This year, Indonesia celebrates the first decade of its school grant scheme BOS (Bantuan Operasional Sekolah). The program aims to ensure that schools have sufficient funds to operate, reduce the education costs faced by households and improve school based management. The program is huge and covers approximately 43 million primary and secondary school students across Indonesia. Every year, schools receive $50 for each primary and $60 for each junior secondary school student. This translates into an annual grant of about $20,000 for the average junior secondary school.
Since I arrived in Indonesia we have visited schools regularly to check on the progress of BOS. I have talked with poor parents about how the program has helped to lower the education costs they face. School Principals have shared with me the many ways BOS has enabled them to provide the training opportunities their teachers need to improve classroom practice. School visits have also highlighted some of the challenges the program has faced in ensuring funds are used transparently. In one school, the necessary public noticeboard displaying information on the use of BOS funds was pulled out from behind a cupboard and contained information that was a year out of date.
Now that the dust has settled around the PISA results we have been thinking about the reasons behind Indonesia's poor showing. For those of you who haven't seen them, Indonesia ranked lower than all participating countries except Peru in mathematics and science, and was fifth from last on reading. Perhaps more worrying were the low absolute levels of learning reported for 15-year-olds. In mathematics, three-quarters of students were rated at or below the lowest benchmark – a level associated with only rudimentary levels of proficiency and a lack of higher order thinking skills.
Financed by the mining boom, government spending on new infrastructure in Mongolia has increased 35-fold in the past 10 years. But you would not know this from driving the pot holed streets of Ulaanbaatar or inhaling the smog filled air of the city, particularly in the ger areas.
A new World Bank report I co-authored examines why this increased spending is not resulting in equivalent benefits for the citizens of Mongolia in terms of better roads, efficient and clean heating, and improved water and sanitation services.
|Axel talks about his trip to Myanmar in a video below.|
You can feel the energy in Myanmar today—from the streets of Yangon, in the offices of government ministries and in rural villages. Dramatic political and economic changes are sweeping the country.
|With new learning materials, children are more interested to come to school as learning becomes more enjoyable.|
I’ve always been passionate about the need to focus on education in order to achieve lasting development and this is especially true in Timor-Leste, a country with one of the youngest and fastest growing populations in the world. I visited a number of schools around the country to see the benefits of two of the World Bank’s projects in the education sector: the Fast Track Initiative Bridging Project 2009 and the Education Sector Support Project, co-funded by AusAID.
|Parents and community members are more willing to support a school from having full knowledge about the school's resources.|
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Years and years ago, when I was still in school, the interaction my parents had with the school was only during report card day, and perhaps the odd times I got into trouble. That was it. Although my son is only a year and a half old, I’ve been on the lookout for a school and I would rather not have him study at the type of school I went to.
|Map courtesy of Wikipedia through a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.|
Taking development to the outlying provinces of Solomon Islands is not an easy ride. I found this out when going on a site visit to the Rural Development Program (RDP) at the country’s far western province of Choiseul.
At the Northwest region of Choiseul province where the island faces open waters that span to the Micronesian archipelago of the Pacific lies a village called Polo. The Polo community has a primary school that was established in 1957 when Solomon Islands was still a British Protectorate, prior to independence in 1978. Since its inception, the Polo school never had a permanent classroom building until two years ago when through the RDP participatory process, the community identified the school as their main need.
Roads are not sexy. You don’t see glossy ads pleading for people to sponsor a road. You don’t see the construction of a road moving global audiences to tears. There are no celebrities, concerts, wrist-bands for the road. I guess that is because for most people in the developed world, we take roads for granted.
Recently I spent some time around Kerema, which although only 350 km from the country’s capital, feels as one of the most remote and cut-off places in Papua New Guinea. Kerema is the Gulf’s provincial capital and, with its surrounding villages, it has been cut-off from the rest of the country due to a mere 67 km of mostly un-passable road. Under the Roads Maintenance and Rehabilitation Project, the World Bank has been supporting the Government of Papua New Guinea to restore the road. Today, the Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved the second phase of this project, which will see the rest of the road restored and paved to a proper national standard.