News and Research 19

Education Financing Priorities | Report to the Education Commission (http://report.educationcommission.org/download/803/) We used the latest household surveys in 15 low, lower-middle and upper-middle income countries to estimate the private and social returns to investment in education using the full discounting method. The returns are higher in low income countries where the quantity of schooling is scarcer. The range of social returns to education from 12 to 17 percent in low income countries is well above any alternative investment.  For lower middle income countries the private returns are high at every level. For upper middle income countries private returns are high only at the tertiary level. The low returns to primary education in upper middle income countries is due to the fact that primary education is becoming universal at this level of development.  Given the returns structure, primary education is an investment priority in low income countries, followed by secondary and tertiary in this order.  The difference between private and social rates of return, especially for tertiary education, calls for innovative financing mechanisms that will expand access and effective demand for enrollment, especially among the poor. Such mechanisms may include but are not limited to: selective cost-recovery, income contingent loans, human capital contracts, social impact bonds and conditional cash transfers.  To expand access and quality at the secondary level alternative models may be needed to reach the poor in remote and rural areas. Special measures may be needed to increase enrollment among ethnic minorities and indigenous peoples in some countries, such as bilingual education or tailor made delivery modes. Selected scholarships will play a role, especially for enticing girls to enter non-traditional fields at the upper secondary level. The much higher cost for secondary education, especially at the upper level, may require the use of public-private partnerships – for example, industry links for skills formation and charter schools to reach the poor and disadvantaged, vouchers and scholarships to encourage enrollment to complete secondary…

Investing in early years learning: It can be done! On GPE Website  Literacy and numeracy assessments in the Pacific reveal some improvements for year 4 and 6 students, yet literacy remains a significant problem with more than half of children in grades 4 and 6 not meeting the regional benchmarks.  Early reading assessments in 2009 revealed that only 3 out of 10 children in Tonga and 2 of 10 in Vanuatu in grade 3 could read and comprehend what they read. Clearly, literacy issues start early. On the basis of these results, the Pacific Early Age Readiness and Learning (PEARL) was designed to address school readiness and improve early grade literacy across the Pacific.  With two main interventions: (1) school readiness through community play-based activities (CPBA) and (2) literacy interventions through “Come Lets Read and Write” (CLRW), the bottom line is that both components are working with significant economic benefits to the people of Tonga (In French: Investir dans l’apprentissage au niveau préscolaire: c’est possible!)…

Parent Participation Promotes Effective Schools  The participation of parents is able to make effective schools to generate quality education performance and services. Unfortunately, the power of parents to participate in school has not been realized and not prepared seriously by the government and schools. In a discussion entitled “Making Schools Effective” held by the World Bank in Jakarta some time ago, Harry A Patrinos, Global Practice Manager for Education East Asia Pacific The World Bank said, encouraging parents and other stakeholders to become partners of the school is one effective way in improving school performance…

China’s “Great Leap Forward” In Science and Engineering  In the past two decades China leaped from bit player in global science and engineering (S&E) to become the world’s largest source of S&E graduates and the second largest spender on R&D and second largest producer of scientific papers. As a latecomer to modern science and engineering, China trailed the US and other advanced countries in the quality of its universities and research but was improving both through the mid-2010s. This paper presents evidence that China’s leap benefited greatly from the country’s positive response to global opportunities to educate many of its best and brightest overseas and from the deep educational and research links it developed with the US. The findings suggest that global mobility of people and ideas allowed China to reach the scientific and technological frontier much faster and more efficiently…

Sir! I’d Rather Go to School, Sir! MENA Chief Economist Seminar Series, November 16, 2016 Video  Would the fear of conscription entice young men to get more education against their will? This paper uses a discontinuity in the military service law in Iran to answer this question. Iranian males become eligible for military service when they reach 18. But, between 2000 and 2010, sole sons whose fathers’ age was over 58, at the time of son’s eligibility, were exempted from the service. Sole sons whose fathers’ age is a bit below the threshold may stay in school until their father reaches (or passes) 59, in order to get exemption after leaving school. This study shows that, as a result, there is a discontinuity in education levels of sole sons at the father’s age of 59. Sole sons whose fathers’ age was below the threshold are 20 percent more likely to attend college than those whose fathers’ age was above it. This exogenous increase is used to estimate returns to college education in Iran…

China Tightens Rules for Private Schools  Change bars for-profit schools for younger students and seeks to ensure schools are run ‘in a way supportive of socialism.’ “Private schools are a market inevitability in China”…

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…

Is the Meister Vocational High School more cost-effective?  As youth unemployment has worsened recently in Korea, as well as around the world, more attention is being paid to technical and vocational education and training programs. This paper aims to assess the economic viability and cost-effectiveness of the Meister High School (MHS) Program, a new type of Korean vocational high school program launched in 2010, against other investment options, in particular the regular vocational high school (RVHS) and general high school (GHS) programs. This investigation indicates that the net present value of investment in both the Meister and regular vocational high school programs is positive, and that they are therefore economically viable. However, the economic returns to investment in MHS are either equal to or less than that of investment in RVHS, and the cost-effectiveness of MHS is far below that of RVHS. Moreover, the economic rate of return to investment in RVHS was much higher than that for the general high school (GHS) followed by higher education program. Even when a third of RVHS graduates also pursued higher education while working, their economic internal rate of return was higher than that for the GHS followed by higher education. Therefore, in the future, it would be more efficient and advisable to modernize and expand regular vocational high schools than Meister or general high schools…

How do you solve a problem like over-age enrolment?  Leah is a diligent 13-year-old student in rural Liberia.  She walks to the school near her village every day. She pays attention in class. She hopes to be a teacher one day. Yet, there is a problem. Leah is still in first grade. Her case isn’t an isolated one. Almost all Liberian students (82% of students in primary school) are too old for their grade. In fact, the average first grader in Liberia is 9 (three years older than the appropriate age for a first grader)…

Low-Fee Private Schools: Past assumptions, current needs, and planning for the future  As critical steps towards the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals are taken, millions of children and families are responding to current failings in education by pursuing alternative approaches and seeking new providers. As a result, education sectors around the world are diversifying, and with these changes come new needs and new opportunities for research…

Reaching and Teaching Marginalized Children  Despite the “worldwide revolution” in educational enrollment during the twentieth century, a clear division continues to separate marginalized children from their peers: the quality of their teachers. Ample evidence from the United States and growing cross-national evidence demonstrate that children who are poor, who come from ethnic or racial minority groups, who have less educated parents, or who live in rural areas have access to less qualified teachers than their more advantaged peers. Given considerable evidence of the importance of teachers for children’s academic success, the teacher quality division between more and less advantaged children may be as influential in determining these children’s futures as access to formal education was one hundred years ago. In this chapter, we introduce our rationale for studying teachers of marginalized children and we describe the objectives, contributions, and organization of the book…

Sources of Income Growth and Inequality Across Ethnic Groups in Malaysia, 1970–2000  This paper examines the sources of income growth for major ethnic groups in Malaysia. An input–output structural decomposition analysis is extended and applied to the social accounting matrices of 1970 and 2000. The results indicate that the expansion of exports and the changes in the compensation of labor and capital inputs are the main determinants for the income changes. The effects differ largely between rural and urban areas, between skilled and unskilled workers, and between the major ethnic groups. The combination of these two determinants, however, is a dominant factor in explaining the increase in income inequality in Malaysia…

A sight for sore eyes: Teachers test pupils’ eyes to keep them in school  More than 30-million primary and lower-secondary school-age child­ren with disabilities in developing countries are out of school, according to an estimate in a 2016 Education Commission report…

Can information and counseling help students from poor rural areas go to high school? Evidence from China  Recent studies have shown that only about two-thirds of the students from poor, rural areas in China finish junior high school and enter high school. One factor that may be behind the low rates of high school attendance is that students may be misinformed about the returns to schooling or lack career planning skills. We therefore conduct a cluster-randomized controlled trial (RCT) using a sample of 131 junior high schools and more than 12,000 students to test the effects of providing information on returns or career planning skills on student dropout, academic achievement and plans to go to high school. Contrary to previous studies, we find that information does not have significant effects on student outcomes. Unlike information, counseling does have an effect. However, the effect is somewhat surprising. Our findings suggest that counseling increases dropouts and seems to lower academic achievement. In our analysis of the causal chain, we conclude that financial constraints and the poor quality of education in junior high schools in poor, rural areas (the venue of the study) may be contributing to the absence of positive impacts on student outcomes from information and counseling. The negative effects of counseling on dropout may also be due to the high and growing wages for unskilled labor (high opportunity costs) in China’s transitioning economy. It is possible that when our counseling curriculum informed the students about the reality of how difficult were the requirements for entering academic high school, it may have induced them to revise their benefit-cost calculations and come to the realization that they are better off dropping out and/or working less hard in school…

Boy-Girl Differences in Parental Time Investments: Evidence from Three Countries  We study differences in parental time investments in preschool girls and boys in Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States. We find that investments in teaching activities like reading favor girls, starting at very young ages. We document that these boy/girl differences may be quantitatively important in explaining corresponding school-age test score gaps. We explore a parental preference explanation of these results. We find little support for a parental preference for girls (or boys) at young ages. As a result, the investment gaps may be due to sex differences in production functions or in the costs of delivering human capital investments…

Student Awareness of Costs and Benefits of Educational Decisions: Effects of an Information Campaign  Many students appear to leave full-time education too soon, despite the possibility of high returns from further investment in their education. One contributory factor may be insufficient information about the potential consequences of their choices. We investigate students’ receptiveness to an information campaign about the costs and benefits of pursuing post compulsory education. Our results show that students with higher expected net benefits from accessing information are more likely to avail themselves of the opportunity presented by our experiment. Their intention to stay on in post-16 education is strongly affected by the experiment, though not their intention to apply to university. Effects are heterogeneous by family background and gender…

A Life Course Perspective on Gender Differences in Cognitive Functioning in India  We examine gender differences in four measures of cognitive functioning among older Indians. We estimate the impact of childhood circumstances, choices in adulthood, and current circumstances on cognitive functioning. Baseline estimates reveal a female disadvantage across all measures. Our most detailed specification suggests that variables over the life course account for female disadvantage in one measure; sizable gaps remain in the others. Predicted cognition gaps are driven by gender differences in characteristics as well as the asymmetric returns to these characteristics. Lower cognitive functioning and higher life expectancy imply a lower quality of life for Indian women in old age…

 

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