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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.

 

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Rethinking the Infrastructure Gap in the Poorest Countries

A recent blog post by Ricardo Hausmann caught my eye because it addresses issues that I’ll be focusing on during my visiting fellowship here at the Center for Global Development. Hausmann—a former Venezuelan minister of planning—discusses the difficulty of closing the infrastructure gap in developing countries, and highlights the dilemma of whether governments should finance infrastructure projects through public-private partnerships or through their national budgets. He’s right about the dilemma, but his solution isn’t workable for fragile and low-income countries where infrastructure needs are greatest.

Liberians’ Eagerness for Debate Can Bode Well for Accountable Leadership

At the Liberia Development Conference, I laid out four interlinked themes vital to Liberia’s future development progress and to pose questions for conference participants, including what Liberia’s development partners can do to leverage their support with stronger Liberian ownership and concrete enduring results. Here, I summarize my speech’s four themes and attempt to give my thoughts in answer to the question I posed to others.

Can Poll Results Sway Elite Opinion on Tanzania's Resource Boom?

Even the most ardent defenders of democracy sometimes worry that populist pressure may lead to short-sighted (or populist) economic policy choices. So after polling 2,000 ordinary Tanzanians in 2015 about their views on the use of expected natural gas revenue, we decided to follow up with an experiment polling Tanzanian “elites,” to see whether they are aligned with citizens, or could be swayed by citizens’ views.

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.