The Sustainable Development Goals are an ambitious set of targets for global development progress by 2030 that were agreed by the United Nations in 2015. A review of the literature on meeting "zero targets" suggests very high costs compared to available resources, but also that in many cases there remains a considerable gap between financing known technical solutions and achieving the outcomes called for in the SDGs. In some cases, we (even) lack the technical solutions required to achieve the zero targets, suggesting the need for research and development of new approaches.
Most of the world’s children now live in countries on track to meet the Millennium Development Goal of universal primary completion by 2015. Countries have indeed made great progress getting kids in school, but behind that progress is a problem: many children are hardly learning anything in school. Some measures of learning are just dismal. In India, for example, only about one-third of children in grade 5 can perform long division. Nearly one-half cannot read a grade 2 text, and one in five cannot follow a grade 1 text.
What is to be done? Broadly speaking, schools, governments, and donors need to focus more on actual learning goals, not just filling seats. This report of the CGD Study Group on Measuring Learning Outcomes shows how to make some headway in that direction. Governments need to develop comparable, public learning assessments. Civil society should engage at the grassroots to demand accountability. Donors can play a secondary role by pegging funding to results or experimenting with different strategies. And the UN and other multilaterals should set global standards against which national efforts can be measured. One option is to establish a global learning goal as part of the post-2015 development agenda.
The paper outlines potential goal areas based on the original Millennium Declaration, the timeframe for any MDGs 2.0 and attempts to calculate some reasonable targets associated with those goal areas.
These two sets include input data and Stata files to replicate the results in CGD Working Paper 278, “More Money or More Development: What Have the MDGs Achieved?” and CGD Working Paper 297 “MDGs 2.0: What Goals, Targets, and Timeframe?”
In his latest essay, Charles Kenny seeks to revive Solow's model of exogenous growth; growth driven by the global diffusion of new technologies and ideas. He suggests that when it comes to quality of life improvements, institutions may be less important than exogenous factors, like new vaccines, oral re-hydration therapies, or improvements in hygiene and education practices.
Charles Kenny attempts to dispel development pessimists' fears in this essay summarizing his latest book Getting Better: Why Global Development Is Succeeding - And How We can Improve the World Even More (Basic Books). According to Charles, better health, education, greater access to civil and political rights, infrastructure and even beer, are all signs historic progress being made in the developing world.
There are more schools worldwide than ever before, but are children really learning? Charles Kenny investigates the broken link between schools and learning and suggests some proven methods for improving outcomes in education.