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Last year, the Center for Global Development convened a roundtable of education experts to discuss global education policy, including what is hindering progress and where the focus of current efforts should be. The roundtable was led by former CGD Visiting Fellow Desmond Bermingham, who asked attendees to reflect on his essay Reviving the Global Education Compact and assess how the development community is doing on global education reform. (Desmond has since joined Save the Children as Director of the Education Global Initiative.)

I asked Desmond to prepare an open letter drawing on the views of experts at the meeting in defining the current key challenges.

Desmond’s letter focuses on a looming crisis in global education. Access is still far from complete - but the real crisis is that children in developing countries are learning little. For extensive evidence of a learning crisis, see this paper from Lant Pritchett and for more on how and why to focus on learning outcomes, see Charles Kenny’s arguments.  Slow progress in the education sector is not just about the supply side and the inputs; it is about the demand side too – and readiness of governments and donors to innovate.

Meanwhile the new World Bank Education Strategy 2020 has just come out. A quick perusal suggests a welcome emphasis on incentives and on learning as the fundamental outcome (more commentary to come on the Education Strategy 2020).

So what comes next for donors, governments, civil society advocates, and education ministers? Please share your comments.

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CGD blog posts reflect the views of the authors, drawing on prior research and experience in their areas of expertise. CGD is a nonpartisan, independent organization and does not take institutional positions.