Learning About Schools in Development is a CGD Working Paper. It is a longer version of this, which itself was a revised version of this. There has been considerable progress in school construction and enrollment worldwide. Paying kids to go to school can help overcome remaining demand-side barriers to enrollment. Nonetheless, the quality of education appears very poor across the developing world, limiting development impact. Thus we should measure and promote learning not schooling. Conditional cash transfers to students on the basis of attendance and scores, school choice, decentralization combined with published test results, and teacher pay based on attendance and performance may help. But learning outcomes are primarily affected by the broader environment in which students live, suggesting a learning agenda that stretches far beyond education ministries.
We Don't Need No Universal Education? was published online by the Harvard International Review. The piece notes that there are multiple links in the chain between building schools and an economic impact to education, and argues that some of those links are often very weak, indeed. It concludes that we might want to spend more time on improving the quality of education before we worry overmuch about its universal extent.
Learning About Schools in Developmentis an unpublished short paper. It briefly discusses a number of links in the chain between school construction and improvements in the quality of life –between construction and enrollment, between enrollment and learning, and between schooling and both economic growth and health outcomes.Given what is suggested by the evidence regarding strength of those links, it asks ‘is education for all a good idea?’ and ‘can we improve the quality of education?’While it suggests the answer to these two questions is ‘yes,’ that is dependent at the least on a significant, potentially politically complicated, focus on the question of quality.
The Global Expansion of Primary Education is an unpublished short paper. In 1830, near-universal primary education was limited to a few states in the United States, and the great majority of the World’s children received no formal education at all. By 1870, somewhere between 12 and 23 percent of the World’s children aged 5-14 were enrolled in a school, and by 1950 this figure had increased to 47 percent. By 2002, global net primary enrollment was around 87 percent, with a gross enrollment ratio of around 100 percent. For countries in Western Europe and Western offshoots including the US and Canada, the period of rapid growth began as early as the 1800s, while for much of the rest of the World, it would take at least another 100-150 years to see the takeoff towards universal primary education. This paper discusses the timing and speed of the transition around the World and discusses the causal mechanisms behind the growth to global ubiquity of basic education.
A Short Review of Information and Communication Technologies and Basic Education in LDCs: What is Useful, What is Sustainable? was co-authored with Jeremy Grace and published in the International Journal of Educational Development 23 (2003). Information and communication technologies such as radio and television have long been used in education. The advent of the technology of the Internet has created pressure for Internet access in primary and secondary schools across the world. This paper reviews some of the available evidence on the impact and cost of such technologies in developing countries. It concludes that while there is strong evidence for the efficacy and efficiency of interactive radio instruction, the evidence on the impact of computer-supported education remains mixed, and costs are prohibitive for many LDCs (less developed countries).