World Development Report

Education and learning raise aspirations, set values, and ultimately enrich lives. The country
where I was born, the Republic of Korea, is a good example of how education can play
these important roles. After the Korean War, the population was largely illiterate and deeply
impoverished. The World Bank said that, without constant foreign aid, Korea would find it
difficult to provide its people with more than the bare necessities of life. The World Bank
considered even the lowest interest rate loans to the country too risky.
Korea understood that education was the best way to pull itself out of economic misery,
so it focused on overhauling schools and committed itself to educating every child—and
educating them well. Coupled with smart, innovative government policies and a vibrant
private sector, the focus on education paid off. Today, not only has Korea achieved universal
literacy, but its students also perform at the highest levels in international learning assessments.
It’s a high-income country and a model of successful economic development.
Korea is a particularly striking example, but we can see the salutary effects of education
in many countries. Delivered well, education—and the human capital it creates—has many
benefits for economies, and for societies as a whole. For individuals, education promotes
employment, earnings, and health. It raises pride and opens new horizons. For societies, it
drives long-term economic growth, reduces poverty, spurs innovation, strengthens institutions,
and fosters social cohesion.
In short, education powerfully advances the World Bank Group’s twin strategic goals:
ending extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity. Given that today’s students will be
tomorrow’s citizens, leaders, workers, and parents, a good education is an investment with
enduring benefits.
But providing education is not enough. What is important, and what generates a real
return on investment, is learning and acquiring skills. This is what truly builds human
capital. As this year’s World Development Report documents, in many countries and communities
learning isn’t happening. Schooling without learning is a terrible waste of precious
resources and of human potential.
Worse, it is an injustice. Without learning, students will be locked into lives of poverty
and exclusion, and the children whom societies fail the most are those most in need of
a good education to succeed in life. Learning conditions are almost always much worse
for the disadvantaged, and so are learning outcomes. Moreover, far too many children still
aren’t even attending school. This is a moral and economic crisis that must be addressed
immediately.
This year’s Report provides a path to address this economic and moral failure. The
detailed analysis in this Report shows that these problems are driven not only by service
delivery failings in schools but also by deeper systemic problems. The human capital lost because of these shortcomings threatens development and jeopardizes the future of people
and their societies. At the same time, rapid technological change raises the stakes: to
compete in the economy of the future, workers need strong basic skills and foundations for
adaptability, creativity, and lifelong learning.
To realize education’s promise, we need to prioritize learning, not just schooling. This
Report argues that achieving learning for all will require three complementary strategies:
• First, assess learning to make it a serious goal. Information itself creates incentives
for reform, but many countries lack the right metrics to measure learning.
• Second, act on evidence to make schools work for learning. Great schools build
strong teacher-learner relationships in classrooms. As brain science has advanced
and educators have innovated, the knowledge of how students learn most
effectively has greatly expanded. But the way many countries, communities,
and schools approach education often differs greatly from the most promising,
evidence-based approaches.
• Third, align actors to make the entire system work for learning. Innovation in
classrooms won’t have much impact if technical and political barriers at the system
level prevent a focus on learning at the school level. This is the case in many
countries stuck in low-learning traps; extricating them requires focused attention
on the deeper causes.
The World Bank Group is already incorporating the key fi ndings of this Report into our
operations. We will continue to seek new ways to scale up our commitment to education
and apply our knowledge to serve those children whose untapped potential is wasted. For
example, we are developing more useful measures of learning and its determinants. We
are ensuring that evidence guides operational practice to improve learning in areas such as
early-years interventions, teacher training, and educational technology. We are making
sure that our project analysis and strategic country diagnoses take into account the full
range of system-level opportunities and limitations—including political constraints. And
we will continue to emphasize operational approaches that allow greater innovation and
agility.
Underlying these efforts is the World Bank Group’s commitment to ensuring that all of
the world’s students have the opportunity to learn. Realizing education’s promise means
giving them the chance not only to compete in tomorrow’s economy, but also to improve
their communities, build stronger countries, and move closer to a world that is fi nally free
of poverty.

Fuente: Banco Mundial

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