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Maryam Akmal was a senior policy analyst with the global education team at the Center for Global Development. Her work focuses on the use of data and evidence to inform education policy. She has a particular interest in early grade learning and educational inequity. In a previous role, she did research and policy analysis for the RISE (Research on Improving Systems of Education) program. Prior to CGD, she worked with the Society for Advancement of Education in Pakistan on local education policy issues. Akmal holds a Master in Public Policy from Georgetown University and a BA in Economics from Oberlin College.
Even if the education gap between rich and poor kids in the developing world was completely closed, many students still would not be proficient in basic math and reading, according to a new study from the Research on Improving Systems of Education (RISE) Programme.
Achieving some absolute standard of learning for all children is a key element of global equity in education. Using the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) data from India and Pakistan, and Uwezo data from Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda that test all children of given ages, whether in school or not, on simple measures of learning in math, reading (local language), and English, we quantify the role of achieving equality between the richest 20% and the poorest 40% in terms of grade attainment and learning achievement toward accomplishing the global equity goal of universal numeracy and literacy for all children.
When Pratham used simple “report cards” to provide information about learning outcomes to villages in India, the intervention largely failed. There was no improvement in attendance of children or teachers, no improvement in learning outcomes; and parents, teachers, and village education committees did not become more engaged with the schools (Banerjee et al., 2010). However, when Pratham-trained youth volunteers offered basic reading classes outside of regular school, reading skills of children who attended improved substantially after one year. Why did information provision fail to improve learning outcomes?
The release of the World Bank’s World Development Report (WDR) is a milestone in the struggle to prepare the youth of today for the challenges of the world they will face. The report focuses on both the need to “get education right” and how to reform education systems to meet the challenge of preparing today’s youth to be tomorrow’s citizens, parents, community members, workers, and leaders. As we outline below, the WDR and our RISE programme share many core themes.
Cheating scandals are all too common across both developing and developed countries. Scores on high-stakes exams can determine a child’s future through access to better education opportunities and career possibilities. This performance pressure can lead to intense studying, a market for tutoring and exam preparation, and, in the worst instances, widespread cheating that can involve students, parents, teachers and officials.
DFID’s new education strategy to tackle the learning crisis prioritizes a pivotal part of any well-functioning education system: good teaching. It is obvious that any attempt to reform education systems cannot work if it does not generate effective teaching practices, which requires skilled and motivated teachers in the classroom.