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Views from the Center

CGD experts offer ideas and analysis to improve international development policy. Also check out our Global Health blog and US Development Policy blog.


Chart showing LAYS gained per $100 on a log scale. Giving information has huge variance but the highest gains. Targeted teaching and structured lessons also had high average gains.

What Interventions Deliver the Most Quality Years of Education? And at What Price?

There are many studies that show how one intervention reduces dropouts (better access to school) or another intervention increases learning (better quality of schooling). But policymakers and others care about a combination of access and learning! So how do you choose between one intervention that says it will keep kids in school longer and another that says it will boost their learning? Presenting the results of evaluations in terms of learning-adjusted years of schooling, or LAYS, is one solution.

The authors children: a big sister leads her younger brother through a yard

Doing Well in Life? Thank Your Big Sister

Older siblings—particularly sisters—play a much larger role in caring for young children in many low- and middle-income country (LMIC) contexts, particularly in rural areas and among households engaged in subsistence agriculture and other forms of domestic production. In spite of this, the role that older sisters play in childrearing is often ignored in research and policy discussions of early childhood.

Map of social assistance programs during COVID around the world

A Footballer’s Masterclass in Policy Influence

Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford’s campaign to get the UK government to feed disadvantaged children during the school holidays is a masterclass in campaigning: a single, achievable policy issue, phenomenal use of his platform, backed with good data and an increasingly strong coalition of partners.

Four charts showing that more educated, higher income, and higher skill-level workers are more likely to be accessing distance learning for their kids. The relationship for region isn't as clear.

Three Lessons from a New Phone Survey in Pakistan

After six months of school closures, Pakistan began reopening its schools in a phased manner on September 15. Schools had been shut since March 13, 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. To understand the impacts, CGD partnered with TCF in Pakistan and with CERP to survey households with students in TCF schools on how COVID-19 has affected their children’s education, their livelihoods, and health.

A “Rosetta Stone” for Comparing Test Scores Around the World (and Across the Global Income Distribution)

How much do educational outcomes around the world depend on where you were born? In a new CGD working paper, we propose a very simple strategy to overcome this problem and build a “Rosetta Stone” for test scores. We take a single sample of students and give them questions from each major exam around the world. By grading each child’s responses on the original test scales, we calculate scores on different exams for the same child on the same day.

Graph showing learning gain reported across different studies by standard deviation. Most are between .2 and .6 SDs

What Works in Edtech?

Edtech obviously has its limits as a replacement for school during pandemic-response closures. But for governments that do want to invest in edtech, where should they start? In this blog, we focus on the household-based interventions that could be most impactful during the current crisis