News Column

World Banks warns on South Asia’s education progress

July 2, 2014

The quality of education in the South Asia region is poor, trapping many of its young people in poverty and preventing faster economic growth, a World Bank report warned.

The bank was most concerned with the disappointing outcomes, which it said in part reflected the region’s systems coping with the large influx of children who were first-generation school-goers.

In its first wide-ranging study analysing the performance of South Asian educational systems, the bank found that students were poorly prepared in practical competencies, problem-solving, and writing of meaningful and grammatically-correct sentences.

It stated that one quarter to one third of those who graduate from primary school lack numeracy and literacy skills that would enable them to further their education.

However, the report stated that governments in the region have now recognised that more must be done to improve the quality of education in schools. ‘Just spending time in school is not enough.

There has to be a significant gain in skills that requires an improvement in the quality of education,’ said Philippe Le Hou’rou, World Bank vice president for the South Asia region.

‘This will help countries in the region to reap the full expected returns on their investments and generate gains in productivity and economic growth.’ The report noted that many governments in the region had invested heavily in education to achieve the Millennium Development Goal of universal primary education for all children by 2015.

This investment resulted in an increase the net enrolment rate in South Asia’s primary schools from 75% to 89% from 2000 to 2010, Economic Times reported.

Sri Lanka was singled out as the country making the biggest development, having achieved near-universal primary educational decades ago.

The report recommended a multi-pronged strategy that includes initiatives outside the education sector to address South Asia’s education challenges.

The bank suggests using financial incentives to boost quality. Instead of giving teachers pay rises, the report stated that a better use of resources would be to link them to need and student performance.

It also suggested improving the measurement of student progress, raising teacher quality and ensuring young children get enough nutrition.

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Source: Frontier Star (Pakistan)

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