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More on SMS use in education in Pakistan

Michael Trucano's picture

can you hear me now?In the classic Ernest Hemingway novel The Sun Also Rises, Scottish war veteran Mike Campbell is asked how he went bankrupt.  His answer: "Two ways. Gradually and then suddenly."

This pithy response  is in many regards an accurate description of how the World Bank has considered of the use of mobile technologies as part of its support for international development efforts over the past decade.  As part of its 'Innovation Days' event this week, the World Bank showcasing new approaches to some long-standing development challenges.  Judging by many of the exhibits and discussions going on related to the use of mobile phones, it is clear that what was for a number of years a rather fringe topic of conversation among small pockets of people here -- primarily those working in the ICT sector and on microfinance -- has now exploded into the consciousness of World Bank and other international donor staff working in most sectors.

Making an Impact in Education

David Barth's picture

Special guest blogger David Barth is the Director of the Office of Education at USAID, which recently released its five-year plan for global education. Below he draws parallels with USAID's vision and the World Bank's new Education Strategy.

As USAID moves towards implementation of a new education strategy, we need to pause to consider whether our core assumptions are valid, not just in theory, but in practice.  Our recent education policy colloquium, co-hosted with the World Bank and the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab, highlighted the fact that there are no automatic solutions, and no silver bullets.  But by using the wide range of available evaluation tools such as econometrics, randomized control trials, rigorous qualitative studies, and the knowledge that we accumulate with our local partners, we can increase the probability that funds invested in education will yield greater results.

E-Reading in Africa

Michael Trucano's picture
a, b, c, d, ... E?!
a, b, c, d, ... E?!

Back in 2008, a World Bank study on Textbooks and School Library Provision in Secondary Education in Sub-Saharan Africa [pdf] noted that "There is little or no evidence in any of the 19 countries reviewed of any systematic approach to, or consideration of, the full range of secondary textbook cost reduction strategies", adding that "Only 1 out of 19 countries studied (Botswana) had adequate textbook provision at close to a 1:1 ratio for all subjects and all grades."

In other words: There aren't enough textbooks for most students in Africa, and what is available is too expensive.

A number of groups are looking at this reality and wondering if the use of inexpensive e-book readers may be able to help.  One such group at the World Bank is exploring an e-book pilot initiative in Nigeria (which has been examined previously on the EduTech blog). This pilot is looking at what it might take to deliver textbooks in digital formats for reading by secondary school students on dedicated e-readers, and what might happen as a result.  It is not just looking at the use of official textbooks, however.  The project team is also seeking to investigate the potential impact on educational achievement of making small libraries of digital books available to students on e-readers.  In doing so, it is intrigued by studies such as Family scholarly culture and educational success: Books and schooling in 27 nations, which found that

Measuring Afghan Media

Shanthi Kalathil's picture

A newly released assessment of the Afghan media, conducted by Altai Consulting with funding from USAID, is noteworthy for a couple of reasons. First, its findings shed valuable light on the current state of Afghanistan's media, as well as Afghans' perceptions of the media. One of the more interesting findings is that many Afghans praise state-run network RTA, despite its government bias, partly because the privately run stations are considered too "uncontrolled." The study highlights the importance people accord to respect for local culture, as well as their distaste for divisive politics. Ultimately, though, the roles many Afghans want their media to play - watchdog, agenda-setter, and provider of relevant information (such as on national reconstruction) - coincide with the "ideal" roles of the media enumerated in the recent CommGAP-published edited volume Public Sentinel. An interesting case of academia and the real world meshing, ever so slightly.

Scaling Up Nutrition: Remembering the 'Forgotten MDG'

Julia Ross's picture

April 24, 2010- Washington DC. World Bank/IMF Spring Meetings. Meeting for a high-level nutrition roundtable in Washington—co-hosted by Canada, Japan, the United States, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and the World Bank—ministers and other senior representatives heard how better nutrition. John Rwangombwa, Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Rwanda

The consensus at today’s high-level meeting on “Scaling Up Nutrition” was this: the world can do better for its hungry children.  Many of the Ministers and donor agency leaders who spoke at the event acknowledged the global commitment to fighting malnutrition had fallen short.  As many as 3 million mothers and young children die each year due to lack of nutritious food.

OECD figures show that development aid for nutrition has been modest, with commitments of less than $300 million a year – one reason why nutrition has been labeled the “forgotten” Millennium Development Goal.

Putting safe water on the development agenda

Christopher Walsh's picture

April 23, 2010 - Washington DC., World Bank/IMF Spring Meetings. Water and Sanitation Event.

Not even the eruption of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull could keep the Netherlands’ Prince of Orange, the chair of the UN Secretary General’s Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation, and the World Bank’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala from participating in a Davos-style panel discussion of solutions for the 2.6 billion people who still lack access to sanitation.

The BBC’s Katty Kay moderated today’s official Spring Meetings event, which also included South Africa’s Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs Buyelwa Patience Sonjica; Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator at USAID’s Bureau for Global Health Gloria Steele; Ek Sonn Chan from Cambodia’s General Director of the Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority; and IFC’s Executive VP Lars Thunell.

I haven’t seen the Bank’s J building mini-amphitheater filled with that much energy since, well, ever.  The standing room-only event started with a delighted Ngozi acknowledging the crowd for bringing the issue of water and sanitation to such a high level on the occasion of the Spring Meetings.


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