Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity

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.

 

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Putting “Account” at the Center of “Accountability”: Why ICT Won’t Improve Education Systems (and Beyond), and What Will

If you work in or on international development, the last time you heard, saw, thought, or said the word “accountability” was probably this week—maybe even today. Lant Pritchett and I argue in our new paper that accountability is, indeed, central to high-performing governance and welfare-enhancing service provision (education, health, etc.) systems.

A scatter plot comparing the relationship of temperature and math scores for students across various countries.

5 New Findings in Global Education

Every day I see a consistent flow of new research and analysis in global education. Sometimes it feels like a deluge! There are some policy areas where we already have a great deal of research, but in other cases, one or two studies from a couple of countries drive our knowledge, and new evidence can make a big difference to our understanding. Here are five recent findings that I came across this week that struck me.

A teacher on strike in Chicago in 2012. Photo by Brad Perkins via Wikimedia

What Makes a Politician Tackle Education?

Josef Ritzen, the Netherlands’ education minister for eight years before he joined the World Bank, once told me: “The view of a prime minister is that an education minister only brings problems. There’s nothing he or she can do to improve quality that has a political upside. So, most ministers try to do nothing.” Ritzen’s recent successors have learned this lesson the hard way with public outcry over heightened math admission requirements for teacher training colleges that have led to a teacher shortage and larger classes. So far, the government has stood firm, convinced that students cannot truly master math without excellent teaching. But the education reform shoe is pinching.

A close-up of a student taking notes while sitting at a desk in a classroom

Lessons for a New Minister of Education from People Who’ve Had the Job

To reform an education system: what a task! How does one even begin? Start by talking to those who’ve done the work. In his new book, Letters to a New Minister of Education, Fernando Reimers has assembled letters of advice from 17 education leaders representing 11 countries. Here are five lessons that I took away.

Classroom with students raising their hands in front of a blackboard

Learning at Scale: Call for Programs

RTI International, in collaboration with CGD, is excited to share a new effort funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that aims to expand our collective knowledge about successful large-scale education programs. Through this work, we will examine how these programs have succeeded in improving learning outcomes, while identifying the key ingredients underpinning their success. We plan to use these findings to develop a guide and user-friendly tools for understanding essential elements of effective large-scale programs.

School kids in a classroom

We Can Learn a Lot about Improving Girls’ Education from Interventions That Don’t Target Girls

What if the programs that help the girls the most are not the programs that target girls? Imagine two hypothetical programs. One is targeted towards girls, and it finds a big impact on girls’ learning. It even finds some impacts for boys, although those are much smaller. The other program is a general intervention (in other words, it doesn’t target girls specifically). Let’s imagine that it finds even larger impacts on girls, and that those impacts are roughly the same as the impacts for boys.

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