News and Research 240

Bringing Girls Back to School

COVID-19: Bringing Girls Back to School | H.E. Aïcha Bah Diallo, Harry A. Patrinos, Noëlla Coursaris Musunka, Ana Rold | The returns to schooling are especially high for women. That is, the earnings increment associated with more education is in fact higher for women than for men. One additional year of schooling and women’s wages go up 12% (compared with 10% for men). However, the schooling gains of girls and women are under threat. Prior to the COVID-19-induced school closures, girls were staying in school longer and learning more than at any other time. The longstanding disadvantage for girls in terms of enrollment had been declining. In some cases, this led to a “reverse gap” where girls outperform boys in both enrollment rates and learning outcomes – a female learning premium. COVID-19 may put a temporary halt to this progress…

US Congress Raises Alarm on Global Learning Loss and Inequality | The House Foreign Affairs Committee recently advanced the Global Learning Loss Assessment Act. This bipartisan, bicameral legislation shines a light on the critical issue of learning loss—and the impacts of disrupted education more broadly—as schools around the world closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If passed, the bill would direct the US Agency for International Development (USAID) to report on the ways the pandemic is affecting basic education around the world, especially for the most marginalized children, and identify opportunities for the agency and its partners to respond.

Learning loss due to school closures during the COVID-19 pandemic | A natural experiment that occurred as national examinations in The Netherlands took place before and after lockdown is used to evaluate the impact of school closures on student learning. Despite short lockdown, equitable school funding, and world-leading rates of broadband access, students made little or no progress while learning from home. Learning loss was most pronounced among students from disadvantaged homes.

Learning in the Time of COVID-19: Insights from Nepal | Radhakrishnan, Angrist, Bergman, Cullen, Matsheng, Ramakrishnan, Sabarwal, Sharma | This note discusses the impact of COVID-19 and related school closures on primary students’ access to learning in Nepal. For a majority of students, school textbooks have been the major form of remote learning during school closures. Overall, during school closures, disadvantaged parents (by wealth/ caste) are significantly: (i) less likely to have accessed active remote learning; (ii) less likely to engage in the child’s learning; and (iii) less likely to receive teacher support. Disadvantaged parents have children performing at relatively lower levels of proficiency and also more experience stress/worry.

COVID-19 Handbook, Volume 2: Roadmap to Reopening Safely and Meeting All Students’ Needs | from the US Department of Education, advice on how to provide additional strategies for safely reopening all of America’s schools. Focuses on research-based strategies to address the social, emotional, mental-health, and academic impacts of the pandemic on students, educators, and staff, such as how to address any potential anxiety or depression some may face as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and nearly a year of remote learning. Building off of Volume 1: Strategies for Safely Reopening Elementary and Secondary Schools, which focused on health and safety measures that schools can use to successfully implement the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) K-12 Operational Strategy.

From the EdTech hub: Technology to increase participation in school | A. Carter, C. Moss Coflan, C. Myers | In 2020, the Global Education Evidence Advisory Panel identified interventions that provide specific and context-relevant information to parents and children on the benefits of education as highly effective and low-cost at scale. These interventions, “positive messaging,” can be used to increase participation in education during school closures, and hold potential for impact when schools reopen: Using messaging help parents support their children-Parents and caregivers are particularly important in supporting younger learners. Messaging can help not only to sensitize parents to information on education, but also to get parents and caregivers actively involved in using materials with children. Also, positive responses from caregivers to messaging do not always translate into learning gains-Evidence from the early childhood development sector highlights some potential limits of low-cost messaging to parents and caregivers compared with more intensive interventions.

Important news collected by the National Center on Education and the Economy: two pieces on efforts to simplify the curriculum, in Alberta, Canada: released its new curriculum for students in kindergarten through 6th grade, which emphasizes fundamentals and practical skills. Education Minister Adriana LaGrange said the new curriculum reflects feedback from parents: “They told us they wanted to leave behind educational fads and unproven methods of discovery or inquiry learning.” The curriculum emphasizes basic skills like spelling, phonics, and multiplication tables but also research, critical thinking, and argument skills as well as computer coding, budgeting, and public speaking. The Opposition New Democratic Party expressed concern that it does provide adequate attention to First Nations history and that piloting it during the coronavirus pandemic poses an unnecessary burden on schools. And from New Zealand: government will overhaul the nation’s school curriculum over the next three to four years. Changes seek to make more clear what children need to know in each subject and balance learning that is both nationally and locally relevant to students. “These changes seek to reduce teacher workload by providing greater clarity and guidance on what to teach and when,” Associate Education Minister Jan Tinetti said. “They will help teachers to plan and deliver engaging learning experiences that mean all our tamariki [children] progress and meet their key milestones.” Read more from Radio New Zealand.

One in three teachers in England, Ireland and Wales planning to quit: A recent survey by the National Education Union of 10,000 union members found that 35% of teachers say they will “definitely not be working in education by 2026.” Among those who said they intended to leave education, the most common reasons given were: the profession was not valued or trusted by the government or media (53%); increased workload (51%); burdensome accountability (34%); and low pay (24%). The survey also found that more than half believe their work-life balance is now worse than before the first lockdown.

South Korea to expand in-person classes for middle school students: Ministry of Education in South Korea announced it will prioritize expanded in-person classes for middle school students amid concerns that adolescents are losing ground academically. “In-person classes for middle schools, especially for those in the capital region, have fallen relatively short,” Education Minister Yoo Eun-hae said.

Covid-19 creates a window for school reform in Africa | Many pupils already needed catch-up classes. The pandemic may jolt countries into providing them.

State setting up €6-million school camps to cover COVID-19 education gaps | In Estonia, Six million euros is being set aside for summer camps for schoolchildren, preparing them for the next academic year and ironing out deficiencies caused by long periods on remote learning. The money is budgeted as part of the recently approved supplementary budget, issued in response to the latest coronavirus wave.

Uzbek Finance Minister discusses human capital issue during WB and IMF spring meetings | The Minister of Finance of the Republic of Uzbekistan Timur Ishmetov participated in a Human Capital Development Project Conclave, held within the framework of spring meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. The meeting was also attended by the World Bank Group President David Malpass, Vice President for Human Development Mamta Murthy, as well as 36 Finance and Planning Ministers of the countries participating in the project.

‘Build forward better’ after pandemic, educators urge | Almost 1bn learners are still studying remotely, with a ‘digital divide’ discriminating between rich and poor

Local and External Stakeholders Affecting Educational Change during the Coronavirus Pandemic: A Study of Facebook Messages in Estonia | Education worldwide was affected by the coronavirus pandemic when many countries, including Estonia, had to switch to distance learning. It was an unexpected change in education and required a response from relevant stakeholders. This study aims to understand the activities of different stakeholders as revealed in the messages of the Facebook group ‘Homeschooling with technology’ from 6 March to 26 April 2020. The results indicate that educational technologists played a key role in handling the coronavirus pandemic situation in education. However, local stakeholders also received support from external stakeholders.

The costs of growing up during the pandemic | Crises define generations. It will be no different for the young people who are experiencing today’s pandemic – the cost of which for them, in mental, educational and labor terms, has reached $1.7 trillion globally – some 2% of global GDP. This generation will be scarred for life.

UN Agencies Work to Alleviate COVID-19 in Uzbekistan | The World Bank is providing guidance on educational continuity, remote learning and performance of evaluations. Moreover, two UNICEF projects will also support educational continuity and safe school operations.

The participant effects of private school vouchers around the globe: a meta-analytic and systematic review | School voucher programs are scholarship initiatives – frequently government funded or incentivized – that pay for students to attend private schools of their choice. This study is the first formal meta-analytic consolidation of the evidence from all randomized controlled trials (RCTs) evaluating the student-level math and reading test score effects of school vouchers internationally. Findings: moderate evidence of positive achievement impacts of private school vouchers, with substantial effect heterogeneity across programs and outcome years.

The Economist Special Report: The future of work.

Indigenous communities demonstrate innovation and strength despite unequal losses during COVID-19 | A CDC report revealed COVID-19 incidence rates were 3.5 times higher for American Indians/Alaska Natives (AI/ANs) compared to White Americans during the first 7 months of the pandemic. A recent analysis by APM Research Lab provides a heartbreaking update: one in 475 AI/ANs has died from COVID-19, compared to one in 825 for White Americans and one in 645 for Black Americans. COVID-19 has in new ways illuminated the long legacy of neglect and oppression of AI/ANs by the U.S. government and society at large. It has also shone light on cultural and community strengths including the power of tribal self-determination in the fight against the pandemic.

Comparative Education Review Ahead of Print | The COVID-19 Cost of School Closures in Earnings and Income across the World | G. Psacharopoulos, V. Collis, H.A. Patrinos, E. Vegas | Social distancing requirements associated with COVID-19 have led to mass school and university closures worldwide. The article provides estimates of the economic loss associated with these closures by mapping lost learning to the lifetime reduction of the earnings of graduates from 205 high-, middle-, and low-income countries. While others have provided estimates of earnings losses due to COVID-19 school closures, to our knowledge ours is the first analysis that includes a majority of countries. We also estimate economic losses by level of education. Our findings indicate the economic loss of school closures to be highly significant. We find that school closures are likely to lead to a reduction in global economic growth equivalent to an annual rate of 0.8 percent. Estimated losses in national income are greater in low- and middle-income relative to high-income countries.

HLO (Harmonized Learning Outcomes)

VoxEU: Measuring human capital: Learning matters more than schooling | N. Angrist, S. Djankov, P. Goldberg, H. Patrinos | Human capital is a critical component of economic development

N. Angrist, S. Djankov, P.K. Goldberg, H.A. Patrinos (2021), Measuring human capital using global learning dataNature.