News and Research 250

Besimi: Investments in human capital are of key importance for economic progress | Investments in the development of human capital are extremely important for the progress of the country, particularly in the sectors of education, health and social protection. How countries deal with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the impact on health, education, vulnerable categories of citizens,  jobs, building sustainable and inclusive systems resistant to future shocks, promoting economic opportunities and ensuring fiscal stability were topics in the focus of the Human Capital Ministerial Conclave with the World Bank’s Vice-President for Human Development Mamta Murthi and the President of the World Bank Group David Malpass. Finance Minister Fatmir Besimi highlighted the support that the Government and the Ministry of Finance provide in terms of the investments in human capital, as demonstrated by the country’s accession to the World Bank’s Human Capital Project (HCP), the Ministry of Finance said in a press release. “Reforms in health, education, and the social sphere have already begun, but there’s still much work to be done. As regards funding in these sectors, increased funds are considered as part of GDP, while having in mind the efficiency of the investments. Reforms we have undertaken in cooperation with the World Bank have enabled more effective government intervention in responding to the effects of the crisis, while facilitating the public services distribution channels.  We’re continuing with these key reforms, which are the basis for further growth and development,” Besimi pointed out. Minister Besimi underlined that vital activities are underway to contribute to promoting human resource development, as one of the pillars of the Strategy for financing rapid growth. “The measures and activities taken to promote education, science and health, greater activity of the working population, as well as measures to increase social protection, will improve the quality of life of our citizens,” the Finance Minister noted.

The Learning Challenge in the Twenty-first Century | Truth matters; and the norms associated with a democratic society, such as the common good, responsibility, ethics, and civic engagement, are under attack with the emergence of the post-truth society. There are concerns worldwide that public education is failing us on pushing back on disinformation. Schools are not seen as developing skills that permit students to adequately differentiate truth from nontruths. In this context, the education system also faces some unprecedented challenges. The quality of education in most of the world is low, and only slowly improving. Also, future workers are concerned with automation’s threat – or perceived threat – to jobs. In most countries, education systems are not providing workers with the skills necessary to compete in today’s job markets. The growing mismatch between demand and supply of skills holds back economic growth and undermines opportunity. At the same time, the financial returns to schooling are high in most countries, and growing skill premiums are evident in much of the world. Schooling remains a good economic and social investment, and there are record numbers of children in school today. The skills that matter in the coming technological revolution are likely the same as what is needed in a media environment of disinformation. More and better education, and noncognitive skills, will not only prepare students for the future world of work; they will also prepare them to navigate the increasingly complex post-truth society. They will be able to detect fake news – or deliberate disinformation spread through news or online media. It will also allow young people to gain trust. In other words, better education is democratizing, to the extent that it promotes truth, values, and civic engagement. (Patrinos, H.A. (2021), “The Learning Challenge in the Twenty-first Century,” Grech, A. (Ed.) Media, Technology and Education in a Post-Truth Society (Digital Activism and Society: Politics, Economy And Culture In Network Communication), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 39-53.

Azerbaijan creating Student Loan Fund upon presidential decree | Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev signed a decree on a number of measures to create and support the activity of the Student Loan Fund on June 17. In accordance with the decree, the Student Loan Fund is being created under the Azerbaijani Ministry of Education.

President of Uzbekistan chairs a meeting to improve the higher education system | On 16 June, President Shavkat Mirziyoyev chaired a videoconference on the priority tasks in the higher education system. The education system is consistently developing to bring up educated and qualified individuals, train specialists who keep pace with progress. The first reforms in higher education were aimed primarily at increasing coverage, improving the financial condition of institutions and universities, material support of professors and teachers. In particular, over the past 3 years, the number of universities has increased from 65 to 117, the admission quota – from 66 thousand to 181 thousand. The material and technical base of universities has been strengthened. Training of specialists in 64 new specialties has begun within the framework of joint educational programs with foreign countries. The salaries of professors and teachers have been increased by an average of 3.5 times. There are still no noticeable qualitative changes. The Ministry of Higher and Secondary Special Education, rectors do not pay due attention to the issues of improving the quality of education and organizing educational work based on the needs of the market…

The COVID-19 Cost of School Closures in Earnings and Income across the World – now in print in Comparative Education Review | 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

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