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Tanzanian President Kikwete Focuses on Education & Malaria Control

This is a joint posting with former CGD special assistant Rena Pacheco-Theard

Last week, CGD was honored to host Tanzanian President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete and senior officials in his government for a discussion with a small group of development experts on Tanzania's recent education and malaria control activities.

The importance that the government places on core social sectors is unmistakable – and continues a long Tanzanian tradition. Minister for Education and Vocational Training, Jumanne Maghembe, noted that, "Education is the highest priority, and the foundation of any social development venture." In fact, the education sector – primarily teacher salaries – accounts for a full 17% of the national budget. Over the past few years, the country has consolidated progress toward universal primary education and has increased secondary school enrollment by two and a half times (from a very low base). The Minister also reported on expansion in post-secondary education, including universities and vocational training centers. Attention is also being given to the early years. Zanzibar's Minister of Education, Haroun Ali Suleiman, stressed the importance of pre-primary education.

As the sector expands, the challenges are profound. The most obvious is the shortage of teachers. Historically, secondary schooling has been so limited that there simply aren't enough graduates to train as teachers. In response, at least for the near term, the government has implemented programs to bring in teachers with non-traditional training, and is looking at distance education technologies.

Do You Have Your Job because of Your Merit or Your DNA? For Many Migrants from Poor Countries, DNA Makes the Difference

If you're not a black person, suppose you were. Suppose you were also born in New Orleans' Lower Ninth Ward, which was already in poverty before it was devastated by Hurricane Katrina. So you sought to better your life by getting a job in Chicago. But then US government officials forced you not to take the job, because DNA tests proved that you are not closely related to any white person.

Tiger, Tiger Burning Bright: The World Bank Undermines Own Conservation Efforts With Fossil Fuel Projects

This is a joint posting with Vijaya Ramachandran
The World Bank Group's board appears to be operating under a severe case of cognitive dissonance, supporting efforts to save tigers - threatened in India and Bangladesh by habitat loss due to climate change - while helping build coal-fired power plants that will only speed up this process.
Back in June the Bank launched a campaign to help governments develop and better manage forests inhabited by endangered tigers, including in the Sunderbans. This massive mangrove forest spans the India-Bangladesh border and is home to the Bengal tiger. While the Bank has a less-than-stellar conservation track record in Sunderbans, more important is the fact that this impoverished World Heritage site would be one of the hardest hit by climate change, whether from rising sea levels or the disappearance of the glacier that feeds the Ganges river.
But the Bank's commitment to poverty reduction and biodiversity stands in stark contrast to its bread-and-butter financing choices. As the Bank planned its save-the-tiger campaign, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the Bank's private sector arm, was putting together a deal to finance $450 million of the misguided $4+ billion Tata Mundra Ultra Mega coal-fired plant in India. Financing 10% of the cost of a plant being built by India's largest company will help propel India's power sector emissions to third highest in the world within a few years, behind China and the U.S. Is this a smart use of scarce international public resources?

Regional Investment Agreement: An Idea for the 2009 Summit of the Americas

Last week I had the pleasure of hosting a lively and useful discussion of Nancy Lee's idea for improving economic integration in the Americas -- via a focus now on investment rather than trade. Joining the discussion were economists and regional experts from the public and private sectors, some with a good nose for the politics as well as the economics. (Nancy Lee's proposal is a good example of a "practical idea" grounded in independent research, to invoke the Center's tag line.

Clemens's Place Premium Tells Incredible Tale of Global Non-Market in Labor

Most economists who saw it no doubt reacted with skepticism to the recent assertion (by an organization pushing for stricter enforcement of migration restrictions) that undocumented workers are leaving the United States in record numbers because of increased Citizenship and Immigration Services enforcement. A far more likely cause is the housing market debacle and the resulting decline of jobs in construction and other housing-related sectors, where immigrant jobs are concentrated.

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