The World Bank Group and Federal Ministries of Finance and Education today co-launched the World Development Report (WDR) 2018: ‘Learning to Realize Education’s Promise’ at the International Conference Centre (ICC) in Abuja
A statement by the World Bank Group by its Nigeria Office on the report indicated that it specifically canvassed greater measurement, action on evidence, and coordination of all education actors in the country.
The report also found that millions of young students in low and middle-income countries faced 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.
Concerned about a ‘learning crisis’ in global education, the new Bank report also reflected that schooling without learning was not just a wasted development opportunity, but also a great injustice to children and young people worldwide.
The World Bank Group stated further that without learning, education would fail to deliver on its promise to eliminate extreme poverty and create shared opportunity and prosperity for all.
This is even as it stated that even after several years in school, millions of children cannot read, write or do basic math, adding that learning crisis is widening social gaps instead of narrowing them. Young students who are already disadvantaged by poverty, conflict, gender or disability reach young adulthood without even the most basic life skills.
According to the report, when third grade students in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda were asked recently to read a sentence such as “The name of the dog is Puppy” in English or Kiswahili, three-quarters could not provide the name of the dog.
The Breton Woods institution stated on the report further “Other evidence shows that in the country, when fourth grade students were asked to complete a simple two-digit subtraction problem, more than three-quarters could not solve it. Although the skills of Brazilian 15-year-olds have improved, at their current rate of improvement they will not reach the rich-country average score in math for 75 years. In reading, it will take over 260 years.
“Among young adults in Nigeria, only about 20 percent of those who complete primary education can read. These statistics do not account for 260 million children who for reasons of conflict, discrimination, disability, and other obstacles, are not enrolled in primary or secondary school”, it added.
Deon Filmer and Halsey Rogers, World Bank Lead Economists, who co-directed the report team commented: “The diagnosis in this World Development Report may make for disheartening reading, but it should not be interpreted as saying that all is lost—only that too many young people are not getting the education they need.
“Learning shortfalls eventually show up as weak skills in the workforce, making it less likely that young people will find good-paying, satisfying jobs. But change is possible, if systems commit to learning, drawing on examples of families, educators, communities, and systems that have made real progress”, the economists added.
Amongst other panacea, the World Bank Group also canvassed concrete policy steps to help developing countries resolve this dire learning crisis in the areas of stronger learning assessments, using evidence of what works and what doesn’t to guide education decision-making; and mobilizing a strong social movement to push for education changes that champion ‘learning for all.’
The report noted that when countries and their leaders make “learning for all” a national priority, education standards can improve dramatically.
It cited, for example, that between 2009 and 2015, Peru achieved some of the fastest growth in overall learning outcomes—due to concerted policy action. In several countries such as Liberia and Kenya, early grade reading improved substantially within a very short time, due to focused efforts based on evidence
Commenting at the launch forum, the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, said: “Education remains critical to global development and human welfare in every society, and especially for Africa and indeed for Nigeria, given the state of our development. Several strategies targeted at the education sector are currently being undertaken by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.
“This includes, the N-Power programme, the home-grown School Feeding Programme, aimed at reducing the number of out of school children and also the World Bank sponsored Better Education Service Delivery for All (BESDA) Programme designed to bring out-of-school-children into the classroom,” Adeosun added.
In his remarks, the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, said: “We must stop just spending on education; we must begin to start looking at our spending as an investment in education.
“The Federal Ministry of Education after several consultations with stakeholders in the education sector including the World Bank, developed a road map for the education sector captioned ‘Education for Change: A Ministerial Strategic Plan.’ The plan is built on ten pillars which address the well-known areas of education”, the minister added.
Based on evidence gathered around the world, the report offers three policy recommendations namely, that countries should assess learning, so it can become a measurable goal; make schools work for all children; and mobilize everyone who has a stake in learning in order to achieve sustainable growth of the education sector.
The World Bank Country Director, Nigeria, Rachid Benmessaoud, commented: “The World Bank Group continues its support to the Nigerian Government in its education sector reforms to increase access and improve quality and learning outcomes. The Government of Nigeria has identified a crisis in education.
“We hope the evidence presented in the WDR report will contribute positively to the Government’s response in transforming its education system. Every Nigerian child deserves to achieve her/his full potential and quality education is key to unlocking this,” the banking expert added.