Education for the age of singularity (News and Research 93)

Asia: jobs policy vs the machines Concerns about the negative impact of technology on a00001.pngthe labour market are not new. As early as 1817, at the beginning of the first industrial revolution, economist David Ricardo explained how jobs in the English textile industry were being lost as a result of the introduction of automatic weaving machines. The application of new technology in the economy boosts productivity, allowing companies to produce more with less. The gains in productivity reduce the need for workers, destroying existing jobs and occupations. However, economists have also long held that technology supports job creation by raising the salaries of those operating it, and by making production processes more efficient. Increased efficiency reduces the cost per unit of goods produced and also, therefore, their price. As a result, workers have more money in their pockets to spend, which creates more jobs in other industries…

Education for the age of singularity 2045 will be the year collective machine intelligence surpasses humans, according to futurist Ray Kurzweil. An evolution named by some as the singularity. But beyond the countless predictions lie challenges and opportunities for education. At the recent Global Education and Skills Forum in Dubai, Harry Patrinos, education manager at the World Bank spoke on how automation in the workplace will impact learning quality and the skills children require. He noted that while industry was entering a fourth industrial revolution, education was stuck in first gear. “This is an exciting time, but the sobering news is that most education systems are not prepared for what’s ahead of us. Industry is moving forward but education is slow to catch up. The race is being led by technology and we need to arm our educators for any real and sustainable change. Amidst this future proofing needs to be a focus on early childhood learning, reading is still the basic foundation of skill.”…

Education externalities: What they are and what we know  By now it is well known that education is associated with many beneficial effects in society. In the economics of education literature, these effects are typically measured by observing in the labour market the increased earnings or productivity of more educated workers relative to less educated ones…

The Many Hidden Benefits of Education There is broad consensus that education has benefits. The most observable evidence of this is provided by the labour market, where more educated workers enjoy higher earnings than their less educated counterparts. Yet education also brings a host of other benefits to both individuals and society at large that are either not so clearly observable, or even not discernible at all. Empirical research has been carried out worldwide to identify and quantify causally related private and social returns to education, and has frequently found that these considerably exceed those that are easily observed. This finding has dramatic implications for educational policies…

Economic Mobility in Developing Countries Has Stalled for the Last 30 Years: WBG Report   Generations of poor people in developing countries are trapped in a cycle of poverty determined by their circumstance at birth and unable to ascend the economic ladder due to inequality of opportunity, says the World Bank Group’s ‘Fair Progress? Economic Mobility across Generations Around the World’ report, released today…

The Impact of High School Curriculum on Confidence, Academic Success, and Mental and Physical Well-Being of University Students This paper investigates the causal effect of high school curriculum on various student outcomes including academic performance at the university, happiness, physical and mental health, self-confidence, confidence in academic ability, and attitudes towards studying and learning. We exploit a curriculum reform in China, the implementation of which started in 2004. The reform covered all provinces and municipal cities, and was rolled out in different years in different provinces. The new curriculum pivoted away from the old lock-step course structure where all students took the same courses and only those subject that were covered in the national university entrance exam were considered important. In contrast, the new curriculum introduced a course credit system, changed textbooks, and provided flexibility in course selection. It also introduced elective courses and made such courses as arts and physical education mandatory, and a graduation requirement. Using survey data on university students and employing a difference-in-difference approach, we find that the students who were exposed to the new curriculum in high school have better academic performance in university. They are happier, and their physical and mental well-being is better. These students are more likely to have positive attitudes towards themselves and they are more involved in student clubs. They have more confidence in their academic ability, they have more positive attitudes towards studying, and they have more general self-confidence. These results indicate that the reform had a significant impact on students’ academic success and well-being by allowing them to focus on subject matters in which they are interested, and by reducing undue stress of a regimented curriculum…

Smartphone Use and Academic Performance: Correlation or Causal Relationship?  After a decade of correlational research, this study is the first to measure the causal impact of (general) smartphone use on educational performance. To this end, we merge survey data on general smartphone use, exogenous predictors of this use, and other drivers of academic success with the exam scores of first-year students at two Belgian universities. The resulting data are analysed with instrumental variable estimation techniques. A one-standard-deviation increase in daily smartphone use yields a decrease in average exam scores of about one point (out of 20). When relying on ordinary least squares estimations, the magnitude of this effect is substantially underestimated…

Enlightening Communities and Parents for Improving Student Learning Evidence from Randomized Experiment in Niger Providing local communities with authority to manage school resources is a popular education policy in the developing world. However, recent studies suggest that this type of intervention has limited impact on student learning outcomes. To investigate how communities can effectively utilize school resources, we conducted a randomized experiment in Niger by providing school grants and training for school committees to increase communities’ awareness of student learning and improve resource management. The result shows that, when the training was conducted with grant provision, communities increased activities that enhanced student effort, and student test scores in math and French remarkably improved, particularly for low-performing children. As a secondary effect of the training, parents, who have realized their children are not learning the basics at school, increased their contribution to school committees and their support for children’s home study. These results suggest that sharing information and knowledge with communities and raising their awareness is a key to enhancing effectiveness of community participation and school grants policy…

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