The World Bank’s new Education Strategy, Learning for All, invites us to invest early, invest smartly, and invest for all. It proposes fostering a comprehensive view of education – a systems approach strengthened by a knowledge base on what works to improve education systems that can be shared amongst the global community.
The Bank’s education team recently hosted a one-day colloquium, “Getting to Equal in Education,” to address how girls worldwide can achieve the full benefits of a quality education and as a result lead healthy, productive lives that benefit their families, their communities, and their nations.
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.
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.
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
The call for ‘Learning for All’ in the Education Strategy 2020 is particularly appropriate for the Middle East and North Africa region, where education quality has been a major concern for more than a decade.
Even if the Arab world has made considerable progress in improving many aspects of education in recent decades, the quality of that education is still far from satisfactory: slightly more than 50% of Arab students who participated in TIMMS 2007 ranked below the “low” mark in mathematics, and employers complain that schools are not producing consistently well-trained graduates, endowed with the knowledge and skills they require.
The challenge becomes even more acute when demographic evidence is considered: school age populations (0-24 years) in the Arab world will grow by about 2 million by 2015 but will surge by 10 more million between 2015 and 2030. If these large cohorts are well served by good quality education, this could be an unprecedented window of opportunity; if neglected, the promise that education should be making to the young will continue to be broken. This leaves about five years to address this question.
The World Bank Group’s new Education Strategy 2020 champions learning for all and recognizes that global progress towards this goal will require the commitment of all actors – including governments, communities and private entities. The strategy acknowledges the vital role the private sector can play in helping expand and improve educational opportunity. Private sector participation in education is a growing part of education systems and has helped make significant educational advancements possible in many countries.
How can we leverage the valuable contributions of the private sector to help realize the goal of Learning for All?
In the East Asia and Pacific (EAP) region, the World Bank’s newly-launched Education Strategy 2020 is consistent with our own strategic direction in recent years and presents us with the chance to expand and build upon vital work.
Across the region we have been responding to the needs of a growing cohort of middle-income countries looking to maximize the productivity of their people, the lifeblood for national prosperity and well-being. At the same time, we have seen important progress in first generation reforms in low-income countries, fragile contexts and small states — where we are helping build the capacity of education systems to get all children in school. Across a spectrum of EAP countries we are supporting life-long learning, including early childhood development, basic and secondary education, second-chance education, skills development and vocational training, and science, technology and innovation.
Following the recent launch of the World Bank’s new Education Strategy for 2020 by President Robert Zoellick, we now turn to thinking about how the new strategy translates into action on the ground around the world. In Europe and Central Asia (ECA), how can the principles of learning for all make a difference for this rapidly transforming region?