Amidst the risk assessments, results frameworks, and implementation arrangements of any World Bank-financed project, it’s easy to lose sight of the impact that education projects can have on individuals, especially students and teachers. To launch our higher education project in Tajikistan, we used a youth contest to tie the project to personal success stories.
We asked young people in Tajikistan between the ages of 18-25 to tell us in an email of 100 words: why is higher education important to you? How is it impacting your life? Entries could be submitted in Tajik, Russian, or English.
Since the contest was the first of its kind in Tajikistan, we didn’t know what to expect. To spread the word, we engaged the leader of a youth-oriented NGO in Tajikistan to email, telephone, and visit higher education institutions. Different universities posted contest details to their websites and social media pages.
A few months ago, I met with over 100 undergraduate and graduate students at seven different technical institutions in the Indian states of Maharashtra and Karnataka, as part of the Government of India – World Bank supported Technical Education Quality Improvement Program (TEQIP II). It took a bit of time for all of us to feel comfortable – how awkward can it get when you are summoned to participate in a meeting with a guest visitor? But, ultimately, we were able to talk freely and even joke a bit.
Kenyatta University (KU) has 50,000 students, and because of the national momentum on education, enrollment is expected to increase to 70,000 in the next two years. The only problem with this huge step forward has been housing all of these new students; currently, the university’s 22 hostels house only about 10,000 undergraduate students. KU’s status quo-shattering PPP will result in housing for 10,000 more students, at the same time marking it as the first public institution to deliver a PPP project under Kenya’s Public Private Partnership Act of 2013.
For the 10,000 graduate and undergraduate students who will now be able to live on campus, this PPP earns an “A” for a different reason – it’s the first time these students will have access to regulated, fairly priced accommodations with no commute or accompanying transportation charges to class. And by living on campus, these students can safely study long into the night at the library and other university facilities – which is critical to the intellectual development of this next generation.
The right time + the right partner + the right place = the right PPP
Until recently, Kenyan students graduating from high school were typically forced to wait two years before registering at universities, due to backlogs created in the late 1990s as a result of student unrests and lecturer strikes that led to long closures of educational institutions. In the past few years, however, the University Joint Admission Board, working through government, decided to reduce the backlog by one year. Numbers tell the rest of the story: nationwide, university student enrollments grew from 96,000 to 160,000 in 2015. In addition, the free primary education introduced in 2002 tripled the number of students in primary schools, which also energized enrollment. Predictably, these two positive developments stressed the capacity of university facilities, and Kenyatta University has been struggling to meet the need for students’ accommodation.
While the shea tree is known for its nuts, used to produce a butter to which myriad benefits have been attributed (skin and nutritional, in particular), much less is known about the caterpillars that feed on its leaves. And this is precisely what a young man from Burkina Faso has set out to change.
An IFOP Survey (fr) published in 2010 reveals that in France, 30% of young people aged 15 to 24 do volunteer work. This is a good average when compared to the rest of Europe. But why be satisfied with 30% when all young French people have the wherewithal to contribute to the cause of their choice? What good is it for youth to be full of energy and bursting with ideas if others cannot benefit from it?
Heloise, Radia, Lea, and Julliette are students at Sciences Po Paris who looked for ways to encourage young people to get involved. How could they help others understand that everyone has an important part to play? That even if they are young, even if they do not yet have the right to vote, they still can make a difference?
And that’s how they came up with the idea to go on a trip.
We launched South Asia’s first regional report, ‘More and Better Jobs in South Asia’ in a series of events in Dhaka early last week.
Through events including a seminar with youth at the University of Dhaka, a formal report launch the next day, a TV interview with the South Asia Chief Economist, Kalpana Kochchar, and an op-ed in the leading English language newspaper, the report helped generate discussion on core economic challenges facing Bangladesh, as job creation are highly correlated with the challenges of faster growth.
Bangladesh, along with other South Asian countries, has seen steady job growth and a substantial decrease in poverty over the past three decades. The country has added nearly 1.2 million new jobs every year over the last ten years, and this has been accompanied by increasing real wages and declining poverty amongst all categories of workers. This performance will have to be improved in the future, owing to Bangladesh's early progress in its demographic transition. With substantial reductions in infant and child mortality following a significant decline in fertility rates, Bangladesh's working age population is growing more rapidly than its young and old dependents. In turn, this can be attributed to Bangladesh’s success in nurturing the desire for smaller families, through its reproductive health program as well as its emphasis on girls’ education.
Last December, I wanted to find out why so many children near my university in rural Nepal dropped out of school . I went to more than 30 homes. Parents gave several reasons, but the main one was that they believed work was more beneficial than education. You can read some of their comments in my blog post.
An unmistakable sense of achievement and enthusiasm emanated through the halls of the 7th South Asia Economics Student Meet held in Colombo, Sri Lanka last month. The theme of Economic Freedom and Poverty Reduction in South Asia brought together 192 of the top economics undergraduates from universities throughout the region to showcase their economic knowledge and talent.
Demonstrating superior knowledge, creativity, and critical thinking skills; the participants exchanged ingenious ideas in exploring creative solutions to regional economic challenges while making new friendships to pave the way for greater mutual learning as emerging leaders and future policy makers.
Students from universities in Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka participated in the 3-day conference focusing on economic freedom. As Professor Bishwambher Pyakuryal from Tribhuvan University in Nepal noted, “countries with higher degrees of economic freedom also tend to have higher incomes and levels of development.”
At a candid discussion yesterday with African ministers of education and a range of education experts from the public and private sectors, one thing was very clear – that higher education was recognized by everyone in the room as being critical for Africa’s development in the 21st century. All participants—from the Gambia’s education minister, who pointed out that his country went without a university for 30 years after independence and was facing a severe resource gap, to his counterpart in Senegal who wanted to catch up with Tunisia on the number of students enrolled in universities—agreed that higher education was key to diversifying Africa’s growing economies and reducing their dependence on natural resource extraction.
There’s another reason higher education is so important in Africa—the region has burgeoning numbers of young people, some 7 to 10 million of whom knock on the doors of the labor market every year. These young people constitute a huge opportunity for Africa. Yet of today’s unemployed in the region, a full 60 percent are youth. Good quality, relevant education that goes well beyond the primary stage will turn out the types of employable graduates and professionals that Africa so urgently needs. Doctors, nurses, lawyers, engineers, and entrepreneurs—but also agriculturists and environmentalists. This morning’s news about intensifying drought in West Africa’s Sahel region, with 10 million people thought to be short of food, only underscores the great urgency to build human resource bases in each country that can help tackle the environmental and health issues that confront Africa.