Education has long been a focal point of struggle in South Africa: the 1976 Soweto uprising, which set in motion the chain of events that resulted in the end of apartheid, was led by schoolchildren. In the 1980s, the contribution of youngsters to the liberation struggle took a starker turn: ‘No Education before Liberation’ became the watchword of many.
At a recent seminar someone joked that the effect size in any education intervention is always 0.1 standard deviations, regardless of what the intervention actually is. So a new study published last week in Science which has a 2.5 standard deviation effect certainly deserves attention. And then there is the small matter of one of the authors (Carl Wieman) being a Nobel Laureate in Physics and a Science advisor to President Obama.
The headlines are sobering:
• The Arab World has 25% youth unemployment – the highest in the world – and female youth unemployment is even higher reaching over 30%
• The economic loss of youth unemployment costs US$40 to $50 billion annually – equivalent to the GDP of countries like Tunisia or Lebanon
• One third of the population in the region is below the age of 15 – a further third is aged 15 to 29.
• Two thirds of young people surveyed believe they do not have the skills required to get a good job
It is widely held that the revolutions taking place across the Middle East have been fuelled by a generation of youth who are over-educated or poorly-educated and unemployed. Education for Employment (e4e) is an initiative that seeks to ‘realize Arab youth potential’ by providing education opportunities that focus on employability. The World Bank Group's International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the Islamic Development Bank commissioned research for 22 countries across the Arab World with ‘deep dive’ research undertaken in 9 countries. The report found that demand for e4e solutions is substantial and yet supply is nascent. It also identified that critical enablers are missing, such as quality and standard setting, funding mechanisms, internship opportunities and information for young people on the value of different types of education.
Does the Eastern Caribbean education system adequately prepare youth for the global economy? This was a question posed by a World Bank paper back in 2007, which examined how some of the unique characteristics of small island developing nations in the Caribbean influence attempts to answer this question. The use of information and communication technologies within formal schooling systems is seen by many to be an increasingly relevant -- and important -- tool to impact teaching and learning practices across the region. In 2009 two publications from infoDev sought to document activities and progress in this area, and key policymakers from ten countries recently met in Barbados to take stock of where things stand and help chart a course for the future.
Barbados was in many ways an ideal place for such an exchange. The country's Education Sector Enhancement Programme (ESEP -- known in an earlier incarnation as Edutech 2000) has been perhaps the most far-reaching (and expensive) initiative to explore the use of ICTs in schools in the region.
Regardless of whether we do empirical or theoretical work, we all have to utilize information given to us by others. In the field of development economics, we rely heavily on surveys of individuals, households, facilities, or firms to find out about all sorts of things. However, this reliance has been diminishing over time: we now also collect biological data, try to incorporate more direct observation of human behavior, or conduct audits of firms.
The World Bank recently launched its ‘Education Strategy 2020’ which focuses on achieving ‘learning for all’ over the next decade. The strategy emphasizes looking beyond inputs (classrooms, teacher training, textbooks, computers) to outputs such as cognitive skills and skills for critical thinking (read Elizabeth Kings’ post on this). The strategy emphasizes this approach through the slogan ‘invest early, invest smartly, invest for all.’
Special guest blogger David Barth is the Director of the Office of Education at USAID, which recently released its five-year plan for global education. Below he draws parallels with USAID's vision and the World Bank's new Education Strategy.
As USAID moves towards implementation of a new education strategy, we need to pause to consider whether our core assumptions are valid, not just in theory, but in practice. Our recent education policy colloquium, co-hosted with the World Bank and the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab, highlighted the fact that there are no automatic solutions, and no silver bullets. But by using the wide range of available evaluation tools such as econometrics, randomized control trials, rigorous qualitative studies, and the knowledge that we accumulate with our local partners, we can increase the probability that funds invested in education will yield greater results.
Drishtee is a network of over 14,000 rural enterprises that provides villages in India with access to internet connections, consumer products and critical community services.
Brainchild of Indian national Satyan Mishra, the Drishtee model is perfecting a “last mile delivery system” to reach villages that governments are unable to.
Mishra’s success was due in part to the faith that Global Development Marketplace (DM) — a Bank sponsored partnership that provides grant funding to support testing and scaling up of innovative ideas — had in his idea. In 2003 he received a $68,100 from DM allowing him to transform a budding idea into reality and scale up into three states: Assam, Bihar, and Uttar Pradesh.
Challenges for educators in the Internet age
Wherever there are rules, there are almost inevitably people looking to break them, especially where a compelling incentive exists for those willing to risk getting caught. When I was a classroom teacher in Czechoslovakia and the United States, I often found that some of the most 'innovative' practices I witnessed over the course of a school year fell under the heading of what I (and the school) considered 'cheating'.
What a thrill I had this past Friday listening to our World Bank President Bob Zoellick launch the Bank Group's new Education Strategy 2020: Learning for All. Having spent nearly 18 months traveling the world to consult with our partners (government, civil society, NGOs, development agencies) about the best experience and evidence of what works in education and about the role of the Bank Group in the next decade, I feel somewhat like I've given birth, in this case to a global framework for education which we believe is the right one for the coming decade.