International Literacy Day: Invest in Schooling Now! (News and Research 258)

Today is International Literacy Day. It is important to remember that the principal means of imparting and improving literacy is through schooling. This makes it imperative that we strive to keep schools open, safely, in-person as much as possible, because:

  1. Early literacy lays the foundation for educational success and labor market opportunities (e.g., Heckman).  Early gaps likely to remain and become more difficult to address later in life
  2. Schooling results in better learning outcomes. Studies following students over a very long time (e.g., Jamaica) show that schooling leads to better learning outcomes and higher labor market returns. School closures, on the other hand, have resulted in learning losses (e.g., Netherlands, Belgium, worldwide).
  3. Labor market benefits of schooling are huge. Typical returns (earnings gains relative to less educated) are 8-10 percent, higher for those from low-income countries, higher for girls. School closures reduced learning gains and are likely to severely depress future earnings.
  4. Schooling reduces inequality. At least at the primary and secondary education level. Traditionally, education is the great equalizer. But in recent years, with technological change, we have seen the earnings gap widen at the tertiary level, favoring those with higher levels of schooling. To counter this, more and better education is needed. Women in particular benefit more from better schooling opportunities.
  5. The quality of education matters. Perhaps more than does attendance, but we need attendance to impart skills. In the last few decades, great strides have been made in getting children enrolled in school. But quality has failed to improve for most students. More needs to be done. The first step is to get all children back in school and learning.

Building Social Cohesion in Ethnically Mixed Schools: An Intervention on Perspective Taking | An educational program aims to build social cohesion in ethnically mixed schools by developing perspective-taking ability in children. The program is implemented in Turkish elementary schools affected by a large influx of Syrian refugee children. Using randomized variation in program implementation, the program is shown to significantly lower peer violence and victimization on school grounds. The program also reduces the likelihood of social exclusion and increases inter-ethnic social ties in the classroom. The program significantly improves prosocial behavior, measured by incentivized tasks: treated students exhibit significantly higher trust, reciprocity, and altruism toward each other as well as toward anonymous out-school peers.

Media Literacy Education to Counter Truth Decay: An Implementation and Evaluation Framework | Media literacy (ML) education has emerged as a promising approach to slowing the spread of Truth Decay, described as the diminishing role that facts, data, and analysis play in political and civil discourse. Several factors contribute to Truth Decay, including a rapidly evolving information ecosystem and overburdened educational institutions. Many teachers believe their students lack the complex skills that are necessary to navigate today’s information-saturated world. This gap—between students’ existing competencies and those required to engage responsibly in a fast-paced media environment—could lead to negative consequences for individuals and society writ large. However, teachers report a lack of guidance around promoting ML education in their practice, and rigorous research about what kinds of ML education work best, and in what conditions, remains limited. This report presents a framework for implementing and evaluating ML educational efforts. Following an introduction to the framework, the authors discuss six steps of ML implementation and evaluation: setting ML learning expectations; identifying conditions that can influence ML instructional efforts; exploring instructional resources; identifying measures of ML competencies; monitoring progress; and finally, measuring the summative impacts of ML education on student learning. By bringing this information together for implementors—such as district decisionmakers and teachers—as well as evaluators, the authors emphasize the important connections between these too often separate groups.

Learning Recovery after COVID-19 In Europe and Central Asia: Policy and Practice

The COVID-19 Cost of School Closures in Earnings and Income across the World

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 | Data

In the news: El principal recurso de un país

Learning Loss During COVID-19: An Early Systematic Review