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Education and Learning

As a society, we need to ensure that investments of scarce resources into education translate to deep and durable learning. This imperative must be met at different levels, from public investments in education systems, development programs focused on capacity building, or organizational efforts to enhance staff learning. GivingWorks has had the opportunity to support clients on each of these levels. While each presents particular opportunities and constraints, at a fundamental level there is a shared challenge: how do we equip individuals, young and old, with the requisite knowledge, skills, and adaptability to confront increasingly complex issues? Collective knowledge on this fundamental question is rapidly evolving with advances in the science of learning and the emergence of new learning design and delivery technologies.  

From an education systems perspective, the challenge is to ensure not only knowledge acquisition but also employability and citizenship—a lasting connection with the community and broader sense of each student’s relationship to society. From early childhood through tertiary education, learning standards, financing, teacher selection and training, student assessment, and other important policy domains should coalesce to yield these outcomes. Policymakers must carefully sequence investments and reforms to ensure system-wide coherence. 

We worked with the World Bank to develop an integrative framework for its Systems Approach for Better Education Results (SABER) program. SABER provides diagnostic tools and comparative data to help developing countries examine their education policies and institutions against global standards. The integrative framework, developed in close consultation with the Bank's Global Education team, illustrates how individual tools focused on various education sub-systems fit together. The framework also maps how policy decisions in one part of an education system influence and impact policy choices elsewhere in the system, highlighting the importance of a system-wide perspective in policy reform.

At the level of institutional capacity building and staff learning within organizations, the challenges are different.  Actors should first recognize contextual factors and how de facto policy arrangements and power dynamics shape what is feasible, and then identify pockets of readiness within institutions to anchor capacity building efforts. At an individual level, the challenge is identifying the appropriate mix and design of learning interventions based on the nature of existing capacity gaps.

With growing demand for its Program for Results (PforR) instrument, which supports existing programs of the client government and utilizes national systems and agencies for implementation, institutional capacity building has received renewed emphasis in the World Bank. We helped to develop a comprehensive learning strategy for Bank staff and clients that builds actionable understanding of the distinctive PforR approach through experiential learning and peer-to-peer knowledge exchange.

We also worked with the World Bank to develop an institution-wide staff learning strategy. The strategy aligns learning investments with business needs and development priorities, addresses cultural and behavioral impediments to learning, and formalizes learning roles, incentives, and governance. The strategy leverages the Bank's virtual Open Learning Campus as a single destination for curated and vetted content, peer-to-peer learning, and technology-enabled, personalized learning tools.

We also advised the Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI), a membership institution of financial inclusion regulators, on the development of a broad-based capacity building program for their members. The capacity building program includes four components: 1) a formal training program to build member institutions' staff capacity in a classroom setting; 2) exchange visits to support multi-directional learning among groups of members; 3) a peer advisory service to deliver hands-on implementation support on specific reforms; and 4) staff exchanges to facilitate longer-term capacity development.

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