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July 2018

Will you be employed? Skills demanded by the changing nature of work

Shwetlena Sabarwal's picture

In 1997, Garry Kasparov, one of the greatest chess players in history, lost a chess match to a supercomputer called Deep Blue. Some years later Kasparov developed “advanced chess,” where a human and a computer team up to play against another human and computer. This mutation of chess is mutually beneficial: the human player has access to the computer’s ability to calculate moves, while the computer benefits from human intuition.  

IDA 18: Off to a strong start, as demand continues to grow

Axel van Trotsenburg's picture


We are now a year into implementation of IDA18, the three-year funding cycle for IDA, the arm of the World Bank Group that provides financing to the poorest countries. And IDA is off to a strong start. Total commitments reached $24.0 billion this year, more than double the average of the first year in IDA15 and IDA14. This is also over 40% higher than the average volume we saw for the first year of IDA16 and IDA17.

Part of the growth springs from how we set up IDA18, in response to calls from the G20 and international community for the World Bank Group to innovate in every way we can to help achieve the world’s Sustainable Development Goals for 2030.  And despite extraordinary global challenges, our donors agreed to provide $27 billion in grant contributions to support IDA18’s $75 billion financing to client countries. 

Reducing data collection bias in education research

Kabira Namit's picture
Training for data collectors in Kambia, Sierra Leone. (Photo: Kabira Namit / World Bank)


Collecting data in education can be a tricky business. After spending considerable resources to design a representative study, enlist and train data collectors, and organize the logistics of data collection, we want to ensure that we capture as true a picture of the situation on the ground as possible. This can be particularly challenging when we attempt to measure complex concepts, such as child development, learning outcomes, or the quality of an educational environment.
 
Data can be biased by many factors. For example, the very act of observation by itself can influence behavior. How can we expect a teacher to behave “normally” when outsiders sit in her or his classroom taking detailed notes about everything they do? Social desirability bias, where subjects seek to represent themselves in the most positive light, is another common challenge. Asking a teacher, “Do you hit children in your classroom?” may elicit an intense denial, even if the teacher still has a cane in one hand and the ear of a misbehaving child in another.

How to measure trade protection?

Caroline Freund's picture

What is the best single measure of a country’s import tariffs? As we know, countries don’t have a single tariff, but a landscape of tariffs and other trade barriers. For comparison purposes, it is useful to distill the array of tariffs down to a single number.

In terms of tariffs, there are two common ones: the simple average Most Favored Nation (MFN) applied tariff and the weighted average MFN applied tariff. (MFN is the tariff that WTO members and other favored partners receive.) Neither is perfect.

Bangladesh Collaborates with China in Strengthening the Skills of its Youth

Mokhlesur Rahman's picture
Agreement Signing
The sigining of an agreement for educational exchange between the Ministries of Education of Bangladesh and China's Yunnan Province. 

With its youthful workforce and the aspiration to be a developed country by 2041, Bangladesh emphasizes skills development to provide its people the ability to transform the country into a high productivity economy. To accelerate progress in this area, the government has been actively tapping into greater South-South cooperation, especially with other Asian countries.

Bangladesh and the China’s Yunnan Province’s partnership on the Skills and Training Enhancement Project (STEP) is one example. Following the International Skills Conference held in Dhaka held in March 2018, a  Bangladesh delegation, led by Mr. Md. Alamgir, Secretary of the Technical and Madrasah Education Division of the Ministry of Education, visited technical education institutions in Yunnan that are expected to receive students from Bangladesh.

Expert trainers in China will help their Bangladesh counterparts improve in the areas of student exchange, teachers’ professional development, and knowledge sharing among others. The agreement will mean that that the first cohort of 85 Bangladeshi students will be enrolled in the partnered Yunnan institutions with scholarships by September 2018.

The potential of the Blue Economy

Björn Gillsäter's picture
Home and boats on the water. © Curt Carnemark/World Bank
Home and boats on the water. © Curt Carnemark/World Bank

While working in the Galápagos Islands in the late 1980s, I saw the interplay between the many interests on the islands: local fishermen taking advantage of the rich waters around in the archipelago; the research community building on the evolutionary theories discovered by Charles Darwin; the tourism sector responding to an ever-growing interest in the accessible and unique wildlife and fauna; and the rights of the Ecuadorian state to benefit from this national asset. Finding a way to balance these – sometimes conflicting – interests in a manner that allows for sustainable and equitable growth is what we today call the Blue Economy.
 
The blue economy provides food, jobs, water, and is a source of economic growth. It provides the livelihood for hundreds of millions of the poorest and most vulnerable people in the world. By one estimate, it generates USD 3-6 trillion to the world economy. If it were a country, the oceanic economy would be the seventh largest in the world.

Women wavemakers: Practical strategies for closing the gender gap in tech

Alicia Hammond's picture
© Andela Kenya
© Andela Kenya

“Degrees get you the job, but they don’t help you to keep it.” Virginia Ndung’u, a trainee at Nairobi’s software developer accelerator Moringa School highlights one of the many challenges in ensuring students are prepared for the digital economy.

Technology is changing the skills needed for work, and increasing demand for advanced cognitive skills, socio-emotional skills and greater adaptability, as the 2019 Report on the Changing Nature of Work finds, building on the World Development Report 2016: Digital Dividends. As technology becomes prevalent in other sectors, the demand for tech skills is increasing, even for entry-level positions. 

What to do after your education system is hacked

Michael Trucano's picture
Help! I've been hacked!
Help! I've been hacked!

In my experience working with education officials around the world over the past two decades, the confidence of senior leadership in an education system's approach to computer and data security is often inversely proportional to how much time, energy and expense have been devoted to considering security issues, to say nothing of the robustness and comprehensiveness of related approaches being deployed.

As part of my job at the World Bank, I help ministries of education think through issues related to the use of new technologies in education. Along the way, there has been, in my experience and generally speaking, comparatively little attention, energy and resources paid to issues of computer and data security as part of the rollout of digital technologies in education in many parts of the world, and especially in middle and low income countries, where I spend the bulk of my time.

At a basic level, this should not be too surprising. Resources are often quite scare, as is related know-how. Most initiatives focus first on introducing computers (and later tablets and other gadgets) into schools, and on rolling out and improving connectivity. Many countries new to the use of computers in schools are challenged to adequately handle some of the most basic security-related tasks, like installing (and keeping updated) anti-virus packages on individual devices. And to be honest: The initial stakes are often quite low. Only over time, once a critical mass of infrastructure is in place -- and is being used -- do thoughts turn to any significant extent to issues of computer and data security. But still: Unlike passing out shiny new tablets to schoolchildren or cutting the ribbon on a new educational makerspace, strengthening an education system's security practices typically doesn't make for compelling photo opportunities. For education ministers who typically enjoy short tenures in their jobs, it's often quite logical to leave such issues for the next lady (or guy) to handle.

That said, as connectivity spreads and improves, and as education systems move beyond a patchwork of often small and uncoordinated pilot projects to become more dependent on their ICT infrastructure at the classroom, school and system level, 'security' is gradually added to the list of responsibilities of a few staff, related budget line items are established, and sometimes small units are formed inside education bureaucracies.

Even then, though, digital security concerns usually tend not to be prioritized by ministries of education, and much of what is done is reactive in nature. In my experience, only when one of two types things take place do computer security issues get real attention: (1) when there is a move to computerized, especially online, testing; and/or (2) when something important is 'hacked'. (There is a third catalyst for action -- government regulation -- but that typically occurs only after one or both of these first two things have occurred.)

During dialogues with government around 'edtech issues', it's been my standard practice to try to insert a bullet point related to 'security' onto the formal agenda. For the most part, this has been tolerated ("of course we think security is important!"), but (if I am being honest) not always particularly welcome, and it is often the last agenda item, the kind of thing where the related discussion gets cut short and people close by saying, "We wish we had more time to discuss this."

In the past two years, however, things have begun to change a bit. While still never the focus of our discussions, people from a number of ministries of education with which I have worked have begun to bring up this issue proactively. Often, related exchanges begin with some form of the question, "We are thinking about introducing online testing but are wondering if we might get hacked -- how worried should we be, and what can we do to prevent this from happening?"

My response to this sort of question is usually is something along the lines of, "You are right to be worried, and there are a lot of things you can and should be doing as a result." (Whether or not online testing is actually a good idea is a separate question, and discussion.) We then quickly talk through a number of the standard high level issues, topics and concerns, touch on the feasibility and cost of a number of related first (and second, and third, and fourth ...) steps that need to be taken, and at the end draw up a list of names and organizations for potential follow-up. Before the discussion 'ends' (a discussion about computer security never actually 'ends', of course; once opened, Pandora's Box can never be fully closed), I make sure to make the following statement, and pose a related question:

Prevention is important. Obviously! I am glad to see that this is increasingly prominent on your agenda. If you have a checklist of things you are concerned about, and a list of how you are addressing them, we can take a look at it and talk through some potential related issues, to the extent that this might be useful. We can also talk about some other countries where some bad things have happened, in case any of those stories might be of interest.

But, no matter how successful you are when it comes to protecting your digital infrastructure and your data, if you are using connected digital technologies in your education system, at some point in the future:

You. Will. Be. Hacked.

Weekly links July 27: Advances in RD, better measurement, lowering prices for poop removal, and more...

David McKenzie's picture
  • Matias Cattaneo and co-authors have a draft manuscript on “a practical guide to regression discontinuity designs: volume II”. This includes discussion of a lot of practical issues that can arise, such as dealing with discrete values of the running variable, multiple running variables, and geographic RDs. Stata and R code are provided throughout.
  • Great Planet Money podcast on the Poop Cartel – work Molly Lipscomb and co-authors are doing to lower prices for emptying toilets in Senegal.
  • A paper on how to improve reproducible workflow – provides an overview of different tools for different statistical software packages, as well as advice on taskflow management, naming conventions, etc.
  • J-PAL guide on measuring female empowerment
  • Reviewing a paper that you have already reviewed before? This tweet by Tatyana Deryugina offers a good suggestion of using a pdf comparison tool (she suggests draftable) to compare pdfs to see what has changed

Introducing two new dashboards in the Health, Nutrition and Population data portal

Haruna Kashiwase's picture

We’re pleased to launch new dashboards in the Health, Nutrition and Population Portal, following the portal’s revamp last year. The renewed HNP portal has two main dashboards covering Population and Health. Both dashboards are designed to be interactive data visualization tools where users can see various population and health indicators. Users can access various charts and maps by selecting specific time, country or region and indicators. We have added new indicators, charts and new health topics such as Universal Health Coverage and Surgery and Anesthesia. Below are some examples of stories gleaned from our dashboards.

India’s population is projected to surpass that of China around 2022

China, with 1.4 billion people, is the most populous country in the world in 2017. However, India, the second most populous country with 1.3 billion people, is projected to surpass China’s population by 2022. China’s total fertility rate (the number of children per woman) has also declined sharply since the 1970s.


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