We know that the justice system dampens the business climate in many of the countries where we work. In Bank reports, national strategies, and in common parlance, we lament that poorly performing courts delay business activity, undermine predictability, increase risks and constrain private sector growth. Going further, we conclude that weak justice systems disproportionately hamper micro, small and medium sized enterprises (MSMEs) because they have less buffer to absorb these problems - which can become make-or-break for their businesses.
So that’s the ‘what’ but, precisely, how, do courts impact businesses?
More and more courts are going digital. But does this improve judicial performance?
Legal literature on ‘e-justice’ seems to think so. So too does the World Development Report, ‘Digital Dividends,’ which highlights the potential for ICT to improve the transparency and quality of government service delivery.
As electronic court reporting is one key aspect of this trend, we want to take the opportunity to look at the pros and cons of improving judicial performance in different contexts.
A las 4.30 de la mañana del domingo13 de diciembre, después de 36 horas de tiempo extra (un récord), los 194 países miembros de la Convención Marco sobre el Cambio Climático (CMNUCC) sacaron un conejo del sombrero. La aerolínea South African Airways puso vuelos especiales a disposición de los delegados como una forma de alentarlos a quedarse y terminar su trabajo.
MOOCs -- massively open online courses of the sort that can simultaneously enroll thousands, even tens of thousands, of learners simultaneously -- have been a hot topic of discussion for a few years now in both the worlds of education and 'international development' (and, for what it's worth, the subject of numerous related posts here on the World Bank's EduTech blog). Recent news that edX, one of the prominent MOOC platforms, is to start offering courses aimed at high school students suggests that the potential usefulness and impact of things like MOOCs may soon extend beyond the realm of higher education, out of which MOOCs originally emerged and where most related activity has occurred to date.
There is much (potentially) to be excited about here. Few would argue against having greater access to more learning opportunities, especially when those opportunities are offered for 'free', where there is latent unmet demand, and where the opportunities themselves are well constructed and offer real value for learners. As with MOOCs at the level of higher education, however, we perhaps shouldn't be too surprised if these new opportunities at the high school level are first seized upon *not* by some of the groups with the greatest learning needs -- for example, students in overcrowded, poorly resourced secondary schools in developing countries, or even students who would like a secondary education, but for a variety of reasons aren't able to receive one -- but rather by those best placed to take advantage of them. This has been largely been the case for initial adopters of MOOCs. (One of the first studies of this aspect of the 'MOOC Phenomenon', which looked at MOOCs from the University of Pennsylvania, found that students tended to be "young, well educated, and employed, with a majority from developed countries.")
As a practical matter, some of the first types of beneficiaries may, for example (and I am just speculating here), be homeschooling families in North America (while not necessarily comparatively 'rich' by local standards, such families need to be affluent enough to be able to afford to have one parent stay at home with the kids, and generally have pretty good Internet connectivity); international schools around the world (which can offer a broader range of courses to students interested in an 'American' education); and the families of 'foreign' students looking to apply to college in the United States (the edX course “COL101x: The Road to Selective College Admissions” looks, at least to my eyes, tailor made for certain segments of the population of learners in places like China, Korea, Hong Kong, etc.). In other words, at least in the near term, a Matthew Effect in Educational Technology may be apparent, where those who are best placed to benefit from the introduction of a new technology tool or innovation are the ones who indeed benefit from it the most.
Longer term, though, it is possible to view this news about movement of a major MOOC platform into the area of secondary education as one further indication that we are getting further along from the 'front end of the e-learning wave' (of which MOOCs are but one part) to something that will eventually have a greater mass impact beyond what is happening now in the 'rich' countries of North America and the OECD.
Learning with new technologies has of course been around for many decades but, broadly speaking, has not (yet) had the 'transformational' impact that has long been promised. "Gradually, then suddenly" is how one of Ernest Hemingway's characters famously describes how he went bankrupt. Might this be how the large scale adoption of educational technologies will eventually happen as well in much of the world?
f so, one credible potential tipping point may be a 'black swan' event that could push all of this stuff into the mainstream, especially in places where it to date has been largely peripheral: some sort of major health-related scare. (For those unfamiliar with the term, which was popularized by Nicholas Taleb, a 'black swan' is a rare event that people don't anticipate but which has profound consequences). One of the first ever posts on the EduTech blog, Education & Technology in an Age of Pandemics, looked at some of what had been learned about how teachers and learners use new technologies to adapt when schools were closed in response to outbreaks involving the H1N1 influenza virus: the 'swine flu' that afflicted many in Mexico about six years ago; and an earlier outbreak of 'bird flu' in China. I have recently been fielding many calls as a result of the current outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa asking essentially, 'Can we do anything with technology to help our students while our schools are closed?', and so I thought it might be useful to revisit, and update, that earlier post, in case doing so might be a useful contribution to a number of related discussions are occurring.
The inefficiency and inequity caused by age differences in testing is not news. On the contrary, it is a well-documented fact. The proposed solution to this problem is to age-adjust test scores. But the truth is, we are nowhere near to implementing such a solution.
For five years now, the global community has been observing the International Day of Forests on March 21. It is an occasion to celebrate the wide range of economic and social benefits that forests and trees bring to humankind. Since joining the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF) as its president in July 2016, I have been paying lots of attention to forests in West Africa, which is the world’s leading source of cocoa. These tropical forests, and others like them around the world, play an indispensable role in fighting global climate change by storing carbon. They also meet vital local needs, by cooling temperatures, helping generate rainfall, and purifying the air and water. Healthy forests help rural communities thrive. The paradox is that, over the last 10 years, life-giving forests in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana were felled at an alarming rate as cocoa farmers, faced with challenges such as low prices, climate change, and low productivity, have expanded the land area on which they grow cocoa. The crop, essential for the chocolate and cocoa products that many of us love, is now seen as a major driver of deforestation in these countries.
Rising obesity rates are in the headlines – with increasing recognition of the major role that agriculture and food systems play in the epidemic. As agriculture economists interested in human nutrition, we wanted to take a look at what it all means, to look at how agriculture and food systems are part of the problem and how they are part of the solution. While conducting research for a recent report, a few things stood out to us.
What will it take …to improve your life? …for your children to be better off? …for mothers to be healthy? …for all to get a good education? …to end poverty? More than 1.3 billion people around the globe live on less than $1.25 a day. Fighting poverty in times of crisis may be challenging, but we can’t take our eyes off the most vulnerable.
In this video, World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim asks, “What Will It Take?” Post your questions on Twitter using #whatwillittake, and share your solutions with the hashtag #ittakes.
« Ce qui est logé au plus profond de ton cœur, la mort ne peut pas te l’arracher ». Cette phrase, écrite par ma mère, Manel Kirtisinghe, dans son journal intime, résume ce qu’elle a ressenti en perdant un être cher pendant le tsunami de 2004. « Le 26 décembre, Prasanna est parti, laissant un vide qui ne se refermera jamais et une douleur silencieuse qui me lance constamment. »
Prasanna, c’était mon frère. Cette année, ma mère ne sera pas avec nous pour accomplir les rites religieux en sa mémoire. Elle nous a quittés voici quelques mois. Prasanna, c’était notre rempart. Et sa disparition nous a tellement traumatisés qu’il nous a fallu sept longues années pour reconstruire notre maison chérie et y retourner. Ma mère était heureuse de retrouver l’endroit qu’elle avait découvert en 1944, toute jeune mariée. Mais elle a systématiquement refusé de s’asseoir dans la véranda à l’arrière de la maison ou d’aller marcher sur la plage — un rituel auquel elle sacrifiait deux fois par jour avant le tsunami.