News and Research 227

Teaching should be the most prestigious profession in society – Shavkat Mirziyoyev, President of Uzbekistan

Read@Home: Effective partnerships to reach vulnerable children in North Macedonia | Bojana Naceva Martin Galevski Melissa Kelly | Reading can transport children to new worlds and strong reading skills are essential to succeed in school.  When families regularly talk, interact and read with young children, they are more likely to have stronger language and cognitive skills, be ready for school and show reading achievement in Grade 3.  When children learn to read in their mother tongue, or the language that they speak at home, they build literacy skills more quickly, which forms the foundation for reading in other languages.

Strategic investment in Georgia’s human capital will lead to a more resilient COVID-19 recovery | Sebastian Molineus | Strategic investments in health, education, and social protection and labor will help the country’s response to the shocks of the pandemic. An early adopter of the World Bank’s Human Capital Project, Georgia can benefit from the Project’s recently updated Human Capital Index, which leverages new and expanded data through March 2020 and allows for comparability over time in each of the HCI components related to health, education and survival. This data provides a snapshot of the state of human capital before COVID-19 and a baseline to track the pandemic’s impacts on human capital.

Transition to Online Education in Schools during a SARS-CoV-2 Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic in Georgia | The situation in general education in Georgia has changed in the spring semester of 2020, when the first case of coronavirus COVID-19 infection was detected rising to 211 local and more than 1,5 million infection cases worldwide by the Apr. 8. 2020. Georgia became one of 188 countries worldwide that has suspended the education process. The paper studies the capacities of the country and its population to continue the education process at the schools in the online form of distance learning, study reviews the different available platforms and indicates the ones that were used by the support of the government, such as online portal, TV School and Microsoft teams for public schools and the alternatives like Zoom, Slack and Google Meet, EduPage platform that can be used for online education and live communication and gives examples of their usage. Authors made a case study, where the Google Meet platform was implemented for online education in a private school with 950 students, shows the usage statistics generated by the system for the first week of the online education process. Results confirm that the quick transition to the online form of education went successful and gained experience can be used in the future. The experience and studies can be useful for other countries that have not found the ways of transition yet. The lesson learned from the pandemic of 2020 will force a generation of new laws, regulations, platforms and solutions for future cases, when the countries, government and population will be more prepared than today.

Human capital in OECD countries: A new measure and its policy drivers | Human capital is widely regarded in the theoretical literature as fundamental for economic growth. Yet, quantifying the macroeconomic effects of human capital on growth has produced only mixed results. This column introduces a new measure of human capital which exhibits a strong and robust positive correlation with economic growth. The measure is built on recent findings on U-shaped returns to years of education and allows for variation across countries and over time. Empirical analysis shows the importance of pre-primary education, teaching resources as well as school autonomy for this measure of human capital.

Uzbekistan: More than $100 million directed to early childhood education project | The Cabinet of Ministers, with the support of the International Development Association and the Global Partnership for Education platform, has adopted a decree to implement the project “Promoting the development of children from early ages”

Teaching should be the most prestigious profession in societyShavkat Mirziyoyev | Teachers who go from one district to another to teach at remote schools will be paid a 50% surcharge to their salary, and those who go to work from one region to another – 100%, President Shavkat Mirziyoyev said in his address to the parliament.

Uzbekistan: President announced further reforms in preschool education sector | | President Mirziyoyev listed the tasks that will be implemented during 2021. The strategic goal will be the development of the preschool education sector. Every child, regardless of the social status of the family, should be covered by preschool education. By the end of 2021, it is planned to increase coverage with preschool education to 65%, and by the end of 2023 – to 75%. Subsidies on the amount of UZS600 bln (~ $57.5 mln) will be allocated for the creation of 2,000 non-state kindergartens, bringing the share of the private sector in this sector to 25%. Free school preparation will cover 82% of children. Alternative forms of preschool education will be expanded in remote areas. With the help of UNICEF and the World Bank, home based preschool education for children with disabilities will be introduced.

Education continuity during the Coronavirus crisis | Russia: Платформа Университета 20.35 (Goonline.2035.University) | Polina Zavalina | Ekaterina Lyubimova

Global Economic Prospects: COVID-19 is also likely to set back human capital development | Longer unemployment spells may discourage workers from remaining in the labor force, which could appreciably erode skills given steep job losses. In previous economic crises, vulnerable groups faced higher rates of school dropout and reduced skills development, which increased income disparities (Shmis et al. 2020). School closures are expected to reduce the learning-adjusted years of education across EMDE regions by roughly a third to a full year (Azevedo et al 2020). This, combined with deskilling due to prolonged unemployment, will likely lower future earnings and dent human capital (Fasih, Patrinos, and Shafiq 2020). Overall, COVID-19 could reduce EMDE potential growth by a further 0.6 percentage point, to 3.4 percent, over the next decade absent reforms to boost underlying drivers of long-term growth.

Why don’t households always choose schools with high value added? | Information, Preferences, and Household Demand for School Value Added | Romania | Robert Ainsworth  Rajeev Dehejia, Cristian Pop-Eleches  Miguel Urquiola | This paper examines the roles that information and preferences play in determining whether households choose schools with high value added. We study Romanian school markets using administrative data, a survey, and an experiment. The administrative data show that, on average, households could select schools with 1 s.d. worth of additional value added. This may reflect that households have incorrect beliefs about schools’ value added, or that their preferences lead them to prioritize other school traits. We elicit households’ beliefs and find that they explain less than a fifth of the variation in value added. We then inform randomly selected households about the value added of the schools in their towns. This improves the accuracy of households’ beliefs and leads low-achieving students to attend higher-value added schools. We next estimate households’ preferences and predict their choices under the counterfactual of fully accurate beliefs. We find that beliefs account for 18 (11) percent of the value added that households with low- (high-) achieving children leave unexploited. Interestingly, for households with low-achieving children, the experiment seems to have affected both beliefs and preferences. This generates larger effects on choices than would be predicted via impacts on beliefs alone…

In May, the IOE and the World Bank launched a series of webinars on the topic Education under COVID-19: Problems, Solutions, Perspectives, Research

Higher education in troubled times: on the impact of Covid-19 in Italy | The paper revisits the outbreak of Covid-19 in Italy and particularly in Lombardy region, the first and initially most severely affected area among western countries. First, we provide an overview of the impact of the pandemic in the country and in the region, mentioning the turning points and the main effects on the national and local economy. Second, we focus on the impact in the educational sector, by describing an overview of the university’s activities and reporting the actions undertaken by our home university, Politecnico di Milano, a technological university located in Milan (Lombardy region). We report the activities during the three main stages of the pandemic: the reaction, the management of the emergency and the planning of the new normality. Finally, we provide considerations on the main elements emerging from our commentary, showing the prominent roles of governance and communication in ensuring continuity for students, support for faculty and the redesign of services for the administrative staff. A student-centric approach and a high engagement of the entire community are the main elements that brought together the organisation to face the emergency and plan for the future, where the digital and physical layers coexists.

Digital Innovation in Times of Emergency: Reactions from a School of Management in Italy | The study explores how the COVID-19 outbreak prompted digital innovation in a Higher Education Institution (HEI) by providing evidence on the dimensions leveraged, the initiatives organised and the organisational results achieved. By means of an exploratory single case study based on a School of Management located in Northern Italy, the study proposes a process model to highlight how digital innovation has been fostered during the emergency. Results highlight the relevance of both technological and cultural aspects that supported the digital transformation during the crisis. The dimensions of digital readiness and cultural openness, together with a defined strategic orientation, represented relevant facilitators of the digital innovation process. In turn, digital innovation had important implications for sustainability, which was fostered by increasing the accessibility to quality education and addressed as a topic of many of the digital contents delivered. Thus, the study contributes to the stream of research that investigates how digital innovation in HEIs and other public administrations happens and how such an innovation can support sustainability. Finally, the paper provides practical implications on both technological and cultural aspects of innovation.

Regional flagship university model in Russia: searching for the third mission incentives | This study seeks to explore the incentive factors that serve to instigate university engagement in the third-mission agenda based on evidence drawn from the Russian system of higher education. We pay special attention to how the split of natural and externally induced drivers of the third mission has changed from the Soviet era and up until the immediate modernity. Our analysis has shown that the balance of these two types of incentives never remained flat over the course of history as the Russian university system encountered and had to address different challenges and imperatives at various points in time. We have also found that, while federal initiatives have been adopted by the Russian state that have created a distinctive cohort of universities entrusted with comprehensively contributing to the socio-economic and innovative potential of their host localities as a top-priority task, the third-mission agenda is by no means reduced solely to this very group of institutions, as there are many other universities that are not directly expected to focus on the third mission, but which still favor pursuing proactive and fruitful collaborations with regional stakeholders as arguably representing one of the crucial factors in long-term university sustainability.

The Russian Excellence Initiative for higher education: a nonparametric evaluation of short-term results | This research studies the short-term effects of the Russian Excellence Initiative Project 5–100 on participating universities. To trace the effect, we develop a quasi-experimental methodology. A control group of universities comparable to the Project 5–100 universities at the starting point of the program’s implementation was singled out using propensity score matching. Data envelopment analysis was conducted, and the Malmquist productivity index was calculated to trace how and why the efficiency of the “participants” and “nonparticipants” of the Project 5–100 has changed. We find statistically significant positive effects of the policy both on the productivity and on the efficiency of the participating universities.

University mergers in Russia from the students’ perspective: uncertainty and loss of identity | University mergers are a common practice in higher education systems around the world. Merger-related aspects such as the transformation of organizational and administrative structures, the impact on the internal funding allocation mechanisms, or changes in academic strategies and profiles, are well researched. However, the role of students in university mergers and their understanding of these processes are hardly investigated. The aim of this study was to identify how students are affected by merger processes. Through the conceptual framework, integrating university organizational identity theory and studies of the human side of mergers and acquisitions, this article encompasses six institutional cases in Russian higher education. These cases were selected to illustrate different scenarios of university mergers and accordingly to analyze the variety of student experience in changing universities. The project’s data included the results of document analysis, analysis of the merged universities’ representation in
the public space, interviews and focus-groups with university administrators and with students who studied during the process of university merger. It highlights such perceived effects of mergers as anxiety and perceived unfairness due to post-merger changes, activization of we-they opposition between the students of merged universities, loss or transformation of organizational identity, and clash of university cultures. 

Raising the Stakes: Inequality and Testing in the Russian Education System | Sociologists have argued that high-stakes tests open the door to high levels of educational inequality at transition points: in a high-stakes testing regime, parents and students are able to focus all energy and resources on test preparation, thus enhancing pre-existing inequalities in academic performance. But arguments about a special role for high-stakes tests are often prosecuted without explicit comparisons to other types of tests and assessments, usually because information on other tests is not available. In this article, we analyze a unique dataset on a contemporary cohort of Russian students, for whom we have PISA and TIMSS scores, low-stakes test scores, and high-stakes test scores. We compare the role each test plays in mediating socioeconomic background inequalities at the important transitions in the Russian educational system: the transition to upper secondary education and the transition to university. We find evidence in favor of a special role for the high-stakes test at the transition to university, but we also find evidence that gives cause to question the standard assumption that high-stakes tests should be a primary focus for those concerned about inequality of educational opportunity.

Estimating educational outcomes from students’ short texts on social media | Digital traces have become an essential source of data in social sciences because they provide new insights into human behavior and allow studies to be conducted on a larger scale. One particular area of interest is the estimation of various users’ characteristics from their texts on social media. Although it has been established that basic categorical attributes could be effectively predicted from social media posts, the extent to which it applies to more complex continuous characteristics is less understood. In this research, we used data from a nationally representative panel of students to predict their educational outcomes measured by standardized tests from short texts on a popular Russian social networking site VK. We combined unsupervised learning of word embeddings on a large corpus of VK posts with a simple, supervised model trained on individual posts. The resulting model was able to distinguish between posts written by high- and low-performing students with an accuracy of 94%. We then applied the model to reproduce the ranking of 914 high schools from 3 cities and of the 100 largest universities in Russia. We also showed that the same model could predict academic performance from tweets as well as from VK posts. Finally, we explored predictors of high and low academic performance to obtain insights into the factors associated with different educational outcomes.

The Impacts of Highly Resourced Vocational Schools on Student Outcomes in China | Policymakers in developing countries have prioritized the mass expansion of vocational education and training (VET). Evidence suggests, however, that the quality of VET can be poor. One possible reason given by policymakers for this is a lack of resources per student. The goal of this study is to examine whether the quality of VET in developing countries increases by investing greater resources per student. To achieve this goal, we examine the impacts of attending model schools (which have far more resources per student) compared with non-model schools (which have fewer resources) on a range of student cognitive, non-cognitive, and behavioral outcomes. Using representative data from a survey of approximately 12,000 VET students from China, multivariate regression and propensity score matching analyses show that there are no significant benefits, in terms of student outcomes, from attending model vocational high schools, despite their substantially greater resources.

From the “Best-in-the World” Soviet School to a Modern Globally Competitive School System | This open access book offers a comparative study of eight ambitious national reforms that sought to create opportunities for students to gain the necessary breath of skills to thrive in a rapidly changing world. It examines how national governments transform education systems to provide students opportunities to develop such skills. It analyses comprehensive education reforms in Brazil, Finland, Japan, Mexico, Peru, Poland, Portugal and Russia and yields original and important insights on the process of educational change. The analysis of these 21st century skills reforms shows that reformers followed approaches which are based on the five perspectives: cultural, psychological, professional, institutional and political. Most reforms relied on institutional and political perspectives. They highlight the systemic nature of the process of educational change, and the need for alignment and coherence among the various elements of the system in order. They underscore the importance of addressing the interests of various stakeholders of the education system in obtaining the necessary impetus to initiate and sustain change. In contrast, as the book shows, the use of a cultural and psychological frame proved rarer, missing important opportunities to draw on systematic analysis of emerging demands for schools and on cognitive science to inform the changes in the organization of instruction. Drawing on a rich array of sources and evidence the book provides a careful account of how education reform works in practice.

Educational expansion and the economic value of education in Vietnam: An instrument-free analysis | Expansion of education has effects on many aspects of society. There are debates around a possible change in the economic return to education as it expands and by that education may have become a positional good. This study uses Vietnam Household Living Standards Surveys (VHLSS) data over the period of 2002 to 2014 with a sample of 212,521 individuals to explore how educational expansion influences the strength of the relationship between education (its absolute and relative measures) and income. The instrument-free method was employed to minimize bias. Results suggest that as higher education expands, the effect of the absolute measure of the years of schooling on labor market outcomes does not differ, but the effect of its positional measure on these outcomes does. Likewise, as higher education expands, the effect of the absolute measure of higher education graduation on labor market outcomes does not vary, but the effect of its relative measure on these outcomes does. The findings support the positional theory of education, which predicts that the absolute level of education is not critical, but rather its level relative to that of other individuals.

Человеческий капитал нуждается в компенсации | Renaud Seligman | Как распределить государственные инвестиции, чтобы помочь наиболее уязвимым группам населения в период пандемии [Human capital needs compensation | How to allocate public investment to help the most vulnerable populations during a pandemic]

The 10th International Conference Early Childhood Care and Education | ECCE 2020 Online | Moscow | 10-12 December 2020: 22,243 specialists | 64 countries | 3 working days | 54 events | 407 speakers | The 10th International Conference (with World Bank support) Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE 2020)… The plenary session featured welcome addresses and presentations by Stefania Giannini, UNESCO Deputy Director-General for Education; Grigory Ordzhonikidze, Executive Secretary of the Commission of the Russian Federation for UNESCO; Amanda Devercelli, Global Lead for Early Childhood Development at the World Bank; Ingrid Engdahl, Regional OMEP Vice President for Europe; Agrippina Shin, Minister of Preschool Education of the Republic of Uzbekistan; and Tatyana Larionova, Deputy Chairperson of the State Council of the Republic of Tatarstan… Scientific session “Economy and Management in Early Childhood Education” was moderated by Harry Anthony Patrinos — Practice Manager for Europe and Central Asia of World Bank’s Education Global Practice (USA). Mr. Patrinos presented the World Bank research related to COVID-19 and its impact on the educational systems and on future economic impact of learning loss… Exclusively for the ECCE 2020 Conference, The Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA) and International Pedagogical Academy of Preschool Education (IAPE) prepared an analytical report on the state of preschool education in the Russian Federation. It was showcased at the section “Economy and Management”. The report was then distributed to all participants of the Conference… The results of the Conference were highly appreciated by the scientific community and, following numerous requests, the Organizing Committee of the Conference agreed to push forward the expansion of international cooperation in the field of research activities in regard to preschool education.

Pandemic Aftermath: An Outlook into Future | Evaluating pandemic implications is key to mitigate the upcoming setback, believes Harry Anthony Patrinos, the Practice Manager for Europe and Central Asia of the World Bank’s Education Global Practice…

How to Harness the Digital Transformation of the Covid Era | Governments have an arsenal of policy options at their disposal, from incentives and regulations to infrastructure projects and taxation. Key priorities should be: 1) ramping up investment in human capital (knowledge, skills, and health) and lifelong learning if workers are to adapt to future labor markets; 2) strengthening social protections, expanding safety net coverage, and reforming financing arrangements and labor market norms to facilitate work transitions and to reduce disincentives to the creation of formal jobs; 3) ensuring affordable access to the internet while adapting regulations to confront the challenges posed by digital platforms (such as data privacy and protection and competition rules); and 4) upgrading taxation systems to address tax avoidance and to create fiscal space for universal social protection and human capital development.

Scaling up the impact of READ 2 in Tajikistan | … Tajikistan revolutionized its university entrance system, supporting the move from a non-standardized university-based admission to a centralized, standardized, and transparent admission system. These examination reforms significantly impacted university access in Tajikistan, including the demographics of universities in the country, sustainably increasing the share of women and students from high-poverty regions…  introduce and mainstream formative assessment into day-to-day teaching, and to support using assessment results to inform teaching and learning to meet student needs…

Promoting parental involvement in schools: Evidence from Mexico | Low-cost, group-based information interventions can increase parental engagement in school, change parents’ behavior at home, and improve children’s behavior in school.

Доходность образования в России падает

The Multiplier Effect of Education Expenditure | … the $30-billion Federal Pell Grant Program, which is the largest program to help low-income students attend college in the U.S… An increase in Pell grants by 1 percent of a city’s income raises local income by 2.4 percent over the next two years. This multiplier effect is larger than estimates for military spending (1.5 on average). Multipliers are higher when grants are awarded to students at non-profit colleges, as for-profit colleges absorb most of the grant increases with raises in tuition. Multipliers are also higher during recessions than in expansions: Pell grants can be an effective tool for countercyclical policy that adds to already established benefits, such as, increasing the affordability of college and fostering longrun economic growth…

Continuities in Transition: Ethnicity, Language and Labour Market Inequalities in Kyrgyzstan | Ethno‐racial and linguistic boundaries have major implications for socio‐economic well‐being throughout the world, yet their specific effects vary greatly across contexts. The countries that were once part of the Soviet Union have seen dramatic transformations yet also exhibited remarkable continuities from the socialist era. This article contributes to cross‐national evidence on the roots and expressions of ethno‐racial socio‐economic inequalities and on nation building and nationalism in the post‐Soviet context. It uses data from two identically designed nationally representative surveys conducted in Kyrgyzstan in 2011 and 2017 to investigate patterns and trends in ethnic and linguistic disparities in employment by occupational type and economic sector and in earnings among men and women. The authors find that despite government policies to promote the advancement of the nation’s titular majority, Kyrgyz, and to encourage the use of its language, the ethno‐linguistic economic inequalities inherited from the Soviet era — privileged positions of the European‐origin minority and of Russian‐speaking Kyrgyz — were still potently present in the earlier survey. While variations in types of occupation and employment sectors tended to diminish between the two surveys, the ethno‐linguistic differences in earnings remained very pronounced, even after controlling for other factors. The authors relate these findings to the extant scholarship and reflect on their implications for our understanding of post‐socialist transitions.