So much has been written recently about the individual, economic and social benefits of investing in early childhood development (ECD), that it is becoming a challenge to summarize these studies. However, ECD is an area that I’m increasingly involved in with my work at The World Bank. Among others, Nobel Laureate Economist, James Heckman and his colleagues have provided very convincing evidence of the benefits of early childhood interventions, including preschool education, on later individual and social outcomes (my colleague and fellow blogger, Jishnu Das looked at Heckman's work in his last blog post "Are Non-Cognitive Gains in Education More Important than Test-Scores?"). These benefits are substantial and varied, ranging from improved education outcomes for the individual, access to better jobs, higher wages, and even lower risks of engaging in criminal activities – which, of course benefits society as a whole. Moreover, investing early is a better investment than waiting until the child is older, because the costs of achieving comparable benefits through interventions later in life – remedial education in basic education, programs to target at-risk youth, and the like – are so much more costly and also less likely to have an impact.
Latin America & Caribbean
The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2009 survey results were released today by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). PISA tests 15 year olds in reading, math and science.
Pisa 2009 results focus on reading, as they did in 2000 when the tests were first applied. In reading, as the OECD reports, Korea and Finland are the highest performing OECD countries, with mean scores of 539 and 536 points. However, as noted in today's New York Times, Shanghai-China outperforms them by a significant margin, with a mean score of 556. Top-performing economies in reading include Hong Kong-China (533), Singapore (526), Canada (524), New Zealand (521), Japan (520), Australia (515) and the Netherlands (508).
At the US release of the PISA results in Washington DC, which I was fortunate to attend today, Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan and OECD Secretary General Angel Gurría, discussed the importance of the results in terms of competitiveness and growth.
Co-authored by Jennifer Pye, Tertiary Education Team
Globally the disabled population continues to be the most disadvantaged and marginalized group within society with limited access to educational opportunities. According to UNESCO’s Global Education for All Monitoring Report 2010, “disability is one of the least visible but most potent factors in educational marginalization.”
Today, the U.N.'s International Day of Persons with Disabilities, provides us with an opportunity to share preliminary findings from our on-going work on equity of access and success in tertiary education for people with disabilities.
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.
The new buzz words in the World Bank are Open Data. Here, in our blog, we have been championing the cause of Open Data (see New Open Data Initiative Emphasizes Importance of Education Stats) and what it does for knowledge sharing and looking at development solutions for Education systems.
You may know that the President Bob Zoellick (also known as RBZ) recently delivered a pretty inspiring speech at Georgetown University at the end of September. He was advocating for a new perspective for the Bank: “Beyond the Ivory Tower to a New Research Model: Open Data, Open Knowledge, Open Solutions.”
Last weekend, I was fortunate to be at the same dinner party as Jeff Puryear, co-director of PREAL and a luminary in the education field. We got talking about his PhD thesis from 1977, which I later found out, was perhaps the first serious study of the impact of job training in Colombia's SENA industrial training programs in Bogotá.
First, to analyze the socioeconomic characteristics of people who enrolled with SENA relative to those who did not, with a view to identifying the kind of candidates that the programs attracted; second, to estimate the impact of SENA training on the wages of a randomly-chosen individual who had undergone no training before taking part in a SENA program; and third, to calculate the private and social benefits of the SENA program.
On Friday, July 23, Michelle Rhee, Chancellor of Washington D.C. Public Schools, dismissed teachers across the city for poor performance. The number of teachers dismissed has yet to be finalized, but at one point, figures were pointing to as high as 240. Other teachers have been placed on probation, and must prove themselves worthy of the high standards Rhee has set for them. She even went so far as to tie teachers’ pay to their performance when negotiating with the Washington Teacher's Union. As a British citizen, I couldn't help but think whether Rhee was taking inspiration from the Iron Lady herself, AKA, Margaret Thatcher - Britain's first female prime minister, who fought many battles against the unions. Whatever the source of Rhee's inspiration, this was an unprecedented step to take. Some may posit that she is addressing what is called, "the widget effect" - the failure to act on differences in teacher effectiveness.
What is the relationship between education and geological processes? At first glance, some might think: Not much. One concerns the opening and enlightenment of the mind; the other is as old, rock-solid and unpredictable as the Earth itself.
But the collapse of so many buildings and homes that killed more than 200,000 people in the Haiti earthquake was in large part due to an utter "lack of qualified architects, urban planners, builders and zoning experts," points out a recent article in the New York Times.
In the tragedy of these moments it becomes painfully clear what a lack of adequate education and training has meant. Even worse, such revelation shines a light on very hard questions for posterity. What will the future of a country look like that has lost so many of its doctors, teachers and future leaders?
Investments in education and human capital have long been recognized as precipitators of future economic growth. Rapid development in Korea in the second half of the 20th century, for instance, has been traced by scholars back to high levels of investments in schooling and training, creating the enabling environment for industrialization and further specialization.
There is no doubt that commitment to education for economic development requires both long-term funding and the multiplying effects of time.
But what causes countries with similar levels of sustained spending to achieve vastly different outcomes? It's a question that burns in the minds and wallets of governments and development efforts around the world.
The month of February played host to the OECD – Inter-American Development Bank– World Bank’s international knowledge sharing on '1-to-1 computing' in Austria. This was the first event of its kind looking specifically at the idea that, if technology is to fundamentally help transform educational practices, this can only be done where each student has her/his own personal computing device.
1-to-1 computing is not only happening in OECD countries: every student in Uruguay has her/his own laptop. Peru and Rwanda have made massive commitments to purchase laptops for students, and pilots are underway in many additional developing countries.These interventions are based on the belief that by enabling every pupil to connect to the Internet, and to each other, to access valuable resources irrespective of place and time, countries can help to bridge the digital divide while at the same time transforming education and increasing learning through the use of Information Communication Technologies (ICTs).
Given the context of this event, I thought I would provide a timely survey of the existing research on their use in education. I also advise you to check out Michael Trucano’s one year old blog, Edutech which provides incisive analysis on a wide array of ICTs in Education topics.