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  • Author: Maryam Akmal, Lant Pritchett
  • Publication Date: 02-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for education include the goal that “all youth...achieve literacy and numeracy” (Target 4.6). 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. First, excluding Kenya, equalizing grade attainment between children from rich and poor households would only close between 8% (India) and 25% (Pakistan) of the gap to universal numeracy, and between 8% (Uganda) and 28% (Pakistan) of the gap to universal literacy. Second, children from the poorest 40% of households tend to have lower performance in literacy and numeracy at each grade. If such children had the learning profiles of children from rich households, we would close between 16% (Pakistan and Uganda) and 34% (India) of the gap to universal numeracy, and between 13% (Uganda) and 44% (India) of the gap to universal literacy. This shows that the “hidden exclusion” (WDR, 2018) of lower learning at the same grade levels—a gap that emerges in the earliest grades—is a substantial and often larger part of the equity gap compared to the more widely documented gaps in enrollment and grade attainment. Third, even with complete equality in grade attainment and learning achievement, children from poor households would be far from the equity goal of universal numeracy and literacy, as even children from the richest 20% of households are far from universal mastery of basic reading and math by ages 12-13. Achieving universal literacy and numeracy to accomplish even a minimal standard of global absolute equity will require more than just closing the rich-poor learning gap, it will take progress in learning for all.
  • Topic: Development, Education, Sustainable Development Goals, Language
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Kenya, Africa, Middle East, India, Asia, Tanzania
  • Author: Dan Hoing, Lant Pritchett
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Accountability is rightly at the center of the conversation regarding how to improve governance systems, particularly health and education systems. But efforts to address accountability deficits often focus primarily on improving what can be counted and verified—what we term “accounting-based accountability.” We argue that introducing greater accounting-based accountability will only very rarely be the appropriate solution for addressing accountability problems. We illustrate this by exploring the role of Accountability ICT in (not) improving education system performance. Strengthening “real” accountability is not the same as improving data systems for observation and verification, and often attempts at the latter undermine the former. The development discourse’s frequent semantic misunderstanding of the term “accountability” has pernicious real-world consequences with real effects on system reform efforts and ultimately global welfare.
  • Topic: Education, Governance, Accountability, Welfare
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: David Evans, Fei Yuan
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Despite dramatic global gains in access to education, 130 million girls of school age remain out of school. Among those who do enter, too many do not gain the essential skills to succeed after they complete their schooling. Previous efforts to synthesize evidence on how to improve educational outcomes for girls have tended to focus on interventions that are principally targeted to girls, such as girls’ latrines or girls’ scholarships. But if general, non-targeted interventions—those that benefit both girls and boys—significantly improve girls’ education, then focusing only on girl-targeted interventions may miss some of the best investments for improving educational opportunities for girls in absolute terms. This review brings together evidence from 270 educational interventions from 177 studies in 54 low- and middle-income countries and identifies their impacts on girls, regardless of whether the interventions specifically target girls. The review finds that to improve access and learning, general interventions deliver gains for girls that are comparable to girl-targeted interventions. At the same time, many more general interventions have been tested, providing a broader menu of options for policy makers. General interventions have similar impacts for girls as for boys. Many of the most effective interventions to improve access for girls are household-based (such as cash transfer programs), and many of the most effective interventions to improve learning for girls involve improving the pedagogy of teachers. Girl-targeted interventions may make the most sense when addressing constraints that are unique to girls.
  • Topic: Education, Children, Women, Feminism
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Susannah Hares
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: It’s tricky to evaluate government education policies. They’re not implemented in NGO-like laboratory conditions, and political motivation and public sector capacity constraints play as much of a role in their success or failure as policy design. Using the examples of three rigorous studies of three different education policies, this note aims to shed some light from the perspective of someone on the policy side on how, why, and when to evaluate government-led reforms. A government education policy is not an abstract theory that can easily be replicated in a different place. In each new context, it is effectively a brand-new programme and needs to be evaluated as that. None of the three examples presented was “new” as a policy: school inspections, school vouchers, and charter schools have all been tried and evaluated elsewhere. But the evaluations of these policies—when implemented in new contexts—illuminated a new set of challenges and lessons and generated a different set of results.
  • Topic: Education, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus