For several years during my childhood, I helped my mother plant vegetables and harvest crops on an urban farm in the distant suburbs of Ulaanbaatar, the capital city of Mongolia. Growing up working on the farm with my siblings and observing my mother work diligently towards the goal of full harvest made me realize what a challenging yet fulfilling journey it is to be a female farmer in a developing country. My mother refused to yield when confronted with adversity--Mongolia’s harsh climate, crop theft, as well as a lack of necessary inputs, labor, and agricultural services- all while taking care of her four children and handling chores.
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.
Guest blog by: Margo Hoftijzer, formerly a Senior Economist in the Education Global Practice of the World Bank.
Work-based learning is a hot topic when discussing the transition of young graduates from school to work. Whether we talk about apprenticeships, dual vocational education and training, or work placements, it is recognized worldwide that there are strong benefits when students gain real workplace experience before they join the workforce.
The many benefits of work-based learning
When implemented effectively, students don’t only gain relevant practical skills, but they also strengthen essential socio-emotional skills, such as the ability to work in teams, problem solving, and time management. Firms benefit as well. They can tailor the programs to ensure that students acquire those skills that are most relevant for their enterprises, and they get to know their trainees well so that they can select the best for recruitment later. Moreover, during the period of work-based learning itself, firms benefit from the trainees’ contributions to the work processes of the enterprise, usually at low costs.
Asha, from Udaipur District in Rajasthan, used to sell vegetables in a nearby town. Over time, this traditional village woman observed that flowers were in demand near the town’s main temple for use as ritual offerings. With encouragement from Manjula, a micro enterprise consultant under the Bank’s Rajasthan Rural Livelihoods Project (RRLP), Asha began cultivating marigolds on part of her family farm where millets had always been grown. She has devoted a larger area of her farm to floriculture, and started a nursery to grow flower saplings to sell to other aspiring marigold farmers. Asha is now looking to expand her sapling nursery by renting more land, for which she is seeking a bank loan.
Outside Kathmandu in Nepal, Ambika Ranamgar used to work for building contractors, cutting marble and laying tiles in houses under construction. Then she struck out on her own. With encouragement and support from a community mobilizer under the Nepal Poverty Alleviation Fund (NPAF), Ambika took a loan of Rs. 80,000 ($740) to buy her own equipment, including a marble-cutting machine and a generator to power the machines during the city’s frequent power cuts. She then scouted for work visiting local hardware stores, and gradually began to get more clients. Ambika’s income has now more than doubled from her daily wage of Rs. 600 to reach between Rs. 1,000 to 1,500 rupees per day. She is now focused on getting more business and managing her supplies and workers. At the time we visited her, Ambika had employed five workers, including her husband, and was busy laying the flooring for two houses.
This places significant importance on continuous skills training to prepare the workforce ready for future jobs. For this, what are the policy options for Bangladesh? How can the country move forward to ride the wave of the changing tide while leveraging the burgeoning youth population?
To answer these questions, and contribute towards the skills dialogue, an International Skills Conference was organized recently in Dhaka under the theme “Building Brands for Skills of Bangladesh”. The conference brought together national and international policymakers, skills development practitioners, academics, and researchers, from China, Singapore and India for two days of knowledge sharing and networking.
Organized by the Technical and Madrasah Education Division of the Ministry of Education of Bangladesh and supported by the Directorate of Technical Education and the Skills and Training Enhancement Project (STEP), the conference covered topics ranging from connecting skills and jobs to future proofing technical education institutions to raising the brand of skills of Bangladesh. After two days of knowledge sharing, two important themes emerged:
Over the next several decades, Pakistan is poised to become the fourth most populous country in the world. With nearly 53 million active youth (under 25) and a high youth unemployment rate, the challenges of inclusion and empowerment of these young people will continue to grow. Gender disparities also persist with Pakistan having one of the lowest female labor force participation rates in the South Asia region.
Growth is picking up in South Africa, and this is good news after two years of declining incomes per capita. Observers are revising their forecasts, and optimists foresee economic growth to exceed 2% in next years. In recent months, several events have indeed improved South Africa’s economic outlook: the smooth transition in power, the authorities’ reaffirmed adherence to principles of good governance and debt stability, and the upward revision in national accounts, revealing higher economic activity in 2017 than previously measured.
The South African economy has been off to a good start in 2018. Statistics SA, the country’s national statistical service, released national accounts figures with revisions that pointed to more positive momentum in the economy than previously thought. South Africa grew by 1.3% in 2017, beating the consensus estimate of economists, and the revised numbers no longer record a technical recession early in the year.
As the editor of the World Bank’s education blog, I get weekly submissions from our education experts from all corners of the globe. Provocative and informative, our bloggers write about some of the education sector’s most hotly debated issues today.
Here are 2017’s most-read blog posts:
#10 There are cost-effective ways to train teachers
Teachers are the single most important factor affecting how much students learn. However, talent and heart aren’t enough to make a good teacher- as in all professions, one must train (and continue to train!) to be truly effective. This can be a big challenge in countries with fewer resources for education. Read about how 8,000 teachers in disadvantaged districts in Ghana upgraded their skills while simultaneously teaching in schools.