How did a new training college in Jamaica win a Caribbean-wide award that recognizes the best innovations for solving complex problems?
Jamaica’s National College for Education Leadership (NCEL) was just established in 2011 but it has already bagged a Bright Spot Award in innovations by the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development.
Today, as the Millennium Development Goals draw to a close and the development community is thinking of new development targets, many children are not learning in school. But, in addition, more than 120 million children and young adolescents still remain out of school. That is almost one in ten children of primary school age, and one in seven children of lower secondary school age. For these children, the right to education remains a distant dream.
The latest evidence on the private rates of returns to schooling shows that the returns to primary education are no longer the highest, having been surpassed by tertiary education. In my blog, Make the Rich Pay for University: Changing Patterns of Returns to Schooling, I argue that this suggests three things:
About a year and a half ago, I wrote a blog about the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) PISA for Development initiative.
Most of us are already familiar with the OECD’s PISA exercise, which is a test that assesses the reading, mathematics, and science competencies of 15-year olds around the world. The aim of PISA for Development is to identify how PISA can support evidence-based policy making in developing countries that, until now, have been unable or unwilling to participate. The expected outcome is to produce a set of enhanced student assessment instruments that are tailored to the needs of these countries, but which also produce reading, mathematics, and science scores on the same scale as the main PISA survey. In that earlier blog, I made three wishes for the initiative.
Have any of my wishes been fulfilled?
In some fragile states, where the education sector has faced direct attack, physical monitoring of development programs becomes a hugely complex and dangerous task. In this context, Afghanistan is an excellent example of how investment in Education Management Information Systems (EMIS) can strengthen overall monitoring systems in a country. In some provinces, there has been an improvement in accountability and transparency but challenges remain.
The title of the recent blog written by my colleague Harry Patrinos couldn’t be more direct and clear: “Make the Rich Pay for University”! This is an idea that makes sense. However, is this idea as easy to implement as it sounds? Are there any disadvantages or limitations? What is the rationale used in countries that have opted for the opposite direction?
During a recent trip to India, we met with Professor Anil Sahasrabudhe, a dynamic, positive man who will likely remind you of a favorite uncle. In 2004, he was in the less satisfactory position of being director at the College of Engineering in Pune (COEP), located 150 km southeast of Mumbai. At that time, the institution had no financial or academic autonomy, no governance structure, and no administrative freedom. Ten years later, in 2014, the institution had turned around, garnering national awards and recognition. What helped spark the change? While several factors made an impact, Professor Sahasrabudhe mentions good governance first.
At a time when students, parents and governments are looking with concern at ever increasing levels of student loan debt, the returns to schooling seem to be declining, on average, at least slightly.
The value one gets from an education, in terms of future earnings, has been decreasing over time. The returns to another year of schooling tend to decline as the level of schooling rises in an economy.
Today, I had the pleasure of participating in a keynote discussion at the Education World Forum in London--a large annual gathering of education decisionmakers from around the world. We focused this morning on how to use and translate data generated by education systems into better policies and effective results.
My fellow panelists which included Baroness Lindsay Northover, Parliamentary Undersecretary of State at the UK’s Department for International Development, and Professor Eric Hanushek from Stanford University, made excellent points about the link between education outcomes and economic growth. They also spoke about the ways to reach the 58 million children from marginalized communities who remain out of school.
I chose to focus on investments in the youngest children, from birth to age 5, before they even enter primary school.
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.