World Bank Educational Seminar “Learning Environment as a Third Teacher”
March 10-11, 2016Almaty, Kazakhstan


The topic of modern schools and preschools has received much attention in recent years. Several high and middle-income countries have implemented programs to inform and support the modern school environment. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the World Bank and other development partners are supporting research activities and investment operations in countries to improve the learning environments for children. The driving forces behind this new movement are:

  • new requirements of the education system (driven by PISA and more broadly skills/competencies agenda);
  • greater attention to a variety of learning methodologies (from conventional classes to group work, individual and group projects);
  • expansion and integration of ICT in education;
  • renewed interest in learning environments conducive to learning (acoustic, lighting, air quality);
  • the need for increased efficiency of architectural solutions.

The new environments in education are based on a combination of findings from the field of pedagogy, children psychology and architecture. The learning environment is seen as a “third teacher” that supports parents and teachers as a spatial frame for the education process. Hence, it influences what can happen in school and impacts student learning. For instance, an improvement in school conditions from extremely bad to good state was associated with an increase of approximately 10 percent of a standard deviation in learning achievement.

A recently published study in the UK shows that the impact of moving an ‘average’ child from the least effective to the most effective space would account for 1.3 sub-levels (when pupils typically make 2 sub-levels progress a year).

The approach to the improvement of the school environment is country specific; however, there are major principles that may allow creating more child-centered, efficient and innovative environments.

The World Bank and its partners in the OECD Center for Effective Learning Environments (CELE) have extensive experience in middle-income countries in reforming countries’ approach to learning environments. This experience may inform the development agenda of Europe and Central Asia.


The objective of the seminar is to facilitate inter-regional knowledge sharing and transfer on education innovations in learning environments. The proposed seminar/workshop would include a mixture of sessions on:

  • educational architecture;
  • the approach to arrange educational spaces in existing schools for better student learning;
  • approaches to assess whether the school environments are or not conducive to learning.

It is also expected that country delegations would reflect on how the environment may aid student learning and the possibilities for further Bank support to the countries in this area.


The audience for this event includes policy makers from Europe and Central Asia (ECA) countries, including: Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Russian Federation, Belarus, Moldova, Serbia, Romania, Georgia, and Armenia. The working languages will be English and Russian. The event will also bring together all education global practice specialists who lead the research and operational work in 31 countries of the ECA region.


The event would include two days of interactive work and is based on presentations, interviews, round tables and group work. A second day of the event would include the virtual school visits with consecutive group discussions.

Download the draft agenda of the seminar (PDF).



Thursday, March 10 (Ball room)



Registration and Coffee



Introduction by Moderator

Mr. Michael Trucano, Senior Education Specialist, World Bank




Opening Remarks:

His Excellency, Minister Yerlan Sagadiyev, Minister of Education and Science of Kazakhstan

Ms. Cláudia Costin, Senior Education Practice Director of the Bank

Mr. Alastair Blyth, Coordinator of the Center for Effective Learning Environments, Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development






Innovative learning environments and why they are important for learning in 21st Century

Ms. Julia Atkin, Learning by Design






Connecting modern pedagogies with the physical learning environment

Mr. Jens Guldbaek,



Q&A followed by a group discussion on the current issues that countries experience during the implementation and planning of the programs on learning environments. What is possible and what is not? Live blogging.


11:10 – 11:40

Coffee Break & Guided Exhibition of Innovative Schools and Preschools (Examples from CELE Compendium, Competition on Innovative Kindergartens in Yakutia)


11:40 – 12:00

Clever classrooms: What aspects of infrastructure are important for learning outcomes?

Mr. Peter Barrett, Salford University


12:00 – 12:40

Q&A followed by a group discussion on how both concepts of innovative learning environments and learning outcomes may be applied in particular country contexts. Live blogging.


12:40 – 13:40

Lunch and networking on the first part of the day (restaurant Brasserie)


13:40 – 14:00

Interview with Mr. Tigran Shmis, World Bank. Doing more with less: Efficiency implications and opportunities for school infrastructure projects through regulatory reforms


14:00 – 14:10



14:10 – 14:30

Interview with Mr. Alastair Blyth, OECD. OECD experience and CELE work on school infrastructure: What works best and the upcoming developments


14:30 – 15:10

Q&A followed by a group discussion on the existing experiences and regulations.


15:10 – 15:40

Coffee Break & Guided Exhibition continued.


15:40 – 16:50

Expert panel. Dialogue on issues and challenges.

Alastair, Jens, Mie, Julia, Peter, Takaharu, Tigran


16:50 – 17:10

Day 1 Concluding Remarks

Mr. Cristian Aedo, Education Practice Manager for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, World Bank


17:10 – 17:30

Wrap-up of Day 1

Mr. Michael Trucano



Dinner at the hotel (Restaurant Lotus)


Friday, March 11





9:00 – 9:15

Introduction to 2nd day

Mr. Michael Trucano


9:15 – 9:25



9:25 – 9:55

Kindergarten Architecture and the Story of Fuji Kindergarten

Mr. Takaharu Tezuka, Tezuka Architects


9:55 – 10:05



10:05 – 11:00

Speed dating: Virtual Visits to Innovative Learning Environments. Guided video presentations on different aspects of the innovative schools work.

Alastair, Jens, Mie, Julia (Ball Room, Diamond rooms 1 and 5 – simultaneous interpretation)


11:00 – 11:15

Coffee Break


12:00 – 12:20

Linkages of the innovative learning, skills requirements and the learning environment opportunities

Mr. Andreas Schleicher, Director for the Directorate of Education and Skills, Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development


12:20 – 12:30



12:30 – 13:30

Working lunch (restaurant Brasserie)


13:30 – 14:15

Group Work: Creating an Action Plan for innovative learning environments


14:15 – 14:45

Plenary: Reporting Back


14:45 – 15:45


Expert panel. Recommendations for moving forward: Next steps of the development of learning environments in ECA. Discussion of the seminar recommendations.

Alastair, Cristian, Jens, Mie, Julia, Peter, Takaharu, Tigran


15:45 – 16:00

Closing Remarks

Claudia Costin, Serik Ersaliev/ Yerlan Sagadiyev



Dinner (outside of the hotel in restaurant Alasha)


  • Takaharu Tezuka, Jens Guldbaek, and Mie Bruns (education architects);
  • Julia Atkin (education and learning consultant);
  • Peter Barrett (President of the UN-established International Council for Research and Innovation in Building and Construction);
  • Andreas Schleicher and Alastair Blyth (OECD);
  • Claudia Costin, Cristian Aedo, and Tigran Shmis (World Bank);
  • Moderator – Michael Trucano (World Bank).

Download the speakers' bios (PDF).

Partners: OECD CELE, Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Almaty Municipality.

  • WHEN: March 10-11, 2016
  • WHERE: Almaty, Kazakhstan, Hotel Rixos Almaty, Ballroom 1