CoLab Weekly (26th June `22)

  • Learning beyond schools

The COVID-19 pandemic paralyzed education systems worldwide; at one point, school closures forced over 1.6 billion learners out of classrooms. Moreover, widespread school closures are not unique to COVID-19: teacher strikes, summer breaks, earthquakes, viruses (such as influenza and Ebola) and weather-related events cause schools to close. School closures result in large learning losses, which have been documented in North America, Western Europe, Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.

These learning losses include a combination of knowledge that is forgotten over time, and forgone learning that would have occurred if schools were open. To mitigate learning loss in the absence of school, high-income families have access to alternative sources of instruction—books, computers, internet, radio, television and smart phones—that many low-income families do not.

The results in this study have immediate implications for global policy during the current school disruptions, revealing cost-effective and scalable approaches to stem learning loss during the pandemic. Moreover, school closures occur in settings beyond the COVID-19 pandemic, including teacher strikes, summer holidays, public health crises, during adverse weather events, natural disasters, and in refugee and conflict settings. In moments when schooling is disrupted, particularly for families with fewer resources at home, outside-school interventions are needed. Doing so at scale requires cheap, low-technology solutions that can reach as many families as possible. To this end, the results from this study have long-run implications for the role of technology and parents to serve as partial educational substitutes during school disruption, and to provide cost-effective remote instruction and assessment.

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  • Impact of free education

Although education is a critical input for human capital formation, there is increasing evidence that elementary education contributes more towards growth especially in developing countries (Rosenzweig, 1995, Psacharopoulos, 1994, Petrakis and Stamatakis, 2002).Recently, the Dakar Framework for Action (2000) has committed countries to achieve universal elementary education (UEE) which mandates the provision of elementary education as a basic human right (UNESCO, 2000).

While compulsory schooling laws may be effective in raising educational attainment in developed countries, governments in developing countries need to incentivize educational participation by specially targeting the barriers to schooling. One such incentive, the provision of free education, is essentially a school subsidy program targeted to raise demand for education particularly among those who are at risk. The Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009 (the RTE Act 2009) is an ambitious legislative reform in India which reinstates the constitutional promise of delivering free elementary education (FEE) and makes government accountable to deliver FEE to all elementary school-age children.

Universal education ensures that schooling is available for all children, yet in the context of developing countries it does not imply having equal access to schooling. Under a freely provided education regime, significant capacity constraints have hindered both access to and delivery of quality education. As a result, following the enactment of the legislative reform in 2009, we observe rapid growth of low-cost private schools in our data in the last couple of decades that have attracted.

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  • Inclusive schools for ALL

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning (LGBTQ) students often experience negative school environments, where they are subject to victimization based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. As a result, LGBTQ students are more likely to report negative physical and mental health outcomes than their peers. Over the last decade, four strategies have emerged in the research literature to prevent or at least minimize these risks: specifically inclusive anti-bullying policies, professional development on LGBTQ issues, LGBTQ-related resources, and student-led clubs like Gender and Sexuality Alliances (GSAs) (National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine [NASEM], 2019, 2020).

We refer to “LGBTQ students,” but when referencing original research we use the language from specific studies. For example, we refer to “LGB” when a study specifically included LGB but not transgender, questioning, or queer youth. Further, most research to date has focused on only sexual orientation (or the experiences of LGB youth) or combines LGB with transgender youth. Thus, most studies have not provided specific attention to transgender and gender diverse youth, although there has been growing research attention to transgender and gender diverse youth (Day et al., 2018; Ioverno & Russell, 2021; Olsen & Gülgöz, 2018; Olsen et al., 2016). Finally, we refer to “school personnel” in order to include teachers as well as other school personnel, including school administrators, classroom aides, cafeteria workers, or bus drivers.

#1 Inclusive, Enumerated Policies

Enumerated policies are policies that explicitly list characteristics or traits of students that may be the subject of bullying and harassment at school. Inclusive, enumerated policies are a critical tool for creating safe and supportive schools for LGBTQ and all youth (Black et al., 2012; Kull et al., 2016).