A while back I was working for a small education foundation in Bangalore. Every day I took the bus to the office along a road that had so many pot holes it felt like the driver had decided to take a short cut across the surface of the moon. About a month before I left the whole stretch was covered by a smooth layer of gleaming tarmac and a series of huge posters appeared – announcing the hard work and successful lobbying conducted by our local city councillor.
Value chains are an ever more prominent feature of global commerce, with goods being processed – and value being added – in multiple countries that are part of the chain. No longer is trade as simple as manufacturing in one country and selling in another. Rather, goods often cross many borders, undergoing processing and accruing components in diverse settings before ending up in a retail store. A new database developed by the OECD and WTO provides greater clarity into value-added trade trends. Looking at the world through a “value-added” lens challenges our conventional thinking about trade policy, and in particular, the focus of where policy makers should be spending their efforts. This new perspective makes clear that to truly benefit from the dynamism of value chains, governments will need to cooperate in new ways -- with each other and with members of the private sector.
When the words “private sector” and “education” come together, they conjure up the widening chasm between the rich and poor: elite education in private schools. An article in The New York Times, for example, describes a growing education gap as contributing to a “kind of cultural divide” in the United States. A smart kid growing up without access to good education, the argument goes, will be limited for life, regardless of how bright or motivated he or she is.
These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.
“After a week of business meetings in the cities of sub-Saharan Africa, Eric Schmidt posted a detailed list of observations. As he used to run Google and is still on their board, I'll give him a bit more credit than others who might want to opine after a week's exposure to the continent's dynamism.
Eric starts with 3 positive major trends:
- the despotic leadership in Africa from the 1970s and 1980 is in decline, replaced by younger and more democratic leaders
- a huge youth demographic boom is underway, with a majority of the population of 25, or even under 20
- mobile phones are everywhere, and the Internet in Africa will be primarily a mobile one” READ MORE
During the most recent phase of the political transition, two of the themes driving popular debates are the questions of social justice and equality. The general perception inside and outside Egypt before the revolution was that social injustice and a somehow unequal distribution of resources were deep rooted phenomena, simply part of the social landscape. That has changed with the revolution.
In societies with widespread gender discrimination, development programs that encourage female participation in local governance can potentially redress gender imbalances in economic, political, and social outcomes. Using a randomized field experiment encompassing 500 Afghan villages, this study finds that a development program which incorporates mandated female participation increases female mobility and involvement in income generation, but does not change female roles in family decision-making or attitudes toward the general role of women in society.
Read the working paper:
“Empowering Women: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Afghanistan.”
Last week, on my way home from work, I met a young man raising funds for a charity. He stood outside of a subway station and as part of his pitch, he asked, "if you could have any superpower, what would it be?" I offered the same answer I have been giving my children for years. "I have a superpower. It's reading." I suspect this both annoys and inspires my children. Given that annoying and inspiring are among my favorite parental duties, I rather like this answer.
Much like Jerusalem, the old city of Sana’a has tears in its eyes crying for peace, stability and normality. For a time when people can live peacefully as good neighbors. Diversity of views should be considered a strength rather than a source of conflict. From my dealings with Yemenis, I truly believe that all Yemeni people love the country in their own way.
When you think of Afghanistan, what thoughts come to mind—suicide attacks, insurgency, women wearing burkas, the Taliban, or probably, dusty dirt roads? These images, while still relevant in much of the country, often miss exciting development happening in another side of Afghanistan, the side where Afghans are beginning to engage in dialogues and exchanging ideas about data and development. Opening up data provides access and availability, universal participation and further enables the reuse of data in a transparent and innovative manner in the search for development solutions. Sounds nice, but what does this mean in the context of Afghanistan?
Every few months I try to go offline for at least two weeks, trading the incessant frenzy of status updates for the pleasures of longform journalism and books (I also have a mad crush on Spanish cinema). In addition to being prone to “Blackberry Thumb” syndrome, social media burnout is an occupational hazard for me. In the spirit of sharing and as this is the season for lists and resolutions, here are five easy ways you can amp up your digital intelligence.