Ideas to Action:

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Views from the Center

CGD experts offer ideas and analysis to improve international development policy. Also check out our Global Health blog and US Development Policy blog.

 

Vietnam’s Exceptional Learning Success: Can We Do That Too?

In the last international PISA assessment for math and science, Vietnam outperformed many developed countries, including the UK and the US. Yet Vietnam only has a small fraction of the GDP of these countries. Should other countries with similar income levels, such as Indonesia, be asking themselves: “Why not me?”

What If 'Grade' Means Nothing? (Part I)

The next few posts on education are a bit unusual, in a good way I hope, but unusual entrants into the blogosphere.  As part of the CGD initiative on education in the developing world and the pivot from schooling to learning, we are going to post links to and discussions of some of the new empirical evidence that is emerging.  However,  the new evidence on learning trajectories--the gains in skills/capabilities/knowledge as students progress through grades--both requires some common background and, to my view, challenges some of the fundamental assumptions about the schooling

A Learning Profile for Bangladesh: Too Darn Flat

Many learning assessments only evaluate children of a given age (e.g. PISA for age 15) or grade.  This approach gives a snapshot that can be compared across countries and produces differentials in learning across 15 year olds (e.g.

Scrap the G8

Once again the G8 has come up tragically short on climate change and a host of urgent problems affecting poor people in developing countries. The good news is that they are at least discussing the right topics. The first Hokkaido G8 document, on the World Economy spills lots of ink on relations between rich and developing economies, including for example, reaffirmation of support for the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative.

Giving Suharto His Due

I was of two minds as to whether or not to join in the analysis of Suharto's legacy, but I decided that I cannot let stand some of what I have read about Suharto, Indonesia's strongman president for 31 years, who died on Sunday at the age of 86. For those who don't know me: I was the World Bank's country director in Jakarta from 1994 to 1999. I was present during Indonesia's financial crisis and when Suharto was forced out of office in May, 1998.

Folsom's Departure Creates Opening to Fix The World Bank Fight Against Corruption

Suzanne Rich Folsom, the controversial head of the World Bank's internal anti-corruption unit, resigned yesterday to return to the private sector. With Ms. Folsom's departure almost all of Paul Wolfowitz's inner circle has now left the Bank. I expect that some of the Bank's critics will cast this turn of events as victory of the bank bureaucracy over the forces of good in a fight for truth, justice, the American way, and, most especially, zero corruption.

The Value of Rejecting Expert Advice

This is a joint posting with Peter Timmer.
This past weekend, the New York Times published a provocative story titled "Ending Famine, Simply By Ignoring the Experts" (login required), about how Malawi has rescued itself from endless cycles of famine. The Times argued that Malawi accomplished this seemingly impossible goal by ignoring experts from the World Bank and rich-country aid organizations who have insisted that Malawi should cut back or eliminate its subsidies on fertilizer. But Malawi's newly elected president, Bingu wa Mutharika, did just the opposite--he reinstated and deepened the subsidies, which in turn increased yields and resulted in exports of corn to neighboring countries. Was the president right to do this?

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