Posts

Increasing Education Foreign Assistance: Unlocking a World of Promise
Knowledge is power. This simple statement is more resonant than ever as the world moves towards a knowledge-based economy. In spite of the tremendous importance of education in building the lives of youth around the world, only a small share of the United States’ foreign aid budget goes to education and social programs. By increasing education foreign assistance for such programs, the U.S. could bolster its contribution to global development.

Here are four facts about the current amount of U.S. foreign assistance for education:

  1. Since 2010, spending budgeted for foreign assistance for education has fallen by 44 percent from $1.75 billion to $1.21 billion in 2016. This stands in stark comparison to the seven percent decline in the overall foreign assistance budget and the 13 percent increase in total federal spending over the same time period.
  2. The U.S. spends only three percent of its total foreign assistance budget on social and educational programs, around half of which goes to basic education. By contrast, Australia spends around 25 percent of its foreign aid budget on such programs. The largest recipient of foreign assistance for education in the 2016 fiscal year is Afghanistan. Many of these programs target education for women and girls in a society where female education has traditionally received little support or even outright hostility.
  3. In 2016 the military budget for the U.S. was $604.5 billion and foreign assistance spending on security was $8.77 billion, respectively 500 and 7.2 times higher than spending on foreign assistance for education.
  4. Since 2006, 123 different countries have received foreign assistance for education from the U.S. Afghanistan received the most, $696.8 million, while Montenegro came in last with a little over $14,000. The other leading countries after Afghanistan were Ethiopia, Liberia, Kenya and Guatemala.

Increasing education foreign assistance can bolster economic growth, encourage gender equality and build local capacities. For each additional year of schooling in a country, annual GDP growth rises by 0.37 percent, allowing for greater trade opportunities. The higher the proportion of the population enrolled in secondary education, the lower the risk of war. Therefore it is key to U.S. economic and national security interests that we continue to provide foreign assistance for education.

Jonathan Hall-Eastman

Photo: Flickr

poverty in the bahamas

While many Americans flock to the Bahamas for relaxing beach vacations, these tourists may not think about the economic hardships faced by their island hosts. Here are seven facts about the condition of poverty in the Bahamas:

  1. The poverty rate in the Bahamas currently sits at 12.5 percent. In 2001, the poverty rate was 9.3 percent. In 2014, the poverty line in the Bahamas stood at $4,247 compared to $2,863 as recorded in 2001.
  2. The current poverty rate is the highest for those in the under-20 demographic. Chairman of Citizens for Justice Bishop Walter Hanchell explained this statistic to The Freeport News, saying many recent high school graduates have trouble finding work as they lack the necessary skills.
  3. Unemployment contributes a great deal to poverty in the Bahamas. In 2013, unemployment was recorded at 16.2 percent and has gone down to 15.4 percent according to the 2014 Labor Force Survey. Bahamian scholar Rochelle R. Dean shared her thoughts on unemployment with Tribune242, saying, “the Bahamas has the resources, tools and labour force to reduce the unemployment rate, but lacks the vision and ambition to do so.”
  4. According to the Household Expenditure Survey, larger families are more likely to be in poverty, with 32 percent of households with seven or more members living below the poverty line.
  5. Haitians living in the Bahamas have the highest rate of poverty at 37.69 percent, although Haitians represent only 7.48 percent of the Bahamian population. The poverty rates among the islands in the Bahamas vary greatly: poverty rates are the highest within the Family Islands and lowest in Grand Bahama.
  6. Households led by women are more likely to face poverty in the Bahamas (9.7 percent) than households led by men (7.9 percent). According to the Nassau Guardian, women represent slightly more of the poor population at 51.83 percent.
  7. In 2012, 10,000 people received financial aid from the Bahamian government, an astounding increase from the 3,000 people in 2004.

Although multiple leaders in the Bahamas are at odds about how to improve the economy, all agree that something must be done, soon. With increasing poverty and unemployment rates, the citizens and leaders of the Bahamas must find a way to come together to improve these conditions.

Carrie Robinson

Photo: Flickr

Indonesia_Family

In 2013, 28 million Indonesians lived below the poverty line. Impoverished families throughout the nation were often too poor to afford healthcare and education for their children, leading to illness and injury that trapped them in generational poverty.

In an effort to break this generational cycle, the World Bank, in combination with the Ministry of Social Affairs, has created the Family Hope Program.

Financial and Developmental Aid

The Indonesian Family Hope Program works through a series of cash transfers. The money is given to parents who agree to participate in health and nutrition training, take their children to clinics when they’re ill and keep their children in school.

The program also provides startup money and skills training to parents. These micro-investments give families the means to become entrepreneurs and run their own family businesses, ensuring economic growth and generational development.

Health

Mothers participating in the program are encouraged to give their children the best possible start to life — beginning in the womb. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that women have four antenatal check-ups throughout the course of their pregnancy, thus lowering the risk of complications, infections and other life-threatening incidents through screenings. Yet, few women receive all four visits.

The Family Hope Program has increased the number of antenatal checkups by more than 7 percent. This establishes a precedent of continued family health. As mothers are healthier during and after pregnancy, children are healthier and receive better healthcare as a result. The 7 percent increase in antenatal care resulted in a mirrored raise in child immunizations by 7 percent.

The nutritional aspect of the program has also positively impacted childhood development, decreasing the number of children suffering from stunting by 5 percent. As a result of children being healthier, they are able to focus better and attend school.

Education

Along with the cash grants, more than 11,000 facilitators trained in education and nutrition hold seminars teaching mothers how to manage finances, improve the health of their families and aid their children in their studies.

The program has resulted in increased enrollment and school participation.

Many children from poor families stop attending school after completing their primary education, though not due to a lack of desire to attend. The program has removed financial barriers keeping children from continuing their education for the more than 3 million families that the program has reached.

Children now are 8 percent more likely to go on to secondary education and 10 percent more likely to enroll in junior secondary school. According to the United Nations, more education equals higher earning potential and better health, which are essential to end the generational poverty cycle.

Claire Colby

Sources: NCBI, United Nations, World Bank, World Health Organization
Photo: PBase

Universal Basic Income is a concept where everyone receives a check from their government every month to pay for any necessities one may need. Although the thought of Universal Basic Income (UBI) is a radical move for any country, it can be a way to alleviate poverty. Instead of Food Stamp and Welfare programs, citizens would receive one lump sum check regardless of status. According to the Huffington Post “it could eliminate poverty to a great extent, and set the stage for a healthier and more productive society.”

Switzerland citizens have been fighting for this movement and have sparked a public referendum to push the movement forward. The country has seen the possible benefits of what a UBI can accomplish. Families can have food security, income inequality would decrease, and if countries adopt the idea with success may influence other countries to do the same. In the 1970’s Canada experimented with the implementation of a UBI, and according to the New York Times “poverty disappeared…High-school completion rates went up; hospitalization rates went down.”

Another reason this topic is so vital in today’s world is the advancement of technology. The Guardian has found “Oxford academics Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael A Osborne have predicted computerisation could make nearly half of jobs redundant within 10 to 20 years.” Thus, the more technology grows, the less jobs will be available to the public.

However, the chance of having a UBI gives citizens a way to achieve their professional dreams. Instead of people working a job they need to survive, with a monthly check from the government they can focus on what they really want to do. The economist has studied “Philippe Van Parijs, a Belgian philosopher, who believes a UBI provides ‘the real freedom to pursue the realization of one’s conception of the good life’” Therefore, a family living in poverty will lose the stress of worrying about their next meal and children can focus on education.

If this concept seems so beneficial why hasn’t it been done? One of the main concerns of creating a UBI is the downfall in work ethic; there is a possibility of laziness if people receive checks for simply being alive. Another drawback is the raise in taxes, BBC has stated “income tax would not necessarily rise, but value added tax – on what people buy rather than what they earn – could rise to 20% or even 30%.”

Despite some negativities in a UBI, it is an idea that may soon be adopted by a majority of the world. With its recent conversation in many governments there seems to be a positive outlook on this concept. A universal income may sound outlandish but so does ending world poverty; yet, both are achievable in the near future.

Sources: BBCThe Guardian, The Huffington PostThe New York Times
Photo: PBS

future-of-foreign-aid
Amid the debate as to whether or not foreign aid helps or hinders developing countries, World Bank Director of Economic Policy and Poverty Reduction Programs for Africa Marcelo Giugale believes that the tables are turning. While the number of people in poverty and countries in need of financial assistance gradually falls, the need for foreign aid will remain a constant. However, the players will change as well as the type of aid needed.

Currently, foreign aid is criticized for many reasons. Corruption, insensitivity and imposition to local markets and businesses, and a growing sense of “aid-dependency” in recipient countries are just a few of the concerns. While the list is long, Giugale believes that the role of foreign aid and a country’s dependence on the monetary assistance is diminishing. He says that the future of foreign aid will become a search for knowledge instead of cash. To reiterate this point, he cites past aid recipients turned donors such as China, India and Brazil and their roles in assisting Africa.

As donor countries begin to regard foreign aid more as investment and partnership, they begin to export goods and assist in building a sound infrastructure rather than imposing a certain way of life or thinking. As developing countries are embracing the income and value of their own natural resources in an economy where oil, gas and minerals generate revenue, the assistance turns to a need of knowledge.

Giugale believes that developing countries already know how to build schools and can pay the teachers that work in them. The aid that supports these developments may diminish in the future. However, the aid that developing countries might seek in the future includes solutions to problems that the government cannot solve alone. In the future of foreign aid, a donor country may lend assistance through experience in improving educational curriculum, health insurance systems, or regulating private suppliers of infrastructure.

– Kira Maixner

Source: The Huffington Post
Photo: INHABITAT