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Facing Forward: Schooling for Learning in Africa

Elizabeth Ninan Dulvy's picture
Also available in: Français
The facts relating to learning outcomes in many countries in the Africa region are depressing and the challenges are immense. But there is a growing body of new evidence from countries across Africa that points to lessons that can be learned about what has worked to improve learning. Together with my co-authors, Sajitha Bashir, Marlaine Lockheed, Jee-Peng Tan and many other contributors, the World Bank has just released a book entitled “Facing Forward: Schooling for Learning in Africa” that focuses on how to improve learning outcomes in basic education —i.e six years of primary and three years of lower secondary education. 
 

A Smarter Way to Keep Teachers in Malawi’s Remote Schools

Salman Asim's picture
 
Alberto Gwande, the Headteacher at the Khuzi school near Nathenje, Lilongwe Rural East District, Malawi.
Photo: Ravinder Casley Gera


Alberto Gwande and his students at Khuzi school in Malawi need more teachers. The school is severely understaffed, with only six teachers for nearly 800 students. “I was supposed to receive new teachers last year, but they never came,” recalls Alberto, the headteacher.

Khuzi is 20 kilometres away from Nathenje, the nearest large village with a trading center, and its Pupil-Teacher Ratio (PTR) is 131 pupils per teacher. In contrast, Chibubu school, located four kilometers from Nathenje, has a PTR of 65, while Mwatibu school, located inside the village, has a PTR of just 49. And yet, despite the shortage at Khuzi, it was Chibubu which received four new teachers last year.

2017 in review: The top ten World Bank education blogs

Anne Elicaño-Shields's picture
Celebrating education. (Photo: World Bank)


As the editor of the World Bank’s education blog, I get weekly submissions from our education experts from all corners of the globe. Provocative and informative, our bloggers write about some of the education sector’s most hotly debated issues today.

Here are 2017’s most-read blog posts:

#10 There are cost-effective ways to train teachers

Teachers are the single most important factor affecting how much students learn. However, talent and heart aren’t enough to make a good teacher- as in all professions, one must train (and continue to train!) to be truly effective. This can be a big challenge in countries with fewer resources for education. Read about how 8,000 teachers in disadvantaged districts in Ghana upgraded their skills while simultaneously teaching in schools.

Why gender parity is a low standard for success in education

Stephanie Psaki's picture
Gender parity in educational attainment may mask other important inequalities. (Photo: Vuong Hai Hoang / World Bank)


In many ways, girls’ education is a success story in global development. Relatively simple changes in national policies – like making primary schooling free and compulsory – have led to dramatic increases in school enrollment around the world. In Uganda, for example, enrollment increased by over 60 percent following the elimination of primary school fees.  

As more young people have enrolled in school, gaps in educational attainment between boys and girls have closed. According to UNESCO, by 2014, “gender parity (meaning an equal amount of men and women) was achieved globally, on average, in primary, lower secondary, and upper secondary education.”

Yet, more than 250 million children are not in school. Many more drop out before completing primary school. And many young people who attend school do not gain basic literacy skills. These challenges remain particularly acute for poor girls.

In a new paper, published in Population and Development Review, we explore recent progress in girls’ education in 43 low- and middle-income countries. To do so, we use Demographic and Health Survey data collected at two time points, the first between 1997 and 2007 (time 1), and the second between 2008 and 2016 (time 2).

The principal makes the difference

Jaime Saavedra's picture
Also available in: Español
Principals have to deal with hundreds of students and their personal and academic challenges. (Photo: Sarah Farhat​ / World Bank)


All schools are different. I’m not referring to the building, the number of students or teaching practices. I’m talking about the school’s spirit. When you walk into a good school, the building is often well-organized and clean. The students look busy and happy. You don’t see strict discipline; ideally, you see organized chaos.

When you see a well-functioning school, most likely, there is a good principal behind it. A leader who sets a vision for the school and sets clear objectives. Someone who creates the space that fosters teachers’ professional and personal development, and encourages students’ personal growth, creativity, and their own journey of discovery.

Running a school efficiently is a very difficult challenge. A principal must be a pedagogical leader to dozens of teachers: observing them in the classroom, evaluating institutional performance, and helping them get the professional development opportunities they need. Principals have to deal with hundreds of students and their personal and academic challenges. They need to respond to parents, each with their own expectations for the school. And principals also need to contend with the administrative and financial burdens imposed by the bureaucracy.  

El director hace la diferencia

Jaime Saavedra's picture
Also available in: English
Los directores tienen que lidiar con los desafíos personales y académicos de cientos de estudiantes. (Foto: Sarah Farhat / Banco Mundial)​


Todas las escuelas son distintas. No hablo del edificio, del número de estudiantes, ni del enfoque pedagógico que siguen. Hablo del espíritu de la escuela. Al entrar a un buen colegio, uno a veces ve que todo está bien organizado y limpio. Los estudiantes se ven ocupados, y al mismo tiempo, felices. No necesariamente se observa disciplina estricta, idealmente, uno ve un caos organizado.

Cuando una escuela funciona bien, en gran medida se debe a que existe un buen director. El buen director establece una visión y objetivos para la escuela, y puede hacer de ella un espacio efectivo de desarrollo profesional y personal para los maestros, y un espacio de crecimiento, creatividad y descubrimiento para los alumnos.

Lograr que una escuela funcione bien es una tarea extremadamente compleja. Requiere que el director se constituya en un líder pedagógico de decenas de profesores, observándolos en el aula, monitoreando permanentemente su desempeño con sus alumnos y en su contribución al trabajo institucional. Así podrá el director desplegar las capacidades de su cuerpo docente de manera efectiva y darles apoyo en lo que necesiten. Requiere lidiar con cientos de estudiantes y sus retos personales y académicos; y con los padres de familia de esos estudiantes, que tienen sus propias expectativas sobre la escuela. Además, debe lidiar con los retos burocráticos, administrativos y financieros para hacer funcionar la institución. 

The implications of automation for education

Harry A. Patrinos's picture
Also available in: Français | Español | 한국어
Will workers have the skills to operate new technology? Education can help. (Photo: Sarah Farhat / World Bank)​


Automation is heralding a renewed race between education and technology. However, the ability of workers to compete with automation is handicapped by the poor performance of education systems in most developing countries. This will prevent many from benefiting from the high returns to schooling.

Schooling quality is low
 
The quality of schooling is not keeping pace, essentially serving a break on the potential of “human capital” (the skills, knowledge, and innovation that people accumulate).  As countries continue to struggle to equip students with basic cognitive skills-  the core skills the brain uses to think, read, learn, remember, and reason- new demands are being placed.

How can we routinize disruption?

Maria Amelina's picture
Also available in: Français
Allô École! training for parents, primary school, Tshikapa, DRC. (Photo: Ornella Nsoki / Moonshot Global, Sandra Gubler / Voto Mobile Inc., Samy Ntumba / La Couronne)


Mobile solutions for better governance in education

Let’s look at these pictures together: villagers examining a poster, teachers putting a similar poster on the wall, adding a number to it; government officials choosing designs for a dashboard with a help of a technician.  None of these can be described as “cutting-edge technology” but these photos show moments in the life of a cutting-edge, disruptive project.

It’s the kind of project that works technical innovation into the lives of citizens and incentives to respond to the needs of these citizens into the workflows of government officials. 

Allô, École! is a mobile platform funded by Belgian Development Cooperation and executed by the Ministry of education of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), with the help of the World Bank.

How education & cricket changed a blind youth leader’s world

M. Yaa Pokua Afriyie Oppong's picture
“I refuse to be seen in the lesser light of society and aim to be a trail-blazer.”
From left-right: Leroy Philips, Yaa Oppong and Charlotte McClain-Nhlapo
(Photo: Brandon Payne / World Bank)

Last fall, while supporting the preparation of a World Bank-financed education project in Guyana, and exploring entry points for gender and disability inclusion (with Braille business cards in hand), I met Mr. Leroy Phillips at the Guyana Society for the Blind (GSB).  Leroy introduced himself after stepping into my meeting room to collect his cane.
 
I learned that Mr. Phillips was a youth leader, disability rights advocate, student of communications and freelance radio broadcaster from Georgetown with a weekly disability-themed program Reach out and Touch. Leroy has also been invited to speak internationally, earning  accolades for his  work for children with disabilities, including the inaugural Queens’ Young Leaders Award 2015.
 

The rippling economic impacts of child marriage

Quentin Wodon's picture
A new study finds that child marriage could cost developing countries trillions of dollars by 2030, with the largest economic cost coming from its impact on fertility and population growth.


Globally, more than 700 million women alive today married before the age of 18. Each year, 15 million additional girls are married as children, the vast majority of them in developing countries. Child marriage is widely considered a violation of human rights, and it is also a major impediment to gender equality. It profoundly affects the opportunities not only of child brides, but also of their children. And, as a study we issued this week concludes, it has significant economic implications as well.

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