Bridge the knowing-doing gap to help fix the global education crisis

Dr Randa Grob-Zakhary, CEO of, a non-profit independent foundation working to advance evidence and improve education for every leaner.

With over 240 billion school days lost during the pandemic, the global learning crisis demands urgent action from global leaders. We have many of the answers; we are just failing to act.


By 2030, the world has promised to ensure “inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”. That was the ambition of UN Sustainable Development Goal 4. At the current pace of progress, it is not going to happen.

What would this collective failure mean for the future of our children and communities? For many, the consequences of lost opportunities in basic education are unfathomable.

If we were to write a report card for our world, it would say “try harder”. It would point out that, even before COVID-19 struck and schools around the globe shut down, there were nearly 260 million children out of school.

It would warn that the world is still struggling with the most basic elements of an education that many of us take for granted. Almost 620 million children – roughly six in ten – were not achieving the minimum proficiency standards for reading and maths, with another 100 million likely to join them because of the pandemic.

To make matters worse, the world’s schools have recently been off sick for long periods – over 240 billion days of school have been lost since January 2020 due to COVID-19.

With the ongoing threats of the pandemic, political instability and climate change, is there room at the table for a debate about the global learning crisis? Does the opportunity to press reset and build back better include our children’s education?

We call on the world’s leaders not to ignore the devastating impact that will result from a continued failure to meet our children’s most basic education needs, and which has only been accelerated by COVID-19. There are easy solutions to hand, after all.

Our research shows that a crucial part of the answer can be met by urgently fixing education’s knowing-doing gap. This gap currently creates a disconnect between what we know about improving education from available research, how those insights are translated for and shared with policymakers and practitioners, and what we do in practice.

When I served as Board Member and Chair of the former Strategy and Impact Committee at the Global Partnership for Education, I saw first-hand the damage that this gap inflicted on an education ecosystem that advocates for and funds research but offers little effective support in putting those findings to work.

This gap has painful repercussions, especially for the most vulnerable students, such as marginalised girls or students with different needs, resulting in poor coordination and ill-fitting solutions that do not match the scale or urgency of the challenges we face.

Building an “education knowledge bridge” between researchers, policymakers and practitioners to eliminate this gap would lift millions of children out of deep water and into better lives. A recent White Paper we released, drawing on a thorough 12-month analysis of 45 organisations and 80 interviews with education sector leaders including ministers, academics, funders, NGOs, and international organisations leaders and practitioners, confirmed this. It shows that we have the knowledge we need to make things better, we are just failing to use what we already know.


Education ministers and country managers of non-governmental organisations bemoan the fact that they struggle to make sense of the latest research in a way that can deliver positive change in their own environments. Crucially, an education knowledge bridge would allow us to make better use of the existing evidence in a way that suits different contexts, by including a broader range of sources and voices that are often left out.

Such a bridge would help us make smarter use of scarce funding by identifying the greatest needs, tailoring solutions and avoiding duplication. It would encourage greater inclusion of policy and teaching voices in the early stages of research,  contribute to stronger, more equitable education systems and allow us to respond more quickly, especially in times of crisis.

We have seen a similar approach produce remarkable results in the healthcare sector. Investment in applied and user-centred health research has been backed up by an established and structured system of synthesising findings to create actionable, relevant and translatable guidance that informs policy and delivers impact.

How can we achieve the same in education?

We identified five key capabilities that must be developed to bridge the knowing-doing gap in education.

First, while existing education research must be put to better use, new research must be designed with the user in mind, involving policymakers and teachers early on to focus academic studies on real-world problems.

One of the major obstacles faced by policymakers is to make sense of all the jigsaw pieces in research, some of which might conflict. Developing a comprehensive and systematic approach to synthesising this information would clear the fog.

However, bringing together diverse research for a generalised audience must also be supported by a process that translates these findings into helpful guidance for policymakers.

Turning guidance into policy and practice requires improved capacity to implement change by engaging stakeholders from all corners of the education ecosystem, reflecting local needs and adapting mid-flow to improve outcomes, if required.

This demands an enabling environment for evidence-based action: focusing on users more than theory, reinforcing existing education systems rather than forging parallel tracks, protecting research independence and policy choices from funding biases, making the most of global and local networks, and prioritising equity in education for all students.

Building an education knowledge bridge will take a global effort involving everyone working in education. Without it, ambitious targets for providing quality education for all will remain out of reach and the world’s school report card will continue to make for painful reading. Change can no longer wait. Advancing evidence can help course correct this trajectory so that our world can improve education for every learner.


Comparte este contenido:

Not basket-weaving: How tech schools saved kids and built Australia

Australia/May 18, 2018/theage

He was, however, extremely bright. Everyone recognised it straight away. He spent his life in a hurry, leading his mates on merry adventures and forever tinkering with things to make them work: motors, electrical switches, wirelesses, go-karts, motorbikes …

That didn’t cut it at boarding school, where Tim’s parents, like a lot of country people those days, sent him for an education.

A schoolmaster decided he would whip Tim into shape. Literally.

In his first term of secondary school, Tim was given “the cuts” – six thwacks of a strap to the hand – every day. For rushing when he was supposed to walk; for failing to finish assignments; for answering questions he wasn’t asked; for failing to understand what was required of him.


Comparte este contenido:

Armenia: Education ministry seeks to abolish re-examination opportunity in universities, academic staff express various positions

Armenia/April 10, 2018/Source:

The ministry of education and science of Armenia had earlier suggested a new bill whereby the re-examination opportunity for students would be abolished. Under the current system, students of universities are entitled to three re-examination attempts in case of failing an exam. The bill suggest using solely the minimal and maximal credits system – a student either gains enough credits during the year to pass to the following year, or he/she doesn’t.

But executives of universities say that although the model is being used worldwide, the transitioning in Armenia won’t be swift and easy.

ARMENPRESS talked with Vice Rectors of several universities about this proposed change, as well as another change – the attempt to decrease the number of admission applications based on randomly selected professions, and applicants will give the exams partly.

Yerevan State University’s Vice Rector for Academic Affairs Alexander Grigoryan says abolishing the re-examination model is a familiar method which is applied abroad. Grigoryan says transitioning to the model will certainly be difficult, because the complete preparation of the universities requires time.

“Serious work is required and I think the Yerevan State University will be ready for the new bill”, he said.

Tsolak Akopyan, Vice Rector of Academic Affairs of the Valery Brusov State University of Languages and Social Sciences, said a transition-at once will be difficult.

“But the fact that students will chose how many credits during how many years and when to graduate – in four or six years, this is an  accepted option”,  he said.

Arkadi Barkhudaryan, Vice Rector of for Academic Affairs of the national university of architecture and construction, said he opposes the bill and students should at least have one re-examination chance.


Comparte este contenido:

United States: Free school threatens legal action over closure plan

United States / March 10, 2018 /Schoolsweek

Resumen: Una escuela libre atada por dinero ha amenazado con llevar al gobierno ante los tribunales por su decisión de cerrarla solo una semana después de que Ofsted elogió a sus nuevos líderes y encontró que los alumnos «valoraban mucho» sus lugares.

A strapped-for-cash free school has threatened to take the government to court over its decision to close it just one week after Ofsted praised its new leaders and found pupils “highly” valued their places.

The 14-to-19 Robert Owen Academy in Herefordshire, which has been in special measures for almost three years, has criticised thecommunication between schools commissioners and Ofsted after it received a letter confirming it will close in August. The school was first threatened with closure last September.

The letter from regional schools’ commissioner Christine Quinn, dated February 26, was written exactly a week after an Ofsted monitoring inspection found the new executive principal and his team were taking effective action towards removing special measures, and had an action plan considered fit for purpose.

Inspectors who visited the school on February 5 and 6 also noted leaders were having a “positive impact” on improving teaching, had “successfully improved relationships” with pupils and staff, had reduced absences and introduced academic and vocational qualifications following criticism that the curriculum was too narrow.

Now Chris Morgan, chair of the Robert Owen Academies Trust, said his organisation is considering a judicial review of the decision to close the school.

He said the discrepancy between Ofsted’s promising findings and Quinn’s letter was a “clear case of the one government department not talking to another”.

“It simply beggars belief,” he added. “It’s a crazy decision.”

Staff were also praised by inspectors for “modelling high levels of respect towards pupils, who respond in kind”, while pupils with previously unhappy school experiences “spoke positively” about the academy.

Ongoing weaknesses included high exclusion rates and a lack of evaluation of how pupil premium money was being spent.

But Quinn’s letter said closure was justified because it was not financially viable with only 47 pupils on board for a roll of 500.

She emphasised that “examination results have been on a downward trajectory”, pointing out the Attainment 8 score of 12.5, compared to a national average of 44.2, and a Progress 8 score of -2.3.

Parents and pupils only wanted the school to continue under its current guise, which “has proven not viable”, said Quinn, who insisted there is capacity available in other Herefordshire schools.

The school has been under a financial notice to improve for more than a year because of concerns about governance and financial management. A recent Schools Week investigation found the Robert Owen Academy has consistently predicted it would recruit more pupils than it actually managed between 2014 and 2017, racking up debts of more than £660,000.

The Department for Education was approached for comment.


Comparte este contenido:

United Kingdom: Education secretary Damian Hinds rules out creating new grammars but says he wants existing schools to expand

United Kingdom/February 20, 2018/By: Nicola Bartlett/ Source:

Theresa May pledged to increase the number of selective schools ahead of the election but had to drop the promise after failing to win a majority.

Education secretary Damian Hinds has ruled out creating new grammar schools but he does want existing selective schools to expand.

The new education chief said that he would that he would enthusiastically back the expansion of England’s existing 163 Grammar schools.

Theresa May pledged to increase the number of grammar schools when she became prime minister and set aside money in her first budget.

But after her disastrous election result she no longer had the numbers in parliament to pass new legislation and the pledge was quietly dropped from the Queen’s speech.

Mr Hinds, who himself attended a Roman Catholic Grammar school has previously written about his support for expanding the selective sector and there were reports that the new education review would contain such a policy.

But today the new education chief ruled that out.

However Mr Hinds did reassert his commitment for the expansion of existing grammar schools which would not require a change in the law.

Asked if the government would be creating new Grammars, he said: «That is not what we’re doing we’re talking about being able to expand existing grammar schools.»

Instead he said: “Well what we are looking at is about the existing grammar schools and schools in general where there’s demand from parents and they’re providing a good education and there’s a need in the area can expand to take on more pupils.»

It is not only a turnaround for the PM, but also a change from Mr Hinds’s own views which he clearly set out in 2014.

In a chapter of a book Access all Areas , Mr Hinds said: “There is no appetite in the country for a wholesale return to academic selection at 11, for good reasons, but why not have at least one unashamedly academically elite state school in each county or major conurbation?”

Mr Hinds’s predecessor Justine Greening was publicly supportive of the prime minister’s grammar schools policy, but was known to be privately unenthusiastic – one of the reasons given for Mrs May’s decision to sack her from the education brief.


Comparte este contenido: