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Educational Development News Blog

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Proposal for National Child Care in Canada

The Edmonton Sun reports that the minority Liberal government in Canada is dedicated to making good on their promises for a national child care system.

Opinion: IT Trends to Lure Investment in Schools

In the Jakarta Post, one of the founders of the UN ICT Task Force writes a four-point opinion about how educators can lure investment into schools. His focus is issues of digital divide in Indonesia.

It's pretty interesting. His first point aptly notes that as advanced markets are being filled, the remaining task for IT businesses is to start tapping the developing market, e.g., producing low-cost computers for the poor. Second, wireless technology also allows broadband Internet access to communities that previously lacked access. Thirdly, as international aid agencies are looking to invest in ICT, they're going to want to partner with local ICT organizations--which will then hopefully invest their resources into their developing communities. Lastly--and perhaps the most debatable--is that the education sector is the place where all the aspects of ICT come together: IT infrastructure, telecom, and software to serve students.

Because of the author's last tenable assertion that the education sector is where "it's all at," the implication is that the education sector has to realize the first three trends and then create an environment where all the parties involved will converge upon investing in the education sector. I don't know if that's ever going to fly--I'll claim that business interests in developing economies can't handle the long-term horizons for investments in education, unless the government intervenes and creates the proper incentives.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

World Bank Blacklisting Textbook Publishers

The Jakarta Post reports that Indonesian publishers are protesting the World Bank's blacklisting of certain state and private publishers in a book procurement plan. The World Bank claims that fraud, corruption, and collusion resulted in the distribution of poor-quality textbooks in their Book and Reading Development Project.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

More on Cancelling Debt to Developing Countries

Reuters reports that the UNCTAD (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development) is recommending cancelling all African debt in order to attempt reaching the Millenium Development Goals by 2015. UNCTAD also reports that Africa's growth rate will have to double (to 7 or 8%) to meet the goals, on top of cancelling debt and requiring an additional $40 B in relief. Furthermore, it claims that the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative (1996) to reduce foreign debt from the 42 poorest countries to sustainable levels has failed.

The Christian Science Monitor also has a much more interesting discussion on this same matter, focusing more on US interests in the debt forgiveness program and the goals of the G-7. This article supports the work of HIPC in erasing debt, citing Tanzania as an example where loan forgiveness allowed the country "boost education and eliminate school fees."

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

World Bank Criticizes Policy Implementation in Indonesia

The Jakarta Post reports that the World Bank's World Development Report 2005 cites Indonesia as a country that is "poor at implementing and drawing up policies." In an insecure economic climate, businesses are hesitant to invest which means lower tax revenues. Lower tax revenues mean less ability to contribute to the public health and education systems. Specifically the Indonesian government--with a new president about to be instated--needs to focus on corruption. Improvement of policies could increase the likelihood of investment by as much as 30%.

N. Korea Has Nuclear Weapons

Not completely related to education, but relevant nonetheless: a leak reports that North Korea has nuclear weapons.

World Bank Proposes Merit-based Teacher Salaries

allAfrica reports that the World Bank is proposing Kenyan teacher salaries should based upon merit and not on "job group." Around 90% of all school finances go to teacher salaries and benefits. Since Kenya has instated free primary education the World Bank has increased investment in the education sector. Other issues they're working out is even distribution of classroom size across the country and community involvement in teacher hiring, curriculum, and school finance.

allAfrica seems to be consistently spotty with details, even reporting two different numbers (90% and 95%) regarding the proportion of teacher salaries in the education budget.

Update: From the home page of the Nation (I can't access the rest of the web site now), teachers have rejected the salary proposals from the World Bank. Big surprise.

Iraq Pays off $81 M of IMF Debt

Reuters reports that Iraq last week paid off $81 M of its $120 B in foreign debt, opening the way for loan forgiveness and an additional $800 M (I assume through IBRD) to rebuild the wartorn country. This relates back to a previous story where the US wants to forgive up to 90% of the Iraqi debt as well as have the World Bank cover the unpaid portions for all developing nations with unsustainable debt. The UK, on the other hand, has proposed a plan to erase all debt owed to the UK through the World Bank.

There seems to be quite a lot of discussion revolving around the issue of debt in developing countries.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Ghanaweb reports that a conference called "Innovative Strategic Partnerships in Refugee Education" (INSPIRE) has begun in Ghana as part of a series by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugee (UNHCR) to focus on the Liberian refugee situation. Referring to the 2000 World Education Forum in Dakar the conference will focus on innovative approaches to refugee education.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Mallard on the Maori Education System

The New Zealand Herald reports that Education and Race Relations Minister Trevor Mallard is asking Maori principals to put gender equality before culture in schools. He also encourages principals to learn and speak Maori to assert leadership and to stress physical education in their schools. The Herald also published an editorial explaining the history of the situation in more depth.

India Launches Satellite Dedicated to Distance Education

New Scientist reports that India has launched a satellite dedicated to long-distance learning, EDUSAT. The satellite will be able to beam information to specific regions in the country, catering to the 18 official languages and 400+ dialects. In two months' time, it should be able to broadcast to 5000 remote terminals across the country. In the pipe are two more satellites: AGRISAT to address agricultural needs and HEALTHSAT to provide telemedicine services.

World Bank Credits $40 M to Ethiopia

allAfrica reports that the World Bank's IDA has credited $40 M to Ethiopia for post-secondary education. The plan forecasts doubling undergraduate and tripling graduate enrollments in three years.