A global learning crisis

A global learning crisis

One of the main reasons the learning crisis persists is that in many education systems in the developing world there is little information about who is learning and who is not. As a result, it’s hard for them to do anything about it. Due to uncertainty about what kind of skills will be needed for future jobs, schools and teachers need to prepare students for more than just basic reading and writing skills. Students should be able to interpret information, form ideas, be creative, communicate well, collaborate and be flexible.

The World Bank’s vision is for all children and young people to learn and acquire the skills they need to become productive, fulfilled and engaged citizens and workers. Our goal is to help educators of all levels facilitate learning, improve learning technology, strengthen school and systems management, and equip students of all ages for success, from preschool to adulthood.


Change starts with a good teacher.

Increasing evidence suggests that the learning crisis is fundamentally a teaching crisis. Students need good teachers to learn, but many education systems pay little attention to what teachers know, what they do in class, and in some cases, what they show.

Fortunately for many students, every country has dedicated and passionate teachers who enrich and transform their lives despite the odds. They are heroes who defy challenges and keep learning with passion, creativity and determination.

One of these heroes works at the Écoles Oued Edhab School in Kenitra, Morocco. In a colorful classroom she draws, she uses creative tools to get every child to learn, participate and have fun. Each letter in the class of the alphabet is associated with animal sounds and hand gestures.

During the lesson, he says a word, syllables aloud using sounds and movements, and students then write the word down. It can easily identify students struggling with the material and adjust the pace of the lesson to help them keep going. Children are caring and attentive. They participate and are not afraid to make mistakes. He is a teacher who wants to ensure that all children learn.

Technology offers new opportunities for teaching and learning.

Rapid technological change increases risks. Technology already plays an important role in supporting teachers, students and the learning process in general. This can help teachers better manage the classroom and present different challenges to different students. Technology can enable principals, parents, and students to communicate seamlessly.

One of the most interesting large-scale educational technology efforts is led by EkStep, a charitable effort in India. EkStep has built an open digital infrastructure that provides 200 million children with access to learning opportunities, as well as professional development opportunities for 12 million teachers and 4.5 million school administrators. Teachers and children access content that includes educational materials, explainer videos, interactive materials, stories, practice worksheets, and formative assessments. By tracking which content is used most often and most beneficially, informed decisions can be made about future content.

In the Dominican Republic, a World Bank-sponsored pilot study shows how adaptive technologies can spark interest in 21st century students and pave the way for future generations to support learning and teaching.

Yudisi, a sixth grader who participated in the study, says that her favorite thing to do during the day is to watch videos and tutorials on her computer and mobile phone. Taking his childhood curiosity as a starting point, the study aimed to involve him in learning mathematics in a way that would engage Yudsi and his classmates.

Learning happens when schools and education systems work well.

Delivering quality education requires systems that facilitate learning in thousands of schools for millions of students every day.

 Successful education reforms require good policy design, strong political commitment, and effective implementation capacity. Of course, this is extremely challenging. Many countries struggle to make efficient use of resources and very often increased education spending does not translate into more learning and improved human capital. Overcoming such challenges involves working at all levels of the system.

At the central level, ministries of education need to attract the best experts to design and implement evidence-based and country-specific programs. District or regional offices need the capacity and the tools to monitor learning and support schools. At the school level, principals need to be trained and prepared to manage and lead schools, from planning the use of resources to supervising and nurturing their teachers.

However difficult, change is possible. Supported by the World Bank, public schools across Punjab in Pakistan have been part of major reforms over the past few years to address these challenges. Through improved school-level accountability by monitoring and limiting teacher and student absenteeism, and the introduction of a merit-based teacher recruitment system, where only the most talented and motivated teachers were selected, they were able to increase enrollment and retention of students and significantly improve the quality of education. “The government schools have become very good now, even better than private ones,” said Mr. Ahmed, a local villager.

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