By 2035, Cameroon aspires to join the ranks of industrialized, upper-middle-income nations with low poverty rates, strong economic growth, and a functioning democracy. To realize that goal, the government’s strategy (Document de Stratégie pour la Croissance et l’Emploi, DSCE) envisions annual GDP growth rates of 5.5 percent and the creation tens of thousands of formal jobs each year. With a relatively more diversified economy than its more oil-dependent peers in the CEMAC region, the country seemed well-poised to achieve its objectives until at least halfway through the decade. However, Cameroon has been facing a combination of external headwinds and internal constraints that present challenges to its development aspirations, poverty remains high at 37.5 percent (in 2014).
In the Africa Chief Economist’s Office, we seek to generate knowledge on key development issues around the continent. We also host the Gender Innovation Lab, which – as the name suggests – specifically generates evidence on how to close the gender gap in Africa. Over the course of 2018, we’ve produced a range of products (regional reports and updates), but we also produce academic articles and book chapters seeking to answer key, specific development questions.
Last month, I attended the International Family Planning Conference in Kigali, Rwanda, where policymakers from across the world gathered to strategize about ways to achieve a demographic dividend—the increase in gross domestic product (GDP) per capita that comes from having a young and productive labor force driving economic growth that is faster than population growth. I was heartened to be joined by ministers of finance and representatives of the highest levels of government, all of whom agreed that women’s empowerment–which centrally includes access to reproductive health services–-is essential for inclusive, sustainable growth.
On Sunday, many fathers around the world received cards and gifts from their children in celebration of Father’s Day. But fathers who have been following the academic and policy debates in the development community may feel somewhat exasperated that the role of men in the household and of fathers in raising children gets so little mention. It is the role of mothers that generally takes the spotlight; but what about fathers?
Despite much progress over the last two decades, girls still have lower levels of educational attainment on average than boys at the secondary school level in Uganda. In part this is because many girls are married or have children before the age of 18—often before they are physically and emotionally ready to become wives and mothers. Educating girls, ending child marriage, and preventing early childbearing is essential for girls to have agency, as future wives and mothers, and for Uganda to reach its full development potential.
A year ago, if you had asked me how best a child could reach its potential, I would have looked through my myopic, public health, physician’s lens, and responded that making sure children (0-5years) are healthy and well-nourished is all it takes.
However, six months into the World Bank’s “Africa Early Years” fellowship and I realize I would have been abysmally wrong.
Un bon proviseur, ça change tout.
« L’on pense communément qu’un bon proviseur est la clef d’une école à succès. » C’est aussi ce que pensent Branch, Hanushek, et Rivkin dans leur étude sur les effets du rôle des proviseurs dans l’apprentissage des élèves. Mais comment peut-on mesurer la qualité d’un proviseur ? En utilisant une base de données provenant du Texas, aux États-Unis, ils ont employé la méthode de la valeur ajoutée, employée d’habitude pour mesurer la performance des enseignants. Ils ont contrôlé les informations générales sur les élèves (telles que le genre, l’origine ethnique, et un indicateur de pauvreté) ainsi que les résultats d’examens scolaires de l’année précédente. Ils se sont ensuite demandés comment l’apprentissage de ces élèves évoluait lorsque l’école changeait de proviseur ? Ils ont trouvé que lorsque la qualité d’un proviseur augmente d’un écart type de 1, l’apprentissage des élèves augmentait d’un écart type de 0,11. Même après quelques ajustements statistiques additionnels, leurs estimations les plus rigoureuses montrent « qu’une augmentation d’un écart type de 1 dans la qualité du proviseur, se traduit pour un écart type de plus ou moins 0,05 en bénéfice d’apprentissage moyen pour l’élève, soit, l’équivalent de deux mois additionnels d’apprentissage. »
As I write these lines, I am sitting in an airplane returning from my first mission in Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo. My mission was for the education sector, and included visiting a few lower secondary public schools. As I listen to the pilot’s welcoming message, I find myself thinking about the children I met at the schools, and trying to assess the odds of their becoming pilots, engineers or scientists.
There has been an increase in attention on Africa’s changing population. Academics, development organizations and the media (among others, BBC, The Guardian, Financial Times, The Economist) have highlighted Africa’s late demographic transition – the population is young and will remain so for a long time, as fertility rates are not falling there at the same rate as they have fallen in the rest of the world.