Fernando La Sama de Araujo, the recently deceased Minister of Education of Timor Leste, was a freedom fighter and a visionary leader. “La Sama”, which means unbreakable, dedicated his life to the service of his country, Timor-Leste and was recently engaged in a plan to improve the quality of education. I received this news with great sadness, especially due to the engaging meetings we had in Dili, where I was on mission just a few days before he passed away.
Minister La Sama was a leader of Timorese students’ resistance movement in Indonesia and spent six years in prison in Jakarta, together with Xanana Gusmão. Following independence, he held several public positions: President of the National Parliament, Acting President, and Vice Prime-Minister. Following leadership transition in February 2015, Minister La Sama his position as Minister of State, Coordinating Minister of Social Affairs and Minister of Education.
I work in one of the most rewarding fields imaginable – helping low- and middle-income countries develop so that poor people have a fair chance at reaching their full potential. My field of work is at a critical crossroads, and it is no exaggeration that the decisions we make this year will have an impact on everyone in the world and especially the poorest.
Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) refer to any online learning or use of education technologies. In China, a country of 1.4 billion people, these are growing.
The Chinese government expects MOOCs to bring “revolutionary” change to the education system by reducing inequity in quality of education between urban and rural schools and by sharing the best teaching resources. One of the government’s goals is to train 13 million k-12 (“k-12” is the sum of primary and secondary school years) teachers on education technology skills in the next five years through MOOCs. Yes, you read it correctly, 13 million teachers.
I am a teacher at Karkhana, an education company that designs and delivers hands-on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and maths)-based content to middle school students in Nepal.
The first two days after the quake, we quickly realized that people without any specialized skills such as first aid, sanitation, nursing, construction, and rescue were not of much help in the immediate relief efforts.
Bill Lyons / World Bank
A new World Bank report addressing the widespread dissatisfaction of citizens with the delivery of essential public services and calling for accountability in public service delivery in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region was released a few weeks ago.
The statistics in Trust, Voice, and Incentives: Learning from Local Success Stories in Service Delivery in the Middle East and North Africa are grim, as nearly three quarters of MENA students are scoring “low” or “below low” in international student performance tests and one third of the public health clinics in MENA countries lack essential medicines and staff.
The good news, however, is that the report also sheds light on local success stories in health and education where, to citizens. The examples from Jordan, Morocco, and the Palestinian Territories highlight the power of collaboration and mutual trust between citizens and public servants to produce better results.
Today, June 1, many countries around the world mark Children’s Day, offering an opportunity to reflect on the kind of world our kids will inherit. Let’s join together to make a better world — one free from extreme poverty — before they grow up. Together we can end poverty by 2030 and ensure a better world for today’s kids and all children in the future. Share this blog post with your kids, or children from your community, and submit their artwork to be considered for World Bank social media channels.
Imagine a girl named Maya. Maya lives in a poor country where her parents work all day, and she can’t go to school because she has to care for her baby brother. Even though her parents work very hard, they barely make enough to feed the family, much less buy school supplies for Maya. She and her family live out in the country, and there are no roads for buses to take Maya to school, even if there was someone to care for her brother while her parents work. Education means learning to read, write, add, and subtract. Kids need to learn all these things to find jobs when they grow up. No education means very little access to jobs. Is it fair that just because Maya is poor that she can’t go to school, just like you?
On International Children’s Day, we reflect on the kind of world our children will inherit. To prosper in a rapidly changing world, all children need more than basic literacy and numeracy. They need to be creative, critical thinkers and problem-solvers. Early childhood development can help level the playing field from the early stages of life.
Back in 2005, I helped put together a 'quick guide to ICT and education challenges and research questions' in developing countries. This list was meant to inform a research program at the time sponsored by the World Bank's infoDev program, but I figured I'd make it public, because the barriers to publishing were so low (copy -> paste -> save -> upload) and in case doing so might be useful to anyone else.
While I don't know to what extent others may have actually found this list helpful, I have seen this document referenced over the years in various funding proposals, and by other funding agencies. Over the past week I've (rather surprisingly) heard two separate organizations reference this rather old document in the course of considering some of their research priorities going forward related to investigating possible uses of information and communication technologies (ICTs) to help meet educational goals in low income and middle countries around the world, and so I wondered how these 50 research questions had held up over the years.
Are they still relevant?
What did we miss, ignore or not understand?
The list of research questions to be investigated going forward was a sort of companion document to Knowledge maps: What we know (and what we don't) about ICT use in education in developing countries. It was in many ways a creature of its time and context. The formulation of the research questions identified was in part influenced by some stated interests of the European Commission (which was co-funding some of the work) and I knew that some research questions would resonate with other potential funders at the time (including the World Bank itself) who were interested in related areas (see, for example, the first and last research questions). The list of research questions was thus somewhat idiosynscratic, did not presume to be comprehensive in its treatment of the topic, and was not intended nor meant to imply that certain areas of research interest were 'more important' than others not included on the list.
That said, in general the list seems to have held up quite well, and many of the research questions from 2005 continue to resonate in 2015. In some ways, this resonance is unfortunate, as it suggests that we still don't know answers to a lot of very basic questions. Indeed, in some cases we may know as little in 2015 as we knew in 2015, despite the explosion of activity and investment (and rhetoric) in exploring the relevance of technology use in education to help meet a wide variety of challenges faced by education systems, communities, teachers and learners around the world. This is not to imply that we haven't learned anything, of course (an upcoming EduTech blog post will look at two very useful surveys of research findings that have been published in the past year), but that we still have a long way to go.
Some comments and observations,
with the benefit of hindsight and when looking forward
The full list of research questions from 2005 is copied at the bottom of this blog post (here's the original list as published, with explanation and commentary on individual items).
Reviewing this list, a few things jump out at me:
When looking at recent data, it is hard to escape the conclusion that although India has enjoyed high economic growth this has largely been jobless economic growth. It is imperative for there to be a big push in the areas of education and employment in India. This is the most significant policy challenge facing the Indian economy.
Millennium Development Goal 2 is to "Achieve universal primary education" and is measured against a target to “ensure that, by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling”
After modest movement toward universal primary education in the poorest countries during the 1990s, progress has accelerated considerably since 2000. Achieving the MDG 2 target appeared within reach only a few years ago, but the primary school completion rate has been stalled at 91 percent for developing countries since 2009.
Only two regions, East Asia and Pacific and Europe and Central Asia, have reached or are close to reaching universal primary education. The Middle East and North Africa has steadily improved, to 95 percent in 2012, the same rate as Latin America and the Caribbean. South Asia reached 91 percent in 2009, but progress since has been slow. The real challenge remains in Sub-Saharan Africa, which lags behind with a 70 percent primary completion rate as of 2012.