Learning losses continue (News and Research 263)

The Nobel prize in economics celebrates an empirical revolution | David Card shares this year’s award with Joshua Angrist and Guido Imbens | New and innovative work has altered the course of the profession, to such an extent that the lion’s share of notable new research today is empirical. For helping enable this transition David Card of the University of California at Berkeley shares this year’s economics Nobel prize with Joshua Angrist of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Guido Imbens of Stanford University.

Czech students lost 3 months of learning after a year of the COVID-19 pandemic | Based on tests in the Czech language and mathematics administered in 2020 and 2021 in the 5th grade, pupils lost the equivalent of about 3 months of learning during the year of the pandemic. The learning loss was significant following the reopening of schools in the spring of 2021.

“School Choice in the Post-Pandemic Era” Webinar Series Begins this Week with Governor Jeb Bush | The former governor of Florida, Jeb Bush; the president of the American Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten; and the school superintendents of Dallas and Miami-Dade are among those who will participate in a weekly webinar series on school choice in the post-pandemic era. The series organized by the Program on Education Policy and Governance begins this Friday, October 8. In the period leading up to the pandemic, steady growth in school choice had begun to stall. The political consensus that had generated charter, tax-credit scholarship, and voucher experiments was also beginning to fragment. However, the onset of the pandemic sparked a flurry of activity. District-run public schools moved to diversify their approaches by shifting to online and hybrid instruction. Anxious parents also searched for alternatives to district-run schools. Many enrolled their children in charter and private schools or taught them at home. Charter schools saw an increase of nearly a quarter-million new students and the number of homeschooling parents may have doubled by some estimates. Neighborhood pods, tutors, and new approaches to digital learning suddenly became fashionable. Register to attend the conference here. (Moderators: Paul Peterson, Daniel Hamlin; Speakers: Jeb Bush Randi Weingarten; Jay Greene; Jim Blew; Robert Enlow; Derrell Bradford; Mark Berends; Michael Horn; Jennifer Darling-Aduana; Alisha Thomas Morgan; Beth Hawkins; Maureen Downey; Marcus Winters; Christopher Campos; Patrick Wolf; Alberto Carvalho; Robin Lake; Michael Hinojosa; Eric Bettinger; Abhijeet Singh; Harry Patrinos.

Europe and Central Asia Economic Update, Fall 2021: Competition and Firm Recovery Post-COVID-19 | Healing the Pandemic’s Scars and Bolstering an Inclusive Recovery | Tackling educational losses and investing in the future. Education for ECA schoolchildren—particularly those from vulnerable households—has been disrupted as partial and full school closures continue to interrupt learning continuity, which could worsen learning outcomes. This, combined with the deskilling associated with prolonged unemployment, could lead to sizable future earnings losses. While learning outcomes had improved prior to the pandemic, those gains were not equitable—pointing to the need for structural reforms not only to tackle educational losses from COVID-19, but also to ensure an inclusive recovery. Investing in education is needed to mitigate the disruptions to human capital brought about by the pandemic, including learning losses and youth disengagement. About 60 percent of low- and lower-middle-income countries—including those in ECA—have cut their public education budgets since the onset of the crisis, reversing a decade-long trend of increased funding. Education budgets can be bolstered with additional financing deployed to incentivize attendance and educational attainment, improve school facilities, and reform incentive structures for teachers, which can also increase the efficiency of existing education spending. Investment in learning infrastructure leads to improved educational outcomes and higher incomes in the long term. In ECA, transforming the education system could also help the region become more resilient to crises. Measures that adapt instruction in a new hybrid educational setting, identify struggling students, and streamline the curriculum to target foundational skills can help ensure learning continuity for all students (Saadah 2021). Moreover, governments can facilitate access to existing free and open-source education technologies in a way that favors the inclusion of disadvantaged groups. Efforts to foster equitable internet access for distance learning can help avoid the widening of the digital divide across income levels.

Trainings under the WB project “Improving the early development of young children” have begun in Uzbekistan | On October 4, the first training module on the topic “Implementation of a child-centered approach in the preschool education system of Uzbekistan” began under the leadership of the World Bank (WB) international consultant Zulfiya Veisova within the framework of the World Bank’s Early Childhood Development Project in Uzbekistan. In total, the project plans to train 14,000 preschool education specialists. The project will be implemented by the Ministry of Preschool Education from 4 to 29 October 2021.

IFC, Government of Uzbekistan Join Forces to Upgrade School Infrastructure

 IFC signed an agreement with the government of Uzbekistan to harness private capital and expertise to build and maintain up to 15 new schools, which will help meet growing demand for quality infrastructure and subsequently lead to improved education outcomes for thousands of children.

Scotland’s Education Recovery Plan | Includes support for learners who are sitting exams in 2022, access to in-school mental health and wellbeing support that young people need, including counselling services, recruiting 3,500 additional teachers and 500 support staff over this parliamentary term, expanding funded early learning and childcare for children aged 1 and 2, starting with low-income households, and committing £1 billion to tackle the poverty related attainment gap and support education recovery.

Poland Organizes Remedial Courses for Incoming University Students | Polish students heading to university will be able to take subsidized remedial courses. Poland’s Ministry of Education and Science will fund the classes out of concern that students may need additional instruction after spending much of the last year and a half learning remotely due the pandemic. The Ministry will develop a basic program and will also fund universities directly so that they can develop their own customized supports for first year students. The Ministry will fund approximately one third of the public and private universities across the country to organize these additional remedial classes.

The pandemic will spur the worldwide growth of private tutoring | Time lost to school closures has added to parents’ worries | Siina Karbin, a Finn living in Vienna, had never imagined paying someone to tutor her children. But then in early 2020 Austria’s schools closed because of covid-19. She and her husband struggled to help their seven-year-old son learn remotely while also doing their own jobs. Ms Karbin signed the boy up for one-to-one online tutoring. She thought a few hours’ extra help a week would be useful for a few months. A year and a half later her son is back in school, and still enjoying a weekly session with his tutor. He tells his mum he is keen to carry on with it.

Tackling plastic pollution and climate change through education | A World Bank team was in full project preparation mode for the Maldives: Enhancing Employability and Resilience of Youth Project. Focusing on addressing climate change aspects as they relate to tourism, tourism related construction, and ICT-related services, the team visited some tourist sites in the Maldives to see some of the challenges firsthand. On the pristine island of Kurumba Resort just north of Malé in the Maldives, the Operations Manager told us: “I was on the main island together with the resort staff doing the weekly work to collect plastic bottles and debris that are washed away by the currents. We gathered 60 bags of plastic waste this morning alone. It is a sad situation. We fully support the government’s single-use plastic phase-out rollout plan and are trying to do our part for our customers and the values we want, but it is still very daunting when such volumes reach our beaches every day.”

The Fast Track to New Skills: Short-Cycle Higher Education Programs in Latin America and the Caribbean | Higher education in Latin America and the Caribbean has expanded dramatically in the new millennium, yet enrollment in short-cycle programs (SCPs) is still relatively low. Shorter and more practical than bachelor’s programs, SCPs can form skilled human capital fast. The economic crisis created by the COVID-19 pandemic has accentuated underlying trends, such as automation, the use of electronic platforms, and the need for lifelong learning. Addressing these demands requires the urgent upskilling and reskilling of the population—a task for which SCPs are uniquely suited. 

Public Universities, in Search of Enhanced Funding | This chapter is written for university administrators to offer them an overview of the international practices of financing public universities, and its evolution. We also pay attention to the context of the funding of universities and its impact through education and research on society.

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

Now officially on the World Bank’s Open Knowledge Repository.

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

Learning Loss During COVID-19: An Early Systematic Review