Why focus on scaling learning for children and youth in developing countries?
Content from the Brookings Institution India Center is now archived. After seven years of an impactful partnership, as of September 11, 2020, Brookings India is now the Centre for Social and Economic Progress, an independent public policy institution based in India.
Brookings India in collaboration with the Center for Universal Education at the Brookings Institution, Washington, D.C., launched the report Millions Learning: Scaling up quality education in developing countries. This report tells the story of where and how quality education has scaled in low- and middle-income countries. The story emerges from wide-ranging research on scaling and learning, including 14 in-depth case studies from around the globe. Ultimately, Millions Learning finds that from the slums of New Delhi to the rainforest in Brazil, transformational change in children’s learning is happening at large scale in many places around the world. The report finds that successful scaling of quality learning often occurs when new approaches and ideas are allowed to develop and grow on the margins and then spread to reach many more children and youth.
The report identifies 14 core ingredients that contribute to scaling quality learning. They include essential elements for designing, delivering, financing, and enabling the scaling of quality education.
Key recommendations which came out the report are as follows:
DEVELOP a culture of R&D in education
Leaders across all parts of the education ecosystem—from Government to civil society to business—must embrace new approaches to solving problems at scale. Building a strong culture of research and development (R&D) within the education ecosystem is a key step. Governments should provide the policy space, funding, and infrastructure support necessary to try new approaches to persistent problems. Donors, civil society, governments, and business should work together to cultivate a cohort of Learning Leaders who have the skills and attributes necessary for pushing forward a culture of R&D in education.
SHARE New ideas through a network of idea hubs
Leaders in governments, in partnership with civil society and the private sector, should establish Idea Hubs for identifying, adapting, and sharing effective approaches to improving learning and scaling them. The Idea Hubs should be nimble mechanisms that allow decision-makers to stay up to date with rapidly changing innovations. Approaches led by all actors—government, educators, business, civil society—should be discussed. These hubs should be linked through a global network to allow for experiences and lessons shared between countries and among regional and global actors.
ACTIVATE Talent and expertise outside the classroom
To scale quality learning in the developing world, including in the communities that are hardest to reach, a creative injection of support and energy is needed. Teachers and other education personnel who are on the front lines are overburdened and require tangible assistance. For addressing tough education problems, expertise from diverse actors outside schools can be one important source of this support. From nonprofit workers and young graduates to business professionals and technology specialists, different types of expertise can be strategically tapped to assist educators, elevate them in their roles, and help reach children who are falling through the cracks. Governments, civil society, and the business community should launch bold All-In Community initiatives, including through leveraging technology, to support teachers and other education personnel in their respective countries.
FUND The middle phase
This is crucial to help effective education approaches cross the “valley of death” to scale. Too often, promising approaches fall victim to a funding gap between new ideas or prototypes and implementation at a national level. Governments, donor agencies, foundations, and investors should develop a more organized ecosystem of education funding to support scaling. Additionally, donor agencies and foundations should provide flexible support, including for core costs, which is crucial for building scaling capacity.
MEASURE AND LEARN What works through better learning and scaling data
Government and donor agencies should strengthen national student assessment systems, particularly in developing countries where data are sporadic and often of limited use. Data on student learning should start at the classroom level and be used by teachers and move up through national level data on what children can know and do. In particular, new ways of helping teachers assess 21st-century skills will be essential. This is in line with the Learning Metrics Task Force recommendation on learning data as a global good. The research community should improve data on scaling through a Real-time Scaling Lab. Such a forum would provide space to examine and document the process of scaling effective approaches to learning as they unfold, contributing to building a body of evidence on how to scale quality learning interventions.
Like other products of the Brookings Institution India Center, this report is intended to contribute to discussion and stimulate debate on important issues. Brookings India does not have any institutional views.
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Brookings India is hosting the launch of a report on Millions Learning: Scaling Quality Education in Developing Countries in New Delhi.
The report will focus on the theme of scaling, bringing together policymakers, practitioners, academics, and donors within the international development community to discuss key factors that contribute to scaling in education. Drawing from programmes and policies from around the world contributing to large-scale gains in learning, the report will offer key lessons and insights to help inform what the public, private, and social sectors can do to more actively scale up quality learning in low- and middle-income countries. The event will focus on applying Millions Learning recommendations to an India context, particularly the establishment of a Real-Time Scaling Lab to provide a space for ongoing experimentation and learning.
Rukmini Banerji, Chief Executive Officer, Pratham
Sashwati Banerjee, Managing Director, Sesame Workshop
Venkatesh Malur, President, Sampark Foundation
Subhash Khuntia, Secretary to the Department of School Education and Literacy (TBC)
Rebecca Winthrop, Senior Fellow & Director, Center for Universal Education, The Brookings Institution
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