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Archive for January, 2010

In Haiti, Education will be Key

The following articles from UNESCO lay out a compelling case and provide specific reasons for ensuring that education is on top of everyone’s post-disaster recovery “to-do” list in general, and Haiti (now) in particular.


Universal Education is in trouble…but was it ever not?

School in a Nairobi slum

An article from The Guardian that lays out the problems newly facing the goal of universal education by 2015…apparently *now* we are in danger of not reaching our global education goals because of the recession:  I never knew we were “on track” to achieve universal education in the next five years!

When She Grows Up…

All the other boys and girls received claps and cheers when they list off their aspirations for the future:  to become doctors, engineers, and policemen.  But she receives only awkward silence when she gives her answer:  she wants to grow up to be “blan” (white).

Short, but interesting video with some good footage from actual schools in Haiti.

Book Review: White Man’s Burden

How our "help" has fallen far short...

First up, for my (hopefully) monthly book reviews is William Easterly’s controversial, yet imminently logical The White Man’s Burden : Why the West’s Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good.

As a former head-honcho for the World Bank–with an insider’s view on what has gone wrong with aid for so many decades–Easterly offers a candid, often disturbing view into the machinations of states, NGOs, the U.N., and the IMF and World Bank in particular.

I truly believe this book should be read by everyone in International Development, from CEOs of non-profits to administrative assistants at the IMF and UN.  Easterly’s greatest accomplishment in the book is his clear delineation between “Planners” (who institute top-down reform) and “Searchers” (who find solutions from the “bottom” up).  Easterly shows that the “Planners” at the IMF and UN have had decades to make a difference and have, in general, not done so–and sometimes actually made things worse.   Much of the book is dedicated to providing examples of how aid from the West has harmed the Rest, and you will need a degree in Economics / Statistics or at least a good grasp of its principles to understand a lot of his examples; if you are an English major or math-allergic person like myself, there is still much to be gained from reading this book…you may just have to skip some of the charts and statistical soliloquies.

Another fascinating, though disheartening, aspect of the book is where Easterly breaks down actual examples from the past decades of aid and shows that the poor actually do not receive much at all of what is “given” or donated.  Part of his contention is that corruption serves as a figurative black-hole that sucks up aid and lets little funds escape to trickle down to the masses.  Compounding this travesty is that the IMF and other lenders will actually expect to be paid back one day:  “The poor population was going to be liable for IMF loans that were never going to reach them,” (Easterly, 153).

In the end, I walked away from this book firmly resolved to be a “Searcher” whenever possible, and to avoid falling into the “Planner” trap of dictating solutions from “on high.”  I also began truly analyzing my prior beliefs and convictions about the benefit of “aid”…at least in its current incarnation.  The biggest take-away for me will be my resolve to ensure that my efforts actually benefit the people I seek to assist (the poor / those desiring an education) in a measurable, authentic way, rather than merely providing a sound-bite or resume bullet for someone in the West.  ~LD

RATING4.5 out of 5 stars

Next Up:  Stay tuned for the next review, where I do a 180 and read Easterly’s polar-opposite, Jeffery Sachs, who is a firm believer in top-down, aid-heavy reforms.  The End of Poverty will be interesting to read after finishing The White Man’s Burden!

Hello, all! Welcome to the E4E blog.

This blog will be a repository for writing about my own travels and experiences in the IED world, as well as a collection of links and articles from others.

It is my hope to one day have guest-bloggers and professionals in the field contribute to make this a truly useful, thoughtful, and interesting site for all things International Education related.