News and Research 247

Ending Learning Poverty and Building Skills: Investing in Education from Early Childhood to Lifelong Learning | The document describes the World Bank’s strategy in education and provides a taste of the types of projects that we support governments on, as well as our partnerships and global initiatives to impact the future of learning.

Corona Generation Growing Up in a Pandemic | The costs of COVID-19 for the Corona Generation were measured in three areas: education, health and the Karthika market. The losses are expressed as short or long-term. In terms of short-term losses, the pandemic’s total impact is USD 1.7 trillion, including a USD 407 billion increase in mental health costs and 1,294 billion in lost earnings caused by the rise in youth unemployment. In the long term, the global cost of COVID-19 will reach USD 44 trillion. One dimension refers to education, where the deterioration of schooling as a result of school closures will lower future earnings – by USD 21 trillion globally during a 45-year career.

Getting back to learning: key policy actions for reopening schools

COVID-19 shuttered schools around the world, leaving more than 1.6 billion children out of school early in the pandemic. According to a recent UNICEF calculation, approximately 214 million children – or 1 in 7 globally – missed over three-quarters of in-person learning between March 2020 and February 2021… UNICEF, UNESCO, the World Bank, and the World Food Programme published a joint Framework for reopening schools that provides high-level guidance around safe operations, stemming learning loss, ensuring the well-being of students and teachers, and guidance on how to reach the most marginalized children.

The Pandemic Poses a Threat to Academic Progress of Russian School Students (Initially published in VTimes in Russian) | Russia’s success in strengthening its national assessment system and reforming its curricula and teaching practices generates interests globally. Given the size of the country and its federal structure, the Russian example confirms that positive gains are possible in a relatively short period of time and in complex contexts. Recently, the results of Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) for 2019 were published. In all of the categories, Russian students demonstrated excellent performance, leading the rankings after the East Asian economies. Russian students of the 4th – 8th grades keep on showing high scores in mathematics and sciences.

The Impacts of Remote Learning in Secondary Education: Evidence from Brazil during the Pandemic | Taking advantage of two natural experiments in São Paulo, Brazil, which featured in-person classes for the most part of the first school quarter of 2020, but not thereafter, we estimate the effects of remote learning using a differences-in-differences strategy, contrasting variation in dropout risk and standardized test scores within 2020 to that in 2019, when all classes were in-person. We find that, under remote learning, dropout risk increased by 250% and students only learned 27.5% of the in-person equivalent. Authorizing schools to partially reopen for in-person classes increased high-school students’ test scores by 20% relative to the control group.

Improving student achievement through professional development: Results from a randomised controlled trial of Quality Teaching Rounds | Improving student achievement through professional development (PD) is both highly sought-after and elusive. This four-arm randomised controlled trial evaluated effects of Quality Teaching Rounds (QTR), a pedagogy-focused form of PD, on mathematics, reading, and science outcomes for elementary students (n = 5478). Outcomes at baseline and 8-month follow-up were compared for QTR, QTR trainer-led, peer-observation, and wait-list control groups. Students in the QTR group made 25% more progress in mathematics than the control group (g = 0.12, 95% CI: 0.07–0.17). This result supports QTR as a form of PD with significant potential for wider impact.

Are adult learners in Europe happier than non-learners? Statistical evidence from the European Social Survey | Happiness scores were lowest in Bulgaria and Hungary, countries with low participation rates in adult education and with the biggest differences in happiness scores between learners and non-learners.

What makes for a good minimum wage setting process? Lessons from Greece |For the past two years, we worked with the Greek government to improve the capacity to implement their minimum wage-setting process. Their experience can help guide the process in other countries, regardless of level of development. Our work highlights two important ingredients for effective minimum wage-setting: that the process is inclusive and is evidence-based.

The COVID-19 Cost of School Closures in Earnings and Income across the World – now in print in Comparative Education Review | The article provides estimates of the economic loss associated with COVID-19-induced school closures by mapping lost learning to the lifetime reduction of the earnings of graduates from 205 high-, middle-, and low-income countries. We also estimate economic losses by level of education. The losses are significant:

HLO (Harmonized Learning Outcomes) – now in print in Nature | 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 | Data

And if you are living or have lived in the East Coast, you will know that it is Brood X time! Cicadas. Right now, in the eastern United States, billions of cicadas are appearing in the biggest emergence event since 2004. Also known as the Great Eastern Brood, they are all over a geographical range stretching from Tennessee to New York. The cicadas have been subterranean for 17 years. And here’s some interesting research: Cicadian Rhythm: Insecticides, Infant Health and Long-term Outcomes | This paper utilizes a peculiar ecological phenomenon, the mass emergence of cicadas in 13 and 17-year cycles, to identify the impact of pesticides on human health and long-term development. I rely on the fact that cicadas only damage woody plants (e.g., apple trees), through egg laying in branches and subsequent nymph-feeding on roots—and not agricultural row crops. Using the natural temporal and geographic variation of cicada emergence, I show that a sharp increase in insecticides coincides with cicada emergence in places with high tree crop production. This is followed by higher subsequent-year infant mortality and adverse health impacts. Looking at long term effects, I find evidence of lower elementary test scores and then higher dropout rates among exposed cohorts. This paper supports the conclusion that moderate levels of environmental pollution, not just extreme exposure, can affect human health and development.