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Education Systems

The principal makes the difference

Jaime Saavedra's picture
Also available in: Español
Principals have to deal with hundreds of students and their personal and academic challenges. (Photo: Sarah Farhat​ / World Bank)


All schools are different. I’m not referring to the building, the number of students or teaching practices. I’m talking about the school’s spirit. When you walk into a good school, the building is often well-organized and clean. The students look busy and happy. You don’t see strict discipline; ideally, you see organized chaos.

When you see a well-functioning school, most likely, there is a good principal behind it. A leader who sets a vision for the school and sets clear objectives. Someone who creates the space that fosters teachers’ professional and personal development, and encourages students’ personal growth, creativity, and their own journey of discovery.

Running a school efficiently is a very difficult challenge. A principal must be a pedagogical leader to dozens of teachers: observing them in the classroom, evaluating institutional performance, and helping them get the professional development opportunities they need. Principals have to deal with hundreds of students and their personal and academic challenges. They need to respond to parents, each with their own expectations for the school. And principals also need to contend with the administrative and financial burdens imposed by the bureaucracy.  

El director hace la diferencia

Jaime Saavedra's picture
Also available in: English
Los directores tienen que lidiar con los desafíos personales y académicos de cientos de estudiantes. (Foto: Sarah Farhat / Banco Mundial)​


Todas las escuelas son distintas. No hablo del edificio, del número de estudiantes, ni del enfoque pedagógico que siguen. Hablo del espíritu de la escuela. Al entrar a un buen colegio, uno a veces ve que todo está bien organizado y limpio. Los estudiantes se ven ocupados, y al mismo tiempo, felices. No necesariamente se observa disciplina estricta, idealmente, uno ve un caos organizado.

Cuando una escuela funciona bien, en gran medida se debe a que existe un buen director. El buen director establece una visión y objetivos para la escuela, y puede hacer de ella un espacio efectivo de desarrollo profesional y personal para los maestros, y un espacio de crecimiento, creatividad y descubrimiento para los alumnos.

Lograr que una escuela funcione bien es una tarea extremadamente compleja. Requiere que el director se constituya en un líder pedagógico de decenas de profesores, observándolos en el aula, monitoreando permanentemente su desempeño con sus alumnos y en su contribución al trabajo institucional. Así podrá el director desplegar las capacidades de su cuerpo docente de manera efectiva y darles apoyo en lo que necesiten. Requiere lidiar con cientos de estudiantes y sus retos personales y académicos; y con los padres de familia de esos estudiantes, que tienen sus propias expectativas sobre la escuela. Además, debe lidiar con los retos burocráticos, administrativos y financieros para hacer funcionar la institución. 

Why education infrastructure matters for learning

Janssen Teixeira's picture
Also available in: Română | Français
A classroom in Godineşti in Gorj county, Romania. (Photo: Chiara Amato / World Bank)


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.

De ce este importantă pentru învăţare infrastructura educaţională

Janssen Teixeira's picture
Also available in: English | Français
O clasă în Godinești din județul Gorj, România. (Photo: Chiara Amato / World Bank)

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.

Mapping the World Bank’s support for education

Luis Benveniste's picture
Also available in: Español  |  Francais  |  العربية


Every year, the World Bank generates a wealth of useful information about education systems across the globe, from project-driven appraisal documents and results stories to country-specific data and news to impact evaluations and everything in between. Through the Smarter Education Systems tool, this information, which can often be overwhelming to navigate and curate, is becoming more easily accessible, digestible, and searchable. The Smarter Education Systems tool demonstrates how the World Bank helps countries ensure "Learning for All" through support to countries on both the financing (loans, grants, and more) and knowledge (research, publications, and more) fronts.

How countries deliver high-quality early learning: Insights through a systems approach

Shawn Powers's picture
Starting them young and making the early years count. (Trevor Samson/World Bank)
Providing quality early learning to children is one of the most important investments a country can make. Evidence has linked investments in the early years to better outcomes in school, improved work prospects and higher wages in adulthood, and even better health. Inequities in education start in early childhood, with consequences that ripple through later stages in life. We also know that quality counts: poor-quality early learning environments can be unhelpful or even detrimental for a child’s future.
 
Less well understood, however, is how countries can deliver high-quality early learning services equitably and at scale. How do countries get from a small-scale, well monitored pilot—which is where a lot of our evidence comes from—to a national program, without diluting quality too much or leaving behind the most disadvantaged children? How can countries build a motivated, well-trained workforce that understands and can serve the distinctive developmental needs of children before the primary years? What are effective models to work with private providers?
 
The Early Learning Partnership (ELP) is embarking on a new research program to generate some answers to these questions. ELP is a multi-donor trust fund at the World Bank which provides analytic and operational support to World Bank teams and client countries who want to invest in early childhood. With support from the UK Department for International Development, we are launching the ELP Systems Research Program, with an initial focus on Ethiopia, Liberia, the Punjab province in Pakistan, and Tanzania.

Are citizen-led assessments raising learning levels?

Marguerite Clarke's picture



Citizen-led assessments (CLAs) emerged in India in 2005 as a way to raise awareness and advocacy around low learning levels, and to act as a force for bottom-up accountability and action that would improve education quality and learning. Thousands of volunteers traveled to rural districts and administered simple reading and math tests to the children in households they visited. The dismal results, published in the 2005 Annual Status of Education Report (ASER), helped stimulate debate and prioritize learning in national policy.

A System of Great Schools: Joel Klein’s Legacy in New York City

Harry A. Patrinos's picture

Imagine a situation where: there are low graduation rates; violence spills into the schools; where most students are poorly educated; where there is growing inequality; students are passed from grade to grade even if they don’t learn; and there are unemployed graduates – yet skilled jobs go unfilled.  Imagine a school system ruled by a government-run monopoly dominated by vested and political interests.  There is no accountability – nobody is held responsible for results.  There is little information or data available with which to manage the system.

Does this sound like a developing country you know?  But no, this isn’t a description of fragile state, or a low-income country.  It’s not a caricature of a developing country run by a corrupt leader, on the brink of social and economic decline.

It’s New York City in the early 2000s.

Investing in Young Children: Two New Resources on ECD

Quentin Wodon's picture


In recent years, a broad consensus has emerged on the fact that investing in young children is one of the best investments countries can make. And yet while investments in early childhood development (ECD) should be a priority, many countries fall short.  Tomorrow, the World Bank will release two new publications to serve as resources for those aiming to invest in ECD, whether they are government agencies, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), or private firms. 

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