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July 2012

Holding Out for the Super-Voucher: Kevin Watkins Responds to Justin Sandefur on Private v Public Education

Duncan Green's picture

Kevin Watkins (right), senior visiting research fellow at the Brookings Institution, responds to yesterday’s guest post by Justin Sandefur.

After reciting the familiar evidence on the learning achievement problems in poor countries, Justin Sandefur offers an even more familiar ‘one-stop’ solution – a market-based fix, with low-fee private schools, vouchers, and the apparently talismanic Pearson corporation leading the way to a better, smarter future. It seems that only for-profit school providers and corporate entrepreneurs know the secret of raising education standards of marginalized kids in poor countries, and that public provision is part of the problem rather than part of a potential solution.

Nothing in the research cited by Justin makes the case for his prescriptions. Let’s start by being clear about our differences.

Waiting for Superman in Lahore: Do Poor People Need Private Schools? Guest Post by Justin Sandefur

Duncan Green's picture

Public v Private provision of education is a hot and divisive topic. So let’s get started. Today, CGD’s Justin Sandefur (right) puts the case for private. Tomorrow Kevin Watkins of the Brookings Institution responds. Be warned, their posts are pretty long and very passionate. Fasten seatbelts please:

While traveling in Pakistan a couple weeks ago, I took advantage of a brief flicker of electricity to check my twitter feed, and found this from Duncan.

After years of watching broken public school systems fail to educate their children, parents in Pakistan and many other parts of the developing world have taken matters into their own hands.  Low-cost private schools are growing by leaps and bounds, especially in rural areas.  The number of private schools grew by nearly ten-fold in Pakistan from 1983 to 2000, reaching about 35% of public enrollment, doubled in India from 1993 to 2003, and tripled their enrollment share in Kenya from 1997 to 2006 — at the same time fees were abolished in Kenyan public schools! 

Can ICTs Advance Human Rights?

Shamiela Mir's picture

Can Information and Communication Technology (ICT) effectively promote the implementation of Human Rights? This was the topic of a thought-provoking presentation organized by the World Bank Institute (WBI) together with the Nordic Trust Fund in OPCS, which explores how a Human Rights lens could help inform Bank projects. The presentation on July 17, 2012 was based on a draft report developed as part of ICT4HR project under ICT4Gov program at WBI. Through various case studies, the draft report looks at both the opportunities and the challenges of effectively using ICT to implement human rights.

Weekly Wire: the Global Forum

Kalliope Kokolis's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

International Center for Journalists
Digital Map to Track Corruption Launches in Colombia

“A new digital mapping tool to track and monitor corruption in Colombia on a national scale, launched July 24th a result of our partnership with the Consejo de Redacción, a country-wide organization of investigative journalists.

The "Monitor de Corrupción" (or "Corruption Monitor") will provide journalists and citizens a platform to submit reports that will expose and map incidents of corruption.

It’s a project I anticipate will contribute to making Colombia a more transparent and stronger society. The idea for this grew out of another similar project by Knight Fellow Jorge Luis Sierra.”  READ MORE 
 

The "Education Tsunami" and How "weDevelop"

Tanya Gupta's picture

Why is this generation experiencing a “tsunami” in higher education? (as coined by President of Stanford, John L. Hennessy and then popularized by writer David Brooks) We think it may be because (thanks to technology) there has been an elemental shift in power from the education providers to the beneficiaries.  An empowered user has the ability to demand how education is delivered and even change the traditional model of education.  Students are far more empowered now as there is an excess of information available, faculty are no longer indispensable founts of knowledge. Students are looking for an outcome-oriented education (e.g. that result in skills or a job).  Education can be delivered to thousands using broadband networks and home computing technology.  As the economy weakens, non-traditional students are demanding education that is flexible in terms of timing, payment, knowledge and skills.  Tech savvy students want technology intensive education delivered in bits and not necessarily a semester long course.  This has created a situation where an empowered beneficiary (of education) is setting the terms, demanding flexibility and along with education start-ups/newcomers are helping create new modes of education delivery and educational content.

Media (R)evolutions: Mobile Cellular Subscriptions by Income Group

Kalliope Kokolis's picture

New developments and curiosities from a changing global media landscape: People, Spaces, Deliberation brings trends and events to your attention that illustrate that tomorrow's media environment will look very different from today's, and will have little resemblance to yesterday's.


Albert Einstein and Brad Pitt Walk Into a Bar…

Anne-Katrin Arnold's picture

Another Sunday evening recently found me fuming through another science infotainment show as they abound these days on not-so commercial broadcasts. It made me think about how important science education is in development and how easy it is to do it wrong. Popular science education is essential, and not only in development. Climate change is one of the most obvious issues where people need to understand what’s going on and need to understand it fast. Health issues are another area where a better understanding of scientific principles can contribute to behavior change that could promote better public health. What I tend to see around, however, is not as useful as the producers may think.

How Can INGOs Improve their Work in Fragile and Conflict States?

Duncan Green's picture

There’s nothing like the impending threat of giving a talk to make you mug up on an issue, usually the morning before. Today’s exercise in skating on thin ice (the secret? Keep moving. Fast as possible) was a recent talk to some Indiana University students studying the developmental role of the state while enjoying our splendid British summer (ahem).

I gave them the standard FP2P spiel on Active Citizens and Effective States (powerpoint here - just keep clicking), but then got into the different roles INGOs play in countries with different types of state. The big distinction is between stable and unstable states, but there are lots of subcategories (middle v low income; democratic v autocratic; willing (nice) v unwilling (nasty); centralized v decentralized; aid dependent or not). But my recent crash-and-burn experience of trying to come up with a typology was salutary, and I won’t try and repeat the exercise.

Weekly Wire: the Global Forum

Kalliope Kokolis's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

Mashable
Gmail Downgrades, Launches SMS Version for African Countries

“While we’re used to seeing upgrades from our favorite tech products, Gmail has made an important step in the opposite direction.

Google launched Gmail SMS Wednesday, offering a mobile-based email solution for people in Kenya, Nigeria and Ghana. Gmail SMS is a tech downgrade, but it’s a lifestyle upgrade for email users without consistent Internet access.

“There’s so much you do with it: apply for a job, make an inquiry, get notifications from your social network, receive photos or an invitation that makes you smile, and just communicate back and forth with your friends,” said a post on Google’s Africa blog.”  READ MORE

‘Aadhaar’ is Reaching India’s Poor, but at What Price?

Johanna Martinsson's picture

Since the Unique Identification Authority of India embarked on its unique identification project (UIDAI) in 2010, an estimated 200 million people have voluntarily enrolled.  As discussed in a previous blog, the UIDAI aims to administer some 1.2 billion unique identification numbers by the end of this decade.  The 12-digit online number, also referred to as Aadhaar (“foundation” in Hindi), is issued upon completion of demographic and biometric information by the enrollees. The number will give millions of Indian residents, previously excluded from the formal economy, the opportunity to access a range of benefits and services, such as banking, mobile, education, and healthcare.  The UIDAI specifically aims to extend social and financial services to the poor, remove corrupt practices plaguing existing welfare databases, eliminate duplicate and fake identities, and hold government officials accountable.

Quote of the Week: Jean-Claude Trichet

Sina Odugbemi's picture

“My own working assumption is that the Europeans are learning the hard way that to run a single currency, you have to have not only a monetary union but also effective governance of the economic union."

--Jean-Claude Trichet. As quoted in the Financial Times, July 6, 2012. Lunch with the FT: Jean-Claude Trichet, by Martin Wolf.

The 'Deep State' Confronts the Accountability Revolution

Sina Odugbemi's picture

I believe that we can all agree that an accountability revolution is sweeping the world. More governments are facing pressure from citizens to be accountable and are being held accountable. All major institutions, including those in the private sector, face greater and greater scrutiny. Even major media organizations are being embarrassed and held accountable. If in doubt, just ask Rupert Murdoch.

Yet, what is perhaps the profoundest obstacle in the path of efforts to make governments (and major institutions) more responsive and accountable to citizens is the phenomenon sometimes known as the ‘deep state’.

Weekly Wire: the Global Forum

Kalliope Kokolis's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

Journalism
Report published on 'delivering trust' in digital age

“Former director of BBC News Richard Sambrook has called for "new ways to place a premium" on reporting that shows a focus on evidence, diversity and transparency, in a bid to "help rescue the core of what impartiality and objectivity delivered in the past" in a digital world.

In a report published today by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, Sambrook asks whether there is a need for "different codes or journalistic norms for the digital age" in order to ensure trust in the media, particularly in light of the Leveson inquiry into the press in the UK and "debate about a ‘post-truth’ political environment in the US".

He identifies that the journalism industry is ‘in transition from the old analogue world of limited supply, where professional codes and regulation were effective in ensuring quality, to the digital age of plenty’.”  READ MORE

Media (R)evolutions: Internet Users Divide

Kalliope Kokolis's picture

New developments and curiosities from a changing global media landscape: People, Spaces, Deliberation brings trends and events to your attention that illustrate that tomorrow's media environment will look very different from today's, and will have little resemblance to yesterday's.


Building Communities' Adaptive Capacity: What Can We Learn from Development?

Darshana Patel's picture

Adaptive capacity is “the ability of a system to adjust to climate change (including climate variability and extremes) to moderate potential damages, to take advantage of opportunities, or to cope with the consequences.” (The definition comes from the Inter-governmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) and Millennium Ecosystem Assessment.)

Communication has a role in all levels of climate change adaptation efforts; from the dialogue that establishes multi-governmental agreements, the positive public opinion required to introduce national polices to implementing new practices at local levels. But building adaptive capacity at the local level seems the most complex and challenging. Whether at the community, household or individual levels, building local adaptive capacity requires shifting people away from the “old way” of doing things to introducing new processes.  Adaptation efforts require communities to implement new practices and ideas, take risks, and experiment.

Quote of the Week: Tony Blair

Sina Odugbemi's picture

"One of the perils of modern politics is that we are engaged in "the era of the loud-mouth". There is an interesting debate – in the west particularly – between the politics of the anger and the politics of the answer."

-- Tony Blair. As quoted in the Financial Times, June 30/July1 2012. Tony Blair: an exclusive interview, by Lionel Barber.

How Can an NGO Campaign against Rape in Armed Conflict? An Inspiring Case Study from Colombia

Duncan Green's picture

I recently ran a fascinating workshop with colleagues at Intermón Oxfam (Oxfam’s Spanish affiliate) at which the different country programmes brought examples of change processes at work. One that particularly struck me was about our work in Colombia on sexual violence and conflict. Here’s the write up, jointly authored with Intermon’s Alejandro Matos.

The campaign began in 2009, jointly agreed by Intermón Oxfam and 9 national women’s and human rights organizations. The main aim was to make visible, at national and international level, the widespread use of sexual violence as a tactic by all sides in the armed conflict, and the gaps and failings in the responses of the Colombian state, in terms of prevention and punishment, the end of impunity and the care of women victims.

Weekly Wire: the Global Forum

Kalliope Kokolis's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

Huff Post Tech
Twitter Transparency Report Show Government Requests For User Data. Now It's Facebook's Turn

“For the first time ever, Twitter has issued a transparency report card that sheds light on how often it's been asked by government officials to delete tweets and hand over user information -- and how frequently the social media site has complied.

Twitter's inaugural Transparency Report, based on activity during the first half of this year, details government requests for user data, authorities' efforts to have tweets removed and copyright takedown notices. It suggests officials are taking a more active interest in Twitter users' activity: Twitter's legal policy manager Jeremy Kessel writes, ‘We’ve received more government requests in the first half of 2012, as outlined in this initial dataset, than in the entirety of 2011.’”  READ MORE

The Optimistic Bureaucracy

Anne-Katrin Arnold's picture

Long-established bureaucracies can, sometimes, appear to be a little cynical. Toward their mission, toward their work routines, toward their staff, toward their chances of success. This cynicism can damage morale and become a self-fulfilling hypothesis. So it doesn’t hurt when bureaucratic organizations get an infusion of optimism from time to time that lets them rethink goals, capacities, and strategies.

What Difference Does Accountability Make? Six Real Life Examples from Tanzania (and A Great Job Opportunity)

Duncan Green's picture

One of my favourite Oxfam projects is Chukua Hatua (CH) in Tanzania, which is using an evolutionary/venture capitalist theory of change to promote accountability in a couple of regions of the country. CH is now looking for a new coordinator, because the wonderful Jane Lonsdale is moving on – if you fancy taking over, check out the job ad (closing date 20 July).

Talk of ‘Evolutionary theories of change’ all sounds very abstract, so here are six specific examples of the kinds of change the project is bringing about.

Quote of the Week: Adam Garfinkle

Johanna Martinsson's picture

"The internet and the blogosphere can make it seem like a person has learned a lot in a very short time, and hence has a right to broadcast his opinion about assorted subjects. He does have a right and that right must be preserved; but that doesn’t mean he is wise to exercise it."

-- Adam Garfinkle, Political Writing: A Guide to the Essentials [p. 161]