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Reflection on World Bank Group Report: Learning to Realise Education’s Potential

24 September 2019

One of our mottos in Eummena, is that we always strive to realise the human potential. And by that, we mean also our own potential, as individuals but also as a team. Therefore, in the context of our work, we always seek any content that will allow us to enhance our knowledge on what we do, and consequently allow us to offer better services for our customers!

In this direction, we will be sharing our takeaways and insights that come from reading interesting reports on learning, education and/or technology. This post will reflect on the World Bank Group Flagship Report, titled “Learning to Realise Education’s Promise”, available here for download. It’s a long read, but definitely worth your time and attention. A great publication overall.

The report revolves around four (4) main themes, namely:

1. Education’s promise;

2. The need to shine a light on learning;

3. How to make schools work for learners; and

4. How to make systems work for learning.

The report starts with a very informative overview. One of the most interesting takeaways from this part, is the figure on the four (4) factors that affect learning. These are (i) skills and/or motivation of teachers, (ii) preparation of learners, (iii) school management and (iv) school inputs. Thinking of these four factors in relation to our work, we see that part of our work falls within these categories, mostly on up-skilling teachers, preparing learners but also helping the school management track the learning/teaching process. And of course, our work also touches on the school inputs, at least those related to the Educational Technology.

In the first part of the report, we validated once more, the importance of education in all aspects of our lives. Better and more education, is linked not only to better salaries as one could imply, but mainly to a better quality of life, better relationships with the people we interact, etc. But, even if the benefits are right there for anyone to harvest, education cannot do it alone! As the report reads “Economics, politics, and society shape the returns to education. Education systems do not function in a vacuum; they are part of broader economic, political, and social institutions.”

The second part discusses the learning crisis. It starts by showing how school enrolments in primary schools have increased rapidly, but also points out that poverty, gender, ethnicity, disability and location are still the most prevalent causes of schooling disparities among countries. But although access to education is becoming a reality for more students at a faster rate than previously, still as the report mentions: “Emerging data on student achievement show that, for millions, schooling is producing little learning in crucial early grades.”

Tracing the causes of such “little learning”, the report discusses for major causes: (i) the fact that children are not always ready to learn when they reach the school, (ii) the fact that teachers often lack the required skills and motivation, (iii) the problem with low skills in school management and (iv) the fact that school inputs and infrastructure have not kept pace with the increasing number of new registrations. To realise the extent of such problems, the final chapter of the second part, discusses at length how education can be measured using meaningful metrics.

The last part of the report was the most interesting for us, as it focuses on innovations and evidence for learning. One of the arguments here is that the whole learning ecosystem is highly dynamic. Actions and reactions from different actors in the ecosystem affect everyone’s decisions and behaviour, and this makes it even more difficult to generate actions in the system that will have a high probability of resulting in a positive impact.

Our highlight from this part, was the fact that to achieve better learning outcomes for younger students, the report suggests that efforts should start as early as the pregnancy (!) stage. This ensures that foetus development is proper, into the first months of the baby, and even later all the way to the last year before school, making sure that the child receives proper nutrition and appropriate learning stimuli.

Teacher skills were also discussed at length in the report, focusing on the right training for teachers, that aligns with practices that lead to better students’ results. Our own experience in Eummena, with teacher training, confirms the need for alignment with student performance.

One finding that really resonated with us, was the phrase of the report that “Technological interventions increase learning — but only if they enhance the teacher-learner relationship”. Which is also in line with our beliefs and values as a company. Educational technologies are only as good as the degree in which they can get into the classroom, without getting in the way of learning.

Another message that comes across loud and clear, is the fact that workplace training is also really important, for older students. It can lead young people to develop valuable skills and also to increased company productivity, but still not enough companies take advantage of this. In our history as Eummena, we have worked a lot with workplace training as well as technical and vocational training, so we definitely relate to this statement.

Last but not least, the concluding chapters of the report, discuss the misalignment between educational systems in their totality, with the goal of learning. This situation is sometimes worsened by the intrusion of unhealthy politics in education. The report offers directions for improving this situation through “investing in better information on learning; mobilising coalitions for learning; and adopting a more iterative, adaptive approach to change”.

That was it! We hope you’re still with us, after all these paragraphs! This was our first and “short” reflection on some parts of the report. We read it, we loved it and we encourage you to do the same! We would be happy to sit down and discuss it with you! You’ll probably find this article posted in our social media (LinkedIn, Medium, Twitter), so feel free to drop a line!

Story by: Nikos Palavitsinis, Eummena

Attribution: World Bank. 2018. World Development Report 2018: Learning to Realize Education’s Promise. Washington, DC: World Bank. doi:10.1596/978–1–4648–1096–1. License: Creative Commons Attribution CC BY 3.0 IGO

DISCLAIMER: Eummena claims no copyright or right of any kind on the content that is discussed/analysed in this post. This post is only a reflection of its author on the content discussed. If you’re the author or copyright holder of any of the publications mentioned herein, and you object them being part of this blog post, please get in touch with us and we address this issue.

Reflection on World Bank Group Report: Learning to Realise Education’s Potential

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