MOSCOW November 6, 2019―Today, at a conference convened on the tenth anniversary of the READ (Russian Education Aid for Development) Program, experts from around the world convened to reflect on global progress and to reemphasize the continuing need for improved learning assessment systems to effectively combat Learning Poverty. The READ program is a collaboration between the Government of the Russian Federation and the World Bank that aims to improve learning outcomes around the world through better measurement of student learning.
“The world is facing an increasingly serious learning crisis compounded by the fact that for many low-income countries, there is no data on learning,” said Jaime Saavedra, Global Director of the World Bank’s Education Practice. “Policymakers are flying blind and we need to invest more in learning measurement and the elimination of the measurement gap if we want to reduce learning poverty.”
Last month the World Bank released new data which was the result of a partnership with UNESCO’s Institute of Statistics, on “Learning Poverty” – defined as the share of children who cannot read and understand a simple story by the age of 10. The Bank found that 53 percent of children in developing countries are “learning poor,” and announced a new global target to reduce that number by at least half by 2030. To help countries make progress in reaching this target and getting more children reading, the Bank introduced a literacy policy package, an education approach to strengthen entire education systems, a Learning Assessment Platform to eliminate the measurement gap, and will be focusing on a research agenda that responds to country needs around early literacy.
“The READ Program is helping to drive the agenda on improving learning assessment systems around the world and improving the capacity of countries to measure learning outcomes,” said Saavedra. “With over 20,000 policymakers, assessment practitioners and teachers trained through the READ program, the ability to improve measurement on education outcomes has significantly expanded due to this collaboration.”
The READ Trust Fund is one component of the READ program and has provided $38 million for financial and technical support to help countries around the world improve students’ learning outcomes through the design, implementation, and use of more effective student assessment systems. The READ program also supports the capacity building of Russian experts and institutions in the area of quality evaluation and measurement of learning. For example, in Mongolia, targeted teacher training has improved teachers’ classroom assessment practices; in Armenia, a new master’s degree in education assessment is helping the country develop its own cadre of qualified assessment specialists; and in Cambodia, access to learning outcomes data has been expanded through publishing grade 6 national assessment results. As part of the capacity building of Russia, the READ program is currently mobilizing Russian experts to help Uzbekistan in preparations for the PISA 2021 participation. Just recently India and Russia agreed on a peer learning arrangement for PISA 2021.