World Bank released a report titled Student learning in South Asia: challenges, opportunities, and policy priorities on 30 June 2014. According to the report, the poor quality of education is hampering the development of South Asia including India.
The poor quality is reflected in learning levels, traps many of its young people in poverty and prevents faster economic growth and more broadly shared prosperity.
Highlights of the Report
• Many governments in South Asia (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka) have invested heavily in education to achieve the Millennium Development Goal of universal primary education for all children by 2015.
• The investment resulted in an increase in the net enrollment rate in South Asia’s primary schools from 75 percent to 89 percent from 2000 to 2010. The increase in enrollment brought the region closer to the enrollment rates in Latin America and the Caribbean (94 percent) and East Asia and the Pacific (95 percent).
• There are large differences in schooling access across the countries of South Asia as well as between different socioeconomic and demographic groups within countries. For instance, Sri Lanka is a clear outlier, having achieved near-universal primary education decades ago. On the other hand, Afghanistan and Pakistan still lag significantly behind other South Asian countries.
• Most of the South Asia's education system has shown disappointing outcomes, as measured by student learning. This in part reflected coping with the large influx of children who were first-generation school-goers.
• Inferior education systems and the shortage of skills are constraining private sector investment and future economic prospects
• The teachers in India and Pakistan have poor performance in Mathematics and language tests based on the curriculum they are supposed to teach.
• Students are poorly prepared in practical competencies such as measurement, problem-solving, and writing of meaningful and grammatically-correct sentences.
• One quarter to one third of those who graduate from primary school lack basic numeracy and literacy skills that will enable the students to further their education.
Raising education quality in South Asia is an urgent priority that could transform the region’s economic landscape. The following recommendations are the multi-pronged strategy to address the challenges of the above.
• Ensure young children get enough nutrition
Government need to invest in early-life nutrition, with appropriate coverage and age targeting. It can be a highly cost-effective investment in the quality and efficiency of education.
• Raise teacher quality
Teachers in South Asia are poor in math and languages tests based on the curriculum they are supposed to teach. To overcome this higher and clear standards must be enforced, absenteeism curbed, and non-merit-based promotions halted.
• Use financial incentives to boost quality
The extra resources are available, instead of going to higher pay for teachers, reducing class sizes or improving facilities, the resources will be to link them to need and student performance.
• Bring in the private sector
The private sector is already playing a major role in education, and governments should encourage greater private-sector participation by easing entry barriers and encouraging well-designed public-private partnerships.
• Improve the measurement of student progress
Governments need to improve the quality and reliability of assessments and benchmarking national learning outcomes against international standards.
Who: World Bank
When: 30 June 2014