News and Research 244

News: Ukraine to Modernize Higher Education System with World Bank Support The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved today a $200 million project to support the Government of Ukraine’s efforts to strengthen efficiency, quality, and transparency of the country’s higher education system. The project – Ukraine Improving Higher Education for Results – will help boost the quality of the higher education sector, as well as its relevance to labor market needs, while also promoting resilience and continuity of learning in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Congratulations James and Soren.

News: Flawed education apparent as early as elementary grades – Skopje, 7 May 2021 (MIA) — Although access to education has improved nationwide, the quality of education remains a challenge as evidenced by international test scores of Macedonian students, according to Massimiliano Paolucci, World Bank Country Manager for North Macedonia, who also noted the flawed education begins in elementary schools and persists throughout the higher grades. Based on the World Bank Human Capital Index for 2020, children born in Macedonia today will achieve as adults only 56 percent of the productivity they could have achieved if they had access to an optimal education and health care system, Paolucci said. Speaking at a presentation of a project for improving primary education worth 21.5 million euros through the World Bank, Paolucci added that the Covid-19 pandemic has most likely worsened primary education outcomes. Given that many students do not master basic life skills, according to him, it is imperative to improve the country’s education along with reducing the inequality gap between students of different socio-economic backgrounds. The World Bank will support the Government in implementing comprehensive reforms as a basis for long-term improvements resulting in a modern education system and more competitive human capital, Paolucci said. The project will directly involve primary schools to improve learning conditions and help make up for learning losses caused by the pandemic. “We will support vulnerable groups, including the Roma, as well as students who are negatively affected by the Covid-19 crisis,” the World Bank country manager said. The project will focus on equality and improving education quality to help the country improve its human capital, workforce productivity, and encourage a more inclusive labor market, he added. The state will use the funding from the World Bank to invest in school infrastructure, upskill teachers, and reform the national grading system toward developing a state testing program. Congratulations Bojana!

Learning Loss during COVID-19: An Early Systematic Review | The COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant disruption to education systems around the world. New research shows the impact that this has had on student learning progress and, in particular, if learning loss has been experienced. A new paper by Robin Donnelly and Harry Patrinos in CEPR’s Covid Economics conduct a thorough analysis of recorded learning loss evidence documented between March 2020 and March 2021. The study conducts a systematic review, which consolidates available data and documents what has currently been reported in the literature. Among the findings:

•            Seven (out of eight studies identified) found evidence of student learning loss amongst at least some of the participants,

•            One of the seven also found instances of learning gains in a particular subgroup.

•            The remaining study found increased learning gains in their participants.

•            Four of the studies observed increases in inequality where certain demographics of students experienced learning losses more significant than others.

World Bank lends Romania EUR 100 mln to repair schools

The World Bank’s Board of Directors approved a EUR 100 million loan to be extended to Romania under the Safer, Inclusive, and Sustainable Schools Project, aimed at upgrading to modern standards for safety, resilience, inclusion, sustainability, and digital access nearly 100 buildings across 55 schools in Romania. “A child born in Romania today is expected to be only 58 percent as productive as they could be if they had access to better education and health services,” notes Tatiana Proskuryakova, World Bank Country Manager for Romania.

Learning through play is how children learn best | World Bank and Government of Uzbekistan partner to increase access to and improve quality of preschool through Early Learning Partnership

Managing for Learning: Measuring and Strengthening Education Management in Latin America and the Caribbean | Melissa Adelman, Renata Lemos | How can countries make sustainable gains in student learning at scale? This is a pressing question for Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) – and the developing world more broadly – as countries seek to build human capital to drive sustainable growth. Significant progress in access has expanded coverage such that nearly all children in the region attend primary school, but many do not gain basic skills and drop out before completing secondary school, in part due to low-quality service delivery. The preponderance of evidence shows that it is learning – and not schooling in and of itself – that contributes to individual earnings, economic growth, and reduced inequality.

Explaining the Historical Rise of US Research Universities | Competition for private donors, talented students, and highly skilled professors produced a virtuous circle in which elite institutions rewarded high-quality research | The United States had about 900 colleges before the Civil War. By 1875, educational attainment exceeded that in any European nation, but the country had no top-tier research universities. Yet over the next half century, US research universities not only emerged, but achieved global dominance. In 1920, for example, there were more mentions of US universities than German universities ”long the global research leaders” in the biographies of Nobel Prize winners. In Why Does the US Have the Best Research Universities? Incentives, Resources, and Virtuous Circles (NBER Working Paper 28279), W. Bentley MacLeod and Miguel Urquiola explain how American higher education in the late nineteenth century was remodeled when a relatively free market encountered changing student demand.

Azerbaijan: State to pay tuition fees of students from socially vulnerable groups | The Cabinet Ministers has made a decision to reimburse the cost of tuition fees of students from families belonging to a vulnerable group of the population, ABC.AZ reports citing Education Minister Emin Amrullayev. [This seems a good idea not just because of the COVID-related depressed labor market; but also because the disadvantaged groups end up paying more for their education and receiving a lot less in terms of future earnings, even in a pre-COVID world:]

Learning loss in South Korea during #COVID19 school closures Seoul Education Research and Information Institute found that while the percentage of students with top grades stayed the same, the percentage of students with average grades dropped dramatically, increasing the achievement gap.

HLO (Harmonized Learning Outcomes)

Angrist, N, S Djankov, P K Goldberg and H A Patrinos (2021), Measuring human capital using global learning dataNature 592, 403–408

Summary in VoxEU: Measuring human capital: Learning matters more than schooling

More HLO in the News and Blogs