Education, a social determinant of health – International World Education Day

Health and well-being can be attained through channels beyond the healthcare system, like education. January 24th is proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly as International World Education Day, where we celebrate right to education for all, in an equitable manner. Education is a social determinant of health that shapes health status and well-being. For instance, lower educational levels contribute to risky behavior and often correlate with a lower social position which is in turn associated with a worse health status.

“With the principle of leaving no one behind”, the United Nations has envisioned to collectively achieve the 17 sustainable development goals (SDG) by 2030. The fourth goal is to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education for all. AIGHD plays its part in helping achieve the SDG 4 targets. For World Education Day, we have lined up a summary of our education activities and ways we aim to improve quality education throughout the world.

At AIGHD, we educate.

AIGHD coordinates Global Health elective courses as part of the Bachelor of Medicine curriculum at the University of Amsterdam’s Academic Medical Center. The electives include the course “Global Health in Action” where students are introduced to Global Health organizations in the Netherlands through excursions. We also coordinate courses as part of the Global Health Research Master at the Vrije Universiteit of Amsterdam. These courses include the “Future in Medicine” and the “Figuring it out” modules. Members of the staff supervise dozens of PhD students every year from all around the world, supporting their global health research and their obtention of a doctorate degree.

At AIGHD, we attempt to fill the AMR education gap by offering a free open access curriculum (Sonar-Global) to educate social scientists on AMR. Moreover, AIGHD was one of the co-founders of TBNet, a global network that annually organizes TBNet Academy. This three-day intensive course aims to train and educate young clinicians and researchers about TB management and research in Europe.

At AIGHD, we improve education.

AIGHD is an active partner in RISE, a global research initiative meaning Research on Improving Systems of Education. The insights gained from the RISE Tanzania and Indonesia projects have a common goal: improved understanding of how education systems can improve student learning outcomes. RISE was initiated because of the global learning crisis: school enrolment has dramatically increased worldwide, but millions of children spend years in school without gaining foundational skills.

Within the RISE Tanzania project, senior researcher at AIGHD, Dr. Youdi Schipper examines the effects of national education reforms, particularly incentive programs, on student learning. Dr. Youdi Schipper has written papers on several aspects of the education system in Tanzania, with an emphasis on the learning impact of teacher performance pay programs. His work involves analysis and practical design of experimental incentive systems, as well as contributing to the scaled implementation of such designs.

In Indonesia, a similar project is led by Prof. Dr. Menno Pradhan, senior researcher at AIGHD and professor at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and the University of Amsterdam. Junior Researcher Emilie Berkhout is also part of the team. RISE Indonesia aims to analyze whether policy reforms in the areas of teacher distribution, recruitment, training, and rewards improve student learning. The project looks at the effectiveness of reforms on learning outcomes in multiple districts in Indonesia.

Moreover, AIGHD takes part in the World Bank KIAT Guru project, that seeks to help the Indonesian government in evaluating the effectiveness of reforms to improve frontline education service delivery in remote areas throughout the country.

At AIGHD, we deliver our expertise to the next generation of global health researchers through education. Simultaneously, we apply this expert knowledge to provide sustainable solutions to major health problems across our planet. Working towards quality universal primary education paves the way to better health.