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SABER: Innovative Assessment Tool Helps Countries Use Evidence to Guide Global Education Reform

Robin Horn's picture

Effective education reform? Evidence-based policy making can light the way.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.

Who's Talking About Learning for All? A Round Up

Christine Horansky's picture

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

New Reasons Why School-Based Deworming is Smart Development Policy

Donald Bundy's picture

In the complex world of education policy, some experts comment that school-based deworming may be the closest we have come to finding a "magic bullet." In regions of the world with high worm burdens, such as Africa and South Asia, deworming children for mere pennies a year results in an incredible range of educational and social benefits, from higher school attendance rates to healthier children who are better able to learn in the classroom.

Globally, more than 1 in 4 people are infected by intestinal worms. In Sub-Saharan Africa high infection rates prevail, particularly among school children. Worms can cause anemia, stunting, lethargy and other problems that derail children's development. The positive impact of deworming on both health and educational outcomes is routinely cited as an example of aid effectiveness, including by Nicholas Kristof in the recent column “Getting Smart on Aid,” in the New York Times. Schools are also the best delivery mechanism for reaching children with safe, mass treatments.

While deworming has proven to be one of the most cost-effective interventions to get children into school, promising new research suggests that deworming children can also result in many long-term benefits, including higher wages, healthier individuals and stronger communities. The World Bank hosted a special panel on Rethinking Deworming this month, featuring guest speaker Michael Kremer, co-Founder of Deworm the World and Gates Professor of Economics at Harvard, who presented the new research findings of a study in Kenya.

Remembering Brazilian Education Minister Paulo Renato Souza

Barbara Bruns's picture

In an age of cynicism about politics, it is bittersweet this week to reflect on the life and legacy of Brazil’s former minister of education, Paulo Renato Souza.  Paulo Renato died on June 25 of a massive stroke, at the far too young age of 65.  It is a shock that all of us who knew and loved him will need a long time to overcome. 

His imprint on Brazilian education cannot be exaggerated.   As someone said this week:  “The history of education in Brazil has two parts: before Paulo Renato and after Paulo Renato.”   For those of us who knew Brazil before,  Paulo Renato’s eight year tenure as Minister of Education under President Fernando Henrique Cardoso from 1994-2002 was an eye-opening introduction into the potential  for a single individual at the right moment in history to create political room for maneuver where previously there was none.   Topics that had been “on the table” only in World Bank reports – such as the deep inequalities in education finance in Brazil, or the complete lack of student learning assessment – suddenly  were tackled with sweeping, full-frontal reforms.   

Evolution of a World-Class University: Balancing Local Growth and Global Appeal

Jamil Salmi's picture

How can countries establish world-class universities while avoiding common pitfalls? In my previous posting on how to sustain and grow a top-tier university I focused on the importance of staying true to a core mission, evolving with the times, and selecting visionary leaders.

In today’s blog, I outline a couple more common errors institutions are likely to make as they evolve towards expanding their programs within a local context while also attempting to attract a global student body.

Avoiding these mistakes can help universities successfully evolve in new ways.

What Learning for All Means for the Middle East and North Africa

Mourad Ezzine's picture

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.

How the Private Sector Can Help Achieve Learning for All

Svava Bjarnason's picture

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?

Live from Bali: Benchmarking Education Systems Pilot Rolls Out Across East Asia and the Pacific

Harry A. Patrinos's picture

Cecilia Maria Velez, former Minister of Education of Colombia shares lessons learned from Colombian education reform at the SABER East Asia Benchmarking Conference in BaliBali was the scene for an exciting international event this week, as the World Bank launched the first phase of its flagship Systems Assessment and Benchmarking for Education Results (SABER) initiative in East Asia and the Pacific. Joined by education policymakers from 14 East Asian economies, we presented the first ever region-wide diagnosis of policies in place in East Asian countries and an assessment of how to improve their education systems.

The four-day conference took stock of progress in student achievement levels in the region and beyond, documenting the policies in place in several education policy domains including – information systems, assessment, teacher policies, autonomy and accountability, information and communication technology (ICTs), vocational tracking and tertiary education systems – and compared East Asian education systems.  Indonesia’s Minister of Education, Mohammad Nuh, opened the ministerial forum and was joined by education experts from the World Bank, UNESCO, the OECD, the Asian Development Bank, and AusAID, as well as experts from Australia, China, Colombia (represented by former Education Minister Cecilia Maria Velez, pictured above), Japan, Korea and Poland, all of whom shared lessons of successful education reform from their own country experience. 

What Learning for All Means for East Asia and the Pacific

Eduardo Velez Bustillo's picture

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.

Podcast: Can We Get All Children in School and Learning by 2020? Harvard interviews Halsey Rogers

Christine Horansky's picture

How we can make the next decade one in which all children, everywhere, are in school and learning? The World Bank's Lead Economist for education, Halsey Rogers, joins the Harvard EdCast from Washington to discuss the new Education Strategy 2020 and a global agenda for learning.

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