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Governance

What's the cost of open government reforms? New tool can help you find out

Daniel Nogueira-Budny's picture
Graphic: Nicholas Nam/World Bank

Advocacy around open government reforms to date has largely revolved around the intrinsic value of transparency, accountability, and participation. In a resource-constrained environment, development practitioners, policy makers, and citizens increasingly have to be more judicious. Adopting new methods or tools – such as open contracting mechanisms, open data dashboards and participatory budgeting – is not free. How can we measure the instrumental value of open government reforms?

Climate finance: why is transport getting the short end of the stick?

Shomik Mehndiratta's picture
Also available in: Español | Français 
what did I miss?
what did I miss?
For the past two decades, I've worked on issues at the intersection of the education and technology sectors in middle- and low-income countries and emerging markets around the world. It's been a fascinating job: Over the past 20 years, I've been an advisor to, evaluator of, and/or working-level participant in, educational technology ('edtech') initiatives in over 50 such countries. When it comes to ICT use in education, the promised revolution always seems to be just around the corner. Indeed: I am regularly pitched ideas by people who note that, while many past promises about the potential of the use of new technologies in education have failed to pan out, they are confident that "this time, it's different".

At the same time, I am quite often asked to help other folks identify intriguing initiatives that might, individually and/or collectively, illuminate emerging trends and approaches in this sector:

"I'm interested in examples of innovative educational technology projects from around the world, especially those primarily focused on helping teachers and learners in developing countries. In other words: Not the usual suspects. Can you suggest a few projects and companies that I might not know about -- but should?"

I receive a version of this request most every week (sometimes even multiple times in a single day). Given the frequency of such inquiries, I thought I'd quickly highlight 20 such efforts from around the world, in the hope that people might find this useful. The hope is to point readers in the direction of some interesting projects that they might not know much about, but from which there is much we can learn. 

While I am not sure if, indeed, things will turn out to be 'different this time around', the overall volume of such projects, and the sophistication of many of them, are quite notable. There is more happening, in more places, than ever before. A number of efforts have been informed (in good ways) by past failures. That said, others will no doubt attempt to 'reinvent the flat tire' and display a characteristic common to Einstein's definition of insanity: "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results". Hopefully none of the groups profiled below will fall into that trap, but I suspect that a few of them might.

The list here, a mix of for-profit and non-profit initiatives, is deliberately idiosyncratic and non-representative (see the many caveats and explanations that follow below the list). Some of these projects are no doubt doomed to 'fail'; others will most likely be restructured more than once as they try, to borrow the words of Deng Xiaopeng, to "cross the river by feeling the stones". And maybe, just maybe, a few of them might actually turn out to be as 'transformative' as they hope to be. 

With that said, and in alphabetical order, here are:
 
20 innovative edtech projects from around the world

What the World Bank missed when looking at the "law" in their Development Report 2017

Adrian Di Giovanni's picture
From left: World Development Report 2017 & World Development Report 2002

Editor’s note: This is the second installment of a two-part series. You can read part-one hereThe findings, interpretations and conclusions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the view of the World Bank Group, its Board of Directors or the governments they represent.

The Word Development Report 2017 on Governance and the Law rightly frames law in social terms – “but one of many rule systems” – and instrumental terms – “an important tool in the policy arena… in shaping behavior, in ordering power, and in providing a tool for contestation.”

If the World Development Report 2017 had one or two more chapters on the law

Adrian Di Giovanni's picture
Photo: World Bank

Editor’s note: This is the first installment of a two-part series. You can read part-two hereThe findings, interpretations, and conclusions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the view of the World Bank Group, its Board of Directors or the governments they represent.
 
The World Development Report 2017 on Governance and the Law has cast some much welcome attention on the role of law in development. Compared to other sectors, international aid to the justice sector has been relatively low: only 1.8% of total aid flows, compared with 7.4% and 7.5% for the health and education sectors respectively between 2005 and 2013. More than that, the WDR 2017 is commendable for successfully articulating a positive and coherent if cautious view of law’s role.

What’s the latest in development economics research? A round-up of 140+ papers from NEUDC 2017

David Evans's picture


I am the World Bank’s Director for the Western Balkans, and I live in Vienna, Austria, where thousands of refugees, mostly fleeing from conflict in Syria and Afghanistan, are now straggling across the border from Hungary after harrowing trips on crowded boats, uncomfortable stays in makeshift camps, cramped bus rides and long journeys on foot when all else fails.

My father’s parents were refugees to America.  They were Jewish peasants from Russia who fled the pogroms of the early twentieth century.  My mother’s great-grandparents were economic migrants, educated German Jews who went to Chicago in the mid-nineteenth century to seek their fortune in grain futures and real estate.  When my parents married in the early 1950s, theirs was considered a “mixed marriage”: Russian and German; peasant stock and educated elite; refugees and economic migrants.  I know the difference between the latter two:  refugees are pushed out of their home countries by war, persecution and a fear of death; economic migrants are pulled out of their home countries by the promise of a more prosperous life for themselves and their children.

Five assumptions about bureaucracies that our data dispute

Daniel Walker's picture

When I recently traveled to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, I spoke with several government officials in the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs who told me about the many problems encountered by their migrant workers in the Middle East.  As more Ethiopians, especially women, have been migrating to the Middle East as domestic workers, the embassies and consulates have received many complaints about false contracts being issued, passports of their nationals being taken away by their employers, and abuses in the work place.  In order to tackle these problems, the government created the Overseas Employment Service, which is modeled after the Philippines Overseas Employment Administration.

Similar to the Philippines, the office regulates the private recruitment agencies to ensure that the migrants are not signing false contracts.  All private recruitment agencies are required to obtain a 300 Birr (USD$30) license from the Ministry to recruit workers for one year (renewable), report the status of their workers, and are subject to auditing by the office to ensure that the workers are not being cheated by the agencies or their employers abroad.  The office also provides pre-departure orientation seminars to educate Ethiopians about the rules of their employment contracts, how to send remittances, and the culture and work conditions in the destination country.  This three hour orientation is conducted in the Ministry offices in Addis Ababa and the government has started 3 years ago to make it mandatory for those departing the country on overseas contracts. 

Which comes first: good governance or economic growth? (Spoiler: it’s neither)

Yuen Yuen Ang's picture
Available in Chinese
Graphic: Nicholas Nam/World Bank

The idea that economic growth needs good governance and good governance needs economic growth takes us to a perennial chicken-and-egg debate: Which comes first in development—good governance OR economic growth? For decades, positions have been sharply divided between those who advocate “fix governance first” and others who say “stimulate growth first.”

Could Reforming the State Owned Enterprise Sector be a Big Deal for Ghana?

Errol Graham's picture

This blog post is part of a series highlighting the key findings of the Global Financial Development Report 2015 | 2016: Long-Term Finance. You can view all the posts in the series at http://blogs.worldbank.org/allaboutfinance/category/tags/gfdr2015.

Long-term finance—defined here as any source of funding with maturity exceeding at least one year—can contribute to economic growth and shared prosperity in multiple ways. Most importantly, it reduces firms’ exposure to rollover risks, enabling them to undertake longer-term fixed investments and it allows households to smooth income over their life cycle and to benefit from higher long-term returns on their savings.

But how are we to think about the actual use of long-term finance by firms and households?  Chapter 1 of the 2015 Global Financial Development Report presents a conceptual framework for understanding the use of long-term finance summarized in Figure 1 below. In essence, the use of long-term finance can be best understood as a risk-sharing problem between providers and users of finance. Long-term finance shifts risk to the providers because they have to bear the fluctuations in the probability of default and the loss in the event of default, along with other changing conditions in financial markets, such as interest rate risk. In contrast, short-term finance shifts risk to users because it forces them to roll over financing constantly. Therefore, long-term finance may not always be optimal. Providers and users will decide how they share the risk involved in financing at different maturities, depending on their needs.

Professionalizing public procurement in Vietnam

Kien Trung Tran's picture
World Bank-financed school in Vietnam's Can Tho province. Photo: World Bank

Vietnam spends an estimated US$25 billion in goods and services each year. Recognizing that an efficient public procurement system is essential to delivering quality public services in a timely manner, the Government has set a mandate to professionalize the public procurement function.

How far are we on the road to sustainable mobility?

Nancy Vandycke's picture
Building and sustaining national educational technology agencies: Lessons, models and case studies from around the world

For over a decade, the World Bank and the Government of Korea have enjoyed a strong strategic partnership exploring a wide range of issues related to the use of information and communications technologies (ICT) in education around the world.

One high profile activity under this partnership is the annual Global Symposium on ICT use in Education (GSIE), which has helped to establish Korea as a global hub for insight, knowledge sharing and networking for high level government officials, practitioners and experts around topics related to the use of new technologies in education.

GSIE organizers planned from the beginning to support knowledge exchanges around a few ‘evergreen’ general topics (e.g. like the use of new technologies to support teachers; monitoring and evaluation; and digital competencies for learners) in which KERIS, Korea’s national educational technology agency, has notable experience and expertise.

What organizers did not initially anticipate, however, was the extent to which policymakers were interested not only in learning about what KERIS itself knew, and was learning, about uses of new technologies in education, but also in learning about the institution of KERIS itself – as well as institutions like it.

As it happened, people responsible for starting, leading and/or overseeing national institutions in their countries which performed similar sorts of functions to that of KERIS increasingly made the trek to Korea to participate in the GSIE (as they are doing this week), sharing information and insights with their counterparts about national institutions emerging in countries around the world to help introduce, support, fund, share information about, and evaluate the use of ICTs in education at a large scale.

A new World Bank publication, Building and sustaining national educational technology agencies: Lessons, models and case studies from around the world, attempts to document, analyze and take stock of this phenomenon:


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