Watch out India: World Bank warns of ‘learning crisis’
The World Bank has warned that millions of young students in low and middle-income countries like India face the prospect of lost opportunity and lower wages in later life because their primary and secondary schools are failing to educate them to succeed in life. Warning of ‘a learning crisis’ in global education, a new Bank report said that schooling without learning was not just a wasted development opportunity, but also a great injustice to children and young people worldwide.
According to the ‘World Development Report 2018: ‘Learning to Realise Education’s Promise’, released recently, India ranks second after Malawi in a list of 12 countries wherein a class 2 student is unable to read a single word of a short text.
India also tops the list of seven countries in which a class 2 student cannot perform two-digit subtraction. In fact, in rural India, nearly three-quarters of students in class 3 were unable to solve a two-digit subtraction such as ‘46 – 17’ — and by grade 5, half still could not do so.
India ranks second in a list of 12 countries wherein a class 2 student is unable to read a single word of a short text. In rural India, nearly three-quarters of students in class 3 were unable to solve a two-digit subtraction such as ‘46 – 17’ — and by grade 5, half still could not do so
“Even after several years in school, millions of children cannot read, write or do basic math. This learning crisis is widening social gaps instead of narrowing them,” the report said.
World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim described this learning crisis as a “moral and economic crisis.” He said, “Schooling without learning is a wasted opportunity. More than that, it’s a great injustice: the children whom societies fail the most are the ones who are most in need of a good education to succeed in life.”
Relying on evidence and advice gathered during extensive consultations in 20 countries, with governments, development and research organisations, CSOs, and the private sector, the report offers three policy recommendations:
1. First, assess learning, so it can become a measurable goal
Only half of all developing countries have metrics to measure learning at the end of primary and lower secondary school. Well-designed student assessments can help teachers guide students, improve system management, and focus society’s attention on learning. These measures can inform national policy choices, track progress, and shine a spotlight on children who are being left behind.
2. Make schools work for all children
Level the playing field by reducing stunting and promoting brain development through early nutrition and stimulation so children start school ready to learn. Attract great people into teaching and keep them motivated by tailoring teacher training that is reinforced by mentors. Deploy technologies that help teachers teach to the level of the student, and strengthen school management, including principals.
3. Mobilise everyone who has a stake in learning
Use information and metrics to mobilise citizens, increase accountability, and create political will for education reform. Involve stakeholders, including the business community, in all stages of education reform, from design to implementation.