Millions of people around the world live in urban slums. Relative to the life left behind in rural areas, the net consequences of growing up in these conditions on a person’s education and skills later in life are determined by the country’s stage of development and its policies for access and quality of education. This column uses data from Brazil to explore this relationship, highlighting that while slums in Brazil may have historically been a stepping stone for the country’s human capital formation, by 2010 they had transformed into hindrances. The lessons for developing countries that are still rural as well as for developed countries that are receiving low-skill immigrants are also discussed.
Ofsted is an established feature of the English state school system. Ofsted grades are even displayed on property search websites in addition to government and school websites. This column explores the value of providing such information, versus the pressure such inspections place on schools. This comes in the context of a backlash against the system following the tragic death of an English headteacher earlier this year.