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  • This blog is written by specialists from the Education Division of the Inter-American Development Bank. Its objective is to provide arguments and ideas that will spark debate about how to transform education in Latin America and the Caribbean. This blog is a call to action for the reader. An idea, a project, or a question can make a difference.

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    Las opiniones expresadas en este blog son las del autor y no necesariamente reflejan las opiniones del Banco Interamericano de Desarrollo, sus directivas, la Asamblea de Gobernadores o sus países miembros.

    The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Inter-American Development Bank, its Management, its Board of Executive Directors or its member Governments.

    Archive for August, 2013

    Mysteries of the brain, poverty and student learning (Second part)

    By - 28 Aug 2013


    How does poverty affect the brains of poor children? Can the economists and education policymakers learn from neuroscience findings? These were the questions that we posed in the last post, and that we will now try to address. The answer to the first one is… Yes. So far, neuroscientists have found strong important differences between the brains of poor and non-poor students and the key factors related to them. On one side, we have the kids’ exposure to stress and whether they have secure attachments. On the other hand, there are low learning capabilities or lack of cognitive development due to low household stimulus.   

    Read more…

    Mysteries of the brain, poverty and student learning

    By - 14 Aug 2013


    Traditionally, economists like me have believed that poverty can explain underperformance in school because poor families are unable to accumulate human capital due to short-term cash constraints. An unaware reader might think: what in the world does that mean? In plain terms, this means that poor kids do not usually have the resources to pay school fees, buy textbooks or cloth, afford transportation costs and have an adequate nutrition and health. Often, they have to work to contribute to the household’s economy and help maintain their siblings.

    For these reasons, they tend to drop out school more or, at best, sacrifice their youth instead of devoting themselves to learning.  This contributes to the creation of what is known as the poverty cycle, because when these kids grow up to have children on their own, their kids will repeat their parents’ history and, ultimately, perpetuate poverty.  The video featuring the characters of Agustin and Daniel presented in the post below shows exactly this phenomenon.

    However, besides the theory of the poor’s deficient human capital accumulation, economists still continue to have a hard time explaining why poor kids underperform in school. But, is there anything else? What about if we took a different approach? Is it possible that there is something lying beneath poor kids’ brains that makes their schooling experience different? And, most importantly, can it be changed?

    Read more…

    What if the prince were a dropout?

    By - 1 Aug 2013

    Source: Carmen Rodriguez NSP

    Last week it seemed like the whole world got involved in the royal birth, taking bets on the new prince’s gender, weight, name and arrival time.  This betting is all in good fun but it got us thinking about the babies who have the odds stacked against them, even before they enter the world.

    Right now Latin American kids have about a 50/50 chance of graduating high school.  Children born into poverty are even less likely to make it to graduation day.  While over 80% of the wealthiest students in Latin America get their diplomas, only 30% of the poorest students graduate.  Most of us wouldn’t be very comfortable with those betting odds. Read more…