An Investment in the Future (News and Research 59)



HuffPost: Sep 8 – What Works in Education to Get Economies Moving and to Sustain Growth? (Part 4).  Today is International Literacy Day. There has been remarkable progress in terms of reading and writing skills for youth. At the same time, too many school age children do not achieve literacy, even after completing several years of schooling. Early reading gains lead to significant benefits over time, including more schooling, better jobs, increased well-being, and higher earnings. Studies show that one additional year of education adds 10 percent to a person’s wage. Rates of return to investments in schooling have been estimated since the late 1950s. In the 60-plus year history of such estimates there have been several attempts to synthesize the empirical results to ascertain patterns. Estimates of the latest available surveys and patterns using the same specification and estimation procedure and data from 131 economies and 545 harmonized household surveys. The results show: 1. Private rates of return to schooling across a range of countries are more concentrated around the mean of 10% than previously thought; 2. Private returns are higher for higher levels of schooling — that is, university produces a higher return than secondary or primary. The findings on the changed pattern of wage returns to education have potentially important policy implications. This is especially the case for labor market and education policy in the context of poverty reduction. First, they have implications for the pattern of public funding of education. In particular, given its very high returns, large universal subsidies may not be needed to motivate students to enroll in tertiary education although if credit market failures deny poor people access to profitable tertiary education, there may still be a need for state intervention for equity reasons. Second, in those cases where returns to primary education have been falling, its direct poverty-reducing potential is thereby reduced, so that less reliance can now be placed on primary school completion as a strategy for poverty reduction than in the past. However, the fact that primary education has lower earnings increments should not be taken to suggest that the overall rationale for investments in primary education is weakened. There are three main reasons for this: 1. Primary education is a necessary input into further levels of education which may have higher economic returns: if the benefit that primary education confers by permitting access to more lucrative levels of education is considered, its “true” return will increase; 2. Whatever its economic return, primary education continues to be important for its intrinsic value in a rights-based perspective; 3. Returns to education have been estimated mainly using wages; yet waged workers constitute typically a small fraction of the total workforce in many developing countries and the pattern of returns to education in self-employment and agricultural employment could be different. Similarly, the size of the positive economic externalities of basic education could be greater than those of other levels of education. Finally, basic education is valued not only for its economic benefits but also for its non-market benefits, including reductions in fertility and mortality, empowerment, better environment, lower crime and democratic participation. But not of these benefits will be realized if we don’t improve literacy rates for school children by investing in proven early reading programs…

Building and sustaining national educational technology agencies: Lessons, Models and Case Studies from Around the World  National educational technology agencies (‘ICT/education agencies’, and their functional equivalents) play important roles in the implementation and oversight of large scale initiatives related to the use of information and communication technologies in education in many countries. Many, if not most, national ICT/education agencies were formed explicitly to help oversee and/or implement a large project in the education sector to help build out ICT infrastructure (e.g. connectivity, computer labs, laptop deployments) in schools. A typical ‘life cycle’ of such organizations can be observed, characterized by different attributes and characteristics of, and different challenges faced by, such institutions depending on which of the five stages of development they typify. National educational technology agencies assume one of six common models or institutional structures, based on country contexts and needs. Over time, these models can — and do — change…

The impact of digital technologies on routine tasks: do labor policies matter?

Learning better: public policy for skills development (from the IDB)  Despite governments’ best efforts, many people in Latin America and the Caribbean don’t have the skills they need to thrive. This book looks at what policies work, and don’t work, so that governments can help people learn better and realize their potential throughout their lifetimes…


Child schooling and child work in the presence of a partial education subsidy: Evidence from the Philippines

Visualizing the breadth of skills movement across education systems

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