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A Millennium Learning Goal: Measuring Real Progress in Education

Author

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  • Deon Filmer

    ()

  • Amer Hasan
  • Lant Pritchett

Abstract

The Millennium Development Goal for primary schooling completion has focused attention on a measurable output indicator to monitor increases in schooling in poor countries. We argue the next step, which moves towards the even more important Millennium Learning Goal, is to monitor outcomes of learning achievement. We demonstrate that even in countries meeting the MDG of primary completion, the majority of youth are not reaching even minimal competency levels, let alone the competencies demanded in a globalized environment. Even though Brazil is on track to the meet the MDG, our estimates are that 78 percent of Brazilian youth lack even minimally adequate competencies in mathematics and 96 percent do not reach what we posit as a reasonable global standard of adequacy. Mexico has reached the MDG—but 50 percent of youth are not minimally competent in math and 91 percent do not reach a global standard. While nearly all countries’ education systems are expanding quantitatively nearly all are failing in their fundamental purpose. Policymakers, educators and citizens need to focus on the real target of schooling: adequately equipping their nation’s youth for full participation as adults in economic, political and social roles. A goal of school completion alone is an increasingly inadequate guide for action. With a Millennium Learning Goal, progress of the education system will be judged on the outcomes of the system: the assessed mastery of the desired competencies of an entire age cohort—both those in school and out of school. By focusing on the learning achievement of all children in a cohort an MLG eliminates the false dichotomy between “access/enrollment” and “quality of those in school”: reaching an MLG depends on both.

Suggested Citation

  • Deon Filmer & Amer Hasan & Lant Pritchett, 2006. "A Millennium Learning Goal: Measuring Real Progress in Education," Working Papers 97, Center for Global Development.
  • Handle: RePEc:cgd:wpaper:97
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    File URL: http://www.cgdev.org/content/publications/detail/9815
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Peter Glick & Jean Claude Randrianarisoa & David E. Sahn, 2011. "Family background, school characteristics, and children's cognitive achievement in Madagascar," Education Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 19(4), pages 363-396, February.
    2. Eric A. Hanushek & Ludger Wößmann, 2015. "Das zentrale Entwicklungsziel sollten Grundkompetenzen für alle Kinder sein," ifo Schnelldienst, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 68(10), pages 27-31, May.
    3. Das, Jishnu & Zajonc, Tristan, 2010. "India shining and Bharat drowning: Comparing two Indian states to the worldwide distribution in mathematics achievement," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(2), pages 175-187, July.
    4. Lamaute-Brisson, Nathalie, 2013. "Social protection systems in Latin America and the Caribbean: Haiti," Documentos de Proyectos 523, Naciones Unidas Comisión Económica para América Latina y el Caribe (CEPAL).
    5. Gruber, Lloyd & Kosack, Stephen, 2014. "The tertiary tilt: education and inequality in the developing world," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 54202, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    6. Humphreys, Sara & Moses, Dauda & Kaibo, Jiddere & Dunne, Máiréad, 2015. "Counted in and being out: Fluctuations in primary school and classroom attendance in northern Nigeria," International Journal of Educational Development, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 134-143.
    7. Jerrard, Jane, 2016. "What does “quality” look like for post-2015 education provision in low-income countries? An exploration of stakeholders’ perspectives of school benefits in village LEAP schools, rural Sindh, Pakistan," International Journal of Educational Development, Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 82-93.
    8. Gertler, Paul J. & Patrinos, Harry Anthony & Rubio-Codina, Marta, 2012. "Empowering parents to improve education: Evidence from rural Mexico," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 99(1), pages 68-79.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    primary school; poverty; millenium development goals; school completion; school enrollment;

    JEL classification:

    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy
    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

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