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What 15 seconds can tell you about a classroom

Daphna Berman's picture




The first time a World Bank education team tried classroom observations in Brazil, it nearly provoked a state-wide teachers’ strike. It was October 2009 in the northeast state of Pernambuco and two members of the team, Barbara Bruns and Madalena Dos Santos, had handed out stopwatches to school supervisors newly trained in using the Stallings “classroom snapshot” method to measure teacher activities.

Two days later, the stopwatches were on the front page of Pernambuco’s leading newspaper: the teachers’ union called for a state-wide strike to protest an evaluation tool they dubbed the “Stalin method.”

“I thought the grant money we had used to train observers was down the drain,” recalled Bruns, a World Bank retiree now a visiting Fellow at the Center for Global Development. “But the governor, Eduardo Campos, was unfazed.  He publicly declared: ‘No one is going to stop me and my secretariat from going into public schools to figure out how to make them better.’  The union backed down and the fieldwork went ahead.” 

Journalists, economists and making the news

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Wenceslaus Mushi (center) during a television program.

When Wenceslaus Mushi watches the evening news on the television at his home in Dar es Salaam, he often finds himself shouting out tips to the reporters.  “They aren’t asking the right questions,” says Mushi, a 40-year news veteran and former managing editor of the government-owned Daily News.  

Working on early childhood development in Mali

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An evaluation measuring the impact of daily micronutrient supplements combined with parent education on children’s development is underway. (Photo by:  Curt Carnemark / World Bank)

Natalie Roschnik was a newly minted graduate student when she accepted her first job with Save the Children in Mali. Nearly 20 years later, Roschnik knows Mali well: it’s one of the countries she travels to often as a Senior Research and Impact Advisor for Save the Children.