The variation in investment among developing countries is truly remarkable. Over the course of the 30-year period between 1980--2010---a period of relative calm in the global economy that is often referred to as the "Great Moderation"[*]---the investment rate in developing countries ranged from a whopping 90 percent (Armenia in 1990) to a dismal 1 percent (Liberia in 2003). This variability is more than twice that of variance in economic growth---a topic that has preoccupied many more generations of researchers---and much of this variability stems from the developing world.
The first time a World Bank education team tried classroom observations in Brazil, it nearly provoked a state-wide teachers’ strike. It was October 2009 in the northeast state of Pernambuco and two members of the team, Barbara Bruns and Madalena Dos Santos, had handed out stopwatches to school supervisors newly trained in using the Stallings “classroom snapshot” method to measure teacher activities.
Two days later, the stopwatches were on the front page of Pernambuco’s leading newspaper: the teachers’ union called for a state-wide strike to protest an evaluation tool they dubbed the “Stalin method.”
“I thought the grant money we had used to train observers was down the drain,” recalled Bruns, a World Bank retiree now a visiting Fellow at the Center for Global Development. “But the governor, Eduardo Campos, was unfazed. He publicly declared: ‘No one is going to stop me and my secretariat from going into public schools to figure out how to make them better.’ The union backed down and the fieldwork went ahead.”
Despite Thailand’s success in expanding educational access, new empirical evidence suggests that much more needs to be done to maximize the potential of its students. The 2012 PISA reading assessment reveals that almost one-third of Thai 15 year-old students were “functionally illiterate,” lacking critical skills needed for employment tasks that require reading skills beyond a basic level. Furthermore, the performance gap among schools has been widening in recent years. Unsurprisingly, the disadvantaged and poorer-performing students are concentrated in small rural village schools.
Ed's note: This guest blog is by Betsy Brown Ruzzi of the National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE).
Developing teachers with a deep understanding of the content they teach underpins the success of primary schools in top-performing education systems. This is one of the key findings in a new report recently released by the National Center on Education and the Economy’s Center on International Education Benchmarking, Not So Elementary: Primary School Teacher Quality in Top-Performing Systems.
Now that the dust has settled around the PISA results we have been thinking about the reasons behind Indonesia's poor showing. For those of you who haven't seen them, Indonesia ranked lower than all participating countries except Peru in mathematics and science, and was fifth from last on reading. Perhaps more worrying were the low absolute levels of learning reported for 15-year-olds. In mathematics, three-quarters of students were rated at or below the lowest benchmark – a level associated with only rudimentary levels of proficiency and a lack of higher order thinking skills.
The World Bank Group and faith-based organizations share something in common – fighting poverty. Now, they’re joining forces to do it. More than 30 leaders representing Bahai, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, and Sikh organizations formally expressed support for ending extreme poverty by 2030 – a goal backed by the World Bank Group’s 188 member countries.
Their joint statement, “Ending Extreme Poverty: A Moral and Spiritual Imperative,” released April 9, called for an end to the “scandal of extreme poverty” and said they would use their “voices to compel and challenge others to join us in this urgent cause inspired by our deepest spiritual values.” They added they would commit to hold “all levels of leadership accountable – public and private, domestic and international.”
SAO PAULO, June 4, 2011 -- For the cities of the world, there’s rarely if ever been such a momentous single week. Faced with the potentially catastrophic impacts of climate change, the C40 organization of world’s large cities met in this Brazilian megacity to announce a set of landmark agreements. All the accords, said New York’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg, current C40 chairman and the prime driver of its new initiatives, will be designed to undergird their struggle against rising seas and disruptive weather patterns -- in a world in which cities are responsible, directly or indirectly, for up to 80 percent of global climate emissions.
“The leaders of C40 Cities - the world’s megacities - hold the future in their hands,” Bloomberg asserted.
As a first step, the three dozen C40 mayors confirmed a full merger with the Clinton Climate Initiative, assuring added funding for a centralized, high-grade professional staff as well as full-bore support from former President Bill Clinton, who flew to São Paulo to seal and celebrate the agreement. Staff operations are global, with current bases in London and New York.