Education: Smart Investment, Brighter Future (News and Research 266)

Uzbekistan: Economic Transformation through Smart Investments in Higher Education

Uzbekistan has embarked on economic reforms to diversify its commodity-dependent economy. The dynamic, high performing economy that is envisaged will require a cadre of highly skilled professionals capable of accelerating technological adoption and increasing productivity across Uzbek industries. The Government has decided to prioritize higher education reforms in the country’s economic and social development efforts. The goal is to increase higher education enrolment, grant financial autonomy and academic independence to public higher education institutions, provide scholarships to female students and those from socially disadvantaged families, boost international partnerships, increase private sector participation, establish start-up accelerators, and increase research productivity.

Uzbekistan: A brighter future starts with early learning | In 2014, GPE allocated a US$49.3 million grant to Uzbekistan, administered by the World Bank, to support the government’s efforts in advancing education for the youngest children living in remote areas. These areas were considered prime locations to achieve the greatest impact on both learning readiness and equity. (Video)

Pre-school education in Uzbekistan goes mobile | A regular day for teacher Zilola Masharipova begins with hopping on a ‘school bus’. She works at one of Uzbekistan’s mobile pre-schools. Every morning she travels to the remote village of Dashyok to teach. Dozens of these buses travel across the country and they are one of several new initiatives to give all Uzbek children access to pre-school education.

A data set of comparable estimates of the private rate of return to schooling in the world, 1970–2014 | Young people experience lower employment, income and participation rates, as well as higher unemployment, compared to adults. Theory predicts that people respond to labor market information. For more than 50 years, researchers have reported on the patterns of estimated returns to schooling across economies, but the estimates are usually based on compilations of studies that may not be strictly comparable. The authors create a dataset of comparable estimates of the returns to education. The data set on private returns to education includes estimates for 142 economies from 1970 to 2014 using 853 harmonized household surveys. This effort holds the constant definition of the dependent variable, the set of controls, sample definition and the estimation method for all surveys. The authors estimate an average private rate of return to schooling of 10%. This provides a reasonable estimate of the returns to education and should be useful for a variety of empirical work, including critical information for youth. This is the first attempt to bring together surveys from so many countries to create a global data set on the returns to education (working paper version here).

World Bank: Pandemic Threatens to Drive Unprecedented Number of Children into Learning Poverty | The COVID-19 pandemic could drive up learning poverty, the share of 10-year-olds who cannot read a basic text, to around 70 percent in low- and middle-income countries, according to preliminary analysis from an upcoming World Bank report. This rise is a result of the prolonged school closures and poor learning outcomes despite government efforts to deliver remote learning. In many of these countries, schools have been closed for as many as 200 to 250 days, and many have yet to reopen.

Putting People at the Heart of Green, Resilient, and Inclusive Recovery | With the right human development policies, financing, systems, and high-quality services in place – people, countries, and the planet flourish. Let’s invest in people today, for a better future. Putting people at the center of development, and protecting lives and livelihoods, lies at the core to the mission of the World Bank Group. When people have access to quality education and training, health services and social protection and when women and girls benefit from better opportunities, they are better equipped to escape poverty and lead productive lives. They are also more resilient for when things go wrong and are better equipped to weather a pandemic or a climate shock. Until the COVID-19 pandemic caused mayhem around the world, human development had recorded consistent progress, as evidenced by the Human Capital Index, which showed that several low-income countries made the biggest strides. But the impact of the pandemic has been devasting on so many, especially the poor and most vulnerable. In 2020, global extreme poverty rose for the first time in more than two decades, with nearly additional 100 million people pushed into extreme poverty – already high levels of inequality exacerbated even further. 

The Changing Wealth of Nations 2021: Managing Assets for the Future | The Changing Wealth of Nations 2021 provides an updated database and rich analysis of the world’s wealth accounts spanning 146 countries, annually from 1995 to 2018.  It contains the widest set of assets covered so far, including human capital broken down by gender, as well as many different forms of natural capital, spanning minerals, fossil fuels, forests, mangroves, marine fisheries and more. The report shows that human capital, measured as the population’s expected lifetime earnings, is the largest source of worldwide wealth, comprising 64% of total global wealth in 2018. Middle-income countries increased their investment in human capital and in turn saw significant increases in their share of global human capital wealth. Although the long-lasting effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are still unknown, low-income countries are likely to experience the most severe impacts, with a projected loss of 14% of total human capital. Human capital is additionally constrained by gender gaps across all regions and income groups, with little improvement since 1995. Air quality also has serious consequences for both human capital and climate change, and accounts for over 6 million premature deaths annually. Wealth in Europe and Central Asia has increased 45% since 1995. Human capital accounts for over half of the region’s wealth.

Learning Loss During the COVID-19 Pandemic and the Impact of Emergency Remote Instruction on First Grade Students’ Writing: A Natural Experiment | The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and the sudden cancellation of in-class instruction for many students around the world presented an unprecedented disruption in children’s education. As theCOVID-19 pandemic took form, multiple concerns were raised about the potential negative impact on students’ learning. The current study examined this proposition for children’s writing. We compared the quality of writing, handwriting fluency, and attitude toward writing of first grade Norwegian students during the COVID-19 pandemic (421 girls, 396 boys), which included emergency remote instruction for almost 7 weeks, with first grade students in the same schools a year before the pandemic began (835 girls, 801 boys). After controlling for variance due to national test scores, school size, proportion of certified teachers, students per special education teacher, school hours per student, student gender, and native language, we found that students attending first grade during the pandemic had lower scores for writing quality, handwriting fluency, and attitude toward writing than their first grade peers tested a year earlier before the COVID-19 pandemic emerged. Implications for policy and instruction as well as future research are presented.