John Abbott wrote an influential book ‘overschooled but undereducated’, where he    suggested    that    the    system of education, represented by schools, stifles our natural development to become people, who can respond creatively to situations, which endanger our survival as a species. There is growing consensus that schooling is not the same as learning

The World Development Report 2018: Learning to Realize Education’s Promise, (https://openknowledge.worldbank. org/), the latest of the World Bank reports, points out the same- providing education is not enough. “What is important, and what generates a real return on investment,” it reiterates, “is learning and acquiring skills. This is what truly builds human capital.” The report further finds, “Learning conditions are almost always much worse for the disadvantaged, and so are learning outcomes” Prioritising learning, not just schooling is the key to realize education’s promise, says the report. It argues that countries can improve by advancing on three fronts:

1. AssessLearning:The right metrics to measure learning is needed to create incentives for reform.

2. Act on evidence: Adopting evidence-based approaches as to how students learn most effectively, helps school work for effective learning

3. Align Actors: Aligning innovation in classrooms with technical challenges and political barriers to have the entire system work for learning is crucial

Factors Pertaining to Such Condition of Education

With a wide ranging worldwide survey of education, the report cites examples of achieving phenomenal progress in learning. The war-torn Republic of Korea, struggling with abject literacy levels, managed to achieve ‘universal enrollment in high quality education’. Similarly, Vietnam, as a lower-middle-income country, caught up with Germany in the 2012 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) results for the performance of 15 year old There are examples of smaller countries like Liberia, Papua New Guinea, and Tonga, who improved substantially their early grade reading very quickly by making focused efforts, based on evidence, says the report. The report, however, argues for a ‘clear-eyed diagnosis’ before the concerted action can be taken. Thus, it identifies three core learning crisis that prevent countries to achieve “learning for all”

Three main problem dimensions: Poor learning outcomes

Poor Learning outcomes figures as one of the primary

problems. Citing a study “A New Data Set of Educational Attainment in the World, 1950–2010.” by Barro, Robert J., and Jong Wha Lee (2013), the report states, “The number of years of schooling completed by the average adult in the developing world more than tripled from 1950 to 2010, from 2.0 to 7.2 years. ”Despite such a phenomenal growth in schooling, the learning remains a deeper cause of concern. Statistics says, it all, where even after several years in school, millions of students lack basic literacy and numeracy skills. See the chart

Schools failing learners

Such a learning crisis has another dimension – it amplifies inequality. Such a early learning deficits not only cramp the disadvantaged learner, but magnifies the crisis, over time, for someone who needs the boost of good education. Thus, in Andhra Pradesh, the report cites another study of 2010: low-performing students in grade 5 were no more likely to answer a grade 1 question correctly than those in grade 2. Parental perception of schools imparting low quality education, be it based on physical condition of schools to teacher punctuality etc., plays a crucial role. They are ‘less willing to sacrifice to keep their children in school’. In short, apart from poverty and conflict, it is the learning crisis that keeps children out of school

Schools failing learners

After considering the factors for immediate break down, the report highlights,“problems with teacher absenteeism, lack of inputs, and weak management are typically most severe in communities that serve the poorest students…. Public policy thus has the effect of widening social gaps rather than offering all children an opportunity to learn”


Systems Failing Schools

Educational is a complex system. Technical intricacies coupled, with deeply entrenched political factors determining its nature and efficiency. Lack of coherence and proper alignment with learning goals are a prerequisite for its success rather than pulling it in different directions. The report points out that timely and authentic assessment is fundamental for innovations in areas such as teacher training programmes, a crucial component for learning achievements

Way Ahead: Borrowing could be risky

The report suggested that if countries try the innovation part, there would be more improved learning. In formulating educational policy, one needs to be careful, as the report points out, it is often risky to borrow system elements from other countries. South Africa discovered it the hard way in the 1990s and 2000s, when they adopted a curriculum approach that set goals and left implementation to teachers. Similarly, adopting Finland’s teacher autonomy into one’s own context could have a disastrous effect where ‘teachers are poorly educated, unmotivated, and loosely managed’. Thus, the report advocates for “home-grown, context- specific solutions”