News and Research 26

Which region in the world has the smartest kids? According to the OECD, it’s East Asia  With the release last month of the latest PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) results by the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development), it is apparent that many of the highest achieving students in the world are in East Asia…

pisa

Country Briefs:

China

Hong Kong SAR China

Indonesia

Japan

Korea

Malaysia

Singapore

Thailand

Vietnam

Learning more with every year? Estimating the productivity of schooling in developing countries  Despite massive increases in school enrolment in developing countries, learning levels have lagged behind. But the range in average student achievement is large: In the 2012 PISA assessment (of 15-year-olds), Vietnamese students got higher scores than those in the US and the UK, but Peru ranked last (OECD 2012). The magnitude of the gap between these two developing countries was 1.4 standard deviations (SD); for comparison the difference between the US and Finland was 0.38SD…Achievement gaps between Peru and Vietnam are modest at school entry and grow rapidly… there is little difference between the ability of Peruvian and Vietnamese students before they enter school, at age 5. By the time these students reach 8 years old (in grade 2 or 3), a massive gap of 0.75 SD opens up…

Lessons from Singapore   The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) released the results of the 2015 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), an assessment administered in 72 nations every three years that measures 15-year-old students’ skills in reading, mathematics, and science literacy. Massachusetts students did very well and placed toward the top of the world distribution when their scores are broken out from the national results. Singapore once again topped the global rankings…

Lifelong learning is becoming an economic imperative  Technological change demands stronger and more continuous connections between education and employment, says Andrew Palmer. The faint outlines of such a system are now emerging…

Cut-price schooling is better than nothing  Not many parents would feed their children McDonald’s hamburgers for breakfast, lunch and dinner. But if the alternative were giving them rotten food or not feeding them at all, they might jump at the chance. That, by analogy, is the choice that thousands of African parents have made in sending their children to schools run by Bridge International Academies, the McDonald’s of educators…

Public-Private Partnerships in Early Childhood Development: The Role of Publicly Funded Private Provision  Collaboration between the public and private sector in development is growing and public-private partnerships (PPPs) are increasingly being utilized as a way to address challenges and gaps in traditional education and health delivery, with the potential to accelerate progress toward the global aims of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). With the aim of improving access to and the quality of services, PPPs have the potential to effectively target poor and marginalized populations. However, the structure, mechanisms, and form of the people and organizations—otherwise called actors—that engage in PPPs can vary widely, resulting in a diverse array of definitions, conceptualization, and models. Common elements of PPPs frequently include some type of formalized partnership between public and private actors, clearly defined outcome or performance metrics, payments tied to the delivery of services, agreed-upon quality and quantity levels, defined prices, a set long-term operation period, and shared risk across partners.1 A range of mechanisms for harnessing private-sector expertise and capacity have been applied within the education and early childhood development sphere,2 including for the management and operation of schools, the provision of education to a specific population through a voucher or subsidy, the training of teachers and other staff, and the development of textbooks or curriculum…

Revisiting the Returns to Education during the Rapid Structural and Rural Transformation in Thailand: a regression discontinuity approach  This paper estimates returns to schooling in Thailand using a regression discontinuity approach applied to the change in compulsory schooling law in 1978. We find that the compulsory schooling law played a role in enhancing human capital investment in the eve of the rapid structural transformation in the 1980s, that the returns to schooling based on our IV estimation was round 8%, while OLS somewhat overestimates (by 20%) such returns, and that returns were higher in urban areas, in services (than in agricultural) sectors and, surprisingly, in underdeveloped Northern regions. Our findings are in sharp contrast with most of the recent studies exploiting similar institutional changes from developed countries, where OLS estimates tend to under-estimate returns to schooling with the implication that those school drop-outs (whose behavior is altered by compulsory schooling) tend to have higher returns than those already in school even before the law change. The conventional notion of ‘ability bias’ (which we confirm) are more likely to arise in developing (but not so much in developed) countries possibly because parents could be forced to keep only those (among many) of their children with higher ability in school, thereby reinforcing (rather than compensating) inequality among children within the household…

Liberia has to work with international private school companies if we want to protect our children’s future  Liberia’s education system is in crisis. Our communities are still suffering from the effects of the long civil war and the devastating Ebola outbreak. Less than 60% of school-aged children in Liberia are in school, placing Liberia in the lowest percentile of net enrollment rates in the world. Those who do attend school may not fare much better: among adult women who reached fifth grade in Liberia, less than 20% can read a single sentence. Teachers, particularly those in remote areas where there are no banks, sometimes don’t receive their salaries on time and therefore often don’t show up. And it is our children, the future of our nation, who are suffering most…

Are robots really stealing our jobs?  An insurance firm in Japan has made more than 30 employees redundant and replaced them with an artificial intelligence system that can calculate payouts to policyholders. Fukoku Mutual Life Insurance believes it will increase productivity by 30% and see a return on investment in less than two years. According to a report by the Nomura Research Institute, nearly half of all jobs in Japan could be performed by robots by 2035…

Is Education a Risky Investment? The Scarring Effect of University Dropout in Sweden  A number of theoretical models of educational decision-making assume that education is a risky investment, but the empirical evidence of those risks is scant. This article analyses the link between educational failure and future adverse outcomes using Swedish register data. Drawing on the concept of risk inherent in the Breen–Goldthorpe model of educational decision-making—that staying on in school and failing leads to downward mobility—this article estimates the risk of university dropout in terms of future labour market exclusion, where dropouts are compared to never entrants of tertiary education. To rule out unobserved differences between the groups, sibling fixed effects are paired with controls for ability, non-cognitive skills, and life course events. The results show scarring effects of university dropout on labour market marginalization, although the scarring effects are small. This lends some support for the assumption that entering higher levels of education involves a risk of downward mobility…

MTB MLE RESOURCE KIT – Including the Excluded: Promoting Multilingual Education  Goal 4 of the UN’s 2016 Sustainable Development Goals is to “Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning.”   This MTB MLE Resource Kit is for people who recognise that “inclusive and quality education” is possible only when children are able to understand the language used in school.  The Kit was developed for three specific stakeholder groups: policy makers, programme implementers and community members. The five booklets in the Kit provide a “big picture” of successful MTB MLE programmes and suggestions for the roles each group can take as they plan, implement and maintain their programmes…

Have books, will travel: Sight-impaired Japanese expat introduces joy of reading to Thai youth  On one of her early study trips to Thailand, Japanese native Yoshimi Horiuchi met a teen boy with muscular dystrophy, who had been out of school for most of his life…

Preparing and Supporting Teachers in the Asia-Pacific to Meet the Challenges of Twenty-first Century Learning  With ongoing reshaping of socio-economic development by globalization and regional integration, and as new demands are placed on the labour market, many countries have responded by reforming education systems and reorienting education policies and practices so as to equip students with the skills needed to function in contemporary life. Such reforms include integrating transversal competencies, also referred to as ‘non-cognitive’, ‘twenty-first century’ and ‘higher-order thinking’ skills, into teaching and learning practices…

Unawareness and Selective Disclosure: The Effect of School Quality Information on Property Prices  The Australian Government launched the My School website in 2010 to provide standardized information about the quality of schools to the Australian public. This paper combines data from this website with home sales data for the state of Victoria to estimate the effect of the publication of school quality information on property prices. We use a difference-indifference approach to estimate the causal effect of the release of information about high quality and low-quality schools relative to medium-quality schools in the neighborhood and find that the release of information about high-quality schools increases property prices by 3.6 percent, whereas the release of information about low-quality schools has no significant effect. The findings indicate that many buyers are unaware of the relevance of school quality information and that real estate agents pursue a strategy of disclosing information about high-quality schools to increase the sales price. Results from a survey of Victorian real estate agents provide evidence in favor of this strategy…

For better schools, abolish the politicized Department of Education and give local districts more control    Republicans opposed the Department of Education from its beginning and regularly threaten to abolish it now, arguing that educational policy should be reserved to the states. Two respected Democrats also objected to the department’s creation almost 40 years ago. New York Sen. Daniel Moynihan warned that it would become a partisan sword. New York Rep. Shirley Chisholm worried about divorcing education from other policy areas vital to student success, such as making sure they had decent housing and enough to eat…

Efficiency in Education  Education is important at national, local and individual levels. Its benefits accrue both to society and to individuals, and as such provision of education in many countries is paid for at least in part from the public purse. With competing demands for government funding it is important for education to be provided as efficiently as possible. Efficiency occurs when outputs from education (such as test results or value added) are produced at the lowest level of resource (be that financial or, for example, the innate ability of students). This special issue is devoted to the topic of efficiency in education, and is well-timed given that governments around the world struggle with public finances in the wake of the global financial crisis. In this paper we explore and provide an overview of the themes of the special issue and introduce the papers contained therein…

The Costs of and Net Returns to College Major  This paper uses administrative student and expenditure data from Florida public universities to describe a) how the cost of producing graduates varies by major, b) how the inclusion of major-specific instructional costs alters the estimated net returns to different fields of study, and c) how major-specific instructional expenditures changed between 1999 and 2013. We find that the cost of producing graduates in the highest cost major (engineering) is roughly double that of producing graduates in low-cost majors, such as business. Cross-major comparisons of per graduate earnings returns net of costs differ from comparisons based on earnings outcomes alone in economically significant ways for a number of fields. Differences between net returns and earnings returns per dollar of instructional spending are even more pronounced. Our analysis of trends in instructional expenditures shows that per credit expenditures for undergraduate classes dropped by 16% in Florida universities between 1999 and 2013. The largest drops occurred in engineering and health, where per credit spending fell by more than 40%. Observed spending changes have little relationship with per credit costs or earnings outcomes…

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