Emiliana Vegas

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Organizations & people

working to improve education systems
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Emiliana Vegas is a senior fellow and co-director of the Center for Universal Education at the Brookings Institution.[1]

How their work relates to education systems

Emiliana Vegas is an expert on education in development countries, as she has written extensively on issues affecting education systems in Latin America and the Caribbean among other developing regions. Her work covers a range of topics, from teacher effectiveness policy, to school finance, to early childhood development policy.[2] Vegas has worked throughout her career to "champion the importance of early-childhood education, teacher effectiveness, and systemic change to help ensure all children can reach their full potential".[3]

In "Profession: Teacher. Why the teaching profession lost its prestige in Latin America and the Caribbean, and how to recover it?", Vegas and her co-authors explore the policies that various Latin American countries are implementing to attract, train, and retain effective teachers. It also explores the systemic issues within the teaching profession in the region, including the changing female labor market. Ultimately, the authors conclude that the systemic prestige of the teaching profession must be recovered in order to attract and prepare the best educators.[4]

In "The Promise of Early Childhood Development in Latin America and the Caribbean", Vegas and Santibáñez explore early childhood development programs in Latin America; specifically those targeting education, health, and nutrition; and argues that investments in these types of programs should not only be increased but also target poor and disadvantaged children and families. In "Raising Student Learning in Latin America: The Challenge for the 21st Century", Vegas and Petrow explore the challenges that Latin America faces in improving student learning, as shown by Latin America's poor performance on international assessments. Vegas moves the debate away from access and toward a learning agenda, and argues that increasing student learning requires both "a theory of action for providing education and strong alignment of the roles and responsibilities of all participants in the education system to ensure education quality".[5] Ultimately, Vegas and Petrow provide three recommendations that can improve the quality of an education system: quality contracts, differentiated instruction, and managed instruction.[5]

Vegas also edited an extensive report titled "Incentives to Improve Teaching: Lessons from Latin America", in which various teacher incentive programs were explored including salary structure, educational finance equalization, non-monetary incentives, decentralization, and teacher effort. The report found that teacher salary did have an impact on teacher quality; however, other education reforms can have even larger impacts on teacher effectiveness than compensation. For example, school-based management reforms that gave decision-making discretion to the school had a large impact on teacher performance and student learning in El Salvador. Ultimately, the case studies reveal that teachers do not always respond to incentives in ways that researchers expect, and compensation is not the silver-bullet solution to improving teacher effectiveness.[6]

Brief biography

Prior to serving as the senior fellow and co-director of the Center for Universal Education at Brookings, Vegas was the chief of the Education Division at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). There, she led a team of 30-50 people working to support education systems in Latin America and the Caribbean.

During her time at the IDB, Vegas encouraged a shift toward promoting learning throughout the entire system. She secured funding to create SUMMA, led the development of an online program to train education leaders in Latin America and the Caribbean, and helped ministries of education learn how to effectively utilize data and technology to inform system-wide change.

Prior to her work at the IDB, Vegas also worked at the World Bank as a lead economist in the Education Unit of the Human Development Department and human development sector lead for Central America. She has regularly managed lending operations and conducted research on regional and global education policy, with an emphasis on system change.

Vegas earned her Doctor of Education degree from Harvard University, Master of Public Policy from Duke University, and bachelor's degree in communications from Andrés Bello Catholic University in Caracas, Venezuela.

She is also a member of the RISE Intellectual Leadership Team.[2]

Key publications related to education systems

See also


  1. Brookings Institution. "Emiliana Vegas." https://www.brookings.edu/experts/emiliana-vegas/ Accessed 2021-08-31.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Emiliana Vegas". RISE Programme. Retrieved 2021-08-11. https://riseprogramme.org/people/emiliana-vegas
  3. "An Impact that Spans the Americas". Harvard Graduate School of Education. Retrieved 2021-08-11. https://www.gse.harvard.edu/hgse100/story/impact-spans-americas
  4. Vegas, Emiliana; Elacqua, Gregory; Hincapie, Diana; & Alfonso, Mariana. (2018). Profession: Teacher. Why the teaching profession lost its prestige in Latin America and the Caribbean, and how to recover it? (Available in Spanish and Portuguese). https://publications.iadb.org/en/profesion-profesor-en-america-latina-por-que-se-perdio-el-prestigio-docente-y-como-recuperarlo-0
  5. 5.0 5.1 Vegas, Emiliana & Petrow, Jenny. (2007). Raising Student Learning in Latin America: The Challenge for the 21st Century. The World Bank Press. https://publications.iadb.org/publications/english/document/Raising-Student-Learning-in-Latin-America-The-Challenge-for-the-21st-Century.pdf
  6. Vegas, Emiliana. (2005). Incentives to Improve Teaching: Lessons from Latin America. The World Bank Press. Editor. https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/bitstream/handle/10986/7265/334390Incentives00821362151.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y