When we speak of gender equity in education in developing countries, and particularly in the South Asian context, we immediately think of the disadvantages girls face in access to education. The case in Sri Lanka, however, will make you think twice.
While most of South Asia still faces the gender gap challenge in favor of boys, we think that Sri Lanka’s educational gender gap favors girls. Like their counterparts in most high-income countries, Sri Lankan girls are consistently outpacing boys both in terms of educational access and achievement.
So, you are about to start field research in education. Whether you are planning a randomized control trial or a quasi-experiment, hopefully these tips may help!
Devote time and energy towards recruiting and training enumerators (your survey personnel). Someone once said that training enumerators is 95% of the battle in conducting good field research. I would argue that that would be dramatically underestimating its importance. The enthusiasm and perseverance of the enumerators makes or breaks all the hard work that has gone into designing the experiment. And so, in general, devoting at least a week to training them and letting them pilot the tool is essential. I find that reminding enumerators of the higher purpose behind the study really helps as well – in a small way, our shared work is helping improve literacy and numeracy outcomes for children across the world and that’s something that they should rightfully take pride in.
Statistics. Either you love or hate them. We certainly need them to compare and measure data, as well as to make informed decisions. Here at the World Bank, we often get calls from researchers, students and journalists asking for education data: Is there an increase in the number of tertiary education students in Brazil in 2017? How much are governments in South Asia spending on education? Where can we find a database of World Bank education projects?
We try to help answer these, as much as we can, but a quicker and easier way of finding this data is to visit the World Bank’s revamped EdStats website. EdStats – the World Bank’s portal for accessing education-related data – has been around since 1998 and is one of the most used websites by education specialists at the World Bank and partner organizations. User feedback has been highly positive: the interface looks neater, highly mobile and tablet-friendly. Allow me to give you a “tour” of the revamped website.
Last Wednesday, the World Development Report 2018, Learning to Realize Education’s Promise (WDR) was released. It argues that there is a learning crisis: in many developing countries, children learn very little, educational opportunities are unequal, and educational progress is still very slow. What do we need to change this? We need prepared learners, who receive adequate nutrition and stimulation in their early years. We need well managed schools that create an environment conducive to learning. We need adequate inputs so that schools can operate effectively. But above all, we need motivated and well-prepared teachers. In classrooms around the world, white boards and screens have replaced black boards and notebooks are increasingly commonplace. But in this 21st century, with increased use of technology, there is one constant that determines, more than anything else, whether children learn at school: teachers. Indeed, teachers remain central to the classroom experience. And yet in many countries, the teaching profession needs attention and reform.
Buildings, classrooms, laboratories, and equipment- education infrastructure - are crucial elements of learning environments in schools and universities. There is strong evidence that high-quality infrastructure facilitates better instruction, improves student outcomes, and reduces dropout rates, among other benefits.
For example, a recent study from the U.K. found that environmental and design elements of school infrastructure together explained 16 percent of variation in primary students’ academic progress. This research shows that the design of education infrastructure affects learning through three interrelated factors: naturalness (e.g. light, air quality), stimulation (e.g. complexity, color), and individualization (e.g. flexibility of the learning space).
Although education policymakers are increasingly focusing on the quality of education and school learning environments, many countries use a fragmented or piecemeal approach to investing in their education infrastructure. In Romania, for example, decisions about education infrastructure investments have historically been made under an uncoordinated and decentralized model, driven by ad hoc needs and limited funding availability, rather than a strategic approach.