Earlier this month in Doha at the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE), Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, founder of the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee, well known simply as BRAC, was chosen as the first winner of the WISE Prize for Education.
“Households with more education cope better with economic shocks and extreme weather events. People with higher levels of education earn more, have more control over their fertility, and have healthier and better-educated children.” he says while referencing the World Bank’s new Education Strategy. “The new Strategy emphasizes the need to invest early, nurturing young children to ensure that they arrive at school healthy and ready to learn; to invest smartly, transforming schools with good teachers, good materials, and good management; and to invest for all, laying the foundation for just and equitable societies.”
Governments across both the developing and developed world are experimenting with private management of public schools to better serve the poorest, and most under-served students. But have recent innovations lived up to their promise of improved results?
The verdict from a recent review of America’s ‘charter schools’—the most rigorous analysis of privately-managed schools to date—suggests some cause for optimism, at least at the middle school level. What is more, recent studies show that successful ideas from the private sector can feed back into the public sector to improve education for all.
As donors, developing country governments, civil society and private sector representatives gather in Copenhagen for the replenishment of the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), I feel both a sense of pride and urgency.
Last month the World Bank hosted Mr.Kapil Sibal, India’s Minister of Human Resources and Development. Sibal spoke to a packed audience about India’s contributions to the global knowledge economy and discussed some of his widely publicized education reforms and plans for the Indian education system. The highlight of the event was Sibal’s display of the $35 tablet PC which he hoped to launch soon as a technology aide to help bridge quality gaps in secondary education. The event was chaired by Tamar Manuelyan Atinc, Vice President of the Human Development Network, and moderated by Mr. Michal Rutkowski, Sector Director for Human Development in the South Asia Region.
Creating jobs and increasing productivity are at the top of policymakers’ agenda across the world. We heard this message during the World Bank-IMF Annual Meetings and during the UN General Assembly meetings in New York last month. We read about disaffected youth in rich and less rich countries who have university education but can’t find jobs. I’m not going to argue that education holds the key to these current issues. Undoubtedly, current high unemployment rates owe a lot to the ongoing global economic slump.
Nonetheless, the current economic crisis forces us to examine why too many workers are unprepared to meet the demands from the modern workplace, particularly in increasingly competitive economic environments. Evidence suggests that education systems in many countries are failing young people with respect to basic skills as well as high-level cognitive skills such as critical analysis, problem solving and communication.
When I published my first book on World Class Universities two years ago, I certainly did not anticipate the world-wide exposure it received. Now, I sometimes worry about having contributed to raising expectations about the importance of world-class universities.
When I visited Nigeria last year, I was told that the country wanted to have 20 World Class Universities by 2020. Recently, Sri Lanka announced that it would increase its higher education budget in the hope of having at least one world-class university. Today we launched The Road to Academic Excellence, a new book I edited with Professor Phil Altbach, and already, the burden of guilt regarding the possible consequences of the new book haunt me.
Many have argued this past week for an increased financial boost to achieve the education Millennium Development Goals -- universal primary completion and gender parity in education. But what should spending focus on, and how can we get the best from both public and private financing?
Not only are we missing the mark in terms of the MDGs for education – currently 69 million children of primary age are out of school, but this is only part of the story. Millions of children drop out early every year, and many of those who do graduate are still not mastering the basic skills in reading and math that are necessary to help them find gainful employment. As we scale up efforts, we must leverage the resources and participation of all, including private and non-state actors, to help reach these goals.
Although the gender gap in education has been decreasing over the past decade, many girls continue to lag behind their male counterparts in equal access to schooling and acquisition of basic skills such as literacy. In Sub-Saharan Africa, 17 million girls are still out of school; in South Asia, another 9.5 million are shut out.
What would equal educational opportunity mean for women and girls around the world?
Want to watch the expansion of schooling in Sub-Saharan Africa over the past three decades? Or chart the difference in growth of educational attainment between South Korea and Mexico? Maybe you just want to easily compare with one click whether a bar or line graph better communicates your data. Now you can! EdStats, the World Bank's free database for global education statistics, has launched EdStats StatPlanet -- an exciting new data visualization and mapping dashboard for exploring country, regional and global performance on 19 key education indicators through interactive, animated world maps, charts and tables.