At the Global Conference on Equity and Excellence in Basic Education, in Shanghai, China, May 17-19, 2016, the World Bank will be discussing Shanghai’s eminence in ranking highly in international achievement tests. The conference will also cover how good policy can help improve education quality in other countries. See slideshow, press release, key findings .
“Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime.”- Laozi (老子), ancient Chinese philosopher and writer, known as the reputed author of the Tao Te Ching. He is the founder of philosophical Taoism and is worshipped as a deity in Taoism and traditional Chinese religions.
There are more children in school today than ever before. For example, in 1950 the average level of schooling in Africa was less than two years. It is more than five years today. In East Asia and the Pacific, the schooling of the population went from two to seven years between 1950 and 2010. This is a more than a 200 percent increase! Globally, average years of schooling are now projected to rise to 10 years by 2050. This is larger than a five-fold increase within a century and a half.
Malaysia has been able to reach remarkable achievements over the past decades, including extreme poverty eradication and promotion of inclusive growth. It aims to reach a high-income nation status by 2020, which goes beyond merely reaching a per capita GDP threshold. As the 11th Malaysia Plan points out, the goal is to achieve a growth path that is sustainable over time, reflects greater productivity, and is inclusive. High-income status can be achieved if we ensure that future generations have access to all the resources, such as education and productive opportunities, necessary to realize their ambitions and if Malaysia’s economy is globally competitive and resource-sustainable.
Over the years, immigrants have played a crucial role in the economic development of Malaysia, with around 2.1 million immigrants registered and over 1 million undocumented as of 2013. Education levels among the Malaysian population have increased remarkably over the last two decades, and immigrant workers have become one of the primary sources of labor for low-skilled occupations, most commonly in labor-intensive sectors such as construction, agriculture and manufacturing. Economic studies show that a 10% net increase in low-skilled foreign workers could raise Malaysia’s GDP by 1.1% and create employment and increase wages for most Malaysians.
Malaka runs a tight ship. The principal of an all-girls primary school nestled deep in the heartland of Balkh – a mountainous province in Afghanistan – what sets Malaka apart isn’t her formidable management skills. It is the unwavering commitment to her students.
“The first five years have so much to do with how the next 80 turn out,” billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates once said, summing up the importance of early childhood education.
Early education is featured prominently in the World Bank’s Education Strategy 2020, which lays out a ten-year agenda focused on the goal of “learning for all.” With the tagline ‘Invest early, invest smartly, and invest for all,’ the strategy says that an investment in early education will support the development and growth of a nation, particularly for emerging economies such as Indonesia.
Meet Dominique, Fionah, Jeremiah, Mercy, and Stephen: five winners of the 2016 Blog4Dev. They are from Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda, and represent Africa’s brightest minds and change agents.
How can we improve the research, writing, and presentation skills of middle and high school students? Can internship and mentorship programs help students graduate from high school and prepare them for colleges and careers? What type of support is needed for the most disadvantaged youth, including those who suffer from homelessness? Do tutoring programs help elementary school students learn?
What to do?
How do you strike a balance between the immediate needs of students *right now* and an education system's requirements to train teachers to help meet such needs over the long term?
The traditional approach to dealing with such a challenge in many places has been to focus primarily on pre-service training, gradually introducing new teachers into classrooms over many years who have prepared to teach the subject through dedicated courses of study at teacher training colleges, together with occasional in-service professional development activities for existing teachers (normally during holiday breaks). In Uruguay, it was recognized that the gap between the abilities and capacities of many teachers to teach English, and student needs to learn English (which became compulsory in 2008) was so huge in many parts of the country that they needed to do things differently than they had done in the past. Instead of having teachers learn English separately, might it be possible to have them learn alongside their students, in their own classrooms?
As it happens, almost a decade ago Uruguay began its ambitious and innovative Plan Ceibal, which (among other things, and as profiled in a number of previous posts on the EduTech blog) made this small South American nation the first country to connect all of its schools to the Internet and provide all primary school children with a free laptop.
Given the technical infrastructure and know-how that was developed under Plan Ceibal, Uruguayan policymakers asked themselves:
and all students have their own laptops,
might it be possible to offer high quality
English language instruction live over the Internet,
connecting to teachers many miles away from the schools?
The answer to this question, it would appear, is 'yes'. Working out of its remote teaching center in Buenos Aires, its global digital learning hub in the neighboring country of Argentina, the British Council is beaming out English lessons to children in hundreds of individual classrooms across Uruguay, complementing and supporting the work of local teachers in these same classrooms. This is not a 1-to-many broadcast of the sort commonly done in many countries through the use of broadcast television, but rather connects individual classrooms in Uruguay with individual teachers sitting in other places. Some of these English teachers are based in the Uruguayan capital of Montevideo, many others next door in Argentina, and still others much further afield -- including halfway around the world in the Philippines and the UK! Along the way, the capacity of local teachers, who continue to lead English classes on their own other days of the week, is developed, through their interactions with and observations of the remote teachers.
The West Africa Ebola crisis of 2014-15 killed more than 11,000 people, caused economic and social disruption in a massive scale, and left tens of thousands of children orphaned. In Sierra Leone, schools were closed for eight months, resulting in a lost year of learning. With the closure of schools and banning of public gatherings, Sierra Leoneans, having lived through years of civil war, knew the setbacks that lost educational opportunities would inflict on a young generation. The government, working with donor partners, initiated a number of interventions to mitigate these losses.