July 8, 2009

UNESCO education report: Spotlight on Ecuador and Nepal

UNESCO released a special edition of its publication last year that focused on the barriers that stand in the way of education.  Entitled “Education: roads closed”, it’s a meaty document that we highly recommend to anyone interested in the topic - so, most likely anyone reading this blog! But for those who want the Reader’s Digest version, the document criticizes the lack of urgency governments have shown towards education, especially relative to their quick, decisive and large-scale response to the economic crisis.  The article highlights two interesting case studies, Ecuador and Nepal. These sections are sure to be a fascinating read for anyone interested in public policy and state innovation to create incentives for schooling. The Ecuador government has implemented a cash incentive for families to send their children to school, and has thus far seen dramatic results in the form of rising enrolment rates and declining child labor rates. Similarly, Nepal’s scholarship program, through which state employees go door-to-door to tout the benefits of primary schooling, especially for females, and the state provides financial aid to needy students, has been successful as well—enrolment rates climb while dropout rates dramatically decrease.  Both accounts merit more scrutiny, of course, as neither claim to be rags-to-riches stories; each country still suffers crippling education setbacks, but progress, however minimal, should be acknowledged and analyzed. It’s interesting to think about the issue, but taking it to the next level is worthwhile – do you think the answer to the education crisis (to borrow some popular jargon from current headlines) lies in policy shits? Private action? Is our common goal attainable through one or the other? Both? Neither? Is this a false dichotomy, even? Just some food for thought, but feel free to post comments and check out what others have had to say on our message board.