The first South American country to join the OECD, Chile is one to the fastest growing Latin American economies. But despite making considerable progress in reducing poverty, inequality is still a massive challenge needing to be faced.
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Chikungunya fever is spreading more rapidly through Latin America and the Caribbean than it takes to learn to spell and pronounce its name correctly.The virus has already killed 21 people and infected... Show More + some 6,000 in the region, a relatively small number compared with similar diseases. However, experts are concerned that Latin Americans still have not developed antibodies against the disease given its recent appearance.In other words: the entire Latin American population is at risk of infection.Like Ebola, which is now a global problem, chikungunya originated in Africa. In the local Makonde language, the name of the disease means “to double over in pain.” On that continent, the first outbreaks were reported in 2004. The virus has since spread to Oceania, Southeast Asia and parts of Europe.And now it has arrived in Latin America.The first cases were detected in late 2013. So far, an estimated 500,000 people have contracted it, mainly in the Caribbean. The virus spreads quickly: it has now reached southern South America with two confirmed cases in Argentina.That is not surprising given that the vector of the chikungunya virus is Aedes aegypti, the same as dengue fever, a familiar nemesis in the region. Dengue affected more than 2.3 million people last year alone.Fernando Lavadenz, a World Bank health expert, explains why cases have increased in Latin America and the Caribbean and what measures governments can adopt to control it.Question: Why does this disease seem to “travel” more quickly than other viral diseases?Answer: We are in a century of migrations and frequent travel, and consequently, in a context where disease spreads rapidly. To date, 30 countries in the Americas have been affected – Argentina is the most recent – and the majority of cases are “imported.”To give you an idea, every year, nine million people travel to the Caribbean Islands, where chikungunya first appeared in the region, from the United States alone. Undoubtedly, some of these people do not take precautions and are bitten by the Aedes aegypti mosquito. When they return to their country in the viremic stage – with the virus in their bloodstream – they become potential transmitters of the disease when bitten by mosquitos that do not have the virus. This propagates the disease. Today there are native cases resulting from that process.Additionally, this disease did not previously exist in the region, for which reason 100 percent of the Latin American and Caribbean population is susceptible to it. In other worlds, there is no record of antibodies to chikungunya and no natural resistance to the disease. Consequently, infection via mosquito is extremely high. Finally, the fact that Aedes aegypti is the same vector as dengue means that countries with high rates of that disease also will be vulnerable to chikungunya. Show Less -
When you recall your school days, does a special teacher come to mind, one who helped you become the person you are today?With the exception of parents, few individuals exert as much influence on chil... Show More +dren’s future as do teachers. However, millions of Latin American teachers fail the grade when it comes to excellence in educating the region’s future professionals.According to a World Bank study, the majority of Latin American teachers do not provide the quality of instruction necessary to enable students to become competitive in an increasingly globalized world.An unprecedented research study carried out in over 15,000 classrooms in 3,000 primary and secondary schools in seven Latin American countries revealed that despite rising enrolment rates - more children attending school- the poor quality of teachers is a major obstacle for the region for achieving an education level on par with developed nations.The report, Great Teachers: How to Raise Student Learning in Latin America and the Caribbean, was presented before a large audience at Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú (PUCP). The First Lady of Peru, Nadine Heredia, Peruvian Education Minister Jaime Saavedra, Brazil’s Secretary of Basic Education, María Beatriz Luce and global education experts attended the event. Participating World Bank officials and experts included the Vice-president for Latin America and the Caribbean, Jorge Familiar, economist Barbara Bruns, who was one of the report’s lead authors, and Claudia Costin, the new senior global education director. The event was broadcast live to a global audience on the PUCP and World Bank websites, in collaboration with Spain’s El País daily, Radio Programas del Perú and Agencia Andina.Achieving teacher excellenceThe key question of the discussion was: How can we achieve quality, well-paid and motivated teachers?Latin America has given great emphasis on education, engineering enormous resources to improve it. However, when it comes to learning, education systems leave much to be desired, as evidenced by the recent PISA test results where 5 of the 8 countries in the region who participated - Argentina, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico and Uruguay- "are not progressing as expected," according to Jorge Familiar, World Bank Vice President for Latin America and the Caribbean.Familiar highlighted during the event that "the time of diagnosis is already coming to an end. It's time for solutions. ""It's time for joint action, involving all those who agree that prepare youth for the global market is a prerequisite for development, is key to generate more social inclusion and to strengthen the middle class," he added.Every day, seven million teachers -4% of the regional labor force- go to their classrooms to impart knowledge to millions of students.Nevertheless, according to the study, no teaching force in Latin America, with the possible exception of Cuba, can be considered of high quality by international standards. “Teachers in the countries studied spend 65 percent or less of class time on instruction, which is the equivalent of losing a full day of class every week,” said Bruns. According to the expert, the rest of the time is dedicated to administrative duties or other tasks outside the classroom.The report recommends three key steps to ensure a quality teaching force: recruit, develop and motivate better teachers.Solutions seminarsThis study is the first of a series of Solutions Seminars that draw on global experience adapted to the country context. The purpose of the conferences is to provide a frank and open conversation to bridge the gap between what is known to be technically possible and the actual implementation of those known technical solutions. The goal is to help put technical information in practice, adapting it to local conditions to create new opportunities in the short and long term. “Providing real solutions is key since they transform lives and increase opportunities,” according to Claudia Costin, the new World Bank’s Senior Global Education Director.Following the presentation of the study, several experts shared their views on the challenges Latin America faces for achieving education quality that meets international standards.Peruvian Education Minister Jaime Saavedra began his talk with an anecdote: “In every school in every village I’ve visited, I meet at least one good teacher. That is what we have to strive for, that there are more quality teachers.” The minister explained the Teacher Reform Law and pointed out that major change takes time, but that work could be done at the classroom level, dismissing teachers whose performance falls short.Saavedra praised the teacher coaching program to improve education quality, a key point for Brazilian Basic Education Secretary Luce, who stated that “teachers should have the same right to quality of learning that they give to their students.”The social networks were also active on the issue. Numerous comments on Facebook and Twitter questioned how it would be possible to have quality teachers when teacher salaries in the region are so low.Saavedra acknowledged that the salary issue is as important as the opportunity for development and recognition of teachers. Gregory Elacqua, director of the Public Policy Institute at Universidad Diego Portales, and Eric Hanushek, a professor at Stanford University, stressed the importance of motivating teachers from the beginning of their training to keep them from abandoning the profession.“In Chile, anywhere between 10% and 20% of teachers leave the profession early on because they are not motivated. We need to invest in them from the beginning,” said Portales.Additionally, a survey carried out during the internet broadcast of the event found that 60 percent of participants believed that Latin American teachers should increase their use of new learning methods to be able to offer an education of international quality. Show Less -
New report dissects central role of teachers in raising student learningLIMA, July 24, 2014—Every week, public school students in Latin America and the Caribbean are deprived of the equivalent of one ... Show More +full day of class, according to a new World Bank report. The source: the low teacher effectiveness.Based on unprecedented research involving the observation of more than 15,000 classrooms in 3,000 primary and secondary schools in seven Latin American countries, the report, Great Teachers: How to Raise Student Learning in Latin America and the Caribbean, describes how teacher absenteeism, poor preparation, low skill level and pay, as well as weak school leadership, all serve to cheat students. The report is a powerful contribution to the growing body of research on how to improve the quality of instruction and learning results.The report comes as experts mull over just how Latin America will maintain levels of growth that made recent poverty and inequality reduction possible. Innovation, competitiveness, government reform, and education are typically cited as the requisite economic engines for further prosperity. Yet on the OECD’s Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) test in 2012, the 8 participating LAC countries were at the bottom of the scale for middle-income countries -- although a few countries, such as Chile, Brazil and Peru have made important gains from previous years.The report was launched on Thursday at the Regional Education Solutions Forum, held at the Catholic University in Lima and with the participation of Peru's First Lady, Nadine Heredia.In her speech, the First Lady noted that "in the case of Peru, we need to find a way to make our growth sustainable, and to do that investing in human capital will be essential as it is the way to develop more innovation capacity, technology, research and productivity.''Jorge Familiar, World Bank Vice President for Latin America and the Caribbean said that “it is hard to think of a more important element to broaden opportunities for all Latin Americans than a quality education," and he emphasized that "it is hard to think of a more significant player to raise educational quality than the region's teachers."For a region in need of enhancing student learning, this is a sign that much more needs to be done to recruit, groom and motivate great teachers. According to global research, students with the best teachers advance 1.5 grade levels or more per year, while those with the worst teachers master 0.5 year of curriculum or less. That research also shows clearly that the economic and social benefits of national education spending depends on what students’ learn – and not how many years they stay in school. If Mexico raised its average student performance on PISA to Germany’s level, its annual long term GDP growth could rise by 2 percentage points.The report sheds important light on who Latin America’s teachers are today:Their pay incentives are low. Their monthly salaries in 2010 were between 10 and 50 percent lower than salaries for other “equivalent” professionals and have been throughout the 2000s.They have more formal education than other professional and technical workers but start out academically weaker than the overall pool of higher education students. 75% are women.Students majoring in education are of lower socio-economic status and are more likely to be first-generation university students.The teaching force in the region is aging. The average teacher in some countries is more than 40 years old.While many countries in the region are producing an excess supply of new teachers, it is still difficult to find adequate teachers for secondary level mathematics, science, and high quality bi-lingual teachers (Spanish/indigenous language) in rural areas.“Virtually all countries in the region appear trapped in a low-level equilibrium of low standards for entry into teaching, relatively low and undifferentiated salaries, weak instruction in the classroom, and poor educational outcomes,” according to Barbara Bruns, the author of the report, “Moving to a high-level equilibrium will be difficult but it is an effort that the region can’t afford to postpone.”At a time of diminished public resources, the report makes a significant contribution in helping identify where priorities should be assigned. Among its striking findings is the fact that teachers in countries with the largest investment on “One Laptop per Child” initiatives actually spent the lowest share of total class time using information and communications technologies.Challenges ahead for the region are mixed. Over the next decade, the declining size of school-aged population in about half of the countries in the region, notably the Southern Cone, could make it substantially easier to raise teacher quality; in the other half of the region, especially Central America, the need for more teachers will make this harder to achieve.The report’s good news, however, is that most LAC countries are sharpening their focus on teacher quality. It distills the global research evidence and latest LAC experience with innovative programs and major reforms in three priority areas:Policies to recruit better teachers.Programs to groom or develop the skills of teachers already in service.Stronger incentives to motivate top performance, which will make the profession more attractive and selective over time.In analyzing the design and implementation of major teacher policy reforms in Chile, Peru, Ecuador and Mexico, the report chronicles the decisive role of teachers’ unions, the value of finding consensus solutions, and how to build the broad support of civil society that has underpinned successful and sustainable reforms.For more information, please visit: www.worldbank.org/lacVisit us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/worldbankBe updated via Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/WorldBankFor our YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/lacregion2010 Show Less -