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Views from the Center

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New Initiative in India Is Mobilizing Communities to Improve Children’s Learning, but Will It Work?

Every year, hundreds of thousands of volunteers in South Asia and East Africa walk many miles crossing rivers, mountains, deserts and farmlands to do something amazing: reach remote rural communities to assess whether children can read or do simple maths. Collectively known as Citizen-led Assessments (CLA), every year they show that most children are going to school but less than half of them can read or write at grade level. However, in spite of these universally damning reports, policy change to improve children’s learning has been painfully slow. So the NGO Pratham that started this movement is turning its army of volunteer data collectors into change agents to mobilize entire communities and raise awareness about the learning crisis across India.  

There’s No Magic Bullet, But We Have the Tools to Reduce Inequality

Reducing inequality is front and center of the current economic policy agenda. Multilateral institutions like the IMF and the World Bank have accepted that high inequality leads to macroeconomic instability and lowers growth and that lower inequality helps make growth sustainable in the long run. But there is no magic bullet.

Cashing In on Coal

India is getting some serious cash from coal. According to official estimates, the government will get nearly $250 billion in revenues over a period of 30 years from the sale of over two hundred coal blocks to private bidders. Given India’s record of corruption and mismanagement of natural resources, it is difficult to be optimistic that it will be able to cash in on this windfall and use it for development. But there are a few silver linings that may prove us (happily) wrong.

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