Investments aligned with this Strategic Goal aim to improve the quality of K–12 teaching and learning environments by providing teacher training and educational materials.
In low- and middle-income countries, only half of primary school children and a little more than a quarter of secondary school children are on track to complete school and meet minimum benchmarks on learning assessments (1). Three in four of these children are failing to achieve despite attending school (1). In six of the ten countries one study assessed, only about half—or even fewer than half—of younger adults (18 to 37) who completed primary schooling can read a few sentences without help (2).
Worldwide, countries face a shortage of qualified teachers for their rapidly expanding student populations (3, pp. 133–34). Though teaching methods can often be improved through simple in-service training (1, p. 60), the quality of teacher training varies dramatically across countries, and much training does not align with practices that are associated with better student performance. And, while teaching and learning resources are regularly cited as key to improving the quality of education, textbooks and other instructional materials remain inaccessible or unavailable in some countries (4, p. 203).
Improving the quality of teaching and learning environments through teacher training and by providing quality teaching and learning materials helps to ensure that all children obtain the education and skills necessary to achieve their individual potential. These improvements can also enhance national growth and social development.
In the context of teacher training and performance, investments aligned with this Strategic Goal can:
In the context of educational materials, investments aligned with this Strategic Goal can:
Access to quality teachers and educational materials is essential to the quality of learning environments and leads to improved student retention and performance on learning assessments. Globally, approximately 387 million primary-school-aged children are not learning basic reading (6), and, as of 2017, 262 million children and young people do not attend school (7, p. 122). And, of 19 sub-Saharan countries in a 2008 World Bank analysis, 18 had inadequate supplies of textbooks for students in secondary schools (4, p. 203).
Between 2015 and 2030, the Education Commission projects that demand for teachers in low-income countries will double (1, p. 70). However, in 2017, 15% of primary teachers around the world were untrained, an increase of 1.5 percentage points since 2013 (7, p 216). The percent of untrained teachers in low-income countries is expected to rise sharply with the increase in demand.
Education systems around the world must improve teacher training and access to quality teaching and learning materials to attract and retain quality teachers and enable students to learn.
Students from poor and disadvantaged backgrounds: Students from disadvantaged households, including rural households, complete less schooling and learn much less while in school (3, pp. 44–45). Investing in the quality of teaching and learning environments with a focus on inclusion will increase enrollment and retention and improve learning outcomes for all students while helping disadvantaged students to close this gap.
Teachers in low- and middle-income countries: High-quality teachers are in short supply in low-income countries, and pupil-to-teacher ratios are higher in poorer countries (3, 5). Inadequately trained teachers are common in several parts of the world, with only 62% trained at the primary level in sub-Saharan Africa (5, p. 244). Investing in high-quality teacher instruction and development will provide professional structure and help teachers to apply what they know.
Households and families (urban and rural): Access to quality education helps break the cycle of poverty by increasing income. Educated people also tend to be healthier, more empowered, more socially tolerant, and more able to resolve conflicts (10, pp. 10–13).
Education systems (national and sub-national): Aligning components of education systems coherently toward learning can improve government accountability and strengthen the education workforce (3, p. 175).
Low- and middle-income countries: Education systems in low- and middle-income countries around the world often fail to provide students with quality educations. The average student in these countries performs worse than 95% of students in high-income countries (3, p. 5). Low-income households in sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia are disproportionately affected by this learning crisis.
Sub-Saharan Africa: Sub-Saharan Africa has the lowest proportion of trained teachers and growing share of the out-of-school population (7, pp. 123, 216). Textbooks are also scarce; a 2008 World Bank analysis found only one sub-Saharan African country of 19 studied had adequate textbook provision (4, p. 203).
Latin America: Latin American school enrollment has sharply increased in recent years, but students still leave school lacking the skills they need for employment. Teachers in Latin America are generally paid above the poverty threshold, but their salaries compare unfavorably with those working in professions requiring similar qualifications. In 2007, other professionals in Brazil and Peru, respectively, earned 43% and 50% more than preschool and primary school teachers (8, p. 29).
Teacher effectiveness is the most important school-based predictor of student learning (10), which drives social and economic progress. Specific investment contributions and their sustainability vary by context and approach.
Investments aligned with this Strategic Goal can improve learning outcomes for the 262 million children who do not attend school and the 387 million primary-school-aged children who are in school but not learning basic reading. It can also support the 2.5 million primary school teachers and 4.5 million secondary school teachers around the world who have not been trained.
Systematic change requires sustained investment, beyond a typical five-year development program. Improved teacher training and teaching methods—combined with materials and remediation support for students falling behind—take time, but can improve learning outcomes significantly (1, pp. 59–60).
Examples of impact from projects aligned with this Strategic Goal include the following:
Execution Risk: Some solutions could benefit an unintended demographic in a given country or context, perhaps benefiting upper-middle classes or private schools, for example, and deepening inequalities. To mitigate this risk, investors should clarify the demographic they are aiming to serve, then collect data to verify that their investments reach those groups. Poor access to electricity and other resources in low-income countries can present challenges for some technological solutions. Investors should make sure such solutions fit the geography or demographic to be served.
Evidence Risk: Some startups may lack the capacity to monitor and evaluate all of their outcome metrics, limiting investors’ ability to monitor impact. For example, a startup that sells educational materials to a school may be unable to collect information from the school to accurately capture the impact of their solution. Inability to measure impact metrics or reliance on a third party to monitor progress introduces the risk of error. To mitigate this risk, investors should identify the most critical metrics—such as those in the core metrics set—and support investees to obtain that data. In some situations, data from a school or third party might be the best available or most feasible to collect, in which case best practice is to perform spot audits or external validation.
External Risk: Working with public schools often requires working with governments, which can be burdensome and incur high transaction costs. Public workers and other groups may also resist change, which can disrupt activities and interfere with final impact. Investors should gather contextual information about specific geographies and demographics served by the investee or fund during due diligence.
Failure to adequately address these risks could dilute positive impact by reducing the quality of teaching and learning environments in targeted primary and secondary schools.
LEAD School’s ‘school-in-a-box’ solution is designed to empower affordable private school (APS) operators in India, specifically catering to the needs of first-generation learners in the low-income segment and to teachers serving and parents in this demographic segment. Their product covers various aspects of school management including curriculum, content, assessments, delivery, administration, in-depth teacher capacity-building, and meaningful parent engagement. A recent round of impact investments into LEAD School was led by Elevar Equity. In 18 months of operation, LEAD School signed up more than 80 affordable private schools to use their solution. Impact data on this investment are forthcoming.
Geekie offers an integrated learning, assessment, and information management platform to school administrators, teachers, and students in Brazil. Its adaptive learning platform, designed to help learners improve their performance in different educational settings, has been adopted by public and private high schools and students preparing for the national college entrance exam. To date, more than three million learners have benefited from Geekie’s learning products, which have demonstrated improved learning outcomes. For example, active users improved their simulated test scores by 30% compared to their initial assessment after using the platform. The company has received impact investments from Omidyar Network and other investors.
Tomi Digital is a Colombian enterprise that believes the education paradigm can only be changed by producing better teachers. The Tomi team aims to change the classroom experience from a static, rote model to a dynamic, active learning environment and aspires to facilitate meaningful learning within the classroom through innovative technological tools. The company’s technology includes a smart board that increases classroom interactivity through augmented reality. The company received impact investments from the education-focused investor GrayMatters Capital and other investors. More than 40,000 classrooms have been transformed to date, according to the company’s impact report.
Steer, Liesbet, Justin W. van Fleet, Gila Sacks, Nicholas Burnett, Paul Isenman, Elizabeth King, Annababette Wils et al. The Learning Generation: Investing in Education for a Changing World. New York: International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity, 2016.
Kaffenberger, Michelle and Lant Pritchett. "More School or More Learning? Evidence from Learning Profiles from the Financial Inclusion Insights Data." RISE Working Paper 17/012, Oxford, UK, May 2017.
Filmer, Deon, Halsey Rogers, Samer Al-Samarrai, Magdalena Bendini, Tara Béteille, David Evans, Märt Kivine, Shwetlena Sabarwal, Alexandria Valerio et al. World Development Report 2018: Learning to Realize Education’s Promise. Washington, DC: World Bank, 2018.
UNESCO. Education for All, 2000–2015: Achievements and Challenges. Education for All Global Monitoring Report, 2015. Paris: UNESCO, 2015.
UNESCO. Accountability in Education: Meeting Our Commitments. Global Education Monitoring Report, 2017/8. Paris: UNESCO, 2017.
UNESCO Institute for Statistic (UIS). “More Than One-Half of Children and Adolescents Are Not Learning Worldwide.” UIS Fact Sheet No. 46, September 2017.
UNESCO. Migration, Displacement and Education: Building Bridges, Not Walls. Global Education Monitoring Report, 2019. Paris: UNESCO, 2019.
UNESCO. Teaching and Learning: Achieving Quality for All. Education for All Global Monitoring Report 2013/4. Paris: UNESCO, 2014.
Jayaram, Shubha. Global Book Fund Feasibility Study: Final Report. Washington, DC: Results for Development, April 2016.
Baum, Donald, Laura Lewis, Oni Lusk-Stover, and Harry Patrinos. "What Matters Most for Engaging the Private Sector in Education: A Framework Paper." Systems Approach for Better Education Results (SABER) Working Paper No. 8, Washington, DC, World Bank, July 2014.
UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS). Handbook on Measuring Equity in Education. Montreal: UIS, 2018.
Michaelowa, K., and Wechtler, A. (2006). The cost-effectiveness of inputs in primary education: Insights from the literature and recent student surveys for Sub-Saharan Africa. Paper presented at the Association for the Development of Education in Africa—Biennale on Education in Africa.
Abeberese, A. B., Kumler, T. J. and Linden, L. L. 2013. Improving Reading Skills by Encouraging Children to Read in School: A Randomized Evaluation of the Sa Aklat Sisikat Reading Program in the Philippines. Cambridge, MA., Abudul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab. Working Paper, 17185.
This mapped evidence shows what outcomes and impacts this strategy can have, based on academic and field research.
Cristia, J., P. Ibarraran, S. Cueto, A. Santiago, and E. Severin. 2012. “Technology and Child Development: Evidence from the One Laptop per Child Program.” IDB Working Paper IDB-WP-304, Inter-American Development Bank, Washington, DC.The One Laptop per Child project in Peru provided hundreds of thousands of pieces of low-cost computing equipment to students in rural schools. This paper presents findings from the first large-scale randomized evaluation of the OLPC program, using data collected after 15 months of implementation in 319 primary schools in rural Peru. No evidence is found of effects on enrollment and test scores in Math and Language. Some positive effects are found, however, in general cognitive skills.
Banerjee, Abhijit Vinayak, Shawn Cole, Esther Duflo, and Leigh Linden. 2007. “Remedying Education: Evidence from Two Randomized Experiments in India.” Quarterly Journal of Economics 122 (3): 1235–64.This paper presents the results of two randomized experiments conducted in schools in urban India. A remedial education program hired young women to teach students lagging behind in basic literacy and numeracy skills. It increased average test scores of all children in treatment schools by 0.28 standard deviation, A computer-assisted learning program focusing on math increased math scores by 0.47 standard deviation.
Duflo, Esther, Pascaline Dupas, and Michael Kremer. 2011. “Peer Effects, Teacher Incentives, and the Impact of Tracking: Evidence from a Randomized Evaluation in Kenya.” American Economic Review 101 (5): 1739–74.This random control trial explores effective strategies to target teaching to the level of the student include using community teachers to provide remedial lessons to the lowest performers, reorganizing classes by ability, or using technology to adapt lessons to individual student needs. The study finds that the direct effect of high-achieving peers is positive, but that tracking benefited lower-achieving pupils indirectly by allowing teachers to teach at a level more appropriate to them.
Andrabi, Tahir, Jishnu Das, and Asim Ijaz Khwaja. 2015. “Report Cards: The Impact of Providing School and Child Test Scores on Educational Markets.” Policy Research Working Paper 7226, World Bank, Washington, DCIn Punjab, Pakistan, simply providing diagnostic information to parents and schools about the schools’ relative performance improved learning outcomes. This study explores the impact of providing school report cards with test scores on subsequent test scores, prices, and enrollment in markets with multiple public and private providers.
Sabarwal, S, Evans, DK and Marshak, A, 2014. The permanent input hypothesis: The case of textbooks and (no) student learning in Sierra Leone. Washington, DC: World Bank Group Education Global Practice Group & Africa RegionProgram in Sierra Leone provided a set of core textbooks to every child. A randomized trial of this public program providing textbooks to primary schools had modest positive impacts on teacher behavior, but no impacts on student performance. The program did, however, appear to have improved student attendance, particularly for older girls. The study authors suggest that the enhanced access to textbooks may have made teaching easier and increased teachers’ motivation.
Conn, Katherine. 2016. “The Effectiveness of Education Programs Worldwide: Evidence from a Meta-Analytic Dataset.” Background Paper for the Education Commission.Data from Education Commission Secretariat analysis (2016) on highly effective practices to increase access and learning outcomes puts on a strong focus on practices to improve in-classroom teaching and teacher quality.
Research for Equitable Access and Learning Centre (REAL), University of Cambridge. 2016. “Targeted, Multidimensional Approaches to Overcome Inequalities in Secondary Education: Case Study of Camfed in Tanzania.” Background Paper for the Education CommissionCamfed has trained 4,000 young women as learner guides in 1,000 schools across Ghana, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe. Learner guides are not teachers, but members of the local community who return to their local schools to support marginalized girls in their studies and deliver life skills and well-being programs. In return for their commitment, they become eligible for interest-free micro loans, which most of them use to start small businesses.
Winthrop, Rebecca, Eileen McGivney, Timothy Williams, and Priya Shankar. 2016. “Innovation and Technology to Accelerate Progress in Education.” Background Paper for Education Commission. Center for Universal Education (CUE) at The Brookings Institution.A major shift towards a flexible learning environment and blended learning is underway at post-secondary and tertiary levels. Traditional teaching and classrooms are being “flipped” with the teacher or professor largely guiding and facilitating self-learning and peer learning, and with facilities offering space for team learning. The surge in blended learning, which combines face-to-face instruction and online learning, reduces requirements for space, increases access to high quality content, and allows students to fit gaining a qualification around work and other commitments.
World Bank. 2016. World Development Report 2016: Digital Dividends. World Bank: Washington, DC.This report highlights the SMS Story project in rural Papua New Guinea, which has adapted mobile SMS by sending a daily text and teaching tips to teachers as an aid to help improve student reading. Teachers were more motivated to teach reading every day and the number of children who could not read was halved.
Dahya, Negin. 2016. “Education in Conflict and Crisis: How Can Technology Make a Difference? A Landscape Review.” Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ): BonnThis Landscape Review shows that the majority of projects operate in post-conflict settings and focus on long-term development. The identified projects support education in different ways: they operate in the field of education system strengthening, teacher training, vocational training and tertiary education, and formal and non-formal education for children and youth. ICT also play a role in informal learning through digital and social media.
Conn, Katharine M. 2017. “Identifying Effective Education Interventions in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Meta-Analysis of Impact Evaluations.” Review of Educational Research (May 26).This article identifies educational interventions with an impact on student learning in Sub-Saharan Africa. Evaluated 12 types of education interventions such as the provision of school supplies, the use of teacher incentives, and school-based management programs. Article examines each intervention type, presents analytics on relative effectiveness, and explores why certain interventions seem to be more effective.
de Hoyos, Rafael E., Vicente A. Garcia-Moreno, and Harry Anthony Patrinos. 2017. “The Impact of an Accountability Intervention with Diagnostic Feedback: Evidence from Mexico.” Economics of Education Review 58: 123–40.In 2009, the Mexican state of Colima implemented a low-stakes accountability intervention with diagnostic feedback among 108 public primary schools with the lowest test scores in the national student assessment. A difference-in-difference and a regression discontinuity design are used to identify the effects of the intervention on learning outcomes.
Riep, C. and Machacek, M. 2016. Schooling the Poor Profitably: The Innovations and Deprivations of Bridge International Academies in Uganda. Brussels, Education International.This study investigates the operations of Bridge International Academies in Uganda where it has established 63 private for-profit schools, since February 2015, with an estimated 12,000 fee-paying customers. This research has found that the company’s profit-driven, cost-cutting, standardized, and internet-based approach to education delivery involves a number of critical shortcomings.
Smith, W. C. and Baker, T. 2017. From Free to Fee: Are For-profit, Fee-charging Private Schools the Solution for the World’s Poor? Washington, DC, RESULTS Educational Fund.This report summarizes a portfolio review of IFC investments in K-12 (pre-primary, primary, and secondary) education over the last 20 years and field visits in South Africa, Uganda, and Kenya. The report includes findings and recommendations on how the IFC can more effectively end poverty through basic education.
Krishnaratne, S and White, H, 2013. Quality education for all children. What works in education in developing countries? Delhi: 3ieIn this working paper, the authors analyse the evidence from 75 studies of a range of school interventions. The paper shows that education interventions are not only getting more children into school and keeping them there but are also helping children to learn more. There is compelling evidence of the effectiveness of conditional cash transfers on school enrollment and attendance. Health interventions also had a significant, positive impact on school attendance. While the provision of new teaching materials had no impact on school attendance or language test scores, computer-assisted learning tools had significant, positive impacts on math test scores. And providing better school buildings significantly improved math, reading and writing test scores.
Steele, J. L., Murnane, R. J., & Willett, J. B. (2009). "Do Financial Incentives Help Low-Performing Schools Attract and Keep Academically Talented Teachers? Evidence from California." NBER Working Paper 14780. Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)Providing incentives (monetary or otherwise) to teachers for teaching in hard-to-staff schools can make working in these schools more attractive. Evidence from causal and correlational studies suggests, however, that the design of these incentives programs matter. Some initiatives have been successful at attracting teachers to work in hard-to-staff schools, but others have failed or have had a limited impact on student learning.
Jackson, C. K., & Bruegmann, E. (2009). "Teaching Students and Teaching Each Other: The Importance of Peer Learning for Teachers." NBER Working Paper 15202. Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER).There is a growing body of evidence that finds that collaborative types of professional development can impact teacher performance, such as teacher networks or mentoring programs.
Ganimian, A. J. and E. Vegas. 2011. “What Are the Different Profiles of Successful Teacher Policy Systems?” SABER- Teachers Background Paper, No. 5. World Bank: Washington, DCThe System Assessment and Benchmarking for Education Results (SABER) effort seeks to collect, analyze and disseminate data on education policies in developed and developing countries. SABER includes the main education policy domains at all levels of education services, from finance to learning assessments, learning standards to early childhood development. SABER-Teachers focuses on developing tools to collect, analyze, and disseminate information on teacher policies around the world.
Goh, C.B. and S.K. Lee. 2008. “Making teacher education more responsive and relevant,” in Birger, Fredriksen, Sing Kong Lee, and Chor Boon Goh. Toward a better future: Education and training for economic development in Singapore since 1965. World Bank: Washington, DC.Singapore is widely seen as a leader in teacher development. Interest in teaching is seeded early through teaching internships, and a system for mid-career entry also exists. New teachers are supported through structured mentoring programs that bring them together with experienced teachers and school leaders. To promote continuous learning, Singapore’s Teachers Network initiative encourages teachers to share effective practice from their own experiences in the classroom with other teachers, rather than rely only on a central body of experts to prescribe how best to improve teaching and learning.
Ahmed, Refah and Samar Mari. 2018. "The Escuela Nueva (The New School) in Colombia; An Innovative Educational Program in Developing Countries." Multi-Knowledge Electronic Comprehensive Journal For Education And Science Publications (MECSJ). ISSUE (15)The Escuela Nueva model uses a student-centered model with lessons that are better connected to the local setting and recruitment of more advanced students to help low-performing students. It is a distinctive approach for improving teaching practices in the most isolated schools, and providing ample support to teachers is perhaps its most crucial feature. In addition to providing teachers with educational materials, resources, and opportunities for capacity-building, the program trains local supervisors to serve as pedagogical advisers to teachers. The program has been adopted in 16 other countries, such as Guatemala and Vietnam.
USAID. 2014. “Mobiles for Reading: A Landscape Research Review.” USAID: Washington, DC.In South Africa, MUbuntu uses recycled smartphones to connect teachers with literacy coaches around the world and to provide students and teachers with access to teaching and learning content and with opportunities to communicate and collaborate.
Relhan, Gaurav. 2016. “A Landscape Analysis of Information & Communication Technology’s Role in Education Effectiveness and Efficiency: Issues, Techniques, and Possibilities.” Background Paper for the Education Commission.This background paper provides a tool kit on how to effectively deploy ICT4E initiatives in targeted communities, regions, or countries.
“If You Don’t Understand, How Can You Learn?” (Global Education Monitoring Report), February 2016.A robust body of research has established that books in languages children use and understand are essential to literacy acquisition.
Brown-Martin, G. 2016. Education in Africa: The Uberification of Education by Bridge International Academies, Learning (Re)imagined.Opinion piece on impact of Bridge International Academies on learning outcomes.
Scheerens, J. 2004. Review of school and instructional effectiveness research. Background paper for EFA Global Monitoring Report 2005This background paper provides an overview of the literature on educational effectiveness research.
Hunt, F, 2008. Dropping out from school: A cross country review of literature. Falmer, UK: Consortium for Research on Educational Access, Transitions and Equity (CREATE).This literature review finds that additional materials may increase expectations of schooling among students and parents, which could in turn increase motivation to enroll, stay in school, or attend classes.
Glewwe PW, Hanushek EA, Humpage SD, Ravina R, 2011. School Resources and Educational Outcomes in Developing Countries: A Review of the Literature from 1990 to 2010. Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic ResearchThis paper examines studies published between 1990 and 2010 in education literature and economics literature to investigate which specific school and teacher characteristics, if any, appear to have strong positive impacts on learning and time in school. The few variables that do have significant effects - e.g. availability of desks, teacher knowledge of the subjects they teach, and teacher absence - are not particularly surprising and thus provide little guidance for future policies and programs.
Rockoff, J. E. (2004). "The Impact of Individual Teachers on Student Achievement: Evidence from Panel Data." American Economic Review, 94(2), 247-252.Study found that teacher effectiveness is the most important school-based predictor of student learning and that several consecutive years of outstanding teaching can offset the learning deficits of disadvantaged students.
Each resource is assigned a rating of rigor according to the NESTA Standards of Evidence.
Percentage of school students passing standardized tests set by a regional governance body during the reporting period.
(Number of enrolled students who passed standardized test) / (Number of enrolled students who took standardized test)
(Number of school students enrolling in the next level of schooling for the upcoming year) / (Number of students who completed the previous level of schooling during the preceding year)
(Total textbooks provided) / (School Enrollment: Total (PI2389))