Policy Briefs


Improving Educational Quality and Outcomes for National Development in the 21st Century

Reflections from the ADB-THF Professional Learning Programme (2016 and 2017)

In 2015, UNESCO’s Sustainable Development Goal 4 laid out an ambitious programme to achieve a quality education for all. There was a strong recognition that with universal access to primary education in literacy and numeracy being generally met, it was time to focus more distinctly on educational quality that was both inclusive and equitable.

This drive for improved educational quality, backed with findings on its strong relation to improved economic outcomes (Hanushek & Woessmann, 2007), comes at a time when governments find themselves compelled to tackle the demands of a) pervasive economic globalisation, b) a thirst for talent and a more educated workforce, c) rising aspirations for upward social mobility, and d) the broader imperative to bring nations to the next stages in the development agenda.

These issues also underscore the Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) Strategy 2020 blueprint, which identifies education as one of five core operational areas (ADB, 2016) necessary for establishing inclusive economic and environmentally sustainable growth. For the ADB and its Developing Member Countries (DMCs) who are working together to move up the economic and social equity ladder, there is, therefore, strong recognition across the board of the necessity to tackle existing educational structures and practices to improve educational quality.

To help achieve these objectives, The HEAD Foundation and the ADB have in 2016 and 2017 equipped over 60 policymakers and stakeholders from 11 DMCs, through a Professional Learning Programme (PLP), with key insights and skills on what it takes to improve schooling quality and educational outcomes for national development.

About this Policy Brief

This policy brief was written by Professor S. Gopinathan, Academic Director of The HEAD Foundation. This document is a synthesis of the discussions and presentations made during both runs of the Professional Learning Programme conducted in 2016 and 2017 by The HEAD Foundation in partnership with the Asian Development Bank (ADB). The author would like to thank Mr Justin Pereira for his assistance in drafting this policy brief.

The HEAD Foundation would also like to thank the team from the ADB, particularly Dr Brajesh Panth, and all speakers and programme participants for their contributions, some of which have been integrated into this document.

Join our mailing list

Stay updated on all the latest news and events