March 6, 2016
Written by Luis Crouch
Silver bullets are hard to come by in the developing world. But this should not be discouraging.
Take the international education sector. While its horizon doesn’t promise any night-to-day revolutions premised on a succinct call to action, it is dotted with evidence that reveals a diverse array of options for improving learning and, thereby, tackling extreme poverty.
For donor organizations and their implementing partners, this is instructive. Direct, effective, and relatively simpler solutions to individual aspects of a larger problem can add up to more than the sum of their parts. This is precisely how diverse interventions in education can help tackle extreme poverty in developing countries. These seven independent approaches stand out to me as offering valid paths to important improvements in learning and life:
Set simple, communicable standards—Standards are a vital mechanism of promoting accountability and high performance in education, and may matter more for poor communities than rich—rich communities are often able to “force” systems to provide them with a good standard of quality. Parents who are not aware of the level at which their child should be achieving may be satisfied with the education services a school is providing even as their child’s learning outcomes fall short. Education systems should set simple standards and, just as importantly, communicate these standards to parents so that they may better understand their child’s progress and hold schools accountable. Under the EdData project, for instance, USAID has facilitated the creation of reading benchmarks for the early grades in certain countries. (See for example the case of the Philippines).
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