Impressions from the 8th Bolivian Conference on Development Economics

By: Lykke E. Andersen*

Despite my initial hesitations about going ahead with the 8th Bolivian Conference on Development Economics much too late and without any confirmed sponsors, I have to admit that the 8th BCDE conference, carried out at UPB-Cochabamba this week, was once again a big success, and that I have thoroughly enjoyed two intensive days of frontier development research and networking in Cochabamba.

One of the main benefits of organizing the BCDE conference is the chance to invite and meet amazing people. This year, I was particularly delighted to meet Sara Farley of the Global Knowledge Initiative. Her keynote speech was about Collaborative Innovation, and while that was very inspiring in itself, it was even more interesting to hear, over dinner, how she applies that concept to everything in her own life (even her recent hiking & camping wedding on a mountain top in the US). I would love to try to apply some of her methods and strategies to the complex development problems of Bolivia.

Keynote speakers, Carlos Végh (World Bank) and Sara Farley (Global Knowledge Initiative), with Manuel Olave (Rector of UPB), and Boris Branisa (head of the BCDE8 Organizing Committee) at the inauguration session, UPB-Cochabamba, 26 October 2017.
Keynote speakers, Carlos Végh (World Bank) and Sara Farley (Global Knowledge Initiative), with Manuel Olave (Rector of UPB), and Boris Branisa (head of the BCDE8 Organizing Committee) at the inauguration session, UPB-Cochabamba, 26 October 2017.

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On Gender Equality in Education

By: Lykke E. Andersen*

According to The World Bank’s World Development Indicators, there are now more or less an equal number of boys and girls enrolled in primary and secondary school around the World. The worldwide Gender Parity Index has been going up steadily over the last several decades, reaching 99 girls for every 100 boys in 2014, and at this rate of change we would have reached parity last year. This is due to dramatic improvements in girls’ enrolment in Africa and Asia. In Latin America and the Caribbean, in contrast, there have been more girls enrolled than boys already since the early 1980s (see Figure 1).

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Does Education Pay in Bolivia?

By: Lykke E. Andersen*

Returns to education in Bolivia have been dropping steadily over the last 15 years, to the point that some researchers have argued that education no longer pays[i]. Nevertheless, a record number of young people are in school or university. Are they all wasting their time?

In this blog we will explore what has happened to the returns to education in Bolivia over the last 15 years, using standard household surveys (as well as the students in my Microeconometrics II course at UPB). Read More »

Three organizations that are redefining environmental education

Valerie GiesenClimate change, ozone layer, biodiversity, carbon footprint, glacial melt – these have become the buzz phrases of a generation. To some these problems seem far away, while others give up in light of their complexity and magnitude. But clearly we should not leave it to the ‘big boys’ of environmental politics to tackle the problems faced around the world. Active and informed engagement with environmental challenges will be necessary to find satisfactory solutions. Today, Development Roast brings you three initiatives from three countries offering environmental education and tools for engagement at the policy, academic, and grassroots levels.

Costa Rican Earth University is revolutionizing agricultural education

The Costa Rica-based Earth University offers students a holistic degree in Agricultural Sciences and Resource Management that teaches them about every stage of agricultural and forestry production: from crop management and harvesting to processing and waste management. Unlike many other agriculture degrees, Earth courses do not teach the components of the ecological system, such as biology, physics, and chemistry, separately. Instead, Earth’s holistic approach confronts its students with the complexity of ecological systems and the role people play in them from the beginning. Students also learn about the ins and outs of agricultural business by planning and running an agricultural enterprise with their classmates over the course of three years with a special emphasis on the ecological and social costs of agricultural business. On campus, the university practices what it preaches: In 2011, it opened its first ‘green’ dorm with energy-efficient lighting, solar water heaters, and a rainwater collection system for toilets and outdoor sinks. Read More »

Massive Open Online Courses: Can They Help to Educate the World?

Tracey LiThe World Wide Web recently celebrated its 20th birthday and, since its birth, the Internet has grown to become an indispensable tool for many people, penetrating into many aspects of everyday life, including education. The Flipped Classroom, for example, has revolutionized how classes and homework are organized and delivered. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of people are taking advantage of Massive Open Online Course (MOOCs). These are online courses that are open to everyone from all over the world, which enable participants to learn in their own time and often free of charge. While access is easy for citizens of richer nations—and richer citizens of all nations—could this platform also help to spread high-quality education to the less advantaged in advanced and developing countries alike? Read More »

The Universidad Académica Campesina – Carmen Pampa: a College for Bolivia’s Rural Population

Rachel Satterleeby Rachel Satterlee

Bolivia is a beautiful, mountainous country that is very culturally diverse but which also has many inequities. None are more pronounced that those in education: As of 2004, secondary school completion rates in urban areas were at 65 percent for men and 50 percent for women, whereas rural rates were extremely low at 20 percent for men and 10 percent for women (Ministerio, 2004). Lack of educational attainment disproportionately affects the indigenous poor. According to the National Institute of Statistics, two-thirds of rural dwellers (compared to only 44 percent of urbanites) identify with one of Bolivia’s 38 recognized indigenous groups—the largest of which include the Quechua, Aymará, Guaraní, Afroboliviano, Mosetén, and Chiquitano—and in rural areas 66 percent of the population lives below the poverty line. The Unidad Académica Campesina-Carmen Pampa (UAC-CP) is one institution helping to meet this challenge by offering undergraduate degrees to men and women from Bolivia’s rural areas. Read More »

Graphics: Is the Flipped Classroom really reinventing education?

The concept of a “flipped classroom” emerged in the late 2000s as an alternative (or the beginning of one) to the classical system of teaching where the teacher introduces the content in class and the students practice it at home. Instead, in the flipped classroom, students learn the content at home, and do the “homework” in class. The concept’s creators, two American high school teachers Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams, first recorded lectures for students who had missed classes. Soon, however, the lectures became so popular that they decided to substitute all their classroom lectures with online ones, and use classroom time to engage with students individually. This flipped classroom allowed for students to learn at their own pace, enabling them to skip the online videos that they feel like they master, and repeat those on which they are stuck. The model proved a big success: many of the students’ performances improved, better preparing them for jobs that (should) await them, and they seemed to be having more fun than before.

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Bolivia’s Best: Interview with Prize-Winning Physicist Oscar Saavedra

“When you’re young, it’s important to have a vision that you try to fulfill in spite of whatever difficulties you may have to overcome.”

This is the philosophy of Oscar Saavedra, a highly respected particle physicist from Bolivia, now a Professor at the University of Turin in Italy. He studies cosmic rays (particles that come from outer space) and a type of particle called the neutrino, topics which help us to deepen our understanding of the physical universe.

It seems strange to some that people choose to spend time and money studying fundamental science as Oscar does, especially people from developing countries where even the most basic needs of many people are not met. What is the point in thinking about the structure of the universe when sufficient food, water, sanitation, and healthcare are not available?

Although it is true that this type of science has no direct use, there are many indirect benefits that arise from such work: cancer treatment and the World Wide Web are amongst the most incredible examples. Read More »

Last Chance to Apply to a Unique MA in Leadership for Sustainable Development

If you want to fast-track your career as a sustainability leader, join this unique, leading post-graduate program. The Master’s (MA) in Leadership for Sustainability was established 17 years ago by Forum for the Future, a sustainability non-profit that works globally with business, government and others to inspire new thinking and develop practical solutions. This MA is validated by Middlesex University, and includes access to all their facilities.

The MA is highly student-centered with small learning groups of 12 people or less and tuition from a diverse group of experts and practitioners, including leaders like environmentalist and writer Sir Jonathon Porritt and Professor of Sustainable Development at the University of Surrey and Director of RESOLVE Tim Jackson.

It also includes student placements at notable organizations in the public, private and citizen sectors working to further sustainability in their fields. Students in the 2012-13 cohort were placed at Islington CouncilCommittee on Climate Change, Good Energy, Friends of the Earth, Fairtrade Foundation, Marks and SpencerUnilever, and more. Read More »

Inspiring Bolivians to Move On Up


December is ‘Inspiration Month’ here at INESAD, so it seems an appropriate time to draw attention to some inspirational figures from Bolivia. Up until recently, the country suffered from a lack of upward social mobility and high inequality, making it virtually impossible for anybody to become successful unless they happened to be born to the right parents. But finally, that seems to be changing.   Read More »


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