Reimagining Education to Fight Poverty and Inequality
Jaime Saavedra, Ph.D.
Global Director of Education, The World Bank
1990 Fulbright Foreign Student from Peru to Boston University
How do we ensure that education is equitable? This is a question that Dr. Jaime Saavedra, Global Director of Education at The World Bank, grapples with every day. Leading efforts by the largest financier of education in more than 80 developing countries, Dr. Saavedra’s global perspective, forged by Fulbright, has shaped his life’s work: to use education to fight poverty and inequality worldwide.
After completing a bachelor’s degree in economics from the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru, Dr. Saavedra traveled to the United States to complete his Ph.D. from Columbia University, followed by further study with a postdoctoral Fulbright Foreign Student award at Boston University. As an expert leading groundbreaking research on poverty and inequality, employment and labor markets, the economics of education, and monitoring and evaluation, Dr. Saavedra has advised the Inter-American Development Bank, the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, the International Labour Organization, and the National Council of Labor and Employment Promotion in Peru.
Dr. Saavedra has most directly impacted education as Peru’s Minister of Education from 2013 to 2016. At the beginning of his tenure, Peru was ranked last of 65 countries in reading and mathematics, according to the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). In response, Dr. Saavedra led the charge to overhaul Peru’s school system, focusing on four pillars for reform: teachers, learning, infrastructure, and management. Through an increase in expenditure, Dr. Saavedra was able to implement major systemic remedies, including: higher compensation, training, and support for school faculty; streamlining curricula; and increasing maintenance and infrastructure across all schools. As a result, Peru’s PISA assessment scores increased by 8% in reading and science and 6% in math between 2012 and 2016, and had the fastest growing education system in Latin America.
Dr. Saavedra’s most recent challenge is profoundly global: how can communities safely reopen schools during the COVID-19 pandemic? According to his recent report from the World Bank, Realizing the Future of Learning: From Learning Poverty to Learning for Everyone, Everywhere: “Urgent action is needed to realize a new vision for education: one in which learning happens for everyone, everywhere.”
Working to meet current challenges, experts like Dr. Saavedra use their deep knowledge, gathered through years of academic and cross-cultural experience, to improve communities around the world.