Making Schools Work

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How can it be that a teacher sleeps in a classroom in the middle of a school day while students wait patiently outside? That grants intended for schools arrive with most of the funds siphoned off by intermediate layers of administration? That classrooms in slum areas teem with students, graffiti, and broken windows while schools in richer districts enjoy ample resources? That national school systems function without the periodic tests that would reveal how little students are learning over time and across districts? These are not the only problems facing education systems in the developing world, but they are some of the most egregious—and in some sense, puzzling. While inadequate funding may be the biggest challenge that developing countries face, the proximate cause of the phenomena observed above is not a lack of resources. The teacher is in the classroom, his salary paid. The school grants program was funded by the central ministry. A fixed pot of resources may be distributed more or less equally across schools. While not simple or costless, the technology for tracking learning progress is readily available to developing countries, and many have started to implement it while others have not.


Barbara Bruns, Deon Filmer, Harry Anthony Patrions

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