Investments in Education Pay Off (News and Research 276)

Developing Central Asia’s Human Capital | During her recent mission to Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, Fadia Saadah, the World Bank’s Human Development Director for Europe and Central Asia, discussed the World Bank’s support in developing human capital in the region, including existing and prospective Bank-funded projects investing in better healthcare and education services for all. Ms. Saadah speaks about her visit and exchanges on strengthening bilateral cooperation with local partners. She also expresses concern over low vaccination rates across the region, emphasizes the need to overcome vaccine hesitancy to protect the health and lives of millions of people from the COVID-19 pandemic, and stresses the importance of providing reliable information on vaccine eligibility and safety for those with pre-existing health conditions—a key driver of vaccine hesitancy in Central Asia.

How Digital Transformation is Improving Education in Georgia | Digital transformation and human capital development have critical roles to play in ending poverty in Georgia. Through the “Log-in Georgia” and “Innovation, Inclusion and Quality” projects, the World Bank is supporting the country’s efforts to improve education and learning outcomes for all its people. In this video, Inga Khvedelidze, an elementary school teacher, shares her experience teaching students in the remote mountainous village of Argokhi.

Our Kids Are Behind in School. Here’s How to Help Them | “First, we should acknowledge that learning loss is happening.” There have now been a handful of studies showing learning loss around the world: Kids are behind overall; younger kids are further behind than older ones; poor kids are further behind than their wealthier classmates. Students in Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Australia and Germany have exhibited deficits. The picture in the United States is also grim. A well-circulated report from McKinsey found that students here fell short by about five months in math and four months in reading. A different study in 2020 found that students between third and eighth grade were scoring five to 10 percentile points below what they were scoring prepandemic in math. Another found that “more students are two or more grade levels below their actual grade level this fall than before the pandemic began,” which is particularly concerning, given how important those early elementary schools years are for language and reading development.

Achievement of Secondary School Students After Pandemic Lockdown and Structural Reforms of Education System Results from TICKS 2021 Assessment in Warsaw | Warsaw’s results in PISA 2003-2018 were among the best when compared to students from large cities around the world. Warsaw’s 15-year-olds scored at the level of students in Singapore. However, the recent changes in school structure, politically-driven reversal of successful reforms, and a relatively long period of school closures endangered the quality of education and human capital development of the youngest cohorts. The City of Warsaw with the Evidence Institute Foundation implemented TICKS 2021, a large-scale assessment of student knowledge and skills, which measures student achievement in mathematics, science, and reading on a scale directly comparable to the international scale of the PISA study. Comparing the results from PISA that were obtained by 15-year-olds from Warsaw between 2003 and 2018 with the results from 2021, one can assess how the pandemic and structural reforms affected student achievement. The results show considerable educational losses of secondary school students, comparing their results in 2021 to the PISA assessments from 2003 to 2018. The losses are partly related to structural changes, which negatively affect student achievement. Still, more significant is the decline in student achievement associated with distance learning during the pandemic. The results are representative for Warsaw students, but there is no reason to expect that similar educational losses are not present in Poland as a whole. The large decline in student achievement should be addressed by targeted interventions to close the educational gap. Without it, several cohorts of students will suffer in the future from the lower levels of skills, and the overall negative impact on the economy might be larger than investments required today to strengthen support for education.

Interim report of the Commission expert group on quality investment in education and training | Education and training are the foundation for personal development and well-being, and their benefits go well beyond the individual, affecting the whole society. Investing in high quality education and training for all is a key priority for the European Union. Educational systems, however, are currently facing a particularly challenging situation. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to school closures and learning disruptions that exacerbates educational inequalities. At the same time, education and training systems must prepare for the challenges of the 21st century and transform themselves to enable children, youth and adults to actively participate in modern economies and societies. For all these reasons, promoting quality investment in education and training is a key political priority for the EU and the Member States. In a situation where more EU resources than ever are mobilized for education and training through Next Generation EU and the new Multi-annual Financial Framework to support the recovery after the COVID-19 crisis, it becomes fundamental to ensure that every single euro is spent properly. All member States have included education and skills measures in their National Recovery and Resilience Plans. All levels and sectors of education are covered and investments, notably in digital learning and infrastructure, as well as green and modern physical infrastructure but also in teachers’ training, skills development, account for around 12% of total planned spending. Investing in high quality education and training necessitates the identification of effective and efficient investments. An expert group on quality investment in education and training has been created at the EU level to help the Commission and the Member States identify those education and training policies that have the potential to boost education outcomes, promote inclusion and equity, ensure pupils’ well-being and improve the efficiency of spending. This interim report tries to draw some preliminary conclusions based on robust evidence on the effectiveness and efficiency of different education and training policies. The analysis has been organized around four focus areas: teachers and trainers; digital learning; management, infrastructure and learning environments; and equity and inclusion. Moreover, part of the work has been dedicated to two important aspects of policy evaluation that may help design innovative and effective education policies: impact evaluation analysis and cost benefit analysis.

Improving financial literacy must be a priority for Europe | One in three EU households are unable to meet unexpected shocks to their finances. The European Commission has been working with the OECD’s International Network on Financial Education to step up financial literacy. Mairead McGuinness is EU commissioner for financial services, financial stability and capital markets… “This is especially important in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has widened the gap between the financially resilient and the financially fragile.”… Across the EU, there are already great initiatives to improve financial literacy and more than half of EU countries have some form of national strategy in place.” The European Commission is working with the OECD’s International Network on Financial Education to step up financial literacy in the EU. Last week a new financial competence framework for adults in the EU was published.

Managing for Learning Measuring and Strengthening Education Management in Latin America and the Caribbean | How can countries make sustainable gains in student learning at scale? This is a pressing question for Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC)—and the developing world more broadly—as countries seek to build human capital to drive sustainable growth. School access has expanded significantly, enabling nearly all children in the region to attend primary school; however, many do not gain basic skills and drop out before completing secondary school, in part because of low-quality service delivery. The preponderance of evidence shows that learning, not schooling in itself, contributes to individual earnings, economic growth, and reduced inequality. For LAC in particular, low levels of human capital are a critical factor in explaining the region’s relatively weak growth performance over the last several decades. The easily measurable inputs are well known, and the goal is relatively clear, but raising student achievement at scale remains a challenge. Why?

Learning Skills Gained in the Time of Covid 19 – A survey of educators’ responses | Queen Rania Teacher Academy designed and conducted a research study to explore the skills acquired by students in Jordan through distance learning during the global COVID-19 pandemic. The emphasis of the questionnaire was on the core skills and competencies required to meet the evolving needs of learners and to prepare them for the future job market. Questionnaire aimed to deepen our understanding of how distance learning developed students’ skills, what skills are considered essential and need to be integrated in education to prepare students for the future. Through closed and open questions, we have explored educators’ views in Jordan of their professional experiences of distance teaching and learning and the challenges they faced in these exceptional circumstances. With 981 respondents from both, private and public schools, we have gathered a broad view of responses. The outcomes of this research will help key stakeholders support remote education and will inform policymakers, teachers, and school principals how best to support this type of learning as well as to allocate resources and adjust the system for the developments of the future.

Georgia: Student Outflow Rate Stands at 30-40% from Affordable Private Schools | “Private schools have a lot of problems. We do not have new accurate statistics yet, but based on inside information student outflow stands at 30-40%. In addition, there are parents who do not want to take their children to public schools and debts are accumulated, these are low and middle income families.”

The effects of school closures on SARS-CoV-2 among parents and teachers | Many countries closed schools during the pandemic to contain the spread of SARS-CoV-2. Sweden closed upper-secondary schools, while lower-secondary schools remained open, allowing for an evaluation of school closures. This study analyzes the impact of school closures on the spread of SARS-CoV-2 by comparing groups exposed and not exposed to open schools. We find that exposure to open schools resulted in a small increase in infections among parents. Among teachers, the infection rate doubled, and infections spilled over to their partners. This suggests that keeping lower-secondary schools open had a minor impact on the overall spread of SARS-CoV2 in society. However, teachers are affected, and measures to protect them could be considered.

2022: Staying in School In-Person | Guidance from the US Department of Education.

What Explains Boys’ Educational Underachievement in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia? | This paper examines the factors that are associated with boys’ underachievement in mathematics and science in Saudi Arabia, where students attend gender-segregated schools from grade 1 onward, as well as student achievement in these two subjects in grades 4 and 8 more generally. The paper employs data from two recent large-scale assessments of education: Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study 2019 and Saudi Arabia’s National Assessment of Learning Outcomes 2018. The results suggest that in grade 4, school climate was more strongly associated with boys’ compared with girls’ achievement in both mathematics and science, with boys attending schools of poorer school climate having a considerably lower performance compared with girls attending such schools. The findings also indicate that although greater literacy and numeracy readiness was linked with higher science achievement among boys and girls, grade 4 boys tended to benefit more from this readiness than girls. In addition, the results show that student absenteeism in grade 4 is particularly strongly associated with decreases in mathematics achievement among boys. In grade 8, interactions between student gender and students’ confidence in science, the degree of schools’ emphasis on academic success, and teachers’ age are observed. The paper concludes by discussing some of the implications of these findings for educators and policy makers in Saudi Arabia.

How education can help mitigate the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic | Annual joint Summer School on the role of education in social and economic development | HSE University and World Bank | June 14 – June 21, 2022 | Application Deadline: May 1, 2022 | Participation is free | Moscow, HSE Institute of Education | Language: English | Read more and register

Lecture topics:

  • The problems of inequality and access to education under COVID-19
  • Learning Loss: New tools and approaches
  • The economics of education in the COVID-19 era
  • The role of initiative and agency to survive in the storm
  • Entrepreneurship training – in response to the crisis: approaches and solutions

 Read more and register