Graphics: The Power of Education—An Alternative Evolution of Man

A picture can say a thousand words. An infographic can say them better.

Today, Development Roast brings you visual food for thought by proposing an alternative evolution of man and the role that education can play within it (click on the image to expand).

Please share the infographic with your friends and colleagues. Read More »

“Waste of Time”: Urban Education Failing Rural Kids in Guatemala

Forty-five, maybe fifty, I don’t remember anymore,” seventy one year old Juan Chúl Yaxon tells me through a warming toothless chuckle that causes his leathery skin to crease around his eyes as we talk about his grandchildren. “If they study, they get lazy and do not want to work. There is no use for someone who has an education title but no land or job… and the women, they should cook and do housework.”

Juan makes his assertions over the noisy hustle and bustle of market day in Sololá, the capital of a district of the same name, half an hour North of the volcano-lined lake Atitlán. The plaza of this small rural Guatemalan city  is overwhelmingly filled with tipica- (traditionally-) clad indigenous faces curiously watching our interaction. In his eyes, his five sons and three daughters are better off working the land on their family finca. He wants his grandchildren to follow suit. Read More »

Against All Odds: An Education Fairy Tale from Guatemala

In June 2011 this article was shortlisted as a finalist for the Blog4Girls competition held by Plan UK and was one of two eventual runners up.

Her bosom swells with the type of pride that is rare to see in anyone. Heartfelt and genuine, it is completely disarming and induces uncontrollable ‘sonrisas’ (smiles) in everyone in the room. Anastasia, a 37 year old indigenous woman originally from a small rural community in Guatemala is showing us a photograph of her children and husband. He is five years her junior and they married for love when she was 24. All their kids are still in school and she will ensure it stays that way, especially for her girls. Anastasia is the only one of her whole family and five siblings to ever finish secondary school, let alone go on to university. She is currently top of her class and will graduate next year to become a social worker. She now speaks five languages: three local indigenous dialects, Spanish and a little bit of English. Whilst finishing her studies, she is working two days a week at Pencils of Promise, an NGO working towards providing Schools4All. Read More »

Early Childhood Development: Investing in our most valuable natural resource

 “Give me the children until they are seven and anyone may have them afterward”
St. Francis Xavier
“Having children makes you no more a parent than having a piano makes you a pianist.”
Michael Levine

Bolivia spends at least ten times as much on each senior citizen as it does on pre-school children. This seems odd to me as the children are our future, and every dollar spent on them represents an investment, whereas spending on old people is just that…spending.

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Virtual and Real Economics, learning every day

CG_MachicadoTwo years ago, I wrote an article entitled “Economics from the Internet to Reality” which showed first how the Internet had changed the study of economics by facilitating and universalizing it and second how the real world shows us situations where the economics is fully carried out. I cited the example of the 16th of July Fair in El Alto as the leading exponent of what is a market and how it functions in allocating resources. There is no doubt that in these years the economy has become even more universalized, for example, today anyone can hear and see real-time conferences through the Internet; and for sure the market remains the main institution of the economic science.

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2008 Year of Languages

United Nations has named 2008 the International Year of Languages, recognizing that genuine multilingualism promotes unity in diversity and international understanding.

While the first-best solution in terms of international understanding and efficiency would be to have just one universal language, there is so much nostalgia and nationalism in the World that this is not realistic in the near future. The second-best solution for individuals living in the present multi-lingual world is therefore to acquire fluency in several main languages.

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An economist is born or made?

CG MachicadoEconomists play an important role in the implementation of economic policies and thus in the construction of societies. So, it is logical to think that a good design and implementation of economic policies require good economists. These economists should be solidly formed not only in the handling of analytical tools but also in the understanding of the economic, social and institutional realities of their countries. The formation of this analytical, observant and practical economist does not finish in the university, but usually it begins there.

Together with two co-authors, I have just finished a paper on economics training in Bolivia and Chile (1). A better understanding of how new economists are formed in these countries would help to understand how economic analysis and political decisions are made in these countries.

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The Use and Mis-use of Human Talent

It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education.

Albert Einstein (1879 – 1955)

I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.
Mark Twain (1835 – 1910)

Every year, more than 130 million children are born on this globe (1). Each of them are endowed with a set of innate talents, which can be cultured for many different uses. Some manage to use their talents for the benefit of the World, while others use them for privately profitable, but socially damaging, activities. Unfortunately, most talent is simply wasted.

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Crisis and education

During the crisis of 1999-2003, most economic and social indicators in Bolivia showed significant deteriorations — even the ones you would not expect to. While poverty rates and unemployment rates may go up during a recession and progress in the provision of basic services may stagnate, you would not expect the education levels of adults to go down, nor the share of households who use electricity in their house to decrease.

But according to the annual MECOVI household surveys carried out in Bolivia this is exactly what happened. The share of people who use electricity in their house went down from 71.2% in 1999 to 69.1% in 2003/4, and the share of the working age population who has university level education went down from 11.8% in 1999 to 9.9% in 2003/4.

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Beyond Basic Education

Next week I will be participating in the 20th Anniversary Event for the Joint-Japan/World Bank Graduate Scholarships (JJ/WBGS) Program that will take place in Tokyo, Japan on June 6th. Thanks to this Program I was able to undertake my Ph.D. studies at the Institute of Social Studies in The Hague-The Netherlands.

In its 20 years of existence, the JJ/WBGS Program has awarded 2,586 scholarships, selected from nearly 53,000 applicants from all over the world. Since the inception of the Program, the Government of Japan has provided over 174.1 million dollars to the Scholarship Program, being the Program’s objective to help create an international community of highly trained professionals working in the field of economic and social development.

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