Prioritizing Early Investments for Children (News and Research 281)

Kosovo Prioritizes Early Childhood Development to Build Human Capital and Promote Prosperity | The President of Kosovo has introduced a Call to Action to elevate Early Childhood Development objectives in the national development agenda, to support resourcing and implementation of laws and policies that make it a priority, and to identify opportunities for reform as well as institutional scale-up and coordination. At a high-level event on February 22, co-hosted by the President of Kosovo and the Bank, and in collaboration with UNICEF, the President and the Prime Minister of Kosovo highlighted the importance of investing in Early Childhood Development, recognizing it as a critical foundation for strengthening human capital and achieving economic growth and prosperity in the country. “Investing in early childhood development is an important opportunity for Kosovo to improve health and education outcomes and build human capital to meet tomorrow’s challenges,” said Anna Bjerde, World Bank Vice President for Europe and Central Asia. “This is a smart investment that will bring immediate gains to young children and their families and create long-term gains for the country. A child born in Kosovo today can expect to achieve just 57% of their human capital potential. Less than 5% of children in Kosovo have access to preschool and care centers, and 77% of children entering pre-primary are below benchmarks for literacy and numeracy. The World Bank will continue to support Kosovo in strengthening the foundations for stronger Human Capital, reducing poverty, enhancing social inclusion, and fostering economic growth.”

These events disseminate the reports produced under the Improvement of Early Childhood Services Could Help Kosovo Forge a New Economic Future task | Summary of Key Findings:

  • The combined delivery of healthcare, early childhood education and social protection at an early stage of life, especially via preventive services, is instrumental for breaking the cycle of poverty and disadvantage, by reducing exclusion and increasing the efficiency of investment in children.
  • A more efficient and comprehensive system of early childhood sector services—even if imperfect—could help to forge a new economic future for Kosovo.
  •  Returns on investment to high quality early childhood programming are even higher than previously estimated, delivering a 13 percent annual return on investment.
  • Children who participate in high-quality early childhood programming have stronger short- and long-term outcomes in education, health, crime and economic productivity. Parents also benefit, with improved adult labor outcomes or both child participants and their parents.
  • Through a comprehensive approach to ECD systems improvement, increased access to services, improved referrals and cross-sectoral alignment, Kosovo can make a step forward toward strengthened economic and human potential for generations to come.

Early childhood education is poor, MEST is preparing a law | The Minister of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation (MEST), Arbërie Nagavci participated in the panel discussion with representatives of institutions at the highest levels of government regarding early childhood education and the integration of this field in the strategic agenda and programs of the Ministry of Education and the dedication to cross-sectoral coordination. Minister Nagavci stressed that soon a Draft Law on Early Childhood Education (ECE) is expected to be sent for public discussion and after its approval the bylaws will be developed, while adding that ECE is one of the 5 priority areas identified in the KESP. Minister Nagavci also spoke about the establishment of the ECE Advisory Committee which aims to provide a comprehensive and cross-sectoral forum to facilitate communication and cooperation between stakeholders and to assist MEST in the proper development and implementation of EFH policies. Among other things, Minister Nagavci said that the strategies that MEST will undertake to increase the access and quality of ECE programs for vulnerable children are: providing support through assistants and professional associates, exemption from payment for families in need, including rural families, the poor, children with special needs and minority communities, etc. MEST activities already in process and plans for advancing early childhood education, which arise from the governing plan and aim at inclusion and quality at this level, were supported by President Osmani, Prime Minister Kurti and all other participants in this high-level event.

Conference on Early Childhood Development in Kosovo co-hosted by President of Kosovo and World Bank | Co-hosted by the President of Kosovo, Vjosa Osmani-Sadriu, and the World Bank, in collaboration with UNICEF, a high-level conference on Early Childhood Development in Kosovo was held on Tuesday. President Osmani said that investing in healthy development in the early years of a child’s life is the best guarantee for success in education, significant productivity growth, economic performance and better health. “The more investment in their early childhood, the greater and more beneficial will be the return on investment in their youth and adulthood,” said Osmani. Prime Minister Albin Kurti said that access and inclusion in quality education for every child regardless, as a guaranteed right, remains a priority of the government. He emphasized the improvement of the legal infrastructure, the design of curricula with a focus on education through play, as well as capacity building of all staff working with children.

10 thousand Kazakhstanis took part in the youth corps development project (well done Almira and Ayesha!)| 10,000 young Kazakhstanis took part in the youth corps development project. Over the entire period of the program, they implemented 3,000 grant projects. This data was shared by the coordinator of the project management group Gulmira Eskendirova, Kazinform correspondent reports. Today in Nur-Sultan, the results of the implementation of the youth corps development project are being summed up. The event is attended by representatives of the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Ministry of Information and Social Development of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the World Bank, deputies, representatives of NGOs and youth organizations. “The youth corps development project has been implemented in Kazakhstan by the Ministry of Education and Science and the World Bank since 2016. The project ends today. The project consisted of three components. The largest of them is the Jas Project grant program. The grant program ended in 4 rounds. The second component was directed to the institutional development of ministries that are responsible for youth development: the Ministry of Education and Science, the Ministry of Information and Social Development of the Republic of Kazakhstan. Various goals were set to address and strengthen the institutionalization of ministries in youth policy, to increase the potential of young workers. During the implementation of the project, about 10 thousand young people took part in the grant program, who implemented almost 3 thousand grant projects. As part of the second component, 6 tasks were implemented, aimed at proper research, development of strategic documents on youth policy,” Gulmira Eskendirova noted. Grant funding was allocated to young people who offered their social ideas. Social projects were aimed at a variety of ideas. Young people opened sports clubs, sewing shops, shoe stores, small bakery production – that is, everything that was interesting to them and necessary for their village, region. As the project coordinator noted, young people received grants worth up to 1 million tenge each. They worked in groups, each team member received a scholarship in the amount of 40-60 thousand tenge for 6 months.  “We did not set them the task of turning an idea into a business. There are many other programs for this. Our project is aimed at young people who lack the skills to start a business. We gave them the opportunity to hone their skills, they learned project management, worked with mentors. Unfortunately, funding has ended. We transfer the initiative to the Ministry of Information and Social Development. We have heard that the ministry is planning and considering the continuation of the project,” Gulmira Eskendirova added.

2,000 social projects realized as part of youth corps development project Vice Minister of Education and Science of Kazakhstan Kuanysh Yergaliyev said. The youth corps development project was launched in 2016. Its main goal is to support vulnerable youth and develop their skills. For the past five years the project turned into a brand. The project brought positive effect. 10,000 young people took part in the project, 9,000 of them completed it successfully. Over 2,000 social projects were developed over the last four years. 20% of them were executed in rural settlements, 20% in the sphere of education, 10 % in the sphere of culture. Some of the projects were purposed to boost social sphere. Language courses, computer clubs, sewing and beauty salons of great importance opened in rural settlements. It gave youth an opportunity to develop their projects and work further. Besides, a number of measures under the Zhas Project were taken to solve strategic tasks of the country.


School readiness losses during the COVID-19 outbreak. A comparison of two cohorts of young children | The COVID-19 context has created the most severe disruption to education systems in recent history. Its impact on child development was estimated comparing two cohorts of 4- to 6-year-old Uruguayan children: control (n = 34,355, 48.87% girls) and COVID cohort (n = 30,158, 48.95% girls) assessed between 2018 and 2020 in three waves, by a routinely administered school readiness instrument in public preschools. Ethnicity information is not available. For the COVID cohort, losses were observed in Motor and Cognitive development, Attitudes towards learning, and Internalizing behavior (range 0.13 – 0.27 SD). Losses were less pronounced among children from higher socioeconomic schools. These results extend the literature on the consequences of the pandemic on learning and early child development.

Returns to test scores in Vietnam | We examine the returns to test scores from the 2009 Vietnamese National Entrance Examination to University (NEEU) of individuals born in 1991. We investigate their labor outcomes in terms of hourly wage measured in 2018 or 2020. We find that a one standard deviation increase in the standardized test score on the NEEU is associated with a 7–9 percent increase in wage rate 9–11 years later. The results also suggest that mathematics test scores have a significant correlation with wage rate in the long run.

Political Turnover, Bureaucratic Turnover, and the Quality of Public Services | We study how political turnover in mayoral elections in Brazil affects public service provision by local governments. Exploiting a regression discontinuity design for close elections, we find that municipalities with a new party in office experience upheavals in the municipal bureaucracy: new personnel are appointed across multiple service sectors, and at both managerial and non-managerial levels. In education, the increase in the replacement rate of personnel in schools controlled by the municipal government is accompanied by test scores that are 0.05–0.08 standard deviations lower. In contrast, turnover of the mayor’s party does not impact local (non-municipal) schools. These findings suggest that political turnover can adversely affect the quality of public services when the bureaucracy is not shielded from the political process.

Why Does Education Reduce Crime? We provide a unifying empirical framework to study why crime reductions occurred due to a sequence of state-level dropout age reforms enacted between 1980 and 2010 in the United States. Because the reforms changed the shape of crime-age profiles, they generate both a short-term incapacitation effect and a more sustained crime-reducing effect. In contrast to previous research looking at earlier US education reforms, we find that reform-induced crime reduction does not arise primarily from education improvements. Decomposing short- and long-run effects, the observed longer-run effect for the post-1980 education reforms is primarily attributed to dynamic incapacitation.

The UK as a Technological Follower: Higher Education Expansion and the College Wage Premium | The proportion of UK people with university degrees tripled between 1993 and 2015. However, over the same period the time trend in the college wage premium has been extraordinarily flat. We show that these patterns cannot be explained by composition changes. Instead, we present a model in which firms choose between centralized and decentralized organizational forms and demonstrate that it can explain the main patterns. We also show the model has implications that differentiate it from both the exogenous skill-biased technological change model and the endogenous invention model, and that UK data fit with those implications. The result is a consistent picture of the transformation of the UK labour market in the last two decades.

Other news:

We’re designing schools of the future with tools of the past—and it’s hurting our education | The way we learn has changed dramatically over the past few decades—so it makes sense that the places where we learn should change dramatically as well. Continuing to create concrete boxes with fixed walls and rigid classroom spaces makes as much sense as investing in floppy disks. “We are building a state-of-the-art Formula 1 engine in the body of an old, broken-down Buick, and wondering why the car won’t go.”