Non-cognitive skills: What are they and why should we care? With trends such as automation causing fundamental shifts in the labor market, research is increasingly looking at the value of non-cognitive skills or socioemotional skills…
My latest with Psacharopoulos: Education Financing Priorities in Developing Countries
IS higher education a public good?
Compensation, Diversity and Inclusion at the World Bank Group This paper examines salary gaps by gender and nationality at the World Bank Group between 1987 and 2015…
Economics of Education Review Volume 58, June 2017, Pages 123-140
Rafael de Hoyos Vicente A. Garcia-Moreno Harry Anthony Patrinos
- • We assess a low-stakes accountability intervention in Mexico
- • The main outcomes of interest are national student assessment test scores
- • A difference-in-difference and a regression discontinuity design are used to identify effects
- • Information on results led to significant positive changes in test scores in a short period of time
- Abstract: The Mexican state of Colima implemented a low-stakes accountability intervention with diagnostic feedback among schools with the lowest test scores in the national assessment. A difference-in-difference and a regression discontinuity design are used to identify the effects of the intervention on learning outcomes. The two strategies consistently show that the intervention increased test scores by 0.12 standard deviations only a few months after the program was launched. The results indicate that full and wide dissemination of information detailing school quality is critically important.
Keywords: Accountability; Information; Education
Rafael de Hoyos Vicente A. García-Moreno Harry Anthony Patrinos
Economics of Education Review Volume 58, June 2017, Pages 123-140
- Evaluamos una intervención de rendición de cuentas de bajo riesgo en México.
- Los principales resultados de interés son los resultados de las pruebas nacionales de evaluación de los estudiantes.
- Se utiliza un diseño de diferencia en diferencia y una discontinuidad de regresión para identificar los efectos.
- La información sobre los resultados condujo a cambios positivos significativos en los resultados de las pruebas en un corto período de tiempo.
Resumen: El estado mexicano de Colima implementó una intervención de rendición de cuentas de bajo riesgo con retroalimentación de diagnóstico entre las escuelas con los puntajes más bajos en la evaluación nacional. Se utiliza un diseño de diferencia en diferencia y de discontinuidad de regresión para identificar los efectos de la intervención sobre los resultados del aprendizaje. Las dos estrategias consistentemente muestran que la intervención aumentó los resultados de las pruebas en 0,12 desviaciones estándares sólo unos meses después del lanzamiento del programa. Los resultados indican que una difusión completa y amplia de información que detalla la calidad de la escuela es de importancia vital.
Palabras clave: Responsabilidad; Información; Educación
Acknowledgements: The authors gratefully acknowledge funding from the World Bank’s Research Support Budget and the comments of participants at the World Bank’s economics of education seminar. Thanks to Óscar Hernández and staff at the Secretariat of Education of Colima, Mexico, for all the support provided during the evaluation.
World Bank to Help Strengthen Vocational Education in China’s Gansu Province WASHINGTON DC, March 31, 2017 – The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors today approved a $120 million loan to help improve the quality and relevance of vocational schools and strengthen their partnership with industry in China’s Gansu province. Gansu, in northwestern China, is one of the least developed provinces, based on both income and human development measures, with nearly 60 percent of its population living in rural areas. The majority of its labor force is working in the low-productivity primary sector, though the secondary and tertiary industries are the main drivers of the province’s economy. To facilitate the transition of low-skilled labor force into more productive employment, it is critical to build a modern technical and vocational education and training (TVET) system. “The new project will support the implementation of the government’s vocational education development strategy in Gansu. We place special emphasis on closer collaboration between the industry and schools both at the system and school levels so students can obtain skills businesses need,” said Xiao Liping, World Bank’s Senior Education Specialist and the project’s team leader…
A new World Bank report recommends that Mongolia expand access to preschool services in rural areas, prioritizing home-based early-childhood education for hard-to-reach populations, such as nomadic herders. more | Монгол
Parents or centers: How should governments prioritize early investments in children?…Sophie Naudeau and Amer Hasan, representing Team Centers, argued that investments are best channeled through centers because SDG target 4.2 calls for every child to have at least one year of pre-primary education. So, if governments are to increase access to preschool, they better do it right (as attending low-quality preschool can actually worsen developmental outcomes! And so can low-quality daycare). Center-based care and education can wield positive impacts on child development (Engle et al 2011), as well as other members of the household (e.g., in Mozambique and Argentina). Plus, early classroom interactions can foster social inclusion while enabling children to develop socio-emotional abilities. Team Centers pointed out that cost-effective approaches to preschools do not necessitate investment in fancy infrastructure, but rather in-service training that builds the social capital of community workers who spend time with children. All acknowledged that quality is key to effectiveness…
Depending on to whom you listen, automation, robotics, and artificial intelligence (AI) will either solve all our problems or end the human race. Sometime in the near future, machine intelligence is predicted to surpass human intelligence, a point in time known as “the singularity.” Whether the rise of the machines is an existential threat to mankind or not, I believe that there is a more mundane issue: robots are currently being used to automate production.
Economist Richard Freeman argues that robots can be a substitute for workers, even highly skilled professionals. In addition, MIT professors Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee suggest that, as computers get more powerful, companies have less need for some kinds of workers. A bigger impact can be felt in developing countries. If computerization makes high-income countries more self-sufficient—less offshoring and more “reshoring”—then developing countries may lose their wage advantage. Besides slowing employment growth, automation may also increase income inequality. Technological disruption is widely being debated in industrialized, high-income countries; however, policymakers in developing countries need to start worrying about the impact of automation as well.
There is a critical skills gap
Technology rapidly changes the workplace and the skills demanded, immediately making current workers less employable. Meanwhile, education systems are slow to change in terms of the creation of new skills. As the demand for new skills increases, the challenge will be to anticipate what those skills might be. For some the answer is science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) skills as well as coding so that people can develop or work with the technology.
An alternative approach is to think about the kind of work that technology cannot replace. The Oxford Martin School studies the vulnerability of jobs to automation point to those that draw most on creative and social skills, and complex perception and manipulation. Future workers need to make themselves “immune” to automation as much as possible. I believe that this does not mean that basic skills do not matter. In fact, we are seeing high returns to cognitive skills, especially non-routine skills.
These skills are:
- Problem-solving skills to think critically and analyze
- Learning skills to acquire new knowledge
- Communication skills, including reading and writing
- Personal skills for self-management, making sound judgments and managing risks
- Social skills for collaboration, teamwork, management, leadership, and conflict resolution
Prepare students for the future world of work
Automation implies both deskilling and the need for new skills. For many developing countries, nurturing basic skills remains the most urgent priority. Early reading fluency is paramount, since in the digital economy lifelong learning becomes the key to success. In addition, skills needed for success are not likely to come from the usual sources. The most promising models of education and training that can deliver basic and new skills focus on the elements of effective education systems. Systems that do well prepare children early on, reform continuously, and use information for improvement and accountability.
The following components are necessary to achieving such reform:
- Assessment: Measurement is the cornerstone of education planning and reform aiming to improve quality. Countries that are unable to determine where their education system stands currently will find it difficult to make improvements or to reach their goals. One example of success in this area can be found in Jordan, where use of international tests for benchmarking and the use of feedback loops led to impressive gains.
- Autonomy: Empowering schools will support quality improvements. This includes giving them ownership, resources, and voice.
- Accountability: Accountability increases time on task and academic achievement. An accountability-based system usually entails a shift of decision-making authority from the government to the community, which is represented by school governing boards and integrated by teachers, parents, and community members.
- Attention to teachers: Studies across the world show that a good teacher—one that adds value to the learning process—can be effective in helping students to improve their learning outcomes. The top-performing school systems recruit their teachers from the top third of each graduate cohort.
- Attention to early childhood development (ECD): Such programs may be the most cost-effective investment. Empirical evidence demonstrates that quality ECD interventions increase educational success and adult productivity, and decrease public expenditures later on, as in the case of Jamaica.
- Attention to culture: Culture is important and often neglected. The use of the mother tongue as the language of instruction is one cultural area frequently disputed in many countries. In many countries, a significant number of students do not speak the national language in the home, which has practical implications for education. Schools using mother tongues as the language of instruction have higher attendance and promotion rates, and lower repetition and dropout rates.
To improve learning outcomes and prepare students for the world of work, countries must develop a system to determine current learning levels and future learning aims. Policymakers need to consider each aspect of the education system in defining an appropriate reform that will provide an inclusive and holistic approach to improving education outcomes. If this happened, then it wouldn’t matter much whether or not the robots are coming.
Originally published in the World Bank’s Education for Global Development blog. A paper under the same title as this blog post was prepared for the 2016 Brookings Blum Roundtable. All our resources on skills and jobs are available here.
Where to Invest the Marginal Dollar – The $5.6 Trillion Question The returns to education are high in most countries. An additional year of schooling increases earnings by 10 percent a year (Montenegro and Patrinos 2013). At the same time, education is one of the most powerful instruments for reducing poverty and inequality, as well as for laying the basis for sustained growth. Many ideas on how to realize those returns have been put forward. The question is, however, how to finance it. It is estimated that global education expenditure was $4.6 trillion in 2013, rising to $5.6 trillion today, and forecast to reach $6.4 trillion by 2018. Public expenditure on education is significant; on average, countries spend about 5% of GDP on education, or 10-20% of public expenditures. Given the returns to education at different levels, where should one invest the marginal dollar?…[more]
All eyes on ALS, ‘centerpiece’ of basic ed under Duterte The Alternative Learning System is a priority program under the Duterte administration. What is it all about? Ask any graduate of the education department’s Alternative Learning System (ALS) why they left formal school, and each would have a different story to tell…It is estimated that the current enrollment is “only 10% of the size of the potential target ALS learners.” A 2016 World Bank report on ALS said the realistic size of ALS target population should be around 5.4 million people…This is important because as the World Bank report shows, higher income is attained only when an ALS learner passes the A&E…But the World Bank, in its report, gave a fair warning about expanding ALS. “Given the magnitude of the ALS target youth (ranging between 5 and 6 million), an expansion of ALS programs is needed to offer a second chance to those who did not start school or failed to complete it. The study accepts that an expansion of the program may not be an ideal solution, since the expansion itself may distort incentives among students currently in school,” the report read. Authors of the report worry that students in formal school who are “at high risk of dropping out” might “see ALS as an easy path to a diploma.” “Therefore its expansion would have the unintended consequence of increasing the dropout rate. However, we believe that students who were deprived of basic education opportunities for any reason including conflicts and violence deserve a second chance and that ALS is their best hope for continuing and completing their schooling…
Providing quality education to one million students in Thailand’s small schools The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s latest Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) results brought several pieces of alarming news for Thailand…
Liberia’s bold experiment in school reform At a school in the township of West Point, Monrovia, a teacher should be halfway through her maths lesson. Instead she is eating lunch. A din echoes around the room of the government-run school as 70 pupils chat, fidget or sleep on their desks. Neither these pupils nor the rest of Liberia is learning much. Bad teaching, a lack of accountability and a meagre budget have led to awful schools. Fourteen years of civil war and, more recently, the Ebola virus have stymied reforms. Children’s prospects are shocking. More than one-third of second-grade pupils cannot read a word; since many are held back, teenagers often share classes with six year olds. In 2014 only 13 candidates out of 15,000 passed an entrance exam to the University of Liberia. In 2013 none did…
Human Capital Costs of Climate Change: Evidence from Test Scores in India We present the first estimates of the effect of temperature on cognitive performance in a developing country with limited propagation of air-conditioning, and find that an additional 10 days in a year above 29C relative to 15C-17C reduces math test scores by 0.03 standard deviations…
Lessons Learned from PISA: A Systematic Review of Peer-Reviewed Articles on the Programme for International Student Assessment International large-scale assessments are on the rise, with the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) seen by many as having strategic prominence in education policy debates. The present article reviews PISA-related English-language peer-reviewed articles from the programme’s first cycle in 2000 to its most current in 2015…
How to pretend you’re Canadian when you travel Back in the summer of 1999, along with thousands of other Canadian twenty-somethings, I set out on a post-collegiate backpacking trip through Europe…
Arguments for public subsidy of education have been made, even if it is not always considered a public good; the returns to schooling are largely private and education is excludable. But rather than expect all students to invest the optimal amount in their own education, there are other considerations that make public involvement necessary. Education is a basic human service, a human right, and optimal investment is often thwarted by market failures, differences in child and parent preferences, borrowing constraints, and youth perceptions. Schooling is also as a mechanism for enhancing social cohesion and nation-building, and produces numerous externalities (productivity spillovers, crime reduction, citizenship). But merely increasing spending does not necessarily improve outcomes – especially if that spending is misallocated and misaligned, and if it doesn’t target what works.
To realize the returns to education — and to reduce poverty and raise economic growth, while reaching the out of school population and raising the quality of education — there is a need to improve how it is financed.
A seminal publication by the Education Commission, The Learning Generation: Investing in Education for a Changing World, calls for a financing compact for improving education outcomes. The compact – between developing countries and the international community – is to be realized through four transformations: in performance, innovation, inclusion and finance. Under this compact:
(1) National governments would commit to reform their education systems to maximize learning and efficiency and to ensure that every child has access to quality education, free from pre-primary to secondary levels, through the progressive and sustained increase of domestic financing
(2) Where countries commit to invest and reform, the international community would stand ready to offer the increased finance and leadership necessary to support countries working to transform education
(3) This would include mobilizing new finance from a wide range of sources, including through the establishment of a new education investment mechanism to help scale financing from Multilateral Development Banks.
Another seminar piece, published 30 years ago by the World Bank (George Psacharopoulos, Jee-Peng Tan and Emmanuel Jimenez), The Financing of Education in Developing Countries: Exploration of Policy Options, written at a time of macroeconomic crisis and declining budgets for education, calls for (then) new financing arrangements. To address the misallocation of resources and underinvestment in basic education, to improve the efficiency of spending, and to enhance equity, the Bank called for three broad policies:
(1) Recovering the public cost of higher education and reallocating government spending on education toward the level with the highest social returns
(2) Developing a credit market for education, together with selective scholarships, especially in higher education
(3) Decentralizing the management of public education and encouraging the expansion of private and community-supported schools
Taken together, though written 30 years apart, there is complementarity in the compact and package. With much more knowledge today about what works, the relatively higher returns to higher education, and enhanced commitment of the international community, there is a lot that can be done to achieve international goals. Also, such policy reports can influence (or preview) important developments. After all, cost recovery at the higher education level has increased in many countries, a credit market for higher education with interesting mechanisms has evolved, and private school growth has been phenomenal.