David Malpass in Romania, Ukrainian refugees, and more (News and Research 288)

Readout from World Bank Group President David Malpass’s Meeting with President Klaus Iohannis of Romania | World Bank Group President David Malpass met with President Klaus Iohannis of Romania. President Malpass commended Romania’s humanitarian support to Ukrainian refugees displaced by the Russian invasion. President Malpass noted that this year marks thirty years of partnership between the World Bank Group (WBG) and Romania and reaffirmed the WBG’s commitment to continue supporting Romania’s development path, particularly focusing on human capital and supporting education.

David Malpass visiting a school in Romania

Uzbekistan is participating in PISA – a major step towards improving education. The government has put quality education at the forefront of its reform agenda, aiming to be in the top 30 by 2030. The World Bank supports building strong assessment systems in Uzbekistan, including its participation in international assessments such as PISA. We support this through our ECD Project in the student assessments component (also supports PIRLS and TIMSS, and the modernization of the national assessment system. Conference video and media clips.

Estimating the Returns to Education in a Chronically Depressed Labour Market: The case of Kosovo | This paper investigates whether the conventional approach to estimating the private and social rates of return to education generates reliable findings when utilized in economies with chronically depressed labor markets. Conventional techniques (the Mincer earnings function and the discounting method) are used to provide initial estimates of the private and social returns to education in Kosovo. The authors argue that in countries with chronically depressed labor markets, such as in Kosovo, the conventional approach is likely to significantly underestimate the private and social returns from achieving a higher level of educational attainment. They extend the estimation approach to take into account the greater probability of more highly educated Kosovars being employed, employed in the formal and public sectors and having longer job tenure. The extended approach to estimating rates of return to schooling generates higher private and social rates of return to education than the conventional approach. Moreover, in contrast to the findings of the conventional approach, the revised approach suggests that private and social rates of return are highest from completion of upper secondary and tertiary education. The paper provides the first comprehensive analysis of the rates of return to education in Kosovo. In 2020, the returns are 11 percent for women and 7 percent for men; these are much higher than a previous analysis using data from 2002 that found returns of only 3.3 percent for men and 7.5 percent for women.

Long-Term Consequences of Repeated School Closures During the COVID-19 Pandemic for Reading and Mathematics Competencies | School closures during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020 were associated with attenuated learning gains compared to pre-pandemic years. In Germany, two further pandemic waves led to school closures and periods of remote learning between December 2020 and May 2021. The present study investigates the academic achievement of all incoming fifth graders in the federal state of Baden-Württemberg before and during the pandemic, using educational large-scale assessment results in reading and mathematics. Each year, the assessments took place at the beginning of the school year in September (each n > 84,000). The comparison of average competence levels in 2021 with pre-pandemic years (2017–2019) indicates that the downward trend that was observed after the first pandemic wave in 2020 came to a halt in the domain of reading and continued at a slower rate in the domain of mathematical operations. Achievements in the mathematical domain of numbers even rebounded to pre-pandemic levels. Longer periods of school closures were associated with larger learning losses. Additional analyses showed larger learning losses for the group of low-achieving students and for schools with less socio-cultural capital. The partial rebound of learning outcomes suggests that most teachers and students successfully adapted to the pandemic situation in 2021. Still, disadvantaged student groups are at high risk of further substantial learning losses due to school closures that may negatively affect their future education. Accordingly, disadvantaged student groups in particular should receive additional support to compensate for the loss of learning opportunities in the classroom.

Reopening schools in a context of low COVID-19 contagion: consequences for teachers, students and their parents | Knowing how school reopenings affect the spread of COVID-19 is crucial when balancing children’s right to schooling with contagion management. This paper considers the effects on COVID-19 testing prevalence and the positive test rate of reopening Norwegian schools after a 6-week closure aimed at reducing contagion. We estimate the effects of school reopening on teachers, parents and students using an event study/difference-in-differences design that incorporates comparison groups with minimal exposure to in-person schooling. We find no evidence that COVID-19 incidence increased following reopening among students, parents or teachers pooled across grade levels. We find some suggestive evidence that infection rates among upper secondary school teachers increased; however, the effects are small and transitory. At low levels of contagion, schools can safely be reopened when other social distancing policies remain in place.


World Bank to send Ukraine $1.5 billion as food, energy prices spike | The World Bank is preparing a $1.5 billion support package for war-torn Ukraine and plans to aid developing countries struggling to keep up with surging food and energy prices, World Bank President David Malpass said on Tuesday. In remarks at the Warsaw School of Economics in Poland, Malpass said the bank was helping Ukraine provide critical services, including paying wages for hospital workers, pensions and social programs. Russia invaded Ukraine in February.

The Ukrainians teaching in a war zone: bombed-out schools, evacuations and board games

In Ukraine, damage to educational facilities affected in Russian strikes amounts to over $5B

Greek school welcomes Ukrainian children who fled war