THE DOG’S NAME IS A PUPPY. This seems like a simple sentence. But did you know that in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda, three out of four third-grade students don’t understand this? In rural India, nearly three-quarters of third-graders can’t solve a two-digit subtraction problem like 46 minus 17, and by the fifth grade, half still can’t do it.
The world is facing a learning crisis. Although countries have significantly expanded access to education, school attendance is not the same as learning. Around the world, hundreds of millions of children reach adulthood without even the most basic skills, such as calculating the correct change from a deal, reading a doctor’s instructions, or understanding bus schedules, let alone building a full-fledged career or educating their children.
Education is at the center of human capital formation. Recent world Bank research shows that the productivity of 56 percent of the world’s children will be less than half of what it would be if they had a full education and full health.
A well-delivered education, along with the human capital it generates-benefits individuals and society. For individuals, education increases self-esteem and increases employment and earning opportunities. And for the country, it helps strengthen institutions within society, encourages long-term economic growth, reduces poverty, and encourages innovation.
The global crisis of learning
One of the main reasons why the learning crisis continues is that many education systems in developing countries have little information about who is learning and who is not. As a result, it is difficult for them to do anything about it. And in the face of uncertainty about what skills will be required for future work, schools and teachers must prepare students with more than just basic reading and writing skills. Students should be able to interpret information, form opinions, be creative, communicate well, collaborate, and be resilient.
The world Bank’s vision is for all children and young people to learn and acquire the skills they need to be productive, full-fledged and engaged citizens and employees. We are focused on helping teachers at all levels become more effective in facilitating learning, improving learning technologies, and strengthening school management and systems, while ensuring that students of all ages from preschool to adult are prepared to succeed.
Change begins with a great teacher
There is growing evidence that the learning crisis is essentially a learning crisis. In order for students to learn, they need good teachers but many education systems pay little attention to what teachers know, what they do in the classroom,and in some cases even whether they show themselves.
Fortunately for many students, every country has dedicated and enthusiastic teachers who, despite all the difficulties, enrich and transform their lives. They are heroes who challenge the odds and make you learn with passion, creativity and determination.
One of these characters works on the banks of the Oued river at the Eddahab school in kenitra, Morocco. In a colorful classroom that she drew herself, she uses creative tools to make sure that every child learns, participates, and has fun. In her class, every letter of the alphabet is associated with the sound of an animal and the movement of a hand. During the lesson, she pronounces a word, pronounces it aloud using sounds and movements, and then the students write down the word. It can easily identify students who are struggling with material and adjust the pace of the lesson to help them get on track. Children are very enthusiastic and attentive. They participate and are not afraid to make mistakes. This is a teacher who wants to make sure that all children learn.
But even heroes need help. We need to make sure that all teachers are motivated to do their best and that they are equipped to teach effectively.
To support countries in reforming the teaching profession, the world Bank is launching the project ” successful teachers, successful students.”This global platform for teachers addresses the key challenges of improving the performance of all teachers, making teaching a respectable and attractive profession with an effective workforce policy, and ensuring that teachers are equipped with the right skills and knowledge before entering the classroom and then supporting them throughout their careers.
Technology opens up new opportunities for teaching and learning
Rapid technological changes raise the stakes. Technology is already playing a crucial role in supporting teachers, students, and the learning process more broadly. This can help teachers manage the class better and offer different tasks to different students. And technology makes it easy for school leaders, parents, and students to interact with each other. Millions of students benefit from the efficient use of technology, but millions more in developing countries do not.
One of the most interesting, large-scale efforts in educational technology is led by EkStep, a charity in India. EkStep has created an open digital infrastructure that provides access to learning opportunities for 200 million children, as well as professional development opportunities for 12 million teachers and 4.5 million school leaders. Both teachers and children get access to content that ranges from educational materials, explanatory videos, interactive content, stories, practice sheets, and formative assessments. By tracking which content is used most frequently—and with the greatest benefit-you can make informed decisions about future content.
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In the Dominican Republic, a pilot study supported by the world Bank shows how adaptive technologies can generate great interest among 21st-century students and provide a pathway to support the learning and teaching of future generations.
Yudeishi, a sixth-grader who took part in the study, says that what she most enjoys doing during the day is watching videos and tutorials on her computer and mobile phone. Taking a child’s curiosity as a starting point, the research aimed to direct her to study mathematics in a way that would interest Yudeishi and her classmates.
We know that learning happens best when learning is personalized to meet each child’s needs and strengths, individual progress is tracked, and prompt feedback is provided. Adaptive technology was used to evaluate students ‘ initial level of learning to then guide them through math exercises in a dynamic, personalized way based on artificial intelligence and what the student is willing to learn. After three months, the students with the lowest initial performance achieved significant improvements. This demonstrates the potential of technology to improve learning outcomes, especially among students who lag behind their peers.
In a field that is developing at breakneck speed, innovative solutions to educational problems are appearing everywhere. Our goal is to make technology a driving force for equity and inclusion, not a source of even greater inequality of opportunity. We work with partners around the world to support the effective and appropriate use of educational technologies to strengthen learning.
When schools and education systems are well managed, learning happens
Providing quality education requires creating systems that provide day-to-day education in thousands of schools to millions of students. Successful education reforms require good policy development, strong political commitment, and effective implementation capacity. Of course, this is an extremely difficult task. Many countries struggle to make efficient use of resources, and very often increased spending on education does not lead to increased learning and improved human capital. Overcoming such challenges involves working at all levels of the system.
At the Central level, ministries of education need to attract the best experts to develop and implement evidence-based and country-specific programmes. District or regional offices need capacity and tools to monitor learning and support schools. At the school level, school principals must be trained and prepared to manage and manage schools, from planning the use of resources to overseeing and educating their teachers.
However difficult it may be, change is possible. With support from the world Bank, public schools across Punjab in Pakistan have been part of major reforms over the past few years to address these issues. By improving accountability at the school level by monitoring and limiting teacher and student absenteeism, and by introducing a merit-based teacher selection system that selects only the most talented and motivated teachers, they have been able to increase the number of students enrolled and retained and significantly improve the quality of education. “Public schools are now very good, even better than private schools,” said Mr. Ahmed, a local resident.
No changes can occur without data. Governments need to know what their education systems are missing or what is being done right-in order to take the right steps to improve. The world Bank, together with the bill and Melinda gates Foundation and the UK Department for international development, is developing a global education policy dashboard. This new initiative will provide governments with a system for monitoring the performance of their education systems, from training data to strategic plans, so that they can better make timely and evidence-based decisions.
Education reform: the long game is worth it
By its very nature, the return on investment in education requires patience and perseverance. In fact, it will take a generation to fully realize the benefits of high-quality teachers, effective use of technology, improved management of education systems, and engaged and prepared students. However, world experience shows us that all countries that have quickly accelerated their development and prosperity have a common feature-a serious attitude to education and adequate investment.
As we mark the first ever international education Day on 24 January, we must do everything we can to ensure that our young people can continue to learn, adapt to changing realities, and thrive in an increasingly competitive global economy and a rapidly changing world of work.
Today, schools of the future are being built. These are schools where all teachers have the necessary competencies and motivation, where technology allows them to provide quality education, and where all students acquire fundamental skills, including social-emotional and digital skills. These schools are safe and accessible to all and are places where children and young people learn with joy, rigor and purpose.
Governments, teachers, parents, and the international community must do their homework to realize the promise of education for all students, in every village, in every city, and in every country.