In low- and middle-income countries, only half of primary school children and a little more than a quarter of secondary school children are on track to complete school and meet minimum benchmarks on learning assessments (1). Three in four of these children who are not learning are failing to achieve despite attending school (1). In six of the ten countries one study assessed, only about half—or even fewer than half—of younger adults (18 to 37) who completed primary schooling can read a few sentences without help (2).
Worldwide, countries face a shortage of qualified teachers for their rapidly expanding student populations (3, pp. 133–34). Though teaching methods can often be improved through simple in-service training (1, p. 60), the quality of teacher training varies dramatically across countries, and much training does not align with practices that are associated with better student performance. And, while teaching and learning resources are regularly cited as keys to improving the quality of education, textbooks and other instructional materials remain inaccessible or unavailable in some countries (4, p. 203).
Improving the quality of teaching and learning environments through teacher training and by providing quality teaching and learning materials helps to ensure that all children obtain the education and skills necessary to achieve their individual potential while enhancing national growth and social development.
Investments aligned with this strategic goal can, in the context of teacher training and performance:
In the context of educational materials, investments aligned with this goal can:
Private schools are increasingly important in education, particularly in low-income countries; one in eight primary students globally attends private school (5). While private schools offer certain advantages, including expanding enrollment and allowing more freedom for innovation, effective service provision requires both innovation and accountability for results in terms of access, quality, and equity (11).
Access to quality teachers and educational materials is essential to the quality of learning environments and leads to improved student retention and performance on learning assessments. Globally, approximately 387 million primary-school-aged children are not learning basic reading (6), and, as of 2017, 262 million children and young people do not attend school (7, p. 122). And, of 19 sub-Saharan countries in a 2008 World Bank analysis, 18 had inadequate supplies of textbooks for students in secondary schools (4, p. 203).
Between 2015 and 2030, the Education Commission projects, demand for teachers in lower-middle-income countries will grow by 25%—and nearly double in low-income countries (1, p. 70). However, by national definitions, in 2017, 15% of primary teachers around the world were untrained, an increase of 1.5 percentage points since 2013 (7, p 216).
Education systems around the world must improve teacher training and access to quality teaching and learning materials to attract and retain quality teachers and enable students to learn.
Students from poor and disadvantaged backgrounds: Students from disadvantaged households, including rural households, complete less schooling and learn much less while in school (3, pp. 44–45). Investing in the quality of teaching and learning environments with a focus on inclusion will increase enrollment and retention and improve learning outcomes for all students while helping disadvantaged students to close this gap.
Teachers in low- and middle-income countries: High-quality teachers are in short supply in low-income countries (3), and pupil-to-teacher ratios are higher in poorer countries (5, p. 245). Inadequately trained teachers are common in several parts of the world, with only 62% trained at the primary level in sub-Saharan Africa (5, p. 244). Investing in high-quality teacher instruction and development will provide a professional structure and motivate teachers to apply what they know.
Households and families (urban and rural): Access to quality education helps break the cycle of poverty by increasing income. Educated people also tend to be healthier, more empowered in their own lives and societies, and more socially tolerant and able to resolve conflicts (10, pp. 10–13).
Education systems (national and subnational): Aligning components of education systems coherently toward learning can improve government accountability and strengthen the educational workforce (1, p. 175).
Low- and middle-income countries: Education systems in low- and middle-income countries around the world fail to provide students with quality educations. The average student in these countries performs worse than 95% of students in high-income countries (3, p. 5). Low-income households in sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia are disproportionately affected by this learning crisis.
Sub-Saharan Africa: Sub-Saharan Africa has the fewest proportion of trained teachers and growing share of the out-of-school population (7, pp. 123, 216). Textbooks are also scarce; a 2008 World Bank analysis found only one sub-Saharan African country of 19 studied had adequate textbook provision (4, p. 203).
Latin America: Latin American school enrollment has sharply increased in recent years, but students still leave school lacking the skills they need for employment. Teachers in Latin America are generally paid above the poverty threshold, but their salaries compare unfavorably with those working in professions requiring similar qualifications: in 2007, other professionals in Brazil and Peru, respectively, earned 43% and 50% more than pre-school and primary school teachers (8, p. 29).
Teacher effectiveness is the most important school-based predictor of student learning (10), which drives social and economic progress. Specific investment contributions and their sustainability vary by context and approach.
This strategy can improve learning outcomes for the 262 million children who do not attend school and the 387 million primary-school-aged children who are in school but not learning basic reading. It can also support the 2.5 million primary school teachers and 4.5 million secondary school teachers around the world who have not been trained.
Systematic change requires sustained investment. Bilateral development programs generally last 5 to 10 years per cycle, and many programs continue over many cycles. Improved teaching methods, combined with teacher training, materials, and remedial help for students who fall behind, could improve learning outcomes by 25–53% in some contexts (1, pp. 59–60).
Examples of impact from projects aligned with this strategy include the following:
Failure to adequately address these risks could dilute positive impact by reducing the quality of teaching and learning environments in targeted primary and secondary schools.
LEAD School’s ‘school-in-a-box’ solution is designed to empower affordable private school (APS) operators in India, specifically catering to the needs of first-generation learners in the low-income segment and to teachers serving and parents in this demographic segment. Their product covers various aspects of school management including curriculum, content, assessments, delivery, administration, in-depth teacher capacity-building, and meaningful parent engagement. A recent round of impact investments into LEAD School was led by Elevar Equity. In 18 months of operation, LEAD School signed up more than 80 affordable private schools to use their solution.
Geekie offers an integrated learning, assessment, and information management platform to school administrators, teachers, and students in Brazil. The company has received impact investments from Omidyar Network and other investors. Its adaptive learning platform, designed to help learners improve their performance in different educational settings, has been adopted by public and private high schools and students preparing for the national college entrance exam. To date, more than three million learners have benefited from Geekie’s learning products, which have demonstrated improved learning outcomes: for example, active users improved their simulated test scores by 30% over their initial assessment after using the platform.
Tomi Digital is a Colombian enterprise that believes the education paradigm can only be changed by producing better teachers. Its vision is to change the classroom experience from a static, rote model to a dynamic, active learning environment and aspires to facilitate meaningful learning within the classroom through innovative technological tools. The company’s technology includes a smart board that increases classroom interactivity through augmented reality. The company received impact investments from the education-focused investor GrayMatters Capital and other investors. More than 40,000 classrooms have been transformed to date, according to the company’s impact report.
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UNESCO. “Education for All, 2000–-2015: Achievements and Challenges. Education for All Global Monitoring Report, 2015. Paris: UNESCO, 2015. https://en.unesco.org/gem-report/report/2015/education-all-2000-2015-achievements-and-challenges
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UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS). Handbook on Measuring Equity in Education. Montreal: UIS, 2018.
This mapped evidence shows what outcomes and impacts this strategy can have, based on academic and field research.
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Research for Equitable Access and Learning Centre (REAL), University of Cambridge. 2016. “Targeted, Multidimensional Approaches to Overcome Inequalities in Secondary Education: Case Study of Camfed in Tanzania.” Background Paper for the Education Commission
Winthrop, Rebecca, Eileen McGivney, Timothy Williams, and
Priya Shankar. 2016. “Innovation and Technology to Accelerate Progress in Education.” Background Paper for Education Commission. Center for Universal Education (CUE) at The Brookings Institution.
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Each resource is assigned a rating of rigor according to the NESTA Standards of Evidence.
Percentage of school students passing standardized tests set by a regional governance body during the reporting period.
= (Number of enrolled students who passed standardized test) / (Number of enrolled students who took standardized test)
Organizations should footnote the description of the standardized test, the threshold for passing, how many tests were taken, and other relevant details.
In many cases this data will need to be collected by schools (public or private) or other third party. The investee company can work with those third parties to gather the information, as it can show effectiveness of the solution provided.
If more than one test is taken, organizations should report on the average of the pass rates.
To understand if the strategy is successfully reaching the desired outcome of “improved learning outcomes for students” and “improved teacher effectiveness”. Improving student test rate is a proxy for improving student learning outcomes, the ultimate result this strategy aims to reach.
Number of students enrolled as of the end of the reporting period, both full-time and part-time, where each discrete student is counted regardless of number of courses.
Organizations should footnote a breakdown of full-time and part-time students.
Learners should be counted if they are enrolled in primary or secondary school or the equivalent education. When calculating this indicator, each learner should be counted only once in data for the year being reported. In other words, if a learner benefits from two overlapping programs and each meets the criteria outlined here, the learner should be counted only once.
To understand the overall scale of students benefitting from the solution. It also helps investors understand if the strategy is successfully reaching the desired outcome “increase enrollment.”
Number of female students enrolled as of the end of the reporting period, both full-time and part-time, where each discrete student is counted regardless of number of courses.
Organizations should footnote a breakdown of full-time and part-time female students.
In many cases this data will need to be collected by schools (public or private) or other third party. The investee company can work with those third parties to gather the information, as it can show how their solution is serving women and girls and helping address gender issues.
To understand if and how many girls the strategy/solution is reaching and have a sense of the gender lens in this strategy.
Number of individuals who received training offered by the organization during the reporting period.
Organizations should footnote the type and extent of the training provided as well as who the training was provided to. See usage guidance for further information.
The metric is intended to capture the number of individuals that received training services (of any type) provided by the organization. Training may or may not be restricted to clients of the organization. This metric may be applicable for organizations operating in the microfinance, agriculture, or other sectors that provide training to clients and other community members.
Examples of training types, to footnote, could include: enterprises/business development, women’s empowerment, educational services, etc.
Training may be fee-based or provided for free. Training of an organization’s own employees is not included in this metric.
To understand the scale and reach of teacher training solutions. Training and professional development for teachers and educators helps to improve the quality of education and instruction – which is directly connected to improving learning outcomes and schooling experience for students/learners.
Percentage of students advancing from one level of schooling to the next.
= (Number of school students enrolling in the next level of schooling for the upcoming year) / (Number of students who completed the previous level of schooling during the preceding year)
Organizations should footnote all assumptions used and any relevant details regarding the transition rate.
This metric is intended to capture the percentage of students that transition from one level to the next, for example, from primary to secondary school, or the third year of secondary school to the fourth year.
For example, if 100 students complete their final year of primary school at the end of the previous reporting period and 95 of them transition on to the first year of secondary school at the beginning of the following reporting period, the student transition rate is calculated as 95/100 = 95%.
This metric is different than Student Dropout Rate (PI9910), which captures the rate at which students dropout during the reporting period.
To understand how their solution is contributing to students advancing from one level to the next in school, as they improve learning outcomes. It could prove the medium to long term value of a given solution, as investors compare student transition rate pre- and post-implementation of the solution.
Number of teachers as of the end of the reporting period who have obtained training or have qualifications that meet or exceed minimum requirements of the local area.
Organizations should footnote the minimum level of qualifications required in local area.
The data would have to be gathered by schools. Investee company could work with schools to provide data to investors.
To understand if the strategy is successfully reaching the desired outcome “Improved Teacher Effectiveness.”
Number of textbooks per student provided by the organization during the reporting period.
'= (Total textbooks provided) / (School Enrollment: Total (PI2389))
Organizations should footnote all assumptions used.
In many cases this data will need to be collected by schools (public or private) or other third party. The investee company can work with those third parties to gather the information.
To understand if the strategy is successfully reaching the desired outcome “Increased availability of learning materials” which is an important contextual metric to understand improved learning outcomes for students/learners.
Number of full-time and part-time teachers employed by the organization as of the end of the reporting period.
Organizations should footnote a breakdown of full-time and part-time teachers.
The data would come form schools (public or private) and other third parties as it is internal information about the institution the solution will be serving.
To understand the scale of their solution, as in how many teachers are using and benefiting from it.