (e.g. flexibility of the learning space).
Although education policymakers are increasingly focusing on the quality of education and school learning environments, many countries use a fragmented or piecemeal approach to investing in their education infrastructure. In Romania, for example, decisions about education infrastructure investments have historically been made under an uncoordinated and decentralized model, driven by ad hoc needs and limited funding availability, rather than a strategic approach.
Clădirile, sălile de clasă, laboratoarele şi dotările – într-un cuvânt, infrastructura educaţională - constituie elemente vitale ale mediilor de învăţare din şcoli şi universităţi. Rezultatele cercetărilor în domeniu sugerează că infrastructura de foarte bună calitate conduce la îmbunățățirea predării, a rezultatelor școlare ale elevilor şi reducerea abandonului şcolar, pe lângă alte beneficii.
De exemplu, un studiu recent realizat în Marea Britanie a arătat că elementele de mediu şi de proiectare ale infrastructurii şcolare împreună explică 16% din variația progresului școlar al elevilor din ciclul primar. Acest studiu evidenţiază faptul că proiectarea infrastructurii educaţionale influențează procesul de învăţare prin trei factori interdependenți : naturalețe (de ex. lumina, calitatea aerului), stimulare (de ex. complexitatea, culoarea) şi individualizare (de ex. flexibilitatea spaţiilor de învăţare).
Cu toate că decidenții din domeniul învăţământului îşi concentrează atenţia din ce în ce mai mult asupra calităţii educației şi a mediilor de învăţare din şcoli, multe ţări au o abordare fragmentară sau fără o viziune de ansamblu privind investiţiile în infrastructura educaţională. În România, de exemplu, deciziile privind infrastructura educaţională au fost luate de-a lungul timpului pe baza unui model necoordonat şi descentralizat, determinat de nevoi de moment şi fonduri limitate, și nu pe baza unei abordări strategice.
Recently, the OECD released the results for PISA 2015, an international assessment that measures the skills of 15-year-old students in applying their knowledge of science, reading, and mathematics to real-life problems. There is a sense of urgency to ensure that students have solid skills amidst modest economic growth and long-term demographic decline in Europe and Central Asia (ECA).
When I visited Peru for the first time last month for a business development trip, I met with the heads of some leading private education institutions. At the end of my visit, I decided to book a cultural tour of Lima. During the tour, I asked our guide Marcos where he learned English as I found him very articulate, knowledgeable and with a good sense of humor. To my pleasant surprise and astonishment, he told me that he learned it by himself, mainly online. He then started practicing with visiting tourists until he became more comfortable leading tours himself.
Investing in people starts by ensuring that graduates leave school with strong basic/foundational skills, such as in reading and mathematics. Such skills are critical for subsequent study, for quickly finding a first job, and for adapting to continuous technological change. But are countries in the EU ready to face that challenge?
Every moment- but most especially today- we should celebrate young people and the great potential they have. Happy International Youth Day!
I’ve been fortunate to meet and talk to several bright young people in my work. Last May, on the sidelines of the Bologna Ministerial Conference in Armenia, I had a chance to visit the (World Bank-supported) Simulation Center at the Yerevan State Medical University. My colleagues from Armenia and I observed how mannequins connected to a computer simulated medical situations where students would work on a dummy and it would ‘respond’ to them by closely mimicking the reactions of real-life patients. The university rector, Professor Narimanyan, explained that this innovative method allows students to upgrade their practical skills and reduce the number of mistakes they could potentially make in their medical careers.