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Opening Channels for Citizens to Directly Interact with the Government

Sabina Panth's picture

I wonder how many of us, living or working in Washington DC, know about 311.  No, I’m not talking about the Three-Eleven rock band, but rather the phone-based 311 system that many cities in US, including DC, have opened up for citizens to submit inquiries or log complaints related to public services.  There is also an “evolved” version of 311, called Open311, which allows the public to submit and track the progress of their reports through use of modern technologies like mobile-phones or computers. In return, the government is able to capture accurate details of the inquirer’s input, act on those details and then notify the public on the actions taken.  Marc Angelo Irlandez, who heads Open311, relates the system with Customer Relations Management (CRM) information database that sales businesses use to store information on their regular and potential customers to tailor products and services accordingly. 

Is the bicycle one of our best and oldest transport innovations yet?

Julie Babinard's picture

I was recently invited to a panel discussion to comment on the movie ‘With My Own Two Wheels’  (http://www.withmyowntwowheels.org) which illustrates how bicycles can serve as a missing link to development.  It follows the transformation taking place in the lives of 5 individuals.

CommGAP Launches "Accountability Through Public Opinion"

Anne-Katrin Arnold's picture

CommGAP is delighted to announce the publication of its third edited volume, "Accountability Through Public Opinion: From Inertia to Public Action." The book is edited by CommGAP's Program Head Sina Odugbemi and Taeku Lee, Professor of Political Science and Law at the University of California, Berkeley. Authors from development practice and academia discuss in 28 chapters how citizens can hold their governments accountable, and how genuine demand for accountability can be created.

The idea for the book was born at a CommGAP workshop in 2007 in Paris on "Generating Genuine Demand with Social Accountability Mechanisms." A few years later, we proudly present a compilation of essays that are relevant for current events in the Middle East and in North Africa as much as for any efforts to strengthen citizen's agency vis a vis their governments.

Can Disseminating Information Lead to Better Learning Outcomes?

Deon Filmer's picture

When my wife and I were looking for where to live in Washington DC, an important part of the decision was the quality of the local public school that our children would (eventually) attend.  But how to judge quality?  Talking to lots of people was the first step.  Taking schools tours was another.  But researching test scores was a key factor.  We wanted a school with a good learning environment, a sense that parents had a positive feeling about the place—but also wanted to know that the school had a track record of good learning outcomes.  Thankfully, the performance of public schools in Washington DC is accessible online and can be compared across schools.  This information was an important input into our decision.  And it remains an important way in which we monitor school performance.  We pay close attention to our own children’s academic development, talk to their teachers regularly, and try to be attentive to the many subtle indicators of the quality of education that they are receiving.  But the annually released test scores provide an externally validated stock-taking of one aspect of that quality.

When students are in charge of maintaining the computers in schools

Michael Trucano's picture

how may I be of service?How do you keep computers in schools in working order? Basic technical maintenance is a perennial challenge for many schools in developing countries.  The phenomenon of unused -- and unusable! -- computers in schools is all too well known to anyone who works in the field.  While it is a bit of an exaggeration to label this a 'tragedy', few could argue that this isn't a very unfortunate situation -- especially given the high costs associated with acquiring and installing such equipment, to say nothing of the learning opportunities lost when students and teachers are unable to use expensive equipment that is already paid for.

What to do about this? I regularly encounter a number of common answers to this question.

March Madness or Spring Awakening?

John Wilson's picture

APEC and New Beginnings in Trade

The first Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM I) of Asia-Pacific Economics Cooperation (APEC) concluded earlier this month in Washington D.C. The APEC 2011 agenda now swings into full action. The member economies in the region are looking for ways to reaffirm APEC’s reputation for innovative economic integration initiatives – and the means by which to stave off new hiccups in the region’s economic recovery.  In particular, the new APEC Supply Chain Connectivity Initiative (SCI) holds real promise as a dynamic successor to APEC’s successful Trade Facilitation Action Plans, which resulted in significant trade cost reductions across the region. 
 

As a testament to the dynamism and ambition behind the trade-related policy goals of APEC – the United States, as APEC 2011 Chair, and the World Bank are working with APEC to build a platform to expand trade through research, data, and capacity building – with direct participation of private sector firms. Fedex is with us in this new venture. Is this March madness – yet another attempt to forge alliances where goals are shared but sustaining momentum proves tough?  Or is it a spring awakening that data, research, and direct partnerships with firms to build in this area provides the real anchor for taking action to assist developing countries tackle trade costs at their source?  I suggest it is the latter.

Working Together, Governments and Unions of Top-Performing Countries Show that it is Possible to Improve the Teaching Profession

Emiliana Vegas's picture

Last week, I traveled to New York City to attend the first International Summit on the Teaching Profession hosted by the US Department of Education, the OECD, and Education International, a global teachers union.  Of the 16 countries represented, all were top-performers in the international PISA tests, or rapid improvers, such as Poland and Brazil.  U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan called the meeting to learn from what other countries are doing to improve teaching and learning, a sign that not only is this task complex and challenging, but that it is critical to countries at all levels of development.

So how do these top-performers and rapid-improvers manage their teaching forces to achieve high learning outcomes? The goal of the Summit was to have frank and open discussions about what works. Each country’s delegation included both government and teacher representatives, thus recognizing from the start the need for collaboration in the design and implementation of teacher policy reforms.

Life in a School

Jishnu Das's picture

We usually think of schooling as a positive learning experience. However, sometimes this is not always the case. As recent news reports in the Hindu and on NDTV from India remind us, unfortunately for some children in low-income countries, schooling can be a nasty, brutal and short experience. They may suffer physical abuse, humiliation and be forced to endure the worst possible learning environments, while returning for the same punishment day after day after day.

Do you know where to find the world’s best quality of life?

Nahla Benslama's picture

Any guesses? You may answer right away or you may be wiser and ask: “Best quality of life depending on what…?!” After all, ranking 192 countries (almost every country in the world) based on their quality of life is not a straightforward task!


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