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  • Publication
    Collapse and Recovery: How the COVID-19 Pandemic Eroded Human Capital and What to Do about It
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2023) Schady, Norbert; Holla, Alaka; Sabarwal, Shwetlena; Silva, Joana; Yi Chang, Andres
    Worldwide, the COVID-19 pandemic has been an enormous shock to mortality, economies, and daily life. But what has received insufficient attention is the impact of the pandemic on the accumulation of human capital—the health, education, and skills—of young people. How large was the setback, and how far are we still from a recovery? Collapse and Recovery estimates the impacts of the pandemic on the human capital of young children, school-age children, and youth and discusses the urgent actions needed to reverse the damage. It shows that there was a collapse of human capital and that, unless that collapse is remedied, it is a time bomb for countries. Specifically, the report documents alarming declines in cognitive and social-emotional development among young children, which could translate into a 25 percent reduction in their earnings as adults. It finds that 1 billion children in low- and middle-income countries missed at least one year of in-person schooling. And despite enormous efforts in remote learning, children did not learn during the unprecedentedly long school closures, which could reduce future lifetime earnings around the world by US$21 trillion. The report quantifies the dramatic drops in employment and skills among youth that resulted from the pandemic as well as the substantial increase in the number of youth neither employed nor enrolled in education or training. In all of these age groups, the impacts of the pandemic were consistently worse for children from poorer backgrounds. These losses call for immediate action. The good news is that evidence-based policies can recover these losses. Collapse and Recovery reviews governments’ responses to the pandemic, assessing why there was a collapse in human capital accumulation, what was missing in the policy architecture to protect human capital during the crisis, and how governments can better prepare to withstand future shocks. It offers concrete policy recommendations to recover losses in human capital—programs that will end up paying for themselves in the long term. To better prepare for future shocks such as climate change and wars, the report emphasizes the need for solutions that bring health, education, and social protection programs together in an integrated human development system. If countries fail to act, the losses in human capital documented in this report will become permanent and last for multiple generations. The time to act is now.
  • Publication
    Opportunities for All: Brazil Policy Notes 2022
    (Washington, DC, 2022-12) World Bank
    This package of Public Policy Notes is directed to Brazilian policy makers and society to present the World Bank Group’s overview of key challenges facing the country at this juncture, and possible ways forward to address them. We present an agenda prioritized around four issues of core relevance to Brazil’s recovery and its future resilience. First is the goal of financing development sustainably given the immediate challenge of situating the country’s enormous growth, inclusion and climate action needs within a credible macroeconomic framework and efficient and effective fiscal policies. The second theme addressed in this note is building opportunities through productivity-led growth. With the growing reliance of Brazilians on social assistance policies, it is critical to keep sight of growth and jobs as the most important vehicles for the dignity and upward mobility of the poor. Third is increasing the capabilities and economic inclusion of the poor so that they are better able to capture the opportunities that come with growth. Thefourth theme we address in this note is meeting Brazil’s potential as a as a leader in green and climate friendly development. This document is accompanied by a package of six policy presentations and an underlying set of more detailed policy reports that can be accesses here: https://www.worldbank.org/en/country/brazil.
  • Publication
    The State of the Global Education Crisis: A Path to Recovery
    (UNESCO, Paris, UNICEF, New York, and World Bank, Washington, DC, 2021-12-10) UNESCO; UNICEF; World Bank
    Even before Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) hit, the world was already experiencing a learning crisis. 258 million primary- and secondary-school age children and youth were out of school. Many children who were in school were learning very little: 53 percent of all ten-year-old children in low- and middle-income countries were experiencing learning poverty, meaning that they were unable to read and understand a simple age-appropriate text at age 10. This report spotlights how COVID-19 has deepened the education crisis and charts a course for creating more resilient education systems for the future. Section one gives introduction. Section two documents COVID-19’s impacts on learning levels by presenting updated simulations and bringing together the latest documented evidence on learning loss from over 28 countries. Section three explores how the crisis has widened inequality and had greater impacts on already disadvantaged children and youth. Section four reviews evidence on learning recovery from past crises and highlights current policy responses that appear most likely to have succeeded in stemming learning losses, while recognizing that the evidence is still in a nascent stage. The final section discusses how to build on the investments made and the lessons learned during the pandemic to accelerate learning recovery and emerge from the crisis with increased education quality, resilience, and equity in the longer term.
  • Publication
    Recovering Growth: Rebuilding Dynamic Post‐COVID-19 Economies amid Fiscal Constraints
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2021-10-06) World Bank
    After its worst economic crisis in 100 years, Latin America and the Caribbean countries are emerging from the COVID‐19 pandemic. The need to recover dynamic, inclusive, and sustainable growth to redress both the legacy of the pandemic and long‐standing social needs has never been more acute. However, despite progress in some areas, the region is facing a weaker recovery than expected given the favorable international tailwinds and is likely return to the low growth rates of the 2010s. Moreover, growth could be further slowed by both internal and external factors: the emergence of a new variant of the virus, a rise in international interest rates to combat global inflation, and high levels of debt in both the private and public sector. Beyond offering the current macroeconomic outlook of the region and the near‐term challenges it faces, this report explores three broad areas where growth‐advancing policies and reforms could be undertaken within a constrained fiscal context: mobilizing sources of revenue that appear to be growth-neutral; improving public spending efficiency to free up resources for other purposes; and reallocating spending to areas with highest growth and social impact.
  • Publication
    The Fast Track to New Skills: Short-Cycle Higher Education Programs in Latin America and the Caribbean
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2021-09-29) Ferreyra, María Marta; Dinarte, Lelys; Urzúa, Sergio; Bassi, Marina
    Higher education in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) has expanded dramatically in the new millennium, yet enrollment in short-cycle programs (SCPs) is still relatively low. Shorter and more practical than bachelor’s programs, SCPs can form skilled human capital fast. The economic crisis created by the COVID-19 pandemic has accentuated underlying trends, such as automation, the use of electronic platforms, and the need for lifelong learning. Addressing these demands requires the urgent upskilling and reskilling of the population—a task for which SCPs are uniquely suited. The Fast Track to New Skills: Short-Cycle Higher Education Programs in Latin America and the Caribbean explores the labor market outcomes and returns of SCPs, examines their providers, and identifies the practices adopted by the best programs. Relying on unique data that includes a novel survey of SCP directors in five LAC countries, it finds that while SCPs generate, on average, good labor market outcomes, they vary greatly in quality. SCP providers respond quickly and flexibly to local economy needs; and specific practices related to faculty, job search assistance, and interaction with prospective employers are distinctive of the best programs. Drawing on these findings, The Fast Track to New Skills discusses how to create an environment where good programs are offered and students have the interest and means to attend them. It draws attention to a higher education sector that has been typically overlooked, both in research and policy. The Fast Track to New Skills will be of interest to policy makers, researchers, and the public at large.
  • Publication
    Will Every Child Be Able to Read by 2030? Defining Learning Poverty and Mapping the Dimensions of the Challenge: Definición de pobreza de aprendizajes y un mapeo de la magnitud del desafío
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2021-03) Goldemberg, Diana; Azevedo, Joao Pedro; Montoya, Silvia; Nayar, Reema; Rogers, Halsey; Stacy, Brian William; Saavedra, Jaime
    In October 2019, the World Bank and UNESCO Institute for Statistics proposed a new metric, Learning Poverty, designed to spotlight low levels of learning and track progress toward ensuring that all children acquire foundational skills. This paper provides the technical background for that indicator, and for its main findings—first, that even before COVID-19, 53 percent of all children in low- and middle-income countries could not read with comprehension by age 10, and second, that at pre-COVID-19 trends, the Learning Poverty rate was on track to fall only to 44 percent by 2030, far short of the universal literacy envisioned under the Sustainable Development Goals. The paper contributes to the literature in four ways. First, it formally describes the new synthetic Learning Poverty metric, which combines the dimensions of learning with schooling and thus reflects the learning of all children, and it presents, for the first time, standard errors associated with the proposed measure. Second, it documents how this indicator is calculated at the country, regional, and global levels, and discusses the robustness associated with different aggregation approaches. Third, it documents historical rates of progress and compares them with the rate of progress that would be required for countries to halve Learning Poverty by 2030, as envisioned under the learning target announced by the World Bank in 2019. Fourth, it provides heterogeneity analysis by gender, region, and other variables, and documents learning poverty’s strong correlation with metrics of learning for other ages. These results show that the Learning Poverty indicator, together with improved measurement of learning, can be used as an evidence-based tool to promote progress toward all children reading by age 10—a prerequisite for achieving all the ambitious education aspirations included under Sustainable Development Goals 4.
  • Publication
    Loud and Clear: Effective Language of Instruction Policies for Learning
    (Washington, DC, 2021) World Bank
    Part 1 addresses why we should care about LoI (Language of Instruction) issues and the major challenges involved. Its four sections are entitled: (i) why should we care (ii) how big is the problem (iii) the role of political economy; and (iv) diverse LoI contexts. Part 2 presents existing solutions (in section 5) and proposes a detailed way forward for the WB Education Global Practice (section 6). It should be noted that the paper does not claim to possess or propose a complete set of technical solutions for the myriad of difficult policy issues involved. By enhancing engagement and devoting adequate resources to the problem, existing solutions will be deployed, and new solutions devised. Increased partnership and knowledge sharing will be part of this, as will be the testing of innovative approaches. The new approach will involve learning at the individual and institutional level, with an intensity of engagement commensurate with the urgency of the issue.
  • Publication
    What Have We Learnt?: Overview of Findings from a Survey of Ministries of Education on National Responses to COVID-19
    (Paris, New York, Washington D.C.: UNESCO, UNICEF, World Bank, 2020-10) UNESCO; UNICEF; World Bank
    As part of the coordinated global education response to the COVID-19 pandemic, UNESCO, UNICEF and the World Bank have conducted a Survey on National Education Responses to COVID-19 School Closures. In this joint report, we analyze the results of the first two rounds of data collection administered by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS). They cover government responses to school closures from pre-primary to secondary education. The first round of the survey was completed by Ministry of Education officials of 118 countries between May and June 2020, and the second round from 149 countries between July and October 2020. The survey instrument was designed to capture de jure policy responses and perceptions from government officials on their effectiveness, providing a systematic understanding of deployed policies, practices, and intentions to date.
  • Publication
    World Development Report 2019: The Changing Nature of Work
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2019) World Bank
    Work is constantly reshaped by technological progress. New ways of production are adopted, markets expand, and societies evolve. But some changes provoke more attention than others, in part due to the vast uncertainty involved in making predictions about the future. The 2019 World Development Report will study how the nature of work is changing as a result of advances in technology today. Technological progress disrupts existing systems. A new social contract is needed to smooth the transition and guard against rising inequality. Significant investments in human capital throughout a person’s lifecycle are vital to this effort. If workers are to stay competitive against machines they need to train or retool existing skills. A social protection system that includes a minimum basic level of protection for workers and citizens can complement new forms of employment. Improved private sector policies to encourage startup activity and competition can help countries compete in the digital age. Governments also need to ensure that firms pay their fair share of taxes, in part to fund this new social contract. The 2019 World Development Report presents an analysis of these issues based upon the available evidence.
  • Publication
    World Development Report 2018: Learning to Realize Education's Promise
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2018) World Bank
    Every year, the World Bank's World Development Report takes on a topic of central importance to global development. The 2018 Report, Learning to Realize Education's Promise, is the first ever devoted entirely to education. Now is an excellent time for it: education has long been critical for human welfare, but is even more so in a time of rapid economic change. The Report explores four main themes. First, education's promise: Education is a powerful instrument for eradicating poverty and promoting shared prosperity, but fulfilling its potential requires better policies - both within and outside the education system. Second, the learning crisis: Despite gains in education access, recent learning assessments show that many young people around the world, especially from poor families, are leaving school unequipped with even the most foundational skills they need for life. At the same time, internationally comparable learning assessments show that skills in many middle-income countries lag far behind what those countries aspire to. Third, promising interventions to improve learning: Research from areas such as brain science, pedagogical innovations, or school management have identified interventions that promote learning by ensuring that learners are prepared, that teachers are skilled as well as motivated, and that other inputs support the teacher-learner relationship. Fourth, learning at scale: Achieving learning throughout an education system will require more than just scaling up effective interventions. Change requires overcoming technical and political barriers by deploying salient metrics for mobilizing actors and tracking progress, building coalitions for learning, and being adaptive when implementing programs.