The total number of out-of-school children worldwide has declined from 108 million in 1999 to 57 million today. While this is tremendous progress, a critical question remains: Are they learning? According to the latest estimates from UNESCO, more than 250 million school-aged children cannot read.
But there is some good news. In a previous post I highlighted my recent paper with Noam Angrist, “An expansion of a global data set on educational quality: a focus on achievement in developing countries,” where we use existing sources of test score information to show that there are less-developed countries that have made major educational gains. In that post our comparison of test score gains from 1995-2010 for 128 countries gives the following list of top performers over the last 15 years: Jordan, Kenya, Madagascar, Trinidad and Tobago, and Tanzania, to name a few.