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Europe and Central Asia

When students are in charge of maintaining the computers in schools

Michael Trucano's picture

how may I be of service?How do you keep computers in schools in working order? Basic technical maintenance is a perennial challenge for many schools in developing countries.  The phenomenon of unused -- and unusable! -- computers in schools is all too well known to anyone who works in the field.  While it is a bit of an exaggeration to label this a 'tragedy', few could argue that this isn't a very unfortunate situation -- especially given the high costs associated with acquiring and installing such equipment, to say nothing of the learning opportunities lost when students and teachers are unable to use expensive equipment that is already paid for.

What to do about this? I regularly encounter a number of common answers to this question.

Measuring Public Opinion in Challenging Contexts

Anne-Katrin Arnold's picture

As we have discussed in other blog posts, public opinion is particularly important in countries with weak institutions of governance and accountability. Especially in fragile and conflict states, it can lend legitimacy to the government, help creating a national identity, and support governance reform. Unfortunately, public opinion is particularly hard to measure in those societies where it could be most important.

How to mainstream gender in transport? It should not be complicated for transport engineers

Julie Babinard's picture

The ambiguities surrounding the interpretation of the word gender and what it means to ‘mainstream gender’ in relation to transport could prove to be a significant obstacle to those who plan and provide transport infrastructure and services, especially in developing economies.

The necessity to ensure gender equality as a primary goal in all area(s) of social and economic development was highlighted at the United Nations Fourth World Conference held in Beijing, China in 1995 and the concept of gender mainstreaming was defined by the 1997 United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) as 'a strategy for making women's as well as men’s concerns and experiences an integral dimension of […] the policies and programs in all political, economic and societal spheres so that women and men benefit equally and inequality is not perpetuated'.

The transport sector at the World Bank has been a leader in gender mainstreaming. The transport sector, as is the case in many other aspects of cross-sectoral interventions, has been leading the way in its response to the mainstreaming effort. Significant research has been undertaken along with the delivery of successful operations to address the specific needs and constraints of men and women in transportation.

Rockstars for Reading? Education Needs Advocates

Robin Horn's picture

Against overwhelming odds, the efforts of countries and donors to pursue the Education for All (EFA) goals over the last decade have paid off.  The number of out of school children has dropped by the tens of millions, enrollment rates have surged, first grade entry has jumped substantially, completion rates have shot up, gender disparities have diminished, and other types of equity have improved in many countries, including in very large countries like China, Brazil, Indonesia, and Ethiopia.  Of course the six EFA goals and Millennium Development Goals 2 and 3 still remain to be achieved so we are anything but complacent.  Nonetheless, we have seen substantial progress. 

It is really important to recognize that in education we are talking about broad, system-wide outcomes – not just narrowly defined (albeit incredibly important) specific outcomes – for example in the health sector, improved outcomes on a few diseases.   Scores of countries around the world have made great leaps forward on education results, despite poverty, despite the fact that many donors did not meet their funding targets, and despite the fact that EFA doesn't have a Bono, a Bill Gates, or an Angelina Jolie to promote its importance.

The Story behind 50 Years of Transport Investment in the Poorest Countries

The International Development Association (IDA) is a vital, yet oddly lesser known, arm of the World Bank Group. Briefly, IDA receives donor remittances and a portion of interest payments received from World Bank lending programs and disburses these funds as interest-free grants and subsidized loans to the poorest countries in lieu of traditional lending.

Education: the 2010 Year in Review

Christine Horansky's picture

2010 was a banner year for education as global attention brought by the UN Millennium Development Goals summit in New York City spotlighted the catalytic role education plays in fighting poverty and meeting a number of critical development goals. As countries and development partners alike strive to maximize development effectiveness, investing in education has emerged as a clear priority for this reason -- as well as as part of the solution to rising unemployment, a point echoed by US President Barack Obama in last week's State of the Union. The World Bank's forthcoming Education Strategy, which launched global consultations in 2010, takes special aim at the critical need for learning to translate into skills for work and life. While the global economic downturn has threatened to slow hard-won progress, the World Bank scaled up development assistance with over $5 billion in support to education during FY2010.

To build or not to build – that is NOT the question

Elina Scheja's picture
Photo: istockphoto.com

Right after the holiday season Greece announced their controversial plan to build a 12 km long wall to stop the flood of illegal immigrants to the EU. The wall will cover only a fraction of the total length of the border and is aimed to be built in the area that is worst affected by illegal border crossings estimated to amount to 350 people every day, making Greece the leading entry point of illegal immigrants to the EU. As provocative as it may sound, in an economy that is suffering from severe difficulties and rampaging unemployment figures, blocking immigrants from entering is becoming one of the priority political actions to moderate fiscal expenses that is visible to the domestic population. Even though opponents have raised loud objections against the project, according to a recent poll 59 percent of the Greeks approved of the plan. And one has to admit it has an intuitive appeal of simplicity and logic: once you close the drain the flow will stop. Yet, as simple as it may sound, this is not how it works.
 

Top World Bank EduTech blog posts of 2010

Michael Trucano's picture

ten from 2010The World Bank EduTech blog recently had its second birthday.  As we did last year, we thought we'd gather together an idiosyncratic collection of 'top posts' and themes from the past year exploring issues related to the use of information and communication technologies to benefit education in developing countries.

Every week, the blog informally attempts to highlight particular initiatives, studies and emerging trends that we think -- based on regular interactions with government officials, NGOs, researchers and companies active in this area in developing and developed countries around the world -- might be of interest to a wider audience. It is also one small part of a larger movement at the World Bank -- symbolized perhaps most potently by the institution's Open Data initiative -- to provide greater transparency to some of the sorts of information, conversations and discussions that previously were accessible only to limited groups of stakeholders and partners. At least in the case of the World Bank's work related to ICT use in education, blogging has proven to be a useful mechanism to share perspectives and 'think aloud in public' along with our partners, expert practitioners and our critics, as well as with people who are simply interested in a particular topic.

Without further ado ...

Do Rigidities in Employment Protection Stifle Entry into Export Markets?

Murat Seker's picture

Editor's Note: Murat Seker recently presented the findings of the paper discussed in the following blog post at a session of the FPD Academy. Please see the FPD Academy page on the All About Finance blog for more information on this monthly World Bank event series.

Many studies point to the importance of firms that export to economic growth and development. These firms tend to be larger, more productive, and grow faster than non-exporting firms. These findings have focused policymakers’ attention on the importance of international trade for economic growth. From the 1980s to the 2000s traditional trade policies have improved significantly—applied tariff rates across a wide range of countries with varying levels of income have decreased from around 25 percent to 10 percent. However, improvements in trade policies are often not enough to reap the full benefits of international trade. To be fully effective, they require complementary reforms that improve the business environment for firms. In a recent paper on Rigidities in Employment Protection and Exporting, I focus on a particular aspect of the business environment, namely employment protection legislation (EPL), and show how these regulations relate to the decisions of firms to enter export markets.1

Evidence shows that export market entry is associated with significant changes and adjustments in firm performance around the time at which exporting begins. In data collected via the Enterprise Surveys project, the employment levels of firms that subsequently enter export markets ("future-exporters") grow by 13%, four times higher than the growth rate of firms that don’t enter export markets.2 Bernard and Jensen (1999) find that the growth premium for these future-exporters as compared to non-exporters in the U.S. is 1.4% per year for employment and 2.4% for shipments.

Media Regulation: Who Needs Your Protection?

Anne-Katrin Arnold's picture

Freedom of expression and media freedom - most contentious issues not only in autocracies but, seemingly increasingly, also in democracies. It's a fine line between regulating the media and strangling it. Who should be protected by media regulation? The media? The public? Freedom of expression? The government? National security?

Let's start with the media. Does the media need protection? Surely - at least to some extend media systems need to be shielded from being overwhelmed by economic and political interests. If we assume that a free and balanced media is fundamental to a healthy balance between the state and its citizens there need to be safeguards that allow journalists to report without fear of repercussions.


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