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Scaling up

Weekly links April 3: scaling up in perspective, surveying with mobile apps, and more…

David McKenzie's picture
  • Pew research on “what we learned about surveying with mobile apps”: “Immediate responses and feedback can be helpful and revealing” but “App response rates were lower than Web rates overall and for each of the 14 surveys we conducted”
  • Freakonomics asks “How do we know what really works in healthcare?” – a podcast about RCTs. I like this comment from a doctor about scaling up “I think Medicare’s comment was that it’s really hard to do. We’re not sure we could scale it. Well, we f***ing scaled open heart surgery. We scaled separating Siamese twins. We scaled transplanting hearts and lungs, curing complex cancers. We’re sequencing the human genome. You’re telling me we can’t have a nurse go out and check on your mom or grandmother in a highly organized, well-structured, well-trained intervention for which someone’s already doing it for hundreds and hundreds of patients every day?”

A different approach to scaling up educational technology initiatives

Michael Trucano's picture
the way most projects 'scale up' just might yield inequitable results
the way most projects 'scale up'
just might yield inequitable results

Much is made of the necessity to 'scale up' in international development circles. Here at the World Bank, a quick search on our web site reveals publications and conferences with titles like Scaling Up Knowledge Sharing for Development, Global Scaling up Rural Sanitation Project, Scaling Up Local & Community Driven Development [pdf], Directions in hydropower: Scaling up for development, Scaling Up Affordable Health Insurance, Scaling up School Feeding -- the list goes on and on (and on). 'Scaling up', it would appear, is a goal (and a challenge) across pretty much all development sectors. How can you achieve 'scale'?

It can be deceptively easy to propose a solution to a problem when you don't really understand the problem (especially if you think you do!). The 'failure' of many projects to introduce new technologies in education can, to some degree, be traced back to this simple truism. If you are pointed in the wrong direction, technology can help you move in that direction more quickly. To paraphrase the technologist Bruce Schneier (who was himself paraphrasing someone else): If you think technology can solve your education problems, then you don't understand the problems and you don't understand the technology. The solution lies in process and systems -- and people. Technology can help in all of these areas -- but first we need to make sure we understand what it really is that we need to do.

Sports Program Helps Children Overcome Despair of Poverty

Matthew Spacie's picture

Parvati Pujari, 21, is training to be a football coach. When she is not playing football, Parvati works at Magic Bus as a mentor. She is also completing a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce from the Mumbai University.

What makes all this special is that Parvati is from one of Mumbai’s 4 million extremely poor families who live on less than INR 592 – (USD 11.9) per person, per month. Her parents were constructions workers in Mumbai, helping build a five star Mall in central Mumbai. After construction finished, they moved into one 8 x 12 foot temporary room which floods every monsoon. “Our living condition is such that we get to see all seasons at close quarters,” says Parvati. Parvati’s family consists of nine people, making it difficult to make sure everyone gets enough to eat. “We mostly make do with a khichdi [rice and lentils],” she says.

What changed for Parvati was her belief in her own power to change her own – and her family’s – future by making sure she used every opportunity that was available in the system, but not used. Parvati completed school even as her girl friends were married off as children. While her peers were struggling with premature pregnancies and its attendant morbidity, Parvati was taking activity-and sport-based coaching classes for younger children, taking a job, working on her football course, and traveling abroad to raise funds for Magic Bus.

In the twelve years she has spent with Magic Bus, Parvati has demonstrated what is possible, even for the very poor to do to break out of poverty.