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November 2017

Girls’ education and the future of a nation

Sri Mulyani Indrawati's picture
School girls in Berastagi, North Sumatra, Indonesia. © Axel Drainville via CreativeCommons
School girls in Berastagi, North Sumatra, Indonesia. © Axel Drainville via Creative Commons

In 1978, we both started our high school education in our home city of Semarang. Our alma mater is located on a major artery in the heart of the city, and occupies a beautiful Dutch colonial building. The robustness of its architecture befits the reputation of our school at that time: a school led by a passionate principal who promoted discipline and effective learning.

In our school, every boy and girl had an equal opportunity to learn and thrive. This is something Raden Ajeng Kartini –national heroine and a pioneer for girls and women’s rights in Indonesia– had fought for. The school was fully equipped with labs for chemistry, physics, biology, and foreign languages. We were fortunate to have the opportunity to receive quality education at one of the best public schools in Semarang. Our school also fared well at the provincial and national level. 

Packing a library of knowledge in a carry-on: Attending the Public Debt Management Workshop in Vienna

Mario Augusto Caetano Joao's picture
© World Bank


I travel light. Usually a carry-on is all I need for business related travel. Attending the Government Debt Management Strategy Design and Implementation Workshops, organized by World Bank Treasury, was no different affair. The month was July, the location was JVI Facilities in Vienna, I thought I didn’t need more luggage!

I attended the workshop wearing two different hats: as a former senior economic advisor to the Angolan government and a macro economist, I was eager to find out what I could add to my information portfolio in terms of debt management know-how; as a World Bank Group Advisor to Executive Director, I was curious about how the Bank builds capacity through training for member countries.

The Internet of Things – from hype to reality

Prasanna Lal Das's picture
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Sensors in elevators that alert government agencies to public safety risks; data from school bags to keep children safe; garbage trucks with the smarts to save cities money… The Internet of Things (IoT) will change everything. That is the conventional wisdom. We set out to look for evidence of this change in the government. How fast is it coming? Is it real? And our findings were mixed – sobering, but also encouraging.

On the plus side, we found government agencies keen to apply IoT to improve their business environment or reduce the burden on businesses while simultaneously increasing compliance. On the downside, very few IoT initiatives have been scaled beyond pilots, the business models to sustain IoT infrastructure are under-developed, and the policy landscape is woefully inadequate. There’s significant potential but it requires systematic, informed work by the government, private sector, and civil society.

Helping Brazil realize its infrastructure promise

Paul Procee's picture


Photo: LWYang | Flickr Creative Commons

Since the 1980s, investment in Brazil’s infrastructure has declined from 5% to a little above 2% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), scarcely enough to cover depreciation and far below that of most middle-income countries (see figure below). The result is a substantial infrastructure gap. Over the same period, Brazil has struggled with stagnant productivity growth. The poor status of infrastructure is broadly believed to be a key reason for Brazil’s growth malaise.

20 innovative edtech projects from around the world

Michael Trucano's picture
Also available in: Español | Français 
what did I miss?
what did I miss?
For the past two decades, I've worked on issues at the intersection of the education and technology sectors in middle- and low-income countries and emerging markets around the world. It's been a fascinating job: Over the past 20 years, I've been an advisor to, evaluator of, and/or working-level participant in, educational technology ('edtech') initiatives in over 50 such countries. When it comes to ICT use in education, the promised revolution always seems to be just around the corner. Indeed: I am regularly pitched ideas by people who note that, while many past promises about the potential of the use of new technologies in education have failed to pan out, they are confident that "this time, it's different".

At the same time, I am quite often asked to help other folks identify intriguing initiatives that might, individually and/or collectively, illuminate emerging trends and approaches in this sector:

"I'm interested in examples of innovative educational technology projects from around the world, especially those primarily focused on helping teachers and learners in developing countries. In other words: Not the usual suspects. Can you suggest a few projects and companies that I might not know about -- but should?"

I receive a version of this request most every week (sometimes even multiple times in a single day). Given the frequency of such inquiries, I thought I'd quickly highlight 20 such efforts from around the world, in the hope that people might find this useful. The hope is to point readers in the direction of some interesting projects that they might not know much about, but from which there is much we can learn. 

While I am not sure if, indeed, things will turn out to be 'different this time around', the overall volume of such projects, and the sophistication of many of them, are quite notable. There is more happening, in more places, than ever before. A number of efforts have been informed (in good ways) by past failures. That said, others will no doubt attempt to 'reinvent the flat tire' and display a characteristic common to Einstein's definition of insanity: "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results". Hopefully none of the groups profiled below will fall into that trap, but I suspect that a few of them might.

The list here, a mix of for-profit and non-profit initiatives, is deliberately idiosyncratic and non-representative (see the many caveats and explanations that follow below the list). Some of these projects are no doubt doomed to 'fail'; others will most likely be restructured more than once as they try, to borrow the words of Deng Xiaopeng, to "cross the river by feeling the stones". And maybe, just maybe, a few of them might actually turn out to be as 'transformative' as they hope to be. 

With that said, and in alphabetical order, here are:
 
20 innovative edtech projects from around the world

Raising the watermark in Tanzania’s growth and poverty reduction picture

Bella Bird's picture



Tanzania is not a country one would ordinarily expect to find in the ranks of the water- stressed. It hosts, or shares, at least eleven freshwater lakes, and is home to countless rivers, including the Great Ruaha.

Tanzania is relatively blessed with its water resources.
 
Yet over the past 25 years, the country’s population has doubled to about 53 million and the size of its economy has more than tripled. As a result, Tanzania’s per capita amount of renewable freshwater has declined, from more than 3,000m3 to about 1,600m3 per person today—below the 1,700m3 level that is internationally considered to be the threshold for water stress.

Five assumptions about bureaucracies that our data dispute

Daniel Walker's picture
 
Photo © Dominic Chavez/World Bank

This blog post is part of a series for the 'Bureaucracy Lab', a World Bank initiative to better understand the world's public officials.

In preparation for our upcoming conference – Innovating Bureaucracy (Nov 8-9; register here) – we thought it would be interesting to look across the globe at how the public sector may affirm or challenge our expectations. What characteristics do we most often associate with public sector bureaucracies? Perhaps we might think that they grow larger the older they become, or that bureaucrats are mostly older men with average educations.

How can we routinize disruption?

Maria Amelina's picture
Allô École! training for parents, primary school, Tshikapa, DRC. (Photo: Ornella Nsoki / Moonshot Global, Sandra Gubler / Voto Mobile Inc., Samy Ntumba / La Couronne)


Mobile solutions for better governance in education

Let’s look at these pictures together: villagers examining a poster, teachers putting a similar poster on the wall, adding a number to it; government officials choosing designs for a dashboard with a help of a technician.  None of these can be described as “cutting-edge technology” but these photos show moments in the life of a cutting-edge, disruptive project.

It’s the kind of project that works technical innovation into the lives of citizens and incentives to respond to the needs of these citizens into the workflows of government officials. 

Allô, École! is a mobile platform funded by Belgian Development Cooperation and executed by the Ministry of education of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), with the help of the World Bank.

Trinidad from space: using satellite imagery for better urban management

Ana I. Aguilera's picture
Foto aérea de Trinidad, Bolivia. / Banco Mundial.

The first time I heard of the Bolivian city of Trinidad was exactly 11 months ago. Although Trinidad is the 10th largest city in Bolivia, I confess I did not know much about it. The Ministry of Development Planning (MPD) had commissioned the World Bank a study on intermediate cities in Bolivia, and in my early research I learned that this was a colonial city founded in 1686 during Jesuitic Missions. Similar in its architecture and climate to the southeastern cities of my native Venezuela, Trinidad is extremely vulnerable to flooding that affect thousands of families and businesses each year.

Can Africa’s tech start-up scene rise to the next level?

Ganesh Rasagam's picture
Pitch competition at the Global Entrepreneurship Congress in Johannesburg. Photo Credit: World Bank


In the decade since mobile money first sparked international interest in African innovation, hundreds of tech hubs have sprung up across the continent; global giants like GE have rushed in to build innovation centers; and the venture capital industry has steadily grown. Nevertheless, the continent’s tech scene continues to face challenges.

The rise of African innovation has inspired thousands of new start-ups, and this trend will continue into the foreseeable future. Existing acceleration programs, however, still leave growth-stage companies in need of additional support to secure investment and scale their businesses across borders. With many of the continent’s acceleration programs lacking in quality, we hoped to introduce an innovative post-acceleration program, XL Africa.

After infoDev launched its mLabs in Kenya, Senegal, and South Africa in 2011, they introduced incubation programs that successfully supported the creation of over 100 start-ups that raised close to $15 million in investments and grant funding, and developed over 500 digital products or services. As these ecosystems and start-ups have matured, more needs to be done to improve the marketability of these companies to global and local investors.


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