Global Education
Macroeconomist and Columbia University professor Jeffrey Sachs has been hailed by Time Magazine as one of the 100 most influential world leaders of our time. Best known for his New York Times Bestseller “The End of Poverty,” Sachs recently published a statistically rich article on Project Syndicate calling for the U.S. to increase its support for global education.

Sachs is currently the director of the U.N. Sustainability Development Solutions Network. Sachs once optimistically claimed, “extreme poverty can be ended not in the time of our grandchildren, but in our time.” His call for increasing access to global education is expressed primarily in tandem with his focus on meeting the U.N. Sustainability Goals by 2030.

A Global Fund for Education (GFE), a coalition that would bring together wealthy countries to collaboratively provide financial assistance to countries that need it the most is, for Sachs, the essential key to doing so. Yet, Sachs’ presents startling statistics representing an enormous imbalance in U.S. priorities and an overt militarization in its defense strategy. Moreover, the numbers signal the United States’ negligence. in pursuing a successful strategy towards eradicating poverty.

According to Sachs, roughly $1 billion per year is spent on supporting global education where approximately $900 billion is spent on military-related programs. These military programs included in the sum constitute the Pentagon, CIA, Homeland Security, nuclear weapons systems and veterans’ programs.

Sachs claims that an extra $45 billion per year would guarantee children access to education, one that would allow them to be literate, and minimize risk from joining gangs, drug traffickers and jihadists — all elements that encourage a more dangerous global terrain.

In another article published on Project Syndicate, Financing Health and Education for All, Sachs claims that if the U.S. followed in the footsteps of Sweden, Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and the United Kingdom in supporting health and education, the U.S. could add roughly $90 billion per year to global funding. The extra $45 billion per year then, would offer an easy and complete fix to the eradication of poverty by 2030.

The U.S. could also utilize $90 billion of the $900 billion allocated to military projects towards development aid. These steps would promote the U.S.’s national security as well as give the 200 million children currently out of school the opportunity to become literate and contribute to their own country’s economies.

The Global Fund for Education, if implemented, would allow low-income countries to submit proposals for support where if approved would receive both financial funds and monitoring of its implementation.

Bolstering educational systems and the world’s youth in an increasingly knowledge-based economy will increase the U.S.’s national security and alleviate poverty by 2030. Sachs’ optimism then is not misplaced — so long as the U.S. as well as other wealthy countries reform their strategies.

Priscilla Son

Photo: Flickr

books about poverty
Despite tremendous progress over the past few decades in eradicating global poverty, nearly a fifth of the world still lives on less than $1.25 a day. In recent years, a number of economists, academics, and political analysts have published books providing insight into the causes, effects, and solutions to global poverty. Here are some top books about global poverty that particularly stand out:

The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries are Failing and What Can Be Done About It (2007)

By Paul Collier

“Economist and Africa expert Collier analyzes why a group of 50 nations, home to the poorest one billion people, are failing. Considering issues such as civil war, dependence on extractive industries, and bad governance, he argues that the strongest industrialized countries must enact a plan to help with international policies and standards.” – Amy Lockwood, Stanford Social Innovation Review

Creating a World Without Poverty (2007)

By Muhammad Yunus

“As founder of Grameen Bank, Yunus pioneered microcredit, the innovative banking program that provides poor people mainly women with small loans they use to launch businesses and lift their families out of poverty. Now, in Creating a World Without Poverty, Yunus goes beyond microcredit to pioneer the idea of social business – a completely new way to use the creative vibrancy of business to tackle social problems from poverty and pollution to inadequate health care and lack of education.” – Yunus Centre

The Beautiful Tree: A Personal Journey into How the World’s Poorest People Are Educating Themselves (2009)

By James Tooley

The Beautiful Tree “tells the remarkable story of author James Tooley’s travels travels from Africa to Asia, and of the children, parents, teachers, and others who showed him how the poor are building their own schools and learning to save themselves.” –The Cato Institute

The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time (2006)

By Jeffrey Sachs

“Sachs outlines a detailed plan to help the poorest of the poor reach the first rung on the ladder of economic development. By increasing aid significantly to provide the basic infrastructure and human capital for markets to work effectively, Sachs argues such investment is not only economically sound but a moral imperative.” – Amy Lockwood, Stanford Social Innovation Review

The White Man’s Burden: Why the West’s Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good (2006)

By William Easterly

“Easterly, a celebrated economist, presents one side in what has become an ongoing debate with fellow star-economist Jeffrey Sachs about the role of international aid in global poverty. Easterly argues that existing aid strategies have not and will not reduce poverty, because they don’t seriously take into account feedback from those who need the aid and because they perpetuate western colonial tendencies.” – Amy Lockwood, Stanford Social Innovation Review

The Wealth and Poverty of Nations (1998)

By David Landes

“The Wealth and Poverty of Nations is David S. Landes’s acclaimed, best-selling exploration of one of the most contentious and hotly debated questions of our time: Why do some nations achieve economic success while others remain mired in poverty? The answer, as Landes definitively illustrates, is a complex interplay of cultural mores and historical circumstance.” – W.W. Norton & Company, Inc

Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Eradicating Poverty Through Profits (2006)

By C.K Pralahad

“Explaining that the world’s five billion poor make up the the fastest growing market in the world, Prahalad shows how this segment has vast untapped buying power, and represents an enormous potential for companies who learn how to serve this market by providing the poor with that they need.” – Amazon

Out of Poverty: What Works When Traditional Approaches Fail (2009)

By Paul Polak

“Polak, a psychiatrist, has applied a behavioral and anthropological approach to alleviating poverty, developed by studying people in their natural surroundings. He argues that there are three mythic solutions to poverty eradication: donations, national economic growth, and big businesses. Instead, he advocates helping the poor earn money through their own efforts of developing low-cost tools that are effective and profitable.” – Amy Lockwood, Stanford Social Innovation Review

Dead Aid: Why Aid is Not Working and How There Is a Better Way for Africa (2009)

By Dambisa Moyo

“Moyo, a Zambia-born economist, asserts that aid is not only ineffective—it’s harmful. Her argument packs a strong punch because she was born and raised in Africa. Moyo believes aid money promotes the corruption of governments and the dependence of citizens, and advocates that an investment approach will do more to help reduce poverty than aid ever could.” – Amy Lockwood, Stanford Social Innovation Review

– Katrina Beedy

Sources: Stanford Social Innovation Review, Flavor Wire, Muhammad Yunus, WW Norton, Amazon
Photo: Cheryl Ann Skolnicki

In a presentation at the United Nations University earlier this month, Jeffrey Sachs gave updates on the Millennium Development Goals and projections for after 2015. Sachs, one of the developers of the Millennium Development Goals and Professor of Sustainable Development at Columbia University, discussed the post-2015 future of sustainable development. With the expiration of the MDGs set for 2015, attention is turning to the Millennium Villages Project and the Sustainable Development Solutions Network.

Despite the progress of many nations agreeing to the framework of the MDGs, there is still room for improvement. In the midst of the Ebola crisis, the interdependency of the MDGs, especially focusing on maternal health, epidemic diseases and education, has emphasized a need for equal attention to the goals.

With expectations for exponential increases in global GDP and population, the need for advanced poverty relief is greater than ever. Under the new SDSN framework, set to be instituted by the United Nations after 2015, new goals will be created to target financial responsibility and climate change. In 2015, three conversations will take place in both developed and developing nations to tackle the next phase after the MDGs.

Jeffrey Sachs is seen to be among the frontrunners of the next several decades of continued development. Though the concrete plans implementing change are still yet to be solidified in the post-2015 meetings, cooperation between developed and developing nations is still going to be in the center of the plans.

In an article written in Horizons, Sachs writes, “Ours is a world of fabulous wealth and extreme poverty: billions of people enjoy longevity and good health unimaginable in previous generations, yet at least one billion people live in such abject poverty that they struggle for mere survival every day. The poorest of the poor face the daily life-and-death challenges of insufficient nutrition, lack of healthcare, unsafe shelter, and the lack of safe drinking water and sanitation.” The gap between the OCED and developing nations is growing, and Sachs is acutely aware that the growing rate of the global economy will only aggravate the poverty gap. Achieving a basic standard of living will not eliminate the poverty gap, but will ease the daily struggles of the bottom quintile.

The sustainable development framework is working to achieve a universal standard of living. Though it was intended to reach this standard by 2015, realistically, additional work under a revised viewpoint will follow in the subsequent years.

– Kristin Ronzi

Sources: UN U, UN, UNSDN, Millennium Villages, CIRSD
Photo: Flickr

Can Cell Phones Save the World?

It can send texts and it can make calls, but can it save the world?

It might seem far stretched, but considering that poverty is often instigated by isolation and the accompanying lack of access to markets, emergency health services, education and governmental representation, it makes sense that economists are starting to pinpoint cell phones as a potential “weapon against global poverty.”

Renowned economist Jeffrey Sachs claims that “the cell phone is the single most transformative technology for development,” positing that providing developing countries with cell phones and widespread mobile network coverage can be instrumental in lifting regions out of poverty.

In the last 8 years, the United Nations Millenium Villages Project has aimed to improve 14 rural villages across 10 African countries by providing the framework for mobile connections. They have found that countries’ GDPs increased in a way that mirrors the nearly 400% increase in cell phone use in Africa over the last 5 years.

Kenya may be the poster child for the mobile movement with its tremendous GDP growth and innovative M-Pesa or “mobile-money” concept that has the country on an economic upswing. Researchers found that “70” was the magic number: 70% of the Kenyan population owned a cell phone while 70% of the population also reported no access to a bank. Hence, the concept of mobile-money was born.

Beginning in 2007 as a way to send people microloans, M-Pesa’s mobile-money became the main way to send money instantly from urban to rural areas. Mobile-money allows people to digitally transfer cash and utilize other banking services via mobile phones, thus facilitating trade and boosting business in a way that is vital for the country to thrive.

This mobile-money concept is great for Kenya’s large informal economy sector by releasing the flow of money that is often stagnant in developing countries with unstable infrastructures.

What’s more, cell phones are now the least expensive they have ever been, thanks to Safaricom, a Kenyan telecom provider that set up business models for selling services to the poor and thus made cell phone use more affordable. Thanks to the low cost of setting up mobile towers and the decreasing cost of cell phones, Kenya now may have more widespread cell phone coverage than many regions of Europe.

Some may argue that the best part about the cell phone solution is that businesses, rather than the government, drive the movement’s momentum. Having businesses like Safaricom at the center of the progress curbs the chance of corruption and unequal access that usually accompanies governmental initiatives, particularly in developing countries.

Other countries around the world are starting to take interest in the transformative power of the cell phone. From its success in Kenya, Safaricom is now bringing its mobile banking model to areas like Bangladesh, Uganda, and Gambia with the hope of expanding more in the future.

– Alexandra Bruschi
Source: CNN, Quartz
Photo: CNN