Quotes On Education
The power of education is undeniable all across the world, both socially and personally, in both developing and developed countries. It has even been referred to by the U.N. as the universal “passport to human development.”

With that in mind, here are some of the most thought-provoking and inspiring quotes on education, from several well-known and important figures across time, helping to articulate the true value that can come from receiving one:

  1. “It is in fact a part of the function of education to help us escape, not from our own time — for we are bound by that — but from the intellectual and emotional limitations of our time.
    – T.S. Eliot
  2. “The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you.”
    – B.B. King
  3. “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”
    – Frederick Douglas
  4. “Learning is the only thing the mind never exhausts, never fears, and never regrets.”
    – Leonardo da Vinci
  5. “It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength.”
    – Maya Angelou
  6. “So let us wage a global struggle against illiteracy, poverty, and terrorism, and let us pick up our books and pens. They are our most powerful weapons.”
    – Malala Yousafzai
  7. “Slavery is one of the worst forms of violence – as is the denial of education. Education is key to liberating children from slavery.”
    – Kailash Satyarthi
  8. “Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.”
    John Dewey
  9. “The purpose of education is to replace an empty mind with an open one.”
    – Malcolm Forbes
  10. “Education is learning what you didn’t even know you didn’t know.”
    Daniel J. Boorstin

Mayra Vega

Sources: Better World, Brainy Quote, Good Housekeeping, Inspirational Quotes, Learning Revolution, Positivity Blog, Rasmussen College, U.N., UN Foundation Blog
Photo: Globalization 101

Development Across AfricaThis year could be a major turning point for development across Africa according to a new report by the Brookings Institution.

Building on data from the World Bank, analysts from the organization’s Africa Growth Initiative lay out key human development interventions needed in 2016 to keep the continent on course to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

First, the report argues, there is a critical need to address the lack of reliable data on poverty coming out of the region. The World Bank recently committed to helping the poorest countries conduct surveys every three years, and hopes this investment will spread.

“Better data will tell us whether we’re delivering effective programs that will help end extreme poverty by 2030 and boost shared prosperity among the poorest,” said World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim.

Based on data that is available, it is clear that many low-income countries on the continent have realized significant progress over the past 20 years. The number of people living on less than $1.90 per day is now 43 percent, down from 56 percent in 1990. School enrollment has increased from 55 percent to 74 percent. Life expectancy at birth has increased by six years. And, HIV prevalence has been reduced by five percent.

But while development across Africa is on the rise, progress may be leveling off. The number of people living in poverty has actually increased by 50 million since 1990, bringing the total number to 330 million.

Brookings and World Bank Analysts say this comes down to a growing African population, but also to conflict, persistent gender inequality and an over-reliance on exporting natural resources.

In 2016, they recommend African leaders and development partners renew focus on gender-inclusion beginning with primary school enrollment. Financial support will be needed to promote cost-free education, since families often keep girls out of school if it means saving money. Pay equity and employment non-discrimination legislation at the national level should also be fostered.

Resource-rich countries in Africa face a perplexing development gap, including a 10 percent shorter life expectancy and higher levels of economic and social inequality. Brookings Senior Fellow, Haroon Bhorat, explains that when countries rely on exporting natural resources, they may generate a lot of revenue, but they do not create many jobs — meaning there is no real effect on poverty.

A renewed focus on manufacturing jobs will be needed in 2016 to create long-term employment and sustainable growth in these countries, he suggests.

“An expansion in manufacturing will provide the building blocks for a more diversified local economy — in the pursuit of structural transformation and an improvement in living standards in Africa,” Bhorat said.

Analysts are confident that development across Africa, in terms of economic progress, over the last 20 years can continue if leaders make 2016 a turning point to re-energize and refocus their development efforts. Leaders will need to look beyond the short-term benefits of exporting resources, and make serious investments in inclusive, sustainable growth.

Ron Minard

Sources: Brookings Institution, Global Research, World Bank
Photo: International Trade Centre

What Causes StuntingWhat causes stunting? The World Health Organization (WHO) calls growth stunting one of the most significant impediments to human development.

Stunting is described as, low height for age or a height more than two standard deviations below the WHO Child Growth Standards median.

It is estimated 162 million children under the age of five are stunted worldwide.

According to The Future of Children, stunting is an indication of malnutrition or nutrition related disorders. Contributing factors include poor maternal health and nutrition before, during and after pregnancy, as well as inadequate infant feeding practices especially during the first 1,000 days of a child’s life and infection.

In a global study, UNICEF explains that nearly half of all deaths of children under the age of five are attributable to chronic malnutrition. In one year, that’s a loss of nearly three million lives.

Malnutrition doesn’t only lead to decreased stature. Malnutrition increases the risk of dying from common infections, the frequency and severity of such infections and contributes to delayed recovery. According to UNICEF, the relationship between malnutrition and infection can create a potentially lethal cycle of worsening illness and deteriorating nutritional status.

The effects of stunting are lasting and generally irreversible. Children over the age of two who are stunted are unlikely to be able to regain their lost growth potential. In addition, children who experience stunting have an increased risk for cognitive and learning delays.

The effects of malnutrition on a population have broader impacts. Malnutrition perpetuates poverty and slows economic growth. Reports from the World Bank show that as much as 11 percent of gross national product in Africa and Asia is lost annually to the impact of malnutrition.

A study looking at the long-term effects of stunting in Guatemala showed adults who were stunted as children received less schooling, scored lower on tests, had lower household per capita expenditure and a greater likelihood of living in poverty. For women, stunting in early life was associated with a lower age at first birth and a higher number of pregnancies and children.

The World Bank estimates a 1 percent loss in adult height due to childhood stunting is associated with a 1.4% loss in economic productivity. Further estimates suggest stunted children earn 20 percent less as adults compared to non-stunted individuals.

In 2012, the World Health Assembly endorsed a plan to improve maternal, infant and young child nutrition by 2025. Their first target: a 40 percent reduction in the number of children under the age of five who are stunted.

Overall, progress has been made. UNICEF reported between 1990 and 2014 the number of stunted children under five worldwide declined from 255 million to 159 million. Today, that is just under one in four children under the age of five who have stunted growth.

At the same time, numbers of stunting have increased in West and Central Africa from 19.9 million to 28.0 million. As of 2014, just over half of all stunted children live in Asia and over one-third reside in Africa.

Kara Buckley

Sources: World Bank, UNICEF, The Future of Children, World Health Organization 1, World Health Organization 2

Development in Latin America
Multidimensional poverty is a widespread problem throughout Latin American and the Caribbean, marked by deficiencies in education, health and standards of living. In 14 countries in the region, close to seven percent of the population is familiar with this degree of poverty and an additional 9.5 percent stands on the brink.

United Nation Development Programme expert Alfredo González stated that “there are 45 million people that are living at the limits of their capacities and could fall back into poverty if faced with a negative shock.”

Such a shock could be caused by anything from a financial crisis, such as Argentina’s newest default debacle, to environmental catastrophe, seen in severe flooding and droughts throughout the region.

The UNDP reports that, while Latin America continues to enjoy the greatest amount of human development of any developing region in the world, this progress is being threatened by inequality and a lack of access to formal employment.

In fact, since 2008, the region’s progress toward human development has slowed by 25 percent according to UNDP figures.

The UNDP’s yearly Human Development Index, calculated based on a combination of factors including life expectancy, educational opportunity and purchasing power, rates the long term human development of every nation on a scale of zero being the worst to one being the best.

Chile, Cuba and Argentina topped the region’s HDI charts with respective scores of 0.82, 0.81 and 0.80, while Haiti, Nicaragua and Honduras came in last place.

This year’s HDI report highlights the important role formal employment plays in human development in Latin America. Increased incomes, gainfully employed youth and increased labor regulation are all benefits that communities stand to gain from better access to full employment.

Liliana Rendón, economics professor at the Autonomous University of the State of Mexico, observes that “the poor do not only suffer from an income deficit; poverty also includes shortcomings in healthcare, education and other problems. Income must translate into wellbeing, taking social, environmental and policy aspects into consideration.”

In order to make strides toward greater wellbeing the UNDP recommends that countries in Latin America and the Caribbean push for policies that facilitate universal access to social services, which, in turn, may serve to bolster formal employment and lift more people out of poverty.

-Kayla Strickland

Sources: Independent European Daily Express, Nearshore Americas, Buenos Aires Herald
Photo: The Guardian

third world country
The term “third world country” was created during the Cold War and was used to categorize a country’s alignment during the war. There were three categories at this time: those countries whose views aligned with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and capitalism (i.e. the First World); those countries whose views aligned with the Soviet Union and communism, (i.e. the Second World); and all the other countries, aligned with neither view, the “Third World.”

Today, the term “third world” is an antiquated term most commonly used to describe the developing countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America, and is a term typically associated with poverty. What classifies a country as part of the “Third World”? Below are four of the indicators that are used to classify third world countries:

1. Low Gross National Income (GNI)

Third world countries experience low economic development, and high rates of poverty. For the 2015 fiscal year, low-income economies—such as those in Tanzania, Haiti and Cambodia—are defined as those with a GNI per capita of less than $1,045 in 2013. The GNI for high-income economies, such as the United States, is $12,746 per capita.

2. Economic Dependence on Other Countries

Developing third world countries, as a result of the state of their economies, rely heavily on more economically and technologically advanced countries. And, third world countries’ economies—which, for the most part, lack modernity and independence—are typically geared towards serving and are controlled by more developed countries. This imbalance of control and dependence widens the gap between the wealthy countries, such as the U.S., and low-income economies such as Cameroon’s.

3. Low Human Development Index (HDI)

The HDI, published annually by the United Nations, measures three basic dimensions of human life: knowledge, a long and healthy life and a decent standard of living. The U.S. is ranked fifth on the HDI scale, while a developing country such as the Democratic Republic of Congo is ranked 186th.

4. Lack of Political Rights and Civil Liberties

Most of the world’s poorest countries are also the countries for which there is a severe lack of political rights and civil liberties. Developing countries such as Sudan are war-torn and civil liberties and rights almost nonexistent in the wake of the violence and war crimes. Citizens of the U.S. experience a life that is on the complete opposite end of the spectrum, with basic rights such as the right to an education strongly in place.

There are other indicators when it comes to categorizing a country as “third world,” and certainly not every developing country shares each of the above characteristics. But one thing is clear: millions of people around the world are citizens of countries in which daily life is excruciatingly difficult.

Poverty, limited access to education, low standards of living and lack of civil liberties and political rights are just a few of the realities for the many third world countries that exist alongside wealthy nations such as the U.S. If wealthier nations stepped in and did more to assist third world countries, surely the term would dissipate, following the alleviation of the effects of extreme poverty.

– Elizabeth Nutt

Sources: The World Bank, One World – Nations Online, United Nations Development Programme, Blurtit
Photo: Mental Floss

Rural Sudan Drought
Conflicts over oil in Sudan, North Africa’s largest country, caused a series of price inflations that have greatly affected the population. As Sudan’s largest natural resource is oil, the country experienced years of turmoil and conflict with bordering countries over the rights to oil fields. The increase in the price of oil is further reflected in transportation, and the isolation gap between urban and more rural areas has grown. As a result of this isolation, rural areas are unable to access necessary resources and economic growth. These areas have experienced low human development and according to the World Bank Sudan ranks 171 out of 187 countries on the human development indicator. In order to better human development the country must focus more on social and economic factors, especially in these rural communities.

Sudan is mostly made up of rural areas, which are drastically affected by drought, famine and conflict. In particular, the region of Darfur has suffered considerably and is currently the poorest area of the country. In fact, the land in Sudan is unfit to farm because of unreliable rainfall and the area faces major drought. Due to these circumstances, more than half of the population of Sudan lives in poverty and isolation.

Sudan also faces inequality and underdevelopment for most people living in these areas. For instance, access to health services is scarce, leaving more than half of the population without access to health resources. Due to the lack of resources in the health sector the child mortality rate in Sudan is extremely high, with  111 child mortality deaths per 1,000 births. In addition to a high child mortality rate, more than half of the population does not have access to safe drinking water. Instead, these communities rely on rivers, wells, and lakes as their drinking source.

In addition to these factors, there is an extreme lack of education in Sudan, especially for young girls. Even if a young girl does have the option to attend school, she becomes at risk of rape and other forms of violence.

There is an obvious need for social and economic development in rural areas to increase Sudan’s overall human development. Children in rural communities must have equal opportunity for a safe education to improve these areas. Also, while there is a substantial focus on oil, the country should instead shift to agriculture so that proper farming practice can be promoted in rural communities. This would foster economic development and lessen the isolation gap that these rural areas currently face.

– Rachel Cannon 

Sources: The Guardian, Rural Poverty Portal
Photo: Energy Forecast 

Afghanistan_economy Afghanistan is a nation with a turbulent history. It is a nation embattled as a result of the many conflicts that have transpired within its borders. In recent years, Afghanistan has sustained a steady disfiguration of its landscape as a result of the protracted War on Terror, along with the various terrorist activities in the nation which several militaries, the North American Treaty Organization (NATO) most notably among them, have sought to suppress. Before the War on Terror, Afghanistan started to incur devastating losses in a war with the Soviet Union from 1979 to 1989, during which over one million Afghanis were killed. Afghanistan was again challenged by a brutal civil war in the 1990s in which extensive violence led to more casualties and internally displaced persons. Conflict in Afghanistan has thus resulted in enduring regional instability over the past 35 years, much to the detriment of national infrastructure improvement. Consequently, economic development has been difficult to implement as well as sustain. Afghanistan performs poorly in many areas considered benchmarks of human development. On the actual human development index, Afghanistan ranks 172nd in the world out of the 187 countries that were surveyed. The performance of the nation’s economy is consistent with the assertions of its human development index ranking. The gross domestic product (GDP) per capita in Afghanistan is $1,399 and is ranked 161st in the world by the World Bank. The country’s literacy rate is also among the lowest in the world at 28.1%. In spite of Afghanistan’s persisting limitations, it has seen significant progress over the course of the past decade. Enrollment in Afghanistan’s schools has increased to nearly eight million from its 2002 total of just one million. Access to basic health resources increased from 9% to 60% between 2003 and 2012, and the number of healthcare facilities saw an increase of over 100% in the same period. Significant improvements were observed in the country’s energy infrastructure as well. Since 2004, the number of Afghani homes with access to grid power increased from 6% to 25%. As a result of investment in these areas, especially in the case of healthcare, both employment and the economy at-large have performed well and experienced steady growth. For the entirety of the War on Terror, total GDP exhibited average growth of 9.2% topping out at 11.8% in 2012 as a result of advantageous weather conditions and, as a result, a booming agricultural sector. The agricultural sector in Afghanistan, which constitutes over 70% of the country’s economy, has been aided by the administration of the World Bank’s National Solidarity Program. The National Solidarity Program has also led to the creation of 34,000 Community Development Councils. Many of these councils have garnered further investment from the World Bank totaling $1.12 billion, funding thousands of projects that these local collectives have sought to introduce. With the complete withdrawal of NATO security forces from Afghanistan set to take place in 2014, the economic outlook for the country is riddled with unresolved security concerns. Since 2001, the security apparatus in Afghanistan has been comprised almost exclusively of foreign troops, and their withdrawal is anticipated to have potentially severe implications for future development efforts. Contrastingly, in yet another period of war, Afghanistan has seen unprecedented growth of infrastructure considered necessary for poverty-reduction. In spite of security concerns that will likely take a long time to address, there is certainly cause to be optimistic about the progress that has been forged in Afghanistan since 2002. – Benjamin O’Brien Sources: Transparency International, World Bank Photo: Able2know

UNDP Recognizes Recent Kazakhstan Growth
On Monday, a UNDP global report regional presentation was held in Astana at the Kazakh Foreign Ministry. The UNDP is a global development network that advocates giving people a better life through knowledge, experience, and resources. Its main focuses center around poverty alleviation, democratic governance, crisis prevention and recovery, and more.

During the presentation of the report, Adam Oliver, the director of the Bratislava regional center of the UNDP (United Nations Development Program), stated that Kazakhstan is ahead in human development in comparison to other Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries and Europe. Oliver went on to add that Kazakhstan is a “transforming country” because it supports other neighboring countries’ economies as well as their own.

Amie Gaye, the chairperson of the UNDP Human Development Department suggested that Kazakhstan has shown “excellent results [in human development] during the last ten years and ranked 17th among 122 countries.” In addition, she also claims that the country is ahead of others in terms of the ratio between education and income levels. Hence, in 2012, it placed 69th out of 187 countries.

Leen Abdallah 
Source: Azer News

Does WTO's Aid for Trade Reduce Poverty?
Aid for Trade is a holistic approach to incorporating developing economies into global trade networks by assisting them in increasing exports and market access. Aid for Trade was initiated at the WTO Ministerial Conference in 2005, and the program has since increased its scope to include building production capacity (financial services, businesses, and industry), trade-related infrastructure (communications, energy, transportation), and trade policy and regulations.

When the Aid for Trade initiative began, it was unclear whether it would receive funding or be successful. Now that it has been implemented for over a decade, it is time to reexamine the links between trade, development, and poverty reduction that Aid for Trade aims to strengthen.

The principle behind Aid for Trade is that increased trade should benefit inhabitants of developing countries, whether or not they are directly involved in the program. One Aid for Trade program teaches Ugandan farmers how to grow and process dried fruit to be sold into the European cereal market. The farmers involved should benefit from increased income, market access, and productivity, and Uganda should benefit from increased exports.

Most evaluations of the effectiveness of Aid for Trade programs take place within 18 months of a given program’s initiation. This is not enough time to measure whether the program has truly been successful at reducing poverty in a sustainable way. Additionally, evaluations often do not take into account a program’s impact on those not involved; how did the fruit-growing education program impact farmers who did not receive additional training and support?

A new study on European trade assistance aid, commissioned by NGOs Traidcraft and the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development, suggests that there may be “hidden losers” to Aid for Trade initiatives. For example, South African fruit growers increased exports to Europe after trade sanctions were lifted. They earned higher wages and improved their standard of living. However, the demand for cheaper fruit also caused some growers to lower wages and to replace full-time employees with temporary, often migrant workers, who did not enjoy the benefits.

The study also found that the majority of trade assistance goes to middle-income countries rather than to the least developed countries (LCDs) that Aid for Trade is directed towards. Little evidence exists to prove Aid for Trade’s effectiveness in reducing extreme poverty; this is likely a result of short-term program evaluations that take place before real impact can be measured, as well as lack of donor interest in, and therefore funding for, impact evaluations.

Overall, there are many obstacles to determining whether or not Aid for Trade has been successful thus far. More thorough, accurate, and long-term evaluations of poverty rates are necessary in order to determine the tangible successes or failures of Aid for Trade.

– Kat Henrichs

Sources: OECD, International Center for Trade and Sustainable Development, The Guardian
Photo: European Commission

Yesterday, the United Nation published its 2013 Human Development Report. Among the most encouraging signs of development are the percentage increases in some of the countries with the lowest Human Development Indices (HDI). Gains have been seen in every single country with complete data since 2000; no country is worse off than 13 years ago by the standards of the HDI report.

This metric measures statistics like infant mortality, per capita income growth, and school attendance in order to give an accurate picture of how a country’s development is proceeding. Some of the countries which have had notoriously low HDIs have seen “impressive” gains of more than 2% per year, including Ethiopia, Myanmar, and Liberia. Niger and the Democratic Republic of the Congo have seen these gains as well, and despite having the lowest overall scores in the world, they are “among the countries that made the greatest strides in HDI improvement since 2000.”

Although sub-Saharan Africa has the lowest average HDI of all global regions, its growth since 2000 has outpaced all but Southeast Asia. However, national and regional averages can actually make the data seem to represent realities which are more nuanced. When taking into account countries’ internal variations of human development, the rankings can look different. For example, the United States would be ranked 16th instead of 3rd. This data goes to show that our preconceptions of development can often be quite skewed. Areas where many think there is no progress being made are actually improving quite drastically, whereas countries that are seen as well-off have distinct problems in ensuring better circumstances for their poorest citizens.

Jake Simon

Source: UNDP
Photo: UNDP