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'All People Want to Do Is Live Their Lives'

Elizabeth Howton's picture

"All people want to do is live their lives." Dr. Suneeta Singh made that simple yet powerful statement during a panel discussion on “Empowering Gender Minorities in South Asia” on March 14, 2012 at the World Bank. Singh, a former Bank staffer and CEO of consulting firm Amaltas, spoke via videoconference from Delhi, India, while Nepal’s first openly gay elected official, Sunil Babu Pant, dialed in from Kathmandu.World Bank panel discussion on gender indentity in South Asia

Pant told the story of how he built a grassroots movement of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered (GLBT) people in Nepal, beginning in 2001. A turning point was in 2007, when the Supreme Court ruled that gay and transgendered people “are natural” and mandated certain benefits and an end to discriminatory laws. Today, the country is drafting a new constitution, and Pant said that if passed, it will be one of the most progressive in the world with regard to the rights of sexual and gender minorities.

2012 Social Media as a Tool for Citizen Feedback

Victoire Ngounoue's picture

Un Forum I-Social pour la Promotion de la Santé et la Bonne Gouvernance au Cameroun.More often than not, “we” criticize the “system” for being corrupt; yet it is simply a reflection of what we make of it. For example, what would happen if “we” decided never to collect bribes from users in our health service system? Or if we implemented and respected the rule of ‘first come, first served’ instead of paying or collecting bribes for faster service delivery? What would happen when it is brought to our knowledge that there are irregular practices operating within our health centers?

These questions are for everyone, particularly for authorities in health centers. These kinds of questions are being answered by winners of the Cameroon 2011 Development Marketplace competition. Nowadays, advances in ICT tools and social media channels provide us with various ways to monitor and expose corrupt practices. When I first visited the website of I Paid a Bribe by the Janaagraha Centre for Citizenship and Democracy, I was amazed by the innovation, frightened by testimonies, and thankful to those who had the courage to report irregular practices. My next move while browsing the website was to check if Cameroon was amongst those countries participating on this platform. Unfortunately not!

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.

The World Challenge is Back!

Dougg Jimenez's picture

2 Weeks left to nominate and win US$20,000!

 

The World Challenge LogoFor the 7th consecutive year the World Challenge is searching for grassroots community projects that promote sustainable development through innovation and original thinking. Their mission is simple: to reward small businesses which have found solutions to some of the world's most pressing problems.

If you have what it takes, they would like to hear from you. Please check their website and fill in an application form. You have until the 19th of June, at midnight. Their judging panel will select the best 12 entries to be filmed by BBC World News and featured in a special ad series in Newsweek magazine.

Development Marketplace in India supports the vision and ‘can-do’ spirit of social entrepreneurs

Kirsten Spainhower's picture

Satyan Mishra, founder of DrishteeDrishtee is a network of over 14,000 rural enterprises that provides villages in India with access to internet connections, consumer products and critical community services.

Brainchild of Indian national Satyan Mishra, the Drishtee model is perfecting a “last mile delivery system” to reach villages that governments are unable to.

Mishra’s success was due in part to the faith that Global Development Marketplace (DM) — a Bank sponsored partnership that provides grant funding to support testing and scaling up of innovative ideas — had in his idea. In 2003 he received a $68,100 from DM allowing him to transform a budding idea into reality and scale up into three states: Assam, Bihar, and Uttar Pradesh.

“I am going to be the leader of my country.”

Anita Ayers Henderlight's picture

A U.S. congresswoman from Arizona was shot. The Hollywood Foreign Press was handing out Golden Globes to the entertainment industry. The White House was preparing for a visit from China’s president. The people of Southern Sudan were announcing preliminary results of a vote for independence from their Northern counterpart.

 All of these headline events are worthy of attention. One event that did not make a headline is the one that will forever be embedded in my memory. It’s a development worker’s dream come true. After years of advocating for the rights of young women and girls, of fundraising to make education accessible to females in a traditionally patriarchal society, and of dreaming about a world where girls feel free from oppression to express their opinions and beliefs with confidence, I received an important phone call.

Can Russia Build A Silicon Valley?

Vivek Wadhwa's picture

A few months ago, I wrote about why I believed that Russia’s planned “science city” was destined for failure, in my BusinessWeek column. I predicted that it would follow the path of the hundreds of cluster development projects before it. Political leaders would hold press conferences to claim credit for advancing science and technology; management consultants would earn hefty fees; real-estate barons would reap fortunes; and as always happens, taxpayers would be left holding the bag. You don’t read about the failures of tech clusters all over the world, in countries like Japan, Egypt, Malaysia, and in many regions of the United States. That’s because they die slow, silent deaths. And that is the way nearly all government-sponsored innovation efforts go.

Given my scathing criticism, I had expected the Russian Federation to declare me persona non grata. Instead, I got an urgent call from Ellis Rubinstein, president of the New York Academy of Sciences.  He said that the Honorable Ilya Ponomarev, head of the high-tech subcommittee of the Russian State Duma (Russia’s parliament) had asked the academy to prepare a detailed report on this subject. And they wanted my input. Ellis also asked whether I would accompany his team to Russia to discuss the issue.  I wasn’t sure if this was an elaborate scheme to have me locked up in a Russian gulag, but I hold Ellis in such high regard that I agreed.

The iPod for Development

Kirsten Spainhower's picture

Photo Courtesy of Lifeline EnergyThe Lifeplayer is being billed as the new iPod for development. Kristine Pearson Lifeline Energy CEO, believes that this device will enable rural populations to leap across the digital divide and access vital information in ways they could hardly have imagined.

 

The Lifeplayer is an oversized MP3 device that can be pre-loaded to hold 64GB of educational content. It can also download audio content from the internet or record live voice or radio programs for playback later. With a wireless solar panel and a hand-wound crank, the Lifeplayer can even be used to charge mobile phones.

New York Times review of the FailFaire on ICT in Development...

Edith Wilson's picture

So here's another view of the gathering last week, from New York Times and International Herald Tribune reporter Stephanie Strom...  Interesting how she appreciated the humor and relaxed nature of the FailFaire -- she's right, making people comfortable when they are talking about frustrations and deadends is important. 

www.nytimes.com/2010/08/17/technology/17fail.html

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