10 July 2013

How would you spend a billion dollars on children?

The final session at Young Lives yesterday was really fun, and put this question to all of the plenary speakers - given everything you know from all your research, what would you do? A video of the session is up online here along with the other sessions here, and with apologies to the speakers for butchering their arguments into 140 character chunks, I thought I would reproduce my tweeted summaries here: 

Costas Meghir: An integrated preschool programme - from prenatal, stimulation, ECD, preschool

Jere Behrman: Start a program to improve information about education systems - including costs as well as impacts

Karthik Muralidharan:
First get rid of the things that don't work - starting with teacher education, then
1: appropriate curricula and pedagogical materials for teachers,
2: contract teachers - The challenge is how to manage political and legal barriers - the solution is teaching assistants. Build a 4-year teacher training programme into teaching assistant contracts. At end of 4 yrs, some assistants pass exam to become full teachers, ones that fail get an exit payment 3 months salary. 
And a general point - for scale-up - need to work through government systems but need an intermediate step - start small with a district or a state. 

Lant Pritchett: The key is really moving political focus from access to learning outcomes. Do country studies which are a detailed plan of how to reach a set country-specific learning standard. Frame this as a problem that we can solve.

Orazio Attanasio: No easy answers. We don't yet really understand what works, why, and how to do things at scale. (implying more research?)

Paul Glewwe
1. Do TIMMS and PISA for every developing country
2. Pay for performance - e.g. cash on delivery for african gvts if they reach learning outcome standards
3: More Research

Pedro Carneiro: Need some solid plans from ECD people about practical details.

Richard Morgan (UNICEF): Coincidentally, exactly what UNICEF is doing now - including focusing on underexplored areas at this conference - child survival,  stunting (with WASH as an input), and child protection.

The audience vote at the end was unclear (though apparently Richard got most of the non-economists...), so I'm stealing Duncan Green's polling habit - Make your choice in the side-bar! 


Update: The final results:

  0 (0%)
  1 (5%)
  8 (40%)
  4 (20%)
  1 (5%)
  3 (15%)
  0 (0%)
  2 (10%)
These are all rubbish, something totally different
  1 (5%)

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