"Where people see scarcity, I see opportunity..."
In the wake of the recent attacks in Paris, Beirut, Iraq, Nigeria and so many other corners of the world, it’s difficult to picture ourselves in a celebratory mood for the Holidays. Yet it’s now, more than ever, that we must remind our loved ones, our family, our friends and even those we meet in passing that there is hope and light in this world, despite the attempts of some to darken it. This Thanksgiving, we at CEGA and EASST wish to express gratitude for those who have contributed, in various ways, to making our world a better place. Ravindra (Ravi) B. Ramrattan is one of those people.
This Saturday, Ravindra (Ravi) B. Ramrattan’s family will release a book as a tribute to Ravi’s life. Like many of our colleagues, Ravi worked tirelessly towards his passion of development economics. Graduating from top universities in the UK, Ravi worked with Innovations for Poverty Action and Financial Sector Deepening, among others, spending a significant part of his 30 years studying and training to understand the impact of programs designed to address poverty. Described as a pleasant, humble, and brilliant individual, Ravi moved to Kenya to test new ideas and develop solutions that would improve the lives of those in poverty. It was in Kenya where Ravi’s life was cut short during a terrorist attack in Nairobi’s Westgate Shopping Mall.
It has been a little over two years since Ravi’s death, and his family in Trinidad and Tobago has chosen to honor him by using the proceeds from a book launched in his memory to support the Ravindra B. Ramrattan EASST Fund. Thanks to this Fund, the EASST Collaborative will be able to offer six East African researchers the opportunity to travel to EASST’s Annual Evidence Summit from their home countries. The Summit, an event focused on creating a space for promising East African researchers to disseminate their latest work and collaborate with leading scholars from around the world, will allow these six young African researchers to be part of the world Ravi was dedicated to--that of international economic development.
There are many tributes to Ravi, all of which attest to the extraordinary individual that he was. Poems and stories written by friends, newspieces covering his accomplishments, and even the upcoming book launch illustrate what a profound impact he had in the world. So this Thanksgiving, we at CEGA and EASST wish to express gratitude for Ravi, for his brilliant contributions through his work in Africa, for his kindness and caring, and for reminding us that sometimes, where many of us see scarcity there is, indeed, opportunity.
A very special thank you to Parbatee Ramrattan for sharing with us the materials included in this blog.
Original post by David McKenzie, Lead Economist in the World Bank's Development Research Group, can be found on the Development Impact Blog. Visit this link for David's original announcement and survey.
Earlier this year I blogged about a research project I was beginning with Anna Luisa Paffhausen, that had the aim of seeing how development economics is taught in developing countries. Thanks in part to the help of our readers, we were able to collect a combination of syllabi, surveys, and exams from 145 undergraduate courses in 54 developing countries, and 81 masters courses in 34 developing countries. We then benchmarked these against undergraduate development classes taught in the U.S. at top-20 and non-top-20 programs. We now have a preliminary draft paper which I thought I’d share and see if our readers have comments. I summarize some of the key findings and recommendations below:
What is taught as development economics?
We measure the similarity between each developing country course and courses at top-20 U.S. schools and see what country and instructor characteristics are correlated with this degree of similarity. We find courses in poorer countries are less like those in top U.S. schools (see Figure below), as are courses in countries with a higher share of government involvement in the economy and countries with lower overall educational attainment. Instructors who are actively involved in research are more likely to have their courses closer to the frontier.
What could be done better?
The field of development economics has changed dramatically over the past twenty years. This is reflected in changes in the topics that command most research attention, and particularly in the rapid growth in data availability and empirical analysis. Our survey of how development economics is being taught in developing countries suggests that many classes have not kept pace with this change, and are not meeting key student learning goals of teaching students to be critical users and analyzers of data to answer economic questions. This is important since the next generation of policymakers responsible for implementing key development policies are likely to have their views of what policies they should pursue heavily influenced by what they have been taught.
We have several suggestions for how instructors can improve the teaching of development economics in developing countries (as well as in a number of developed country schools), but this is also where we would love reader feedback of good/innovative ways the subject is being taught:
We would love to hear from any instructors or students who have comments or ideas on this. Thanks.
On Thursday, October 29th, EASST Visiting Fellows and CEGA staff traveled to Stanford University for the Shared Prosperity and Health: Advancing Global Development Through Innovation and Institutions Conference, organized by the Stanford Global Development and Poverty (GDP), an initiative of the Stanford Institute for Innovation in Developing Economies (SEED) in partnership with the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI) with additional support from the Stanford Center on International Development. The conference explored the roles that technological innovation, politics, and institutions can play in promoting economic prosperity and good health for all in low-income countries. The conference featured a keynote address by World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim, a talk by former USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah, and three expert-led panels focused on: