Take Action: Education (Developing World)

Girl in developing world carrying schoolbook
  • People in the developing world have many obstacles to an education. Even when they can access and afford schools, the schools are frequently low-quality.
  • Little is known about how to improve school quality.

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Source: GiveWell

Enrollment rates in many countries are now close to 100%, but learning levels are still very low. A solution that has been proven to work involves identifying and focusing instruction on actual learning levels.

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Source: Innovations for Poverty Action

 

Charities run a large variety of education programs in the developing world.

  • School building: Charities build classrooms or buildings for government-run schools, or build and run schools themselves.
  • Scholarships: Charities sponsor individual students and fund schools so that students do not have to pay the school fees that are common in the developing world.
  • Teacher training: Charities train new and existing teachers.
  • Pre-primary schools: Charities run schools for children ages 3-6 to prepare them for primary school.
  • Textbooks and supplies: Charities provide pencils, chalkboards, uniforms, etc.
  • Computers: Charities fund computer classrooms in schools and provide out-of-school computer training classes.
  • Libraries: Charities build school- and community-based libraries.

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Source: GiveWell

Charities run a large variety of education programs in the developing world.

  1. Hire and train balsakhi (literally "teacher's friends"), women from poor communities with secondary school training, to provided remedial education classes to low performing students.
  2. Administer tests to assess the learning levels of students and indentify those who would benefit from additional learning support.
  3. Implement learning support programs within school classes to assist children identified using the above diagnostic measures.

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Source: Innovations for Poverty Action

Many programs in this area focus on raising school attendance, through scholarships, school building, etc. However, there are major concerns about school quality in the developing world. Teachers may be overworked, frequently absent, or abusive, and schools may be geared towards elite students.

Relatively little is known about how to improve school quality. Donors should ask organizations how they are measuring their progress and learning about what does and doesn't work.

Donors should also ask for context on the lives and opportunities of students—i.e., what they can do with the skills they learn in school. Some people may be much better than others to benefit from an education.

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Source: GiveWell

It is essential to focus instruction at the level of the child. This can be done by splitting the class by achievement levels, for some of the class time or the entire class duration. It is possible to teach students the basic skills in a relatively short time, using a simple methodology and low-cost materials. In fact, low qualified individuals (such as secondary school graduates or less) can be trained to do so. Empowering local school committees to hire community teachers and monitor their performance can maximize the benefits for children.

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Source: Innovations for Poverty Action