News and Research 251

The Paradoxes of Russian Higher Education Surprised the World Bank Experts ПАРАДОКСЫ РОССИЙСКОГО ВЫСШЕГО ОБРАЗОВАНИЯ УДИВИЛИ ЭКСПЕРТОВ ВСЕМИРНОГО БАНКА | “Even the experts of the World Bank, when calculating the National Wealth of the Russian Federation, were forced to admit that they faced a paradox in this issue”…  “The experts came to the conclusion that the “root of evil” lies, first of all, in the insufficient payback of higher education” …  “The material return on knowledge gained at universities in Russia is one of the lowest in the world. It has been steadily declining for about 15 years” … “The first item on the list of the World Bank’s recommendations to improve global competitiveness is the building up of Russian university potential. In support of the thesis, experts recall the very weak positions of even the best domestic universities in global educational rankings” …

“Lifelong learning is a team sport, not the job of a single player,” said Jeyhun Karamov, Deputy Director of Azerbaijan’s State Agency on Vocational Education (Lifelong learning – From imagining to reality). Italy’s Minister for Education Patrizio Bianchi said the pandemic had placed education at the centre of economies and societies. “This means we must invest more in the capacities of people and in our education systems.” In the ability of people to maintain the capacity to learn, as only this would relaunch a new and sustainable economy. ETF Director Cesare Onestini said the conference aimed to imagine a better future through lifelong learning (LLL), and to draw on the experiences of countries to find ways to achieve this future. An array of strategies and actions were outlined to break the mould of current often stagnant practices and overcome plentiful obstacles. The European Training Foundation and UNESCO in collaboration with the EBRD, ILO and UNICEF organized the International Conference Week, Building Lifelong Learning Systems: Skills For Green and Inclusive Societies in the Digital Era, 21-25 June 2021 in virtual format. My session took place on 24 June,Progress Towards Lifelong Learning Systems, a round table with high level representatives from ETF partner countries, UNESCO and the World Bank. Chaired by: Hugues Moussy, Head of ETF Systems Performance and Assessment Unit; other panelists included:

• Borhene Chakroun, Director, Division for Policies and Lifelong Learning Systems, UNESCO

• Nurlan Omurov, Deputy Minister of Education and Science, Kyrgyzstan

• Jeyhun Karamov, Deputy Director, State Agency on Vocational Education, Azerbaijan

“Another paradox was highlighted by Harry A Patrinos of World Bank Education. “We have more people at school than at any other time in human history – but we also need more and more lifelong learning.” With demand for new skills outpacing supply and the need for people to keep learning and unlearning and relearning, he stressed a need for a better model. For a start: “Let’s look to Nordic countries, with their high levels of literacy and education, high levels of participation in continuous learning, and low levels of inequality.”

Connecting Learners: Narrowing the Educational Divide | The benefits from, and barriers to, improved school connectivity and access to digital learning – with comments from Michael Trucano, reference to the Bank’s Human Capital Index and Learning-Adjusted Years of Schooling, World Bank research, and a case study of Kyrgyzstan: “the weakest performance in the region in terms of the quality of its education system”… “To address the lack of digital connectivity, the Kyrgyz government adopted the Digital Kyrgyzstan 2019–2023 plan which, among other aims, seeks to improve digital infrastructure and internet connectivity across the country, and to enhance digital literacy through training and IT education”… “… in the context of COVID-19 when all education was moved online, the Internet Society worked with the Ministry of Education and international funders to deliver an innovative solution—the Ilimbox, a digital library storing over 500 books, 250 videos and 4 million Wikipedia articles. The box can be used without access to the internet and also provides a local WiFi hotspot which children can connect to through their phones in order to download content” … “… the Kyrgyzstan government has been working closely with UNICEF on a blockchain solution to monitor and improve connectivity in schools. There are also plans to upgrade the Ilimbox device (Project Ilimbox 2.0) to make it a smart online learning platform that allows teachers to create content and students to access the live rather than pre-loaded content.”

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 | Student loans from the president: “…the Fund was created with the aim of providing access to education for people from low-income families, creating equal opportunities in obtaining education and expanding education coverage… Despite the fact that over 7 years, 5,000 students who could not afford to pay for their education were expelled from higher educational institutions, experts regarded the creation of the Fund as a necessary step, and reports of corruption in the organization began to appear on social networks. Despite the fact that yesterday the Fund for Student Educational Loans was a non-profit organization, the statements of the Minister of Education Emin Amrullayev on the issuance of loans at 2 percent were not met with a clear answer. Will the creation of the Student Educational Loans Fund solve the problem of tuition fees?…

Learning in the Year 2030 | The shift toward knowledge work, artificial intelligence, digitalization, and robotics will definitely disrupt our classical ways of learning. Learning will be “lifelong” and “lifewide,” which comprises learning in institutions, families, communities, and workplaces. This chapter, therefore, will discuss the state of the art of adult learning in the fourth decade of the twenty-first century. “Learning everywhere” by choosing the time, place, media, and content that best meets the learners’ goals, intentions, and wishes have become a reality in 2030. This is supported by on-demand (micro)learning, often supported by virtual reality applications. “Mass-personalization” of content and delivery modes address and engage learners individually and via learning communities. In 2030, self-directed and social learning has gained in importance over standardized institutional learning programs. Synchronizing human and machine learning, however, is still a problem to be solved.

Intergenerational Mobility around the World | Using individual data from over 400 surveys, this paper compiles a global database of intergenerational mobility in education for 153 countries covering 97 percent of the world’s population. For 87 percent of the world’s population, it provides trends in intergenerational mobility for individuals born between 1950 to 1989. The findings show that absolute mobility in education—the share of respondents that obtains higher levels of education than their parents—is higher in the developed world despite the higher levels of parental educational attainment. Relative mobility—measuring the degree of independence between parent and child years of schooling—is also found to be greater in the developed world. Together, these findings point to severe challenges in intergenerational mobility in the poorest parts of the world. Beyond national income levels, the paper explores the correlation between intergenerational mobility and a variety of country characteristics. Countries with higher rates of mobility have (i) higher tax revenues and rates of government expenditures, especially on education; (ii) better child health indicators (less stunting and lower infant mortality); (iii) higher school quality (more teachers per pupil and fewer school dropouts); and (iv) less residential segregation.

From The Economist: Lessons from disaster: How covid-19 is inspiring education reform | Catching up will be hard to do | and Must try harder: Closing the world’s schools caused children great harm | They will need help to catch up on lost learning

How Central Asia can ensure it doesn’t miss out on a digital future | On April 9, Kazakhstanis received disappointing news that one of their favorite chess players, the national and world champion Dinara Saduakassova, had to withdraw from an online chess tournament due to poor internet connectivity. In a video posted online, Dinara lamented that, during the game, she was more worried about the connection than the match. Although chess may not seem like a life or death concern, there are a myriad of other, more critical opportunities that tens of millions of people across Central Asia are missing out on because of poor internet connectivity. These include jobs, education, collaboration, innovation, and civic participation, among others…

Latin America’s silent tragedy of empty classrooms | For the first time in more than a year, this month small groups of children with their backpacks and chatter have trooped into some schools in Mexico City. It is a cautious re-opening. It is up to schools whether or not they open, and only a minority have chosen to do so. Only part of the class attends each day. The same goes for 18 of Mexico’s 31 other states; in the others all schools remain shut. With the pandemic far from over, caution may be understandable. But among the living, children continue to be among its principal victims, in Mexico and across Latin America…

Deaf Uzbek Jehovah’s Witnesses: The Case of Intersection of Disability, Ethnic and Religious Inequalities in Post-Soviet Uzbekistan | This study explores how intersecting identities based on disability, ethnicity and religion impact the wellbeing of deaf Uzbek Jehovah’s Witnesses in post-Soviet Uzbekistan.

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 | in the news: Systems Approach for Better Education Results (SABER),