Despite its status of middle-income country in terms of GDP, Panama still remains a society of sharp contrasts. The robust economic growth of today is a historic opportunity for progress in reducing poverty and inequality.
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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 -
In this World Cup, we have seen kicking, elbowing, head butts and even a bite. Neither have all celebrations of victories been peaceful: the first triumph of Colombia left people dead and injured in B... Show More +ogota; and in Chile, celebrations ended with people setting fire to buses and clashing with the police.The sport is also associated with barras bravas in some Latin American countries and their counterparts in Europe – hooligans--, and with the so-called “soccer war in Central America” (1970) and even with a rise in cases of domestic violence in England, according to a recent study.Paradoxically, the same sport that triggers this violence both on and off the field can also be a tool for achieving the opposite: that people or societies at risk of violence can learn to live in peace.“It is a sport that brings people together, that generates passions, that attracts, that is collective, that requires interaction, for which reason it has great advantages for use as a tool for instilling in children and young people skills that enable them to peacefully resolve conflicts,” says Martha Laverde, an education expert at the World Bank.Thus, the conclusion seems clear: if you live in a community where there are high rates of violence and delinquency, the best thing to do is not to call the police but to build a soccer field.However, Laverde warns that the reality is not so simple. “It is not the game for the game itself, there has to be intent and this is what leads so many organizations in the world to use soccer as a means for developing a culture of peace.”Soccer without violenceIt is precisely this intent that has been successfully put into practice in different parts of Latin America, where thousands of young people in areas affected by crime or armed conflicts have opted to shoot balls instead of bullets.In Zacatecoluca, one of the most crime-ridden municipalities of El Salvador, the soccer team was strengthened and a new field was built, which has become a place where local children can learn the values of sports and respect.“Previously, this neighborhood was one of the most dangerous, but thanks to the work with young people, we have managed to reduce delinquency by nearly 90%,” says Carlos Gómez Villegas, coordinator of the soccer school in La Esperanza in Zacatecoluca.In Colombia, for example, -where the armed conflict has left more than 200,000 dead in 60 years--, the Soccer with a Heart initiative helps over 2,000 children from poor communities or those at risk of violence to have access to new opportunities and to develop skills that enable them to confront adversity and co-exist in peace.Catholic Priest Alberto Gauci went even further. He built a stadium for 20,000 spectators in Juticalpa, a Honduras community of just 120,000 inhabitants, which is affected by drug-trafficking and gang violence.Martha Laverde explains that the roles players assume on the field are the same ones that young people encounter in their families, schools and communities (the leader, the strategist, the defender, the offender, the one who seeks only results, the one who seeks only to impede).“All of these roles in the game require each person to have at least two very important skills: empathy and control over emotions,” says Laverde.If children and young people can master these two skills of social interaction (empathy and control over emotions) through soccer, “they will undoubtedly have tools that will protect them from acting violently.”All of these values are necessary in Latin America, which is officially rated as the most violent region in the world, with 30 percent of all homicides despite having just 9 percent of the world’s population. Show Less -
Humberto Lopez served as WB Chief Economist for Central America between 2008 and 2011WASHINGTON, July 2, 2014 – The World Bank announced the appointment of J. Humberto Lopez as its Director for Centra... Show More +l America, effective yesterday. Lopez is a renowned expert in Central American socio-economic issues, having held other positions for the subregion within the institution."One of Humberto Lopez’ priorities will be to lead the Central American unit charged with providing comprehensive solutions aimed at reducing extreme poverty and providing shared prosperity in Central American countries, generating greater opportunities for all citizens, as well as contributing to the subregion’s integration,” said Jorge Familiar, World Bank Vice President for Latin America and the Caribbean.Lopez, a Spanish national, joined the World Bank in 1996 and has since worked in several positions in the Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean regions. He has also served in the Economic Policy and Poverty Reduction Management Unit and in the Office of the President of the World Bank Group.Until his new appointment, he was serving as Director of Economic Policy and Poverty Reduction for Latin America and the Caribbean.Lopez was the World Bank’s Chief Economist for Central America between 2008 and 2011 and is the co-author and/or editor of papers on Central American integration and trade agreements, economic growth, remittances, investment climate, poverty reduction, inequality and fiscal policy.The new World Bank Director for Central America holds a PhD in Economics from the European University Institute in Italy and a Master’s degree in Economics from Warwick University in the United Kingdom.In his new position, Lopez, who will be based out of Washington D.C.. He will be in charge of a unit that includes six Central American countries. Lopez replaces Carlos Felipe Jaramillo, who is now working as an advisor to the World Bank’s Managing Director, Sri Mulyani Indrawati.For more information on the World Bank’s work in Latin America and the Caribbean, please visit: www.worldbank.org/lacPlease visit the World Bank website for Central America: http://www.worldbank.org/en/region/lacVisit us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/worldbankBe updated via Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/WorldBankLACFor our YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/worldbank Show Less -