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CGD’s work in education focuses on the role education can play in building more equal and prosperous societies.
CGD’s education program focuses on broad welfare goals and seeks to understand the role education can play in addressing inequity. Despite the tremendous progress that has been made in getting girls and boys into school, education has not yet fulfilled its promise of being the great societal equalizer. Gender inequality remains acute and deeply rooted in the economic, political and social spheres in developing countries. Intergenerational mobility is declining, not increasing. Poor children get educated in bad schools where they do not acquire basic numeracy and literacy skills while rich children attend good schools.
Our research examines the mechanisms through which education can give children equal life opportunities and build the human capital that nations need to prosper.
The poor quality of education worldwide constitutes a learning crisis; donors and development agencies have been complicit in its creation, but they can and should be part of the solution, not by prescribing changes, but by fostering environments where change is possible.
With abundant data, sound analysis, and first-hand experience, Lant Pritchett shows that the way to turn underperforming schools around is to allow functional systems to evolve locally out of an environment pressured for success. Schools systems need to be open to variety and experimentation, locally operated, and flexibly financed. The only main cost is ceding control; the reward would be the rebirth of education suited for today’s world.
Is it possible to alter national governments and global institutions so that decision makers can focus on the vitally important longer term challenges, while still dealing with the urgent considerations which crowd their daily agenda? That’s the important and difficult question set before the The Oxford Martin Commission for Future Generations. My guest on this week’s Wonkcast is Ian Goldin, director of the Oxford Martin School and the driving force behind the commission.
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.
Treating poverty-stricken AIDS patients with antiretrovirals (ARVs) extends their lives and enables them to retun to work. It seems reasonable to expect that their children would benefit, too. Now there is research to support this idea. CGD post-doctoral fellow Harsha Thirumurthy and his co-authors use household surveys from western Kenya to show that children of adults who receive ARVs experience large and rapid improvements in schooling and nutritional outcomes. Specifically, children of treated adults work significantly less and spend more time in school; and very young children are better nourished.
COVID-19 school closures pose significant operational and financial risks to frontline organizations delivering vital education services, including non-governmental organizations, school operators, and other service providers. In this survey, we ask these organizations about the challenges they are facing in light of COVID-19 closures, particularly for girls. The responses shed light on how COVID-19 is affecting education service operations—and what providers are doing in response.
"No Child Left Behind" could move from a national program to a global mission if several current policies and initiatives converge: the Education for All Fast Track Initiative, the U.S. Millennium
Challenge Account, and the renewed declarations of the Bush administration, supported by U.S. public opinion.
3.5 million children around the world are refugees, many with little or no access to schooling. That means we won’t come anywhere near our targets for the fourth Sustainable Development Goal—quality education for all—unless we can address the refugee crisis. Save the Children International president Helle Thorning-Schmidt joins the CGD podcast to discuss how donor countries can help.