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Europe and Central Asia

Learning from Becta

Michael Trucano's picture

an axe falls ... where will the chips land? | image attribution at bottomThe recent news that Becta, the UK's ICT/education agency, is to be abolished later this year has been met with shock in many quarters outside the UK. 

(I don't pretend to know how this has been understood within the UK itself, and I have no comment on internal political matters in the UK that led to this action. I don't confess to any special insight or expertise in this area ... but even if I did, it would not be my place to comment on them in a World Bank blog.  Others are of course more free to do so.)

Many developing countries have looked to Becta as a general touchstone for leading thought and practice related to the use of ICTs in education. This is especially the case with regard to the research and  huge number of influential publications that have been put out by Becta over the years, which are widely consumed and cited by academics, government officials and consultants active around the world in planning and implementing ICT-related initiatives in formal education systems.

What Will Economic Recovery Look Like in Eastern Europe?

Paulo Correa's picture

Editor's Note: The following post was contributed by Paulo Correa, Lead Economist for Private Sector Development in the Europe and Central Asia Region of the World Bank.

International debate on the financial crisis has shifted attention to the potential drivers of the future economic recovery. The countries of Eastern Europe were hit hard by the global financial crisis, after having long enjoyed abundant international financing and large inflows of foreign direct investment that brought them high rates of growth, mainly through the expansion of domestic consumption. With the slowing of international trade and the indefinite tightening of financial conditions, sustained economic recovery will depend to a greater extent on productivity gains and growth in exports. 

Two important sources of expansion in firms’ productivity are learning and R&D. Economic research tells us that, depending on size and survival rate, younger firms tend to grow faster than older firms. Because the learning process presents diminishing returns, younger firms, which are in the early phases of learning, will learn faster and thus achieve higher productivity gains than older firms. Innovative firms are expected to grow faster too – R&D tends to enhance firm-productivity, while innovation leads to better sales performance and a higher likelihood of exporting.

The Cross-Over Effect: Education Can Be a Fault Line or the Bedrock for Development

Christine Horansky's picture

Haiti's Ministry of Education is leveled by the Jan 2010 earthquakeWhat is the relationship between education and geological processes? At first glance, some might think: Not much. One concerns the opening and enlightenment of the mind; the other is as old, rock-solid and unpredictable as the Earth itself.

But the collapse of so many buildings and homes that killed more than 200,000 people in the Haiti earthquake was in large part due to an utter "lack of qualified architects, urban planners, builders and zoning experts," points out a recent article in the New York Times.

In the tragedy of these moments it becomes painfully clear what a lack of adequate education and training has meant. Even worse, such revelation shines a light on very hard questions for posterity. What will the future of a country look like that has lost so many of its doctors, teachers and future leaders?

Is Russia the second-largest sender of remittances? Or is it Saudi Arabia?

Ani Silwal's picture

Saudi Arabia was the second largest sender of remittances (after the United States) from 1988 to 2006. In 2007 and 2008, it was displaced by Russia as the second largest sender of remittances (figure 1). Flows from Russia have increased rapidly in recent years, reaching $26.1 billions in 2008. However, this rapid growth was interrupted in 2009, when remittance outflows fell by 29% to $18.6 billions in 2009. We don't have 2009 outflows data for Saudi Arabia yet but based on inflows data from Bangladesh, Pakistan, and the Philippines, Saudi Arabia's remittances outflows have not fallen much. Saudi Arabia was likely the second largest sender of remittances in 2009.

There are two possible explanations for why remittances from Saudi Arabia have been more stable than those from Russia (see Migration and Development Brief 12 for details). First, oil prices are more closely related to economic activity (thus, better employment prospects for migrants) in Russia than in Saudi Arabia. As major oil-exporters, both countries benefited from the surge in oil prices in the last few years. But only in Russia did remittance outflows move closely with oil prices (figure 2). This was not the case in Saudi Arabia, which has had ambitious development plans for a while and an aggressive counter-cyclical fiscal policy. Second, Russia’s borders with its neighbors are much more porous than those of Saudi Arabia, which enforces immigration quotas strictly. Russia’s porous borders have allowed migrants from neighboring countries to move in an out in response to changes in labor demand.

DM2008 Winner Helps Open Fiber Lab to Benefit Mongolian Herders

Tom Grubisich's picture

DM2008 award winner Volunteer Service Organization (VSO) has co-established a wool and cashmere fiber laboratory in rural Mongolia that will help Montolian herders and traders gain entry to the more profitable premium fiber market.  

The English-language UB (Ulaanbaatar) Post published this story on the lab.

 

With their fiber graded for quality, 300 Mongolia farmers could see their income increasing up to 25 percent.  Up to now, the farmers, without grading, had to sell their wool and cashmere fiber as lower-priced raw material.  Mongolian traders will also benefit from the grading as they participate in the international fiber market.
 

Segregated, Ghettoized, Polarized and Insular? Who, Me?

Naniette Coleman's picture

A few weeks ago David Brooks, Op-Ed Columnist for the New York Times, unearthed the roots of an important discussion that began with Cass Sunstein’s 2001 essay entitled “The Daily We: Is the internet really a blessing for democracy?” Brooks’ take on Sunstein branches in two directions:  tension and composure. Tension because “the internet might lead us to a more ghettoized, polarized and insular electorate”. Composure due to recent work by Matthew Gentzkow and Jesse M. Shapiro called “Ideological Segregation Online and Offline” which presents a different take on our what Sunstein called “personalization”. 

The Power of 1-to-1 Computing for Education

Nicole Goldstein's picture

Is he learning? The month of February played host to the OECDInter-American Development Bank– World Bank’s international knowledge sharing on '1-to-1 computing' in Austria. This was the first event of its kind looking specifically at the idea that, if technology is to fundamentally help transform educational practices, this can only be done where each  student has her/his own personal computing device. 

1-to-1 computing is not only happening in OECD countries: every student in Uruguay has her/his own laptop.  Peru and Rwanda have made massive commitments to purchase laptops for students, and pilots are underway in many additional developing countries.These interventions are based on the belief that by enabling every pupil to connect to the Internet, and to each other, to access valuable resources irrespective of place and time, countries  can help to bridge the digital divide while at the same time transforming education and increasing learning through the use of Information Communication Technologies (ICTs).

Given the context of this event, I thought I would provide a timely survey of the existing research on their use in education. I also advise you to check out  Michael Trucano’s one year old blog, Edutech which provides incisive analysis on a wide array of ICTs in Education topics.

Development Marketplace Honors Earth Day

Tom Grubisich's picture

Sustainable development has been one of Development Marketplace's themes since its beginning 10 years ago.  It's hard to count all the DM winners and finalists who have come forward with innovative "green" ideas that they wanted to share.  Just a few examples:

One of the winners in DM2007 -- themed "Health, Nutrition, Population" -- was a Massachusetts Institute of Technology-sponsored project to develop clean-burning cooking charcoal from agricultural waste.  Haiti's traditional cooking fuel often comes from wood.  But wood burning produces high pollution that is a cause of widespread respiratory disease.  Substituting charcoal for cooking not only improves the health of Haitian families, but also means fewer trees -- a major protection against soil erosion -- are cut down.

A pivotal moment in the World Bank's history

Peter Stephens's picture

These Spring Meetings will probably be remembered for the capital increase – the first in 20 years – and the historic changes to the voice and representation of developing countries within the Bank. They are important milestones, and deserve to be recognized. But something much more profound is happening within the Bank, something that historians will look back on and regard as a pivotal moment in the organization’s evolution.

The key to understanding what is underway is Mr. Zoellick’s speech to the Woodrow Wilson Center on April 14. This was probably the most important speech by a Bank president since McNamara’s Nairobi speech of 1973 – even more important, I would argue, than Mr. Wolfensohn’s 1996 speech on corruption.  For the first time in many years, the Bank is at the leading edge of thinking about global trends. Mr. Zoellick’s blunt declaration that the era of the Third World is over and a new, more complex arrangement is emerging, challenges everyone at the Bank and everyone working in development to think and act differently. It sets in context why the reforms underway across many areas of the Bank are really necessary, why we need a new approach to investment lending, to knowledge, to our location and operation as a global bank. 

Peter Stephens on World Bank Reform

The end of the Third World does not mean that there are no poor countries, or that all countries are equally advantaged. It means the landscape has changed so much that our thinking and behavior must shift. To think of China, India, Brazil, Mexico, Russia, South Africa and Malaysia as developing countries seems anachronistic. Yes they have poverty and challenges, but… “developing”? They play a regional and global role of real significance. They have civil servants, academics and businesspeople as skilled as (and many more skilled than) World Bank staff. Developing just doesn’t capture it.

World Bank gets capital increase and reforms voting power

Sameer Vasta's picture

2010 World Bank Group / International Monetary Fund Spring Meetings Development Committee Meeting.

At a press conference earlier today, World Bank President announced that the Development Committee approved a capital increase, as well as proposed voting reform for the Bank. In his remarks, Mr. Zoellick talked about how these changes will affect the institution, as well as international development on the whole:

"This extra capital can be deployed to create jobs and protect the most vulnerable through investments in infrastructure, small and medium sized enterprises, and safety nets. The change in voting-power helps us better reflect the realities of a new multi-polar global economy where developing countries are now key global players. In a period when multilateral agreements between developed and developing countries have proved elusive, this accord is all the more significant."

A summary of the changes approved by the Development Committee:

  • An increase of $86.2 billion in capital for the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD).
  • A $200 million increase in the capital of the IFC.
  • A 3.13 percentage point increase in the voting power of Developing and Transition countries (DTCs) at IBRD, bringing them to 47.19 percent.
  • An increase in the voting power of Developing and Transition Countries at IFC to 39.48 percent.
  • An agreement to review IBRD and IFC shareholdings every five years with a commitment to equitable voting power between developed countries and DTCs over time.

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