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A new approach is transforming science and math learning in The Gambia

Ryoko Tomita's picture
An innovative approach tested in Gambia may provide some answers to the future of science and math education in schools across Sub-Saharan Africa.
An innovative approach tested in Gambia may provide some answers to the future of science and math education in schools across Sub-Saharan Africa. (Photo: NJCTL)

Poor math and science scores in Sub-Saharan African schools – particularly in school-leaving exams – has long plagued educationists and policy makers. As my colleague, Waly Wane, pointed out in a recent post, failures to improve learning outcomes in these subjects raise doubts as to whether African education policies can ever deliver the scientists and engineers the continent needs to do better socio-economically.

Why we should invest in getting more kids to read — and how to do it

Harry A. Patrinos's picture
Data shows that huge swaths of populations in developing countries are not learning to read. Scaling up early reading interventions will be a first step toward addressing these high illiteracy rates.
Data shows that huge swaths of populations in developing countries are not learning to read. Scaling up early reading interventions will be a first step toward addressing these high illiteracy rates. (Photo: Liang Qiang / World Bank)


It is estimated that more than 250 million school children throughout the world cannot read. This is unfortunate because literacy has enormous benefits – both for the individual and society. Higher literacy rates are associated with healthier populations, less crime, greater economic growth, and higher employment rates. For a person, literacy is a foundational skill required to acquire advanced skills. These, in turn, confer higher wages and more employment across labor markets .

An innovative student loan program in Azerbaijan

Jason Weaver's picture
 Simone D. McCourtie / World Bank
Developed in response to macro-economic changes in Azerbaijan, the MSLF student loan program is having a significant impact on recipients' lives. (Photo: Simone D. McCourtie / World Bank)

Twenty-four-year-old Narmina enrolled at the Azerbaijan University of Languages in September of 2012. In the last year of Narmina’s studies, her father, a war veteran, and mother encountered financial difficulties and were unable to pay Narmina’s tuition. Having dropped out or, more accurately, “stopped out” of her studies, Narmina applied to Azerbaijan’s newly established Maarifci Student Loan Foundation (MSLF) and was one of the first to be awarded a student loan. With the much needed financial support, Narmina has since completed her bachelor’s degree and now works at a local tourism company.

It takes a school: An extraordinary story of success in Somaliland

Jonathan Starr's picture
Students at Abarso School of Science and Technology.
Abaarso was founded in 2009 as a not-for-profit school in Somaliland. Today, there are over 80 Abaarso students studying abroad, including at such prestigious institutions as Harvard, Yale, and MIT. (Photo: Abaarso School) 


Editor's note: This is a guest blog by Jonathan Starr, founder of Abaarso School of Science and Technology, and the author of “It Takes A School.”

60 Minutes, The New York Times, MSNBC, BBC, and CNN are just some of the media outlets that have covered the story of Abaarso School in Somaliland. Abaarso is also the subject of a recently released book, It Takes A School, and an upcoming documentary, Somaliland, The Abaarso Story. All this attention is the result of Abaarso’s extraordinary success, despite conventional wisdom believing Abaarso’s results were impossible anywhere, never mind in the unrecognized breakaway country of Somaliland. Given Abaarso’s achievements and modest price tag, its approach is worth a deeper dive for lessons that can be applied elsewhere.

Why it’s imperative to invest in education for adolescent girls

Rachel Cooper's picture
High school students in La Ceja
Across the world, barriers persist that keep girls out of school. A key ingredient to empowering girls through education rests at the local level. (Photo: Charlotte Kesl / World Bank)


“If you invest in a girl, she becomes a woman and she invests in everyone else.”

Melinda Gates delivered this call to action from the World Bank/IMF Spring Meetings in April 2017. World Bank President Jim Yong Kim echoed her sentiments.

A mixed report: How Europe and Central Asian Countries performed in PISA

Cristian Aedo's picture
 Aigul Eshtaeva / World Bank
While more ECA program countries are participating in the PISA assessment of 15-year-old students' skills, education poverty in these countries has only slightly declined since 2000. (Photo: Aigul Eshtaeva / World Bank)

Recently, the OECD released the results for PISA 2015, an international assessment that measures the skills of 15-year-old students in applying their knowledge of science, reading, and mathematics to real-life problems. There is a sense of urgency to ensure that students have solid skills amidst modest economic growth and long-term demographic decline in Europe and Central Asia (ECA).

Non-cognitive skills: What are they and why should we care?

Raja Bentaouet Kattan's picture
 Trinn Suwannapha / World Bank)
With trends such as automation causing fundamental shifts in the labor market, research is increasingly looking at the value of non-cognitive skills or socioemotional skills. (Photo: Trinn Suwannapha / World Bank)


Over the past few decades, cheap and low-skilled labor has provided many countries — including much of East Asia — with a competitive advantage.  However, with economies increasingly turning to automation, cheap labor and low skills will no longer guarantee economic growth or even jobs. 

Going beyond basic indicators: A new tool to measure education service delivery

Angela Demas's picture
 Bart Verweij / World Bank
A new tool is aiming to provide comprehensive data to better understand the complexities of an education system. (Photo: Bart Verweij / World Bank)

When it comes to evaluating education systems, we have available basic high-level indicators such as a country’s GDP allocated to education, national learning levels, enrollment and completion rates, and data on teachers. But “What is going wrong?” and “Where is it going wrong?” are more difficult questions to answer.

Economy mega shifts are here to stay – Tap your talents to thrive

Salah-Eddine Kandri's picture
Editor’s Note: This guest blog is by Salah-Eddine Kandri, the Global Sector Lead for education at the International Finance Corporation (IFC).
 
 Li Wenyong / World Bank
According to a report from McKinsey, about 60 percent of occupations have at least 30 percent of their activities automatable. This means new sets of skills need to be acquired. (Photo: Li Wenyong / World Bank)


When I visited Peru for the first time last month for a business development trip, I met with the heads of some leading private education institutions. At the end of my visit, I decided to book a cultural tour of Lima. During the tour, I asked our guide Marcos where he learned English as I found him very articulate, knowledgeable and with a good sense of humor. To my pleasant surprise and astonishment, he told me that he learned it by himself, mainly online. He then started practicing with visiting tourists until he became more comfortable leading tours himself.      

In Africa, changing norms and advocating for investments in the early years

Noreyana Fernando's picture
A conversation with Dr. Ibrahima Giroux, Senegal’s Early Years Fellow
 
Photo © Dominic Chavez/World Bank
The demand for expertise in the area of early childhood development is increasing in Africa. But this demand is not being met. (Photo: Dominic Chavez/World Bank)


The first few years of a child’s life have proven to be an ideal window of opportunity to break the cycle of poverty. Yet across the world, nearly half of all three to six-year-olds do not have access to pre-primary education.

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