Building Back Better: Invest in Education (News and Research 206)

Education is among best fiscal stimulus expenditures, according to Ministers of Finance

11From a survey of 231 finance ministry officials, central bank officials and other economists, representing 53 countries including all G20 nations, on their perspectives on COVID-19 fiscal recovery packages, undertaken in April 2020. By Cameron Hepburn, Brian O’Callaghan, Nicholas Stern, Joseph Stiglitz, Dimitri Zenghelis. Published in Oxford Review of Economic Policy: “We identify five policies with high potential on both economic multiplier and climate impact metrics: clean physical infrastructure, building efficiency retrofits, investment in education and training, natural capital investment, and clean R&D.”

How to invest in remote learning while building the education system of the future? Social distancing measures in response to the risk of coronavirus (COVID-19) have closed schools, which at the peak has affected more than 1.5 billion children and young people around the world. This is having a negative impact on learning outcomes, and estimates suggest that significant losses will become evident when schools re-open. These lags in learning will last a lifetime by decreasing the earnings potential of the affected students. Moreover, it is likely that these learning and earnings losses will not be evenly distributed but will affect the disadvantaged learners much more than others. Some modeling suggests that the loss of learning during the extraordinary systemic crisis of World War II was still having a negative impact on the lives of former students some 40 years later.

Recently, the World Bank approved a US$160 million Safe Schooling and Distance Education Project loan to the Republic of Turkey to enhance the capacity of the education system to provide e-learning equitably to school-age children during and following the COVID-19 pandemic and in any future shocks. This was the World Bank’s first stand-alone education lending response to the COVID-19 crisis.

  • As in Turkey, an effective response requires at least three actions:
  1. Investment in Emergency Connectivity and IT Infrastructure
  2. Production of Digital Content
  3. Building Institutional Capacity


A conversation with Prime Minister Kevin Rudd: Prioritizing education during COVID-19


Learning losses due to COVID-19 could add up to $10 trillion | Azevedo, Amer Hasan, Koen Geven, Diana Goldemberg, and Syedah Aroob Iqbal | COVID-19-related school closures are forcing countries even further off track from achieving their learning goals. The students currently in school stand to lose $10 trillion in labor earnings over their work life. To get a sense of the magnitude, this sum is one-tenth of global GDP, or half of the annual economic output of the United States, or twice the global annual public expenditure on primary and secondary education…

 “A recent estimate places a hefty price tag on COVID-19 school closures: $2.5 trillion in the US (12.7% of annual GDP) in lost future earnings” JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association)

Coronavirus: Lost school time ‘will hurt economy for 65 years’ – study

The pandemic is widening educational inequality

What Back to School Might Look Like in the Age of Covid-19

A century of educational inequality in the United States

School heads and teachers in Croatia satisfied with online classes (Croatia Week) | At the start of this month the Ministry of Science and Education conducted two surveys on the efficiency of online classes during the coronavirus outbreak, which showed a generally high level of satisfaction with remote classes, the ministry said earlier this week.  One survey covered school heads and the other teachers and expert assistants, and both returned positive results.

Georgia: Teaching Force: Need for Optimization | Galt&Taggart published a report on Education Industry in Georgia. According to the report, Georgian education system has oversupply of teachers, despite the number declining to 63.8k, down 20.2%, over 2009-19. This surplus of teachers makes the pupil-teacher ratio low at 9 in Georgia compared to 12 in the EU and 15 in peer3 countries. One of the reasons for this oversupply is the small size of schools operating in the regions of Georgia. But we also see a need for efficiency improvement as teachers in Georgia work fewer hours and teach fewer subjects than in peer countries (25.3 hours per week in Georgia vs 38.8 in the OECD)…

Federal Aid to School Districts During the COVID-19 Recession

Inequality in Household Adaptation to Schooling Shocks: Covid-Induced Online Learning Engagement in Real Time | The pandemic will likely widen achievement gaps along these dimensions given schools’ and parents’ differing engagement with online resources to compensate for lost school-based learning time.

Long-Run Returns to Field of Study in Secondary School | Engineering, Natural Science, and Business yield higher earnings relative to most second-best choices, while Social Science and Humanities result in sizable drops, even relative to non-academic vocational programs…

Marriage traditions and investment in education: The case of bride kidnapping Kyrgyz households in traditional regions may increase education of girls as a deterrence against bride kidnapping. In Kyrgyzstan, there is a negative relationship between regional kidnapping rates and education of girls.