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CGD in the News

October 16, 2017

Left Behind: Girls’ Education in South Sudan (Borgen Magazine)

From the article:

GESS provides training to teachers all over the country, a service desperately needed given that only 47 percent of South Sudanese primary school teachers and 57 percent of secondary school teachers are properly certified. Furthermore, GESS provides female students with grants of up 2,300 SSP to spend on books, clothing and sanitary products, which allow them to attend school more regularly and stay enrolled longer. Since the start of the program, 184,254 girls have received grants. The goal is to reach 200,000 girls by 2018.

The results of this groundbreaking program have been significant. A study conducted by the University of Sussex & Center for Global Development found that cash transfers and grants allowed schools to stay open longer and increased enrollment numbers from 2014-2016, even in the face of widespread violence and economic instability. These small but profoundly meaningful steps toward enhancing education in South Sudan, particularly for girls, give hope that gender inequality in South Sudan may one day be a thing of the past.

Read full article here.

September 7, 2017

A Report Card For Liberia’s Charter Schools (The Economist)

From the article:

Drawing on American charter schools and English academies, last year the ministry delegated the management of 93 public schools to eight independent operators, three of which are private firms. Policymakers from countries such as Ghana, India and Nigeria are watching PSL as they consider trying similar ideas.

Initial results from PSL suggest that would be wise. On September 7th researchers from two think-tanks, the Centre for Global Development and Innovations for Poverty Action, published their analysis of the scheme’s first year. On average, pupils at PSL schools spent about twice as much time learning as their peers at ordinary schools—a result of them turning up more often, relatively diligent teaching and longer school days. Some operators did better than others. But overall, pupils at PSL schools made roughly an additional seven months’ worth of progress in English and maths compared with children at typical public institutions.

These benefits came at a cost. Liberia’s government typically spends about $50 per pupil per year. PSL schools could dip into a philanthropic pot and spend twice that amount.

Read full article here.

September 7, 2017

Early Results: Did Private Outsourcing Improve Liberia's Schools? (Devex)

From the article:

An independent evaluation of a project in Liberia that outsourced the management of nearly 100 schools to mostly international private operators has revealed that student learning improved by up to 60 percent during its first year.

However, the evaluation also raised serious concerns about the financial sustainability and cost effectiveness of the program.

The report, titled “Can outsourcing improve Liberia’s schools?”, was published Thursday by think tank the Center for Global Development and research NGO Innovations for Poverty Action. It offers the first independent findings from the Partnership Schools for Liberia (PSL) program launched by the country’s Education Minister George Werner in 2016.

The project was developed in a bid to transform the country’s lagging education system, which has been decimated by years of civil war and the Ebola epidemic. According to the United Nations, nearly two-thirds of children in Liberia miss out on primary school education, the highest rate in the world.

Read full article here.

August 30, 2017

Cabinet Receives Status Update on Reform in Education Sector (Front Page Africa)

From the article:

Monrovia – Cabinet has received status update and carefully reviewed the ongoing reform in the education sector at its sitting in Monrovia.

The updates focused on Partnership Schools for Liberia (PSL) Project... 

Meanwhile, Cabinet received preliminary evaluation update from Innovations for Poverty Action in partnership with Center for Global Development as a result of a randomized evaluation of the Partnership Schools for Liberia project. 

Read full article here.

August 15, 2017

Investing in Education Essential in Developing Countries (Borgen Magazine)

From the article:

Children around the globe do not have access to basic education and the countries with the highest rates of out-of-school children are also among the poorest in the world. Education gives people the necessary skills they need to climb the ladder out of poverty and into prosperity. Investing in education is essential in developing countries, reducing poverty rates and producing significant developmental benefits...

Recent studies suggest that the effect education has on health is as great as the effect income has...According to the Center for Global Development, young people who complete primary school are less likely to contract HIV than those with little or no schooling.

Read full article here.

May 23, 2017

One Huge Problem With Trump's Promise To Grow The U.S. Economy (NPR Goats and Soda)

From the article:

On paper President Trump's newly unveiled budget proposal is balanced. But that's predicated on an extraordinarily rosy projection for U.S. economic growth: Trump says he expects to achieve annual increases of 3 percent — a substantial boost from the 2016 annual rate of 1.6 percent.

Such pledges were a frequent theme of Trump's campaign. And they were often coupled with the observation that countries such as China and India have been enjoying fast-paced growth for years.

But are comparisons like this meaningful? And could the U.S. realistically achieve even a 3 percent growth rate (let alone the 7 to 8 percent of China and India)?

We looked into the question last fall — after then-candidate Trump raised the issue during the Oct. 19 presidential debate.

India, and even more so China, have been growing at such impressive rates year after year for decades with almost no interruption (though China is down from its heyday of double digit increases). But the consensus among economists is that it's not possible for the U.S. economy to regularly expand at similar rates. Poor countries are always able to grow much faster than rich ones because they're starting from a lower baseline, explains Amanda Glassman of the Center for Global Development. They have "nowhere to go but up."

Read full article here.

May 3, 2017

Private education plays expanding role across Africa (Financial Times)

From the article:

As many as one in four young Africans, or 66m pupils, could be enrolled in some form of private education by 2021, furthering what has been a surge of private schooling across the continent, according to a report. The growth in private education has been driven by parents’ lack of faith in public education or inability to find a place, but critics warn that private schools can exacerbate inequality, erode expertise in the public sector and, in some cases, provide an inferior education. The report, conducted by Caerus Capital, a Washington-based consultancy, concluded, however, that African governments that block the advance of private education on ideological grounds risk losing out on both finance and expertise...

Many African governments struggle to pay teachers, some of whom skip school to farm or do second jobs. Roughly 30m children in sub-Saharan Africa, whose population is growing faster than on any other continent, receive no schooling at all, according to Unicef. In practice, gaps have been plugged by private entities, from local faith-based and community schools in remote villages or slums, to international groups offering both low- and high-cost education. Quality is mixed. Some private schools achieve better results than state ones, although critics say that is because they cater to better-off students. But others are of poor quality...

Justin Sandefur, senior fellow at the Center for Global Development, said it was important to distinguish between fee-paying schools and private provision of free education. There had long been a consensus among educators that poor families should not be paying for education, he said.

However, he said some African governments did not have the capacity to deliver free, universal schooling, in which case they might contract private providers to improve quality and reach. Liberia last year began a pilot project to contract out the management of some schools to for-profit and not-for-profit providers.

However, Mr Sandefur said there was little evidence to back claims that private providers could consistently improve standards or that successful schemes could be scaled up to national level.

Read full article.

June 24, 2016

Liberia, Desperate to Educate, Turns to Charter Schools

From the Arcicle

The program has the potential to further undermine public schools. It’s understandable that the charters want to pick their teachers. The teachers’ union is furious, and an unwilling teacher can sabotage a classroom. But choosing means taking adventurous and ambitious teachers out of the regular school system. “We don’t want to cannibalize public schools to create brilliant shining schools on a hill,” said Justin Sandefur, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development in Washington. He is an informal adviser to the ministry, and is likely to have some role in the evaluation.

Small pilot, small problem. But if the Partnership schools scale up, it could be a big problem.  

Read full article here

April 8, 2016

Liberia Is Outsourcing Primary Schools To A Startup Backed By Mark Zuckerberg (Vox)

From article:

[T]here's an inherent trade-off here. The strongest case you could make is that some countries, unable to fund their education systems, face a difficult choice. They can provide a high-quality education to whomever they can afford to reach but leave out those they cannot afford to reach. Or they can increase the number of students they reach through a cheaper, Bridge-style model, but by compromising the quality of that education.

"I've seen this argument play out between big names in education research next to people who would do this in the developing world," Justin Sandefur, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development and an expert on aid effectiveness and education in the developing world, told me.

In Liberia, there are still about half a million children out of school, and about 21 percent of children don't complete primary education. For these kids, is even rote learning better than no learning at all?

"There are all these concerns in the US about teaching to the test and how horrible that would be," Sandefur says, but then you'll hear "some of the people in the developing world saying the best thing that could happen in our classrooms would be that somebody comes in and teaches to the test. The teachers are asleep; they're not there. So I think you do have to put it in perspective."

Read full article here.

January 5, 2016

When Television Is More Than An “Idiot Box” (The Development Set)

From article:

Those hoping to harness the power of the web might take cues from today’s most popular communications technology: the television.

Technology overall can play an important role in education — for instance, in helping to substitute ill-trained, poorly-motivated teachers stuck with outdated curricula in crowded classrooms. A survey in seven southern African countries found many primary school mathematics teachers who scored lower than their students on the same tests. In unannounced visits to schools in southern India, there was only a 28 percent chance that a teacher would be present and engaged. The result is hundreds of millions of children are stuck in classes where they are learning little to nothing.

Under some circumstances, television can be at least as effective as traditional instruction. Mexico’s Telesecundaria programming broadcasts six hours of lessons a day to children in remote areas of the country where there is no secondary school.

For the most part, though, television has remained an adjunct in the classroom, rather than a replacement for teachers. But as a more holistic tool for learning outside the classroom, it has had a massive impact — particularly when it serves its primary function to entertain and not educate.

Read full article here.