News and Research 16

Early Years Learning Workshop Opens in Tonga

tonga_children_0A regional training workshop to support school readiness and reading for Pacific children and teachers has kicked off today in Nuku’alofa with opening remarks from Mr. Claude Tupou, Education CEO at the Ministry of Education and Training.

This is the second regional training workshop in as many years and falls under the Pacific Early Age Readiness and Learning (PEARL) Program. Over 50 participants are taking part in the workshop, representing eight Pacific Island countries as well as development partners, and practitioners.

“Investments in the early years of children’s lives and in the first grades of their education are among the most important actions governments can take,” said the Honourable Samuela ‘Akilisi Pohiva, Prime Minister of Tonga and Minister of Education and Training. “An important component of PEARL is the sharing of our experiences…to improve the design of interventions on school readiness and reading improvement. It is a privilege for Tonga to be the place for this important event.”

The four-day workshop will look at case studies from around the world including Mexico, Tuvalu, Tonga and Kenya to provide insights and learning opportunities for governments wanting to improve the foundations of children’s learning experience. A field trip to pilot programs carrying out low-cost, community, play-based activity groups and to schools implementing an instructional reading program, will also enable participants to learn from activities already underway in Tonga.

From conception to age 5, young children develop the foundations for language, thought and learning processes, as well as movement and coordination. Taking a holistic approach, PEARL is working with families and communities to create an environment to help children reach their full development potential. The program is also supporting teachers to incorporate new teaching methods for reading, fluency and comprehension in the Tongan language.

“Early childhood experiences can make big differences to education outcomes for children,” said Harry Patrinos, Education Practice Manager at the World Bank. “Through the PEARL Program we’re piloting a range of new teaching and learning methods and are seeing big improvements in learning outcomes. This workshop will help us to share those lessons and learn from others, so we all go away with new techniques and better practices.”

PEARL, a World Bank-led project funded through the Global Partnership for Education, is now in its third year of operation, with initial results in Tonga indicating the pilot projects are improving teaching practices and reading outcomes for students. The project is also supporting surveys on school readiness and early grade reading in Samoa, Kiribati and Tuvalu, with results providing governments with data to inform policy and program choices, as well as regional knowledge-sharing events.

Eight countries join early childhood learning workshop in Tonga

A four-day regional training workshop to support school readiness and reading for Pacific children and teachers, is underway in Nuku’alofa this week with 50 participants from eight Pacific Island countries and development partners, including practitioners, attending.

The workshop is part of the Pacific Early Age Readiness and Learning (PEARL) Program funded through the Global Partnership for Education and led by the World Bank.

In its third year of operation, the initial PEARL pilot project results in Tonga shows teaching practices and reading outcomes for students are improving.

Children up to the age of 5 years develop foundations for language, thought and learning processes, movement and coordination.

Tonga’s Prime Minister and Minister of Education and Training, Hon ‘Akilisi Pohiva stated that investing in early childhood learning is important.

“Investments in the early years of children’s lives and in the first grades of their education are among the most important actions governments can take.”

“An important component of PEARL is the sharing of our experiences…to improve the design of interventions on school readiness and reading improvement. It is a privilege for Tonga to be the place for this important event,” he stated,

The workshop will look at case studies from countries around the world such as Mexico, Tuvalu, Tonga and Kenya.

The studies will provide government’s insights and learning opportunities to improve the foundations of childhood learning experiences.

Pilot programmes already underway in Tonga will enable workshop participants to view first hand how activities are held including low cost, community, play-based activity groups as well as schools implementing instructional reading programs.

The PEARL programme works with families and communities to create an environment where children can reach their full potential as well as supporting teachers to combine new teaching methods for reading, fluency and comprehension in the Tongan language.

World Bank’s Education Practice Manager, Harry Patrinos said “Early childhood experiences can make big differences to education outcomes for children.”

“Through the PEARL Program we’re piloting a range of new teaching and learning methods and are seeing big improvements in learning outcomes. This workshop will help us to share those lessons and learn from others, so we all go away with new techniques and better practices,” he said.

 

When Students Don’t Care: Reexamining International Differences in Achievement and Non-Cognitive Skills

Policy debates in education are often framed by using international test scores, such as the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). The obvious presumption is that observed differences in test scores within and across countries reflect differences in cognitive skills and general content knowledge, the things which achievement tests are designed to measure. We challenge this presumption, by studying how much of the within-country and between-country variation in PISA test scores is associated with student effort, rather than true academic content knowledge. Drawing heavily on recent literature, we posit that our measures of student effort are actually proxy measures of relevant non-cognitive skills related to conscientiousness. Completing surveys and tests takes effort and students may actually reveal something about their conscientiousness by the amount of effort they show during these tasks. Our previous work, and that of others validates this claim. Using parametrizations of measures of survey and test effort we find that these measures help explain between 32 and 38 percent of the observed variation in test scores across countries, while explaining only a minor share of the observed variation within countries…

Women in the labour market in China

This paper reviews the evolution of gender inequality in China’s labour market during the economic and social reform since 1978. The reform phase has been a period of high growth in China, but during this period we also observe increasing gender gaps in some labour market indicators. Although women’s labour force participation rate in China is relatively high, both women’s labour force participation rate and the employment-to-population rate have declined at a faster rate than men’s. Women are more likely to be engaged in low productivity sectors. Our decomposition analysis, using data from China Family Panel Studies (CFPS), shows that much of the differential outcomes in wages between women and men, 91 per cent to be precise, is “un-explained”. Therefore, women and men of similar socio economic characteristics often end up with different wage outcomes, mostly because of discrimination and gender stereotypes. To improve gender equality in the labour market, the paper points to four areas that require further attention from a policy perspective: (1) measures to promote equal access to employment for women and men; (2) creation of an enabling environment for workers with family responsibilities; (3) improved coverage of social security measures, especially for rural women; and (4) design of an appropriate retirement policy…

Rural kindergartens help to prevent poverty trap

An initiative in one of China’s most mountainous areas may provide a template for future development. Hou Liqiang and Yang Jun report from Tongren, Guizhou province. As China marks its third Poverty Alleviation Day on Oct 17, the success of Tongren, a city in the southwestern province of Guizhou, in promoting preschool education in rural areas is being hailed as a possible blueprint for the eradication of poverty and a means of preventing its reemergence.  Initiated in 2012 by the China Development Research Foundation and Songtao Miao autonomous county in Tongren, the Mountain Village Kindergarten project has established 100 new facilities in isolated areas, and has been extended to cover the entire city…

How do adult returns to schooling affect children’s enrollment?

Universal completion of secondary education by 2030 is among the targets set by the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. Higher expected adult wages traced to schooling may play a major role in reaching this target as they are predicted to induce increased school enrollment for children whose families wish to optimally invest in their children’s future. However, low incomes and the obligation to meet immediate needs may forestall such investment. Studies suggest that school enrollment in developing countries is positively correlated with higher expected future wages, but poor families continue to under-enroll their children…

The impact of education on income inequality between ethnic minorities and Han in China

This article analyzes the impact of education on income inequality between ethnic minorities and Han in China by using the data from the China Health and Nutrition Survey (CHNS) over the period 1993–2011. An instrumental variable approach using two institutional changes is applied to address the endogeneity of education in income equations for various subsamples. To investigate the impact of education on income inequality between ethnic minorities and Han, we introduce an interaction term between the ethnic minority status and years of education. Our results suggest that there exists significant income inequality to the disadvantage of ethnic minorities for the full, female, and urban samples, and depending on the instrument also for the rural sample. Nevertheless, our results for these samples show specific returns to education for ethnic minorities, which implies that a portion of the income gap can be overcome with additional education. We find that in general one additional year of education will increase earned incomes of ethnic minorities by 26.3–28% and in particular by 13.5–14.4% for women from an ethnic minority group, by 10.4–14% for ethnic minorities with urban household registration, and by 10.8% for ethnic minorities with rural household registration. However, we cannot obtain conclusive results for the male sample due to weak instruments…

Shanghai Private Schools Told to Focus on Official Provincial Curriculum

The Shanghai Education Commission is criticizing some private and international schools for not closely following the Commission’s curriculum. Education officials pointed to reductions in history, politics and morality, and Chinese language courses at some private schools and concurrent increases in non-Chinese courses and curriculum. “Schools can introduce international courses into their teaching, but should not replace the basic Chinese courses because they are a requirement of our compulsory education law,” said the Commission in a statement…

A Better Vision for Development: Eyeglasses and Academic Performance in Rural Primary Schools in China

About 10% of primary school students in developing countries have poor vision, but very few of them wear glasses. Almost no research examines the impact of poor vision on school performance, and simple OLS estimates could be biased because studying harder may adversely affects one’s vision. This paper presents results from a randomized trial in Western China that offered free eyeglasses to rural primary school students. Our preferred estimates, which exclude township pairs for which students in the control township were mistakenly provided eyeglasses, indicate that wearing eyeglasses for one academic year increased the average test scores of students with poor vision by 0.16 to 0.22 standard deviations, equivalent to 0.3 to 0.5 additional years of schooling. These estimates are averages across the two counties where the intervention was conducted. We also find that the benefits are greater for under-performing students. A simple cost-benefit analysis suggests very high economic returns to wearing eyeglasses, raising the question of why such investments are not made by most families. We find that girls are more likely to refuse free eyeglasses, and that parental lack of awareness of vision problems, mothers’ education, and economic factors (expenditures per capita and price) significantly affect whether children wear eyeglasses in the absence of the intervention…

Ethnicity, education attainment, media exposure, and prenatal care in Vietnam

Prenatal care coverage in Vietnam has been improving, but ethnic minority women still lag behind in receiving adequate level and type of care. This paper examines ethnic disparities in prenatal care utilization by comparing two groups of ethnic minority and majority women. Results from multinomial-, and binary-logistic regression provide evidence that ethnic minority women are less likely to obtain frequent prenatal care and seek care from professional providers than their majority counterparts. However, we find that ethnic minority women are more likely to obtain early care compared to ethnic majority women. Results for predicted probabilities suggest that education and media exposure positively influenced prenatal care behaviours with higher level of education and media exposure associating with accelerated probability of meeting prenatal care requirements. Our results imply the needs for expansion of media access and schools as well as positive health messages being broadcasted in culturally competent ways…

Does Learning in Mother Tongue Matter? Evidence from a Natural Experiment in Ethiopia

This paper offers empirical evidence on whether learning in mother tongue improves educational outcomes in primary school. We exploit the variation in changes in medium of instruction across schools located in different districts in Ethiopia following the 1994 education reform. This reform has provided opportunity for states in Ethiopia to choose the medium of instruction in primary schools located within their jurisdictions. Since the reform has affected only schools in some districts, but not in others, we assign children into treatment and control groups depending on whether the medium of instruction in the districts in which children live has changed following the reform. Using data from the 2% public-use microdata samples of the 1994 and 2007 Ethiopian population censuses as pre- and post-reform data, respectively, we estimate difference-in-differences models. The results from our preferred specification suggest that the 1994 education reform has increased the probabilities of both enrollment in primary school and whether a child attends the “right” grade for her/his age, and the effects are relatively stronger for kids in rural areas. Falsification tests suggest that our results are not confounded by other factors. This evidence supports the argument that mother-tongue instruction improves educational outcomes in primary school…

Amazing Grace: a rigorous approach to improving literacy for struggling readers

Grace is a Grade 8 student at one of Rising Academies’ schools in Sierra Leone. She wears a bow in her hair and speaks in a quiet, gravelly voice. When she gets nervous she laughs and runs her hand down her face like she’s trying to wipe away the nerves…

Asking young people to rethink education

The voices of children in Time for School: 2003 – 2016, a documentary following five youth over 12 years in India, Brazil, Kenya, Afghanistan, and Benin as they strive to attain a basic education, is clear. The stories of these young people remind us that achieving learning for all is not only a global commitment but also a deeply personal struggle faced by millions of children around the world…

Global Education Monitoring Report

The planet Earth is in a dire state. Natural resources have been overexploited. A significant loss of biodiversity is occurring while a massive rise of carbon levels is leading to climate change and associated extreme weather. Toxic substances are increasingly found in air, water, soil, and flora and fauna…

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