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.
Latin America & Caribbean
Results for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) 2015 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) exercise were released on December 6. The results are instructive, not only because of what they tell us about the science, mathematics, and reading knowledge and skills of 15-year-olds around the world, but also in terms of how they compare to the 2015 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) results, which were released a week ago (click here to read my blog on key takeaways from the TIMSS results).
María is a single mother with two young children who spend about five hours a day in school. Since she has a full time job, it’s a challenge for her to care for them and not lose her only source of income. This may be a hypothetical situation but it’s replicated, every day, in many countries in Latin America that have a reduced school day.
In Latin America, several countries – Chile, Colombia, Uruguay, and Brazil – have introduced programs to lengthen the school day. The goal: to improve student learning, reduce student dropouts, and to ultimately shrink income inequality.
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.
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.
[Estancamiento en el nivel de aprendizaje: stagˈlərniNG/ sustantivo
Un crecimiento nulo en los resultados básicos de aprendizaje, pese a los altos niveles de gasto en educación.]
Argentina no es ajena a la estanflación, es decir un estancamiento del crecimiento económico, a pesar de una alta inflación. Pero durante aproximadamente la última década, además ha sufrido de estancamiento en el nivel de aprendizaje, o sea un crecimiento nulo en el aprendizaje, pese a los elevados niveles de gasto en educación. Esto no es solo ineficiente sino también doloroso, ya que significa que el país no está aprovechando la posible oportunidad de reducir la pobreza.
A condition of no growth in basic learning outcomes, despite high levels of education spending.]
Argentina is no stranger to stagflation – a condition of stagnant economic growth, despite high inflation. But, over the last decade or so, it has also been suffering from staglearning – no growth in learning, despite high levels of spending on education. This is not just inefficient; this is heartbreaking since it means the country is not capitalizing on potential poverty reduction.
The popular image of the out-of-school, out-of-work youth of Latin America is not generally a positive one. For one thing, the term used to label them – “ninis” – defines them in the negative. It comes from “ni estudian ni trabajan”, the Spanish phrase for those who "neither study nor work.”