My colleague Justin Lin says that it is important not to let the global financial crisis become “a human crisis.” Nowhere is this truer than in Africa. Although spared the first-round effects of banking failures, Africa is already facing the second-round impacts of declining capital flows, slowing remittances, stagnating foreign aid and falling commodity prices and export revenues. The
The first Learning and Technology World Forum kicked off this week in London, the successor to the invitation-only Moving Young Minds conference. In its new incarnation, LATWF featured both public and closed ministerial-level sessions examining topics related to ICT use in education.
Big changes are apparently underway at the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) Foundation (referred to by many as the '$100 laptop project'). The organization has announced it is laying off about half of its staff and refocusing its mission. Included in its new intentions is that "Sub-Saharan Africa will become a major learning hub".
You can read the official announcement over at the OLPC blog, which goes into much more detail.
What this may mean for the fate of perhaps the most famous "low-cost laptop" remains to be seen, but a few things *are* clear: Since the idea for a $100 laptop gained wide currency in the aftermath of the World Economic Forum meetings in Davos in early 2005, and its first unveiling (of a sort) at the World Summit on the Information Society in Tunis later that year, the landscape for 'low-cost computing', and the recognition that there are emerging markets in developing countries for such appliances right now, if the price is right, has changed radically. infoDev used to track about 50 'Low-cost computing devices and initiatives for the developing world', but gave up at the end of 2007, when the explosion of activity in this area made the maintenance of such a list increasingly unfeasible (and, given that one of the rationales for such a list was to highlight that there was a lot of burgeoning activity in this area that people didn't know about, increasingly unnecessary). While many of the highly-publicized commitments to buy the OLPC XO laptop for use by students in developing countries have not (yet) materialized, it is a testament to the attractiveness in many quarters of the vision (if not its implementation) of the 'one laptop per child' idea that the of the relevance of computer use in schools continues to gain traction in many ministries of education and parliaments around the world.
|Pictures with my students in the spring of 1986. The lives of college students in China have since changed tremendously.|
The professor who invited me was my student 23 years ago when I was teaching for a semester at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences graduate school here in Beijing. So, it was natural to think about the changes in the lives of college students as a result of 30 years of opening up.
In the last decade, conditional cash transfer (CCT) programs are probably the key social policy innovation around the world and in the East Asia and Pacific region. The targeted programs offer money to poor households on the condition they make pre-specified investments in the human capital of children. Typically, this involves school enrollment and attendance, and basic preventive health activities such as periodic checkups, growth monitoring, and vaccinations for young children.
A notable new initiative in development training has recently been undertaken by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. In October the Foundation released a request for proposals to establish Masters in Development Practice (MDP) programs worldwide. This RFP is the outcome of a year long effort by the International Commission on Education for Sustainable Development Practice, established in early 2007, also supported by the MacArthur Foundation. The aim of the Commission was to identify the core disciplines and areas of expertise needed to develop a global network for interdisciplinary training in sustainable development.
In debates over globalization, much attention is given to so-called 'North-South' relationships. Often, data on 'South-South' exchanges it too limited to say much. A new paper on Global Migration of the Highly Skilled by Theo Dunnewijk of United Nations University helps shed some new light on 'South-South' brain drain/brain strain/brain circulation (Hat tip: Giulio Quaggiotto). Previous datasets had overlooked diasporas of highly skilled workers in these countries: