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chinese_education_taiwan
China has the largest education system in the world; almost 10 million students received the entrance exam in 2013. The Chinese government’s compulsory education law states that nine years of education is mandatory for all Chinese children which the government funds. Furthermore, China is also excelling at higher-education, the amount of college students has risen drastically since the late 1970s. China also celebrates the right that all citizens enjoy the right to education regardless of their gender or race.

China has been focused on economic modernization and this idea shaped the Chinese school programs today. The current 12-year schooling came in the 1980s and consists of nine years of primary and secondary education and three years of senior secondary education. Accordingly, this leads to students heading to higher education after completing the 12-year school program. These higher education programs are highly competitive and scholarship based.

Furthermore, China has institutions that offer programs from Zhuanke, which is full-time study, before entering the bachelor’s programs to doctoral levels. Almost all of these institutions are public to continue stressing the equal opportunity for which China strives. Over 20 million students have finished the higher education programs in the Republic of China.

The Ministry of Education in Republic of China concludes that Taiwan students graduate with some of the highest scores in the world, especially in math and science. Taiwan is embracing the future of its students by posing a democratic free society and advocating hard-working students. In turn, the student focus on traditional learning out comes as well as modern advancements.

Taiwan is also geared towards international students. The international students will immerse themselves in the Taiwanese culture while competing with some of the toughest competition.

The Republic of China is a rising and developing country and the achievements through the remarkable education systems are comparable to the economic and social development in the recent years. China’s economy is one of the fastest growing and is quickly reducing China’s poverty. Due to the success of the education reform in the 1980s, China is seeing huge progress towards improving the lives of millions of Chinese.

One of the biggest strategies was including the support of women in the education platform. Accordingly, the education system has continued to be widely available to all citizens and flourish among the most in the world. The government insures gender equality and continuing funding in poor areas for education. Thus, all societies in China encourage education and the pursuit of higher education as well. This is direct effect of the nation’s priority which is a focus of the balance of social and economic development.

These policies were implemented towards education with the future in mind. The positive social changes made in China have decreased poverty around the nation rapidly. The effort to create more economic growth and a better job market is a direct relation to the better education system.

– Rachel Cannon

Sources: UNICEF, Ministry of Education
Photo: Flickr

hillary_clinton
In 1995, Hillary Clinton took the stage at the fourth annual United Nations Conference on Women in Beijing. She listed the atrocities and violations committed against women and girls around the world.

Although women comprise half of the human population, they are 70 percent of the world’s poor and two-thirds of women are illiterate. Women in the informal labor economy remain unprotected and at risk of exploitation. Girls around the world are at risk of sexual violence, rape, domestic abuse and child marriage.

Almost 20 years later, Clinton’s speech is still remembered for being a firm declaration of women’s rights on the international stage. Not only was it a message for the Chinese government, but a call to countries around the world to promote women’s rights as human rights.

As a United States Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton continued to promote women’s rights and empowerment both domestically and internationally. During her four-year tenure, she visited 112 countries, spreading awareness of human rights abuses.

Since leaving the State Department in 2013, she became involved with a new project: the Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation. The Clinton Foundation has partnered with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to further women’s rights.

Although there has been much progression in the 21th century, Clinton warns that there is little data to accurately measure the advancement made in women’s rights globally. This foundation seeks to record and analyze the progress of women by collecting data and figures from traditional and digital sources.

This concrete data will show world leaders how advancing women and human rights is linked with economic development. By empowering and including women in its economic and social life, communities and families are enhanced and can reach their full potential.

On February 25, 2014, Clinton spoke at Georgetown University’s annual Hillary Rodham Clinton Awards for Advancing Women in Peace and Security. The former Secretary of State held that men are also responsible for advancing and protecting women’s rights and that it is not purely a women’s issue. Men, boys, women and girls all suffer from violence and discrimination against females.

Hillary Clinton remains a strong and popular potential candidate for the 2016 Democratic Nomination for presidency. As a woman and potential nomination candidate, she is subjected to greater and unequal focus on her physical appearance, her age, and her hairstyles. And although Clinton has proved her strength, wisdom and determination for decades as a Senator, First Lady of the United States and U.S. Secretary of State, she is still affected by sexism and the widespread notion of what women should and should not aspire to be.

“If there is one message that echoes forth from this conference, let it be that human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights once and for all. Let us not forget that among those rights are the right to speak freely -and the right to be heard,” Clinton said in 1995.

– Sarah Yan

Sources: Eloquent Woman, MSNBC, Huffington Post
Photo: ABC

peace corps
Since it was established by J.F.K in 1961, the Peace Corps has been fighting first-hand the systematic effects of global poverty. Beginning as a small handful of good samaritans in only six participating countries, it has since then extended its humanitarian influence to 139 countries with the help of more than 210,000 volunteers. If you’ve ever been curious about joining the Peace Corps yourself, here is some information you must read.

How to Apply for the Peace Corps:

The process of becoming an advocate against global poverty is not as daunting as it might seem. The first step is the online application, which asks for basic information and some statements regarding one’s motivation to volunteer abroad. This is then followed by a personal interview with a local recruiter, to see if the Peace Corps seems like a good fit. If all goes well, this could lead to a formal invitation, complete with destination, departure date and project assignment information.

Then comes the fun part – preparing for departure. In the weeks prior to leaving, the Peace Corps will request the volunteer receive comprehensive dental and medical exams, as well as an array of immunizations, to make sure they are good to go. On the day of departure, volunteers head to training at an orientation site within the United States. The training continues in the volunteer’s assigned country, where they will train for three months while also living with a host family to establish skills for their cultural and linguistic adaption.

What the Peace Corps Looks for:

It is true that the demands of being a Peace Corps volunteer require a specific type of person, and thus the application process is very selective. Living and working in another region of the world, often in extremely dire situations, is a job for those with an abundance of determination, adaptability, independence, social sensitivity and emotional maturity. Those who already have some experience with volunteer work usually make the best candidates, as they have probably developed the previously mentioned qualities within themselves. The Peace Corps, furthermore, has many partner organizations such as City Year and the Special Olympics which interested volunteers can explore.

There are also some logistical pre-requisites, concerning the volunteer’s education, skills and ability to deliver aid to a community. While it is still possible to join without one, 90% of Peace Corps jobs require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree. Many jobs require pre-existing skills, such as special education, engineering and urban planning as well as agroforestry. Others can be developed on site, such as a teaching English, youth development and health education. The Peace Corps looks comprehensively at every applicant, however, and there are opportunities for non-degree volunteers who have experience working in construction, agriculture and with other non-profit organizations. By and large, the most promising candidates are those with some understanding of another language.

The Life of a Volunteer:

There is not one, quintessential Peace Corps experience, as the regions and types of work are all so diverse. The Peace Corps works in many countries and continents worldwide, in both rural and urban areas, and volunteers are expected to immerse themselves entirely so as to best serve their assigned communities. Although it is possible to have a preference for a location, flexibility helps during the application process. Regional availability also varies quickly based on need. For example, the Philippines are asking for significantly more volunteers than usual, due to the effects of typhoon Haiyan. Once there, a volunteer will be assigned to one of six main areas of specialized aid, which are: education, youth in development, health, agriculture, environment and community economic development. The commitment is 24 months, plus three months of training, thus totaling 27 months. Living accommodations are provided by the Peace Corps, and also vary greatly depending on the norm for that region.

Why Volunteer:

Helping a community build a more sustainable future for itself is an incredibly rewarding experience, as many veteran volunteers can attest to. All countries where the Peace Corps works have requested the presence of volunteers and aid programs, thus proving that the need is strong.

The benefits of joining the Peace Corps extends after service, as well. Upon return, volunteers receive $7,425 as an “adjustment” allowance, to help re-establish their lives in the United States after over two years abroad. Eligibility for student loan deferral is also provided, as well as a number of scholarships and financial aid packages to graduate degree programs. Over 70 graduate schools are partnered with the Peace Corps, and seek out returning volunteers who wish to incorporate their development experiences into their course work, such as the Paul D. Coverdell Fellow Program. For those wishing to enter directly into a career at home, the Peace Corps is invaluable for its professional connections in fields like federal employment and other non-profit organizations.

– Stefanie Doucette

Sources: Peace Corps, Time, National Archives
Photo: Salon

IBM_International_Innovation_Center
Nigeria’s Ministry of Communication and Technology and IBM have partnered together to fix key problems in Nigeria’s growing economy.

Specifically, they hope to improve Nigeria’s capacity to provide clean water and sanitation, financial services, and reliable energy. Nigeria and IBM also hope to improve the country’s transportation and healthcare systems.

To launch the new partnership the Ministry of Communication and Technology organized a round table between key government officials and senior IBM leadership. They will discuss the process necessary for facilitating the adoption of technological solutions to the government’s key problems.

IBM’s chairman and CEO Virginia Rometty emphasized IBM’s historic ties to Africa and stressed that IBM had the proper capacity to help e-commerce and e-government initiatives in Nigeria.

Such efforts by private companies reflect a trend in Nigeria, where foreign direct investment remains high at 24% as of 2013. Growth in Nigeria also remains high, as its economy expanded 6.5% in 2013 and projects to gain another 6.75% this year.

Companies such as Moet & Chandon champagne, Porsche and Ermenegildo Zegna have rushed to Nigeria in order to capitalize on its economic success. Nigeria may soon take over South Africa’s post as Africa’s largest economy.

Yet, despite the growth and surge in investment, poverty remains high in Nigeria. In 2013, poverty remains at a shockingly high 46%. Infrastructure in Nigeria also lags far behind.

Nigeria’s electricity sector can only produce enough power to work one vacuum cleaner per 25 inhabitants. Additionally, low access to education and high unemployment rates has allowed Islamist radicals to gain a foothold in the country.

The low quality of life and high interests of investors provides an opportunity for Nigeria. Taking advantage of the many resources and enthusiasm provided by strong multinational corporations such as IBM should give Nigeria the push it needs to continue its economic growth and raise millions of its people out of poverty.

– Martin Levy

Sources: IT Africa , The Guardian, Channels TV, African Development Bank, Business Day Online
Photo: Morocco on the Move

Developing_Countries_Overweight
Statistics indicate that individuals who are obese or overweight in developing countries have tripled over the last 30 years. It seems that as countries begin to shift from low income towards middle income and onwards, people are able to purchase more food, most of which is unhealthy.

High-calories foods, usually quite tasty, are now easily accessible in practically every country but now those with more money are purchasing larger quantities.

In the 1980s, less than 23% of adults in the third world were overweight; currently, the amount of obese people in the developing world rival those of rich nations. Mexico is a prime example of this global problem. In 1980, under 40% of Mexican women were overweight but in 2008 it increased to 70% and there is speculation of a greater increase in recent years.

An official from the Overseas Development Institute in London, Steve Wiggins, reports that large varieties of high-calorie snacks such as chips, cookies and carbonated drinks are readily available in various Mexican stores, making it the “poster child” for the obesity problem.

Over 90% of men in some Pacific Island nations are also facing the overweight issue. Countries in the Middle East, such as Egypt, have a growing number of overweight women.

Health systems in developing nations already have significant issues with infectious diseases and now this burden of excessive consumption of high-calorie foods poses a risk for developing other diseases. Cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and various cancers can all be caused by large intake of fat, sugar and salt.

This global trend could potentially lead to increased health care expenses and decreased economic growth from a loss of productivity.

Despite these risky factors, reports suggest that a quick turn around is possible if new health campaigns for better diets are adopted. In the mean time, developing nations are not too interested in advocating for a fruit and vegetable substitute since several families are finally getting sufficient income for more food.

Maybelline Martez

Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, NPR
Photo: Club House News

role_music_africa
Music exists everywhere in daily activities. People listen to music when driving, studying, or relaxing as well as in commercial. Music has the ability to move people in many mysterious ways. The purpose of this article is to discuss the role of music in economic development.

Music is one of the biggest industries in the world. According to International Federation of the Phonography Industry, the music industry sales was $5.8 billion, and performance rights revenue is growing the fastest to $943 million( up from $862 million in 2011). In the emerging world, people are exploring different kinds of music to fit their taste.

In addition, with the increasing use of the internet, it is easier to spread and create a new movement in music. Africa music can get bigger and gain more popularity around the world. Apart from record sales for African music, music can draw other kind of revenue such as concerts, tourist, and sales of band merchandise. The growth in these sectors will create more jobs in the local job market and in Africa as a whole.

Besides, the monetary effect of music on the economy, music can also have an effect on people’s mindset.

Music is the way for people to express and share themselves with others. When people are able to share their opinion with others, African musicians can encourage people to try harder and overcome daily life challenges and reach for higher goals.

Music can also draw attention to African countries and show citizens in developed countries that African is a growing continent not just a sad story for the world.

Nowadays, in Africa, many people are creating labs so that locals can produce music to spread the music effect to others. With low marketing cost, music can produce a steady stream of revenue for the economy and represent Africa in the eyes of people globally.

Phong Pham

Sources: SXSW, Billboard, EthPress
Photo: USAID

botswana_africa
For a sparsely populated and landlocked nation in the middle of the Kalahari Desert, Botswana has achieved much in terms of social and economic development. The country has experienced stable economic growth since claiming independence in 1966. Unlike many other African nations, Botswana is not frustrated by political instability and widespread corruption. In addition, the government has long championed environmental stewardship and sustainable tourism. For now, Botswana remains one of Africa’s success stories.

But the nation is confronting a range of near and long-term problems that will require innovative solutions. First, Botswana is struggling to diversify its economy. Diamond exports comprise nearly 50 percent of government revenues and more than 70 percent of the nation’s export earnings. In last year’s State of the Nation address, President Ian Khama said, “Dependency on anything is never healthy.”

Sensing the consequences of this dependency, the government is initiating programs to bolster other industries such as agriculture, tourism and textile manufacturing. They have also created the Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency, which provides low-cost financing and mentoring programs for aspiring business owners. To date, there is little evidence that these programs are stimulating Botswana’s economy. Many economists believe that its proximity to South Africa will make it difficult for Botswana to successfully compete in global markets.

For years, Botswana’s unemployment rate has exceeded 15 percent. Even graduates of Botswana University have had trouble finding jobs that are commensurate with their skills and education. Many well-qualified young people are competing for a small pool of jobs. This dilemma contributes to Botswana’s growing poverty rate, which is currently just above 20 percent. To combat the problem, the government has increased expenditures on social programs, which more than doubled between 1997 and 2005.

Increased funding of social programs is the natural result of an expanding government. In 2005, the average wage of government workers exceeded those in the private sector by more than 40 percent. This disparity between the public wage and private wage has created a wage reservation, whereby people in the private sector believe they should be paid the same as public sector employees. For this reason, many Batswana refuse to seek employment and instead rely solely on the government’s social programs.

Botswana has achieved exceptional economic improvement since 1966. But reliance on diamond mining and government social programs is undermining the country’s ability to sustain economic growth. Appropriate policies should be implemented to diversify revenues, increase private participation in the labor force and reduce dependency on social programs. Otherwise, Botswana’s success could be in jeopardy.

– Daniel Bonass

Sources: Council on Foreign Relations, African Economic Outlook, International Monetary Fund
Photo: Telegraph

5 Steps to Increased Economic Development in Africa
Recently, Nigeria’s Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala gave a speech at the International Institute for Strategic Studies outlining the steps that need to be taken to improve economic development in Africa by creating jobs and reducing unemployment. Here are the five steps Okonjo-Iweala outlined for creating economic growth in Africa and developing jobs for young people across the continent.

    1. Develop a critical infrastructure. The lack of modern infrastructure in Africa costs the continent “at least 2% in GDP growth annually.” Among the systems that Africa needs to develop are an expansive electrical grid, roads, railways, and communications. These systems allow for more efficient production and transportation of goods, allowing for increased economic output. Additionally, the continent needs to work on establishing clean water and sanitation systems, which will result in improved public health.
    2. Develop human capital. Africa must invest in the skills of its people in order to advance their standard of living. Currently, “33 million primary school-aged children in Sub Saharan Africa do not go to school,” and “40% of Africans over the age of 15 and 50% of women above the age of 25 are illiterate.” Africans need improved access to education in order to work in skilled trades and earn higher wages.
    3. Build safety nets. Throughout Africa, there are few systems that are established to help citizens who are living in poverty or have been negatively impacted by natural disasters. Okonio-Iweala states that Africa must work to establish tax systems to collect revenue for providing assistance to those in need throughout the continent.
    4. Address a growing population. In 2010, Africa was home to more than 1 billion people. The population of Africa is expected to double to 2 billion people by the year 2050. In order to help alleviate poverty in the continent, a focus should be placed on family planning. By reducing the number of births per woman in Africa, the overall GDP per capita will increase, resulting in a higher standard of living for Africans.
    5. Embrace Africa’s youthful population. Africa’s youth represents the future of the continent. By establishing programs that focus on the intellectual development and health improvement of young Africans, the continent will make an investment in its future. Africa has true potential for future economic growth if the continent’s nations invest in its young population, providing them with the tools they need to be successful in a global economy.

– Jordan Kline

Sources: Visualizing, The Guardian, Achieve in Africa
Photo: UN

Cape_Verde_poverty

Cape Verde is a small archipelago island nation in the Atlantic Ocean off the northwest coast of Africa. The country is mired in absolute poverty, with 30% of its citizens below the poverty line. The World Bank estimates that 14% of the population is living in extreme poverty. With a crisis of this magnitude, the government of Cape Verde is dependent on the receipt of international aid to maintain relative stability.

Poverty in Cape Verde is precipitated by a number of factors, but the main inhibitors of economic growth are a gross lack of a natural resources and a limited economic base. Due to repeated droughts, Cape Verde is beleaguered by water shortages and poor soil. Due to a lack of domestic agriculture, over 82% of the country’s food supply is imported. The nation’s narrow economic base stems from over dependence on tourism as the sole source of economic revenue.

The World Bank has agreed to provide significant amounts of funding to Cape Verde and has developed an economic strategy to alleviate the poor conditions there. The World Bank’s plan is four-fold, involving an improvement in the quality of education and healthcare, a diversification of the economic base (exploiting tuna fishing as an additional source of income), an improvement of the already existing infrastructure, and the institution of welfare programs for the disadvantaged.

These changes will have to be implemented from the top down in order for them to be successful. The World Bank is working with the government of Cape Verde to implement these much needed changes. This combination of economic diversification, aid, and development will most assuredly provide a way for Cape Verde to rise out of extreme poverty.

Josh Forgét 

Sources: The World Bank, The CIA World Factbook
Photo: Cape Verde Against Poverty,

world_globe_borgen_africa
Mental healthcare is important to development. Last month, the World Health Organization adopted the Comprehensive Mental Health Action Plan of 2013-2020 to emphasize the importance of global mental health and to establish goals pertaining to mental healthcare.  The Action Plan is the first ever to make mental health its primary concern.

The main objectives of the Action Plan are to “implement strategies for promotion and prevention in mental health”, provide necessary mental health care when needed, and to strengthen research for mental health.

The Action Plan was created due to the fact that much of global health care overlooks mental health problems as a serious concern. The World Health Organization states that “people with mental and psychological disabilities are a vulnerable group as a result of the way they are treated by society”.

Those with mental disabilities are more likely to face physical and sexual victimization, and often times have trouble with school performance and finding employment, leading to a higher risk of living in poverty. On a larger scale, a lack of adequate mental health care for those in need can lead to “reduced social capital” and “hindered economic development”.

In order to reduce the risk of those with mental disabilities living in poverty, the World Health Organization seeks to incorporate adequate mental health support into schools in addition to making opportunities for employment available to those with mental disabilities. While many development efforts focus on ensuring that physical needs are met, the importance of mental health must not be overlooked.  When adequate mental health care is available to those in need, the individuals affected, their families, and their communities experience improved development outcomes.

Jordan Kline

Sources: WHO, Forbes