Una de nosotras – Diana – creció en Paraguay, pero nunca tuvo la oportunidad de tomar pruebas estandarizadas de ningún tipo durante su vida escolar en el país, ni tampoco conoce a ningún compatriota de su generación que las haya tomado. A raíz de las mudanzas frecuentes de su familia, ella tuvo que estudiar en diferentes escuelas y pudo observar de cerca las desigualdades existentes en la calidad educativa. Mientras que algunas escuelas a las que asistió no alcanzaban las metas de aprendizaje del currículo nacional, otras enseñaban mejor a los estudiantes. La calidad de la enseñanza y la gestión escolar determinan qué aprenden los estudiantes; desafortunadamente, la diferencia en la calidad educativa no es evidente para los estudiantes, familias, docentes, directores o supervisores escolares porque es difícil comparar el rendimiento académico entre estudiantes y escuelas de forma consistente.
One of us – Diana – grew up in Paraguay and never encountered a standardized test in all the years that she went to school. Nor does she know any fellow Paraguayans of her generation who have taken one. Her parents relocated often, so she attended many different schools and, consequently, she experienced a wide range in the quality of schools and teachers. While many of the schools repeatedly failed to achieve the ambitious goals of the national curriculum, some were able to better nurture students. The quality of teaching and the way in which schools are run determine what students learn. Unfortunately, the marked quality differences are generally not evident to students, families, or even teachers, school directors or supervisors because it is difficult to compare learning outcomes in a consistent manner.
Countries in Africa are facing a conundrum according to a recent World Bank flagship report, “Facing Forward: Schooling for Learning in Africa.” Over the past 10 to 25 years, many have made tremendous progress in getting children into classrooms. Yet, while total enrollment has increased, in many of these same countries primary school completion rates have not.
Public school teachers in Brazil, Indonesia or Peru have stable jobs, enjoy high level of legal protection, and are part of teacher unions that shield them politically. Public school teachers in Finland also have stable jobs and are rarely fired. They are represented by a powerful teacher union, which is very influential among other stakeholders in policy discussions. Why do student learning outcomes among these countries vary dramatically?
En el salón de clases, junto con sus compañeros de sexto grado, Yudeisy nos cuenta que a ella lo que más le gusta hacer durante el día es ver videos y tutoriales en YouTube. También le gusta usar la computadora y el celular porque puede ver videos de música, clips de influencers y entrevistas con sus artistas favoritos. Ella, junto con sus otros compañeros de sexto grado en una escuela pública primaria en Santo Domingo, han participado en un piloto durante los últimos cuatro meses para reforzar el aprendizaje de las matemáticas usando software adaptado al nivel de matemáticas de cada estudiante.
In the classroom, along with her sixth-grade classmates, Yudeisy tells us that what she likes doing the most during the day is watching videos and tutorials on YouTube. She also likes to use her computer and cell phone because she can watch music videos, influencers' clips and interviews with her favorite artists. Yudeisy, along with her classmates in a public elementary school in Santo Domingo, is part of a four-month pilot to reinforce mathematics using software that adapts to the math level of each student.
More than one billion people around the world experience some form of disability. Individuals with disabilities have, on average, poorer health, lower levels of employment and earnings, and higher poverty rates. Children with disabilities are especially at a disadvantage when it comes to enrolling and completing school but also how much they learn while in school. This is especially acute in Sub-Saharan Africa, where our latest research, The Challenge of Inclusive Education in Africa, shows that disability gaps in education are increasing.
The message on inclusive education is simple: Every learner matters – and matters equally.
This was the shared spirit when experts from 12 African countries came together in Nairobi, Kenya in late October for the ‘Technical Learning Session on Inclusive Education in Africa’ to share knowledge, ideas, challenges, and priorities toward inclusive education.
The ultimate barrier to education is no schooling at all. Inclusion of children with disabilities can result in significant gains to national economies helping break the cycle of poverty.