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How does political context shape education reforms and their success? Lessons from the Development Progress project

Achieving Sustainable Development Goal 4 – ‘Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all’ – is one of the most important and challenging tasks in international development. In order to fulfil it, we require a better understanding of why progress and the impact of interventions varies so widely by context. One striking gap in our knowledge here is a lack of analysis as to how education systems interact with political contexts that they operate in. This report addresses this gap by drawing on evidence from eight education-focused country case studies conducted by ODI’s Development Progress project and applying political settlements analysis to explore how political context can shape opportunities and barriers for achieving progress in education access and learning outcomes. It gives an introduction to political settlements theory and presents a basic model for applying it to education. It then classifies the case study countries into three broad groups (developmental, mixed hybrid and spoils-driven hybrid) and explores the common features and differences in their progress stories.

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Ensuring escapes from poverty are sustained in Uganda

Since the early 1990s, Uganda has experienced substantial reductions in poverty. Using the national poverty line, the poverty headcount has declined from 56 percent in 1992/93 to just over 20 percent in 2012/13’. Economic growth, the end of conflict, and sound macroeconomic management have all contributed strongly to this success. However, as people have moved out of poverty, the number of people living at a level less than twice the poverty line—termed the ‘insecure non-poor’ in the Ugandan context—has risen. In 2012/2013, as many as 14.7 million people were ‘insecure non-poor’ meaning they were extremely vulnerable to falling into poverty in the event of shocks or stressors, such as drought or an episode of ill-health. This report combines analysis of UNPS data with qualitative research approaches; key informant interviews, life histories and participatory wealth ranking to investigate further the drivers of transitory escapes. Specifically, it examines why some households are able to escape poverty and remain out of it—that is, they experience sustained escapes from poverty—while others escape poverty only to return to living in it again in the future. The report investigates the resources (land, livestock, and value of assets), attributes (household composition, and education level) and activities (including jobs, and engagement in non-farm enterprises) of households which enable them to escape poverty sustainably and minimize the likelihood return to poverty.

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Ensuring escapes from poverty are sustained in rural Bangladesh

Bangladesh has experienced substantial reductions in both extreme poverty and poverty. The proportion of the population living below the national extreme poverty line has reduced from 50 percent in 1991 to 18 percent in 2010 while the poverty headcount ratio, using the national poverty line, has reduced from 60 percent to 32 percent over the same period. Economic growth, increased non-farm employment (particularly in the ready-made garment industry), international migration, and investments to improve human development outcomes have all contributed strongly to this success. However, some households escape poverty only to live at a level just above the poverty line: 19 percent of the population lives out of poverty, but has a level of consumption less than 1.25 times the national poverty line. They therefore remain vulnerable to slipping into poverty in the event of a shock or stressor, such as an episode of ill-health or a flood. This report combines analysis from three rounds of the Chronic Poverty and Long-Term Impact Study with qualitative research approaches; in particular: key informant interviews, life histories, and participatory wealth ranking to further investigate the drivers of transitory poverty escapes or of re-impoverishment. Specifically, it examines why some households are able to escape poverty and remain out of it—that is, they experience sustained escapes from poverty—while others escape poverty only to return to living in it again. The report investigates the resources (land, livestock, and value of assets), attributes (household composition and education level), and activities (including jobs and engagement in non-farm activities) of households that enable them to escape poverty sustainably and minimize the likelihood of returning to living in poverty again.

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Women's economic empowerment: navigating enablers and constraints

New analysis of Gallup World Poll data reveals that in 17 countries across sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and North Africa surveyed in 2009, on average, about 90% of women and men reported that having a good quality job is ‘essential’ or ‘very important’ to them – yet only one in seven women (14%) in these countries was engaged in formal full-time employment compared with one in three men (33%). This report details how gender equality, poverty eradication and human development require increased investment in women’s economic empowerment. The report also brings together new and existing evidence to propose a set of core building blocks for the complex process of women's economic empowerment. No single intervention or actor can address all of its aspects, but we identify 10 key factors that can enable or constrain women’s economic empowerment, and make recommendations for policy and practice for each:

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Ensuring escapes from poverty are sustained in rural Ethiopia

This report examines why some households in Ethiopia are able to escape poverty and remain out of it—that is, they experience sustained escapes from poverty—while others escape poverty only to return to living in it again – that is, they experience transitory escapes. With this term, the report refers to households that successfully escape from poverty only to return to living in it once again, i.e. they become re-impoverished. The report investigates the resources (land, livestock, and value of assets), attributes (household composition and education level), and activities (including jobs, engagement in non-farm activities and migration) of households that enable them to escape poverty sustainably and minimize the likelihood of returning to living in poverty again.

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Sustainable cities: internal migration, jobs and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

This briefing presents an overview of how rural to urban migration (internal migration) impacts on the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular Goals 8 and 11. Despite the positive impact that internal migration can have on urban migrants, their families, and their 'host' city, urban migrants are often neglected in government policies. This briefing therefore presents a number of policy recommendations which aim to capture this potential and contribute to achieving the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development.

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Unexpected allies: fossil fuel subsidy reform and education finance

Despite the urgency of transitioning to low-carbon societies, global fossil fuel subsidies are still significant – estimated at $646 billion in 2015. At the same time, governments have made high-level commitments to increase public spending on working towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including that on education. The government spending gap to reach universal, good quality education in low and lower-middle income countries by 2030 is estimated at $39 billion a year between 2015 and 2030. Although the need for subsidy reform and elements of its processes have received extensive attention from the research community, the specific procedures for mitigating the adverse impacts of reform and using the fiscal space created through subsidy phase-out have received less attention. This is particularly important, as removing fossil fuel subsidies is likely to have a negative impact on the purchasing power of low-income households if parallel measures to protect the poorest are not undertaken. These measures include increased public spending on social protection, education and health. However, few studies have reviewed whether the promises made in the reform process, including those related to education, have been met, and if so, how. This report therefore evaluates the links between fossil fuel subsidy reforms and promised increases in expenditure on education, in particular in Angola, Ghana, Egypt, Indonesia, Morocco, Niger, Peru and the Philippines. Further, it provides two case studies of experiences that Ghana and Indonesia have had with linking subsidy reforms to increasing expenditure on education and other measures that have had indirect benefits for education, such as (conditional) cash transfers.

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Enhancing multilateral loans for education: intervention rationales, mechanisms, options and decision criteria

This report considers whether, given the large financing gap facing many countries in education, it is possible for leveraging and blending of grants and loans, particularly through the multilateral banks, to play an expanded, catalytic role. The report also asks how such interventions can best be designed so as to help crowd in domestic and private finance along with international grants and loans.

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Financing education: domestic resource mobilisation and allocation

Despite considerable efforts by governments, civil society and the international community, the world is still far from its goal of providing a quality education for all. This is partly due to challenges in mobilising the necessary financial resources and ensuring their effective use. The aim of this report is to identify opportunities for improving the allocation of spending towards priority sectors like education by examining spending patterns and allocation mechanisms. First, it identifies key patterns and trends of public education spending by income, by region and by level of education since the mid/late 1990s. Second, it uses correlation analysis and multivariate regressions to explore the drivers and correlates of government expenditure on education. Third, it assesses mechanisms that could potentially enable governments to alter the composition of their expenditure in favour of education (and other priority sectors generally).

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Child labour and education: a survey of slum settlements in Dhaka

Urbanisation has powered Bangladesh’s development. But it has gone hand-in-hand with the rapid growth of urban slums marked by high levels of poverty and low levels of service provision. In these slums, child labour is rife. This publication presents findings from one of the largest surveys on child work and education conducted in Bangladesh. ODI research found that 15% of 6 to 14-year-old children in Dhaka's slums were out of school and engaged in full-time work. Average working hours for these children were well beyond the 42-hour limit set by national legislation. The garments sector accounted for two thirds of female working children, raising serious concerns over garment exports and child labour. By the age of 14, almost half of children living in the slums of Dhaka were working. The research shows how early exposure to work and withdrawal from education are harmful to children. This report offers recommendations for coordinated, cross-sectoral policies to break the link between child labour, social disadvantage and restricted opportunities for education. Policies must be integrated to span the regulation of labour markets, education, child welfare and wider global strategies for poverty reduction – what we found in Dhaka is a microcosm of a global problem that should be at the centre of the international agenda.

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Leaving no one behind: a critical path for the first 1,000 days of the Sustainable Development Goals

Leaving no one behind is the moral issue of our age, and is at the heart of an ambitious blueprint for action: the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). One specific goal is ‘ending poverty, in all its forms, everywhere’, but the SDGs also aim to tackle marginalisation. The SDG outcome document specifies that the goals should be met for all segments of society, with an aim to reach those furthest behind first. Now the focus is on implementation, particularly at the national level. This report not only makes the case for early action, it also quantifies its benefits. The report outlines the actions that governments can take in the first 1,000 days of the SDGs to respond to what poor people want and to deliver for the most marginalised people and groups. The evidence shows that achieving the SDGs and the ambition to leave no one behind will become far more difficult the longer governments delay.

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Projecting progress: are cities on track to achieve the SDGs by 2030?

This report explores for the first time the scale of the challenge for 20 cities across the world to reach selected targets set out in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). More than half of the targets included will require a profound acceleration of efforts if they are to be achieved by the majority of selected cities. Targets that are not on course to be met by the majority of cities studied include ending child malnutrition, achieving full and productive female employment, access to adequate housing and access to drinking water and sanitation. The report makes a series of recommendations to increase progress towards the SDGs, including: 1) Central governments and donors should work to strengthen local governments’ capacities; 2) Government and city administrations should invest more in ways to monitor progress on the SDGs; 3) Statistical offices’ and cities’ information systems should improve the data available.

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Closing the education gender gap: estimating the impact of girls’ scholarship program in The Gambia

This paper estimates the enrolment impact of a nation-wide scholarship program for female secondary students in The Gambia implemented to reduce gender disparity in education. In the regions where the scholarship program was implemented, all girls attending public middle and high schools were exempted from paying school fees, which used to be mandatory. The gradual implementation of the project provided a unique opportunity to rigorously assess the enrolment impact of the scholarship program. We use two nationally representative household surveys carried out in 1998 and 2002/03. By 2002/03, about half of the districts in the country had benefited from the project. We found that the program increased enrolment for middle and high school female students by 9 percentage points, and increased the years of schooling attained by 0.3 to 0.4. The program had no significant impact on enrolment or years of schooling attained for male students at any level.

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Inequality, economic growth, and poverty in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA)

In this paper, we have presented the patterns of inequality, growth and income inequality in the MENA region. Using a cross-sectional time series data of MENA countries for the period 1985-2009, we have also investigated the effect of income inequality on key societal development, namely economic growth and poverty, in the region. Our empirical results show that income inequality reduces economic growth and increases poverty in the region. Other factors having significant negative effect on economic growth in the MENA region include previous growth rate, exchange rate, government consumption expenditure or government burden, initial per capita GDP, inflation, and primary education. On the other hand, variables positively and significantly associated with MENA’s economic growth are domestic investment rate, urbanization, infrastructure development, and mineral rent as a percentage of GDP. In addition, apart from income inequality, other factors increasing poverty in the region are foreign direct investment, population growth, inflation rate, and the attainment of only primary education. Poverty-reducing variables in the region include domestic investment, trade openness, exchange rate, income per capita, and oil rents as a percentage of GDP. The policy implications of these results are discussed.

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Immigrants, skills and wages in the Gambian labor market

Using data from the Household Poverty Surveys in 2003 and 2010, this paper analyses characteristics of immigrants in The Gambian labour market. The analysis indicates that immigrants are relatively young, low-skilled (though with skill levels comparable to Gambians) and mainly come from neighbouring West African countries. While immigrants on average earn more than Gambians, this labour market advantage varies significantly depending on workers’ skill level. For instance, unskilled immigrants have a wage advantage but such an advantage does not exist among the skilled immigrants. Given that The Gambia is a country with high skilled emigration rates, these and other findings in this paper have important policy implications.

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Child labour and schooling in South Sudan and Sudan: is there a gender preference?

Based on the 2009 household surveys conducted in Sudan and South Sudan, the objective of this article is to analyse gender inequality for the young population aged 10 to 14 who should be at school. Although education is free in both countries, children’s enrolment at school is low especially for girls, many of them stay home performing domestic chores or have an economic activity particularly in rural areas. The bivariate probit model highlights the key role of the household head’s education, gender and poverty status in determining children’s schooling. Drawn on Pal (2004) who extended the Oaxaca-Blinder decomposition, we confirm that children’s activity in Sudan and South Sudan is strongly determined by the fact of being a girl or a boy. The article also provides some policy recommendations to address the issues of low school attendance and high gender inequality.

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Analysis of gender and youth employment in Rwanda

During the past decade, Rwanda has been among the fastest-growing economies in the world. Between 2000/01 and 2010/11, the economy grew at nearly 8% per year, while income poverty declined from 59% to 45%. Although employment rates have remained relatively stable, there has been a substantial shift from self-employment to wage and unpaid employment. This study focuses on labour outcomes of women and youth—the former have moved into low-quality employment, while the latter have high rates of underemployment. Labor market outcomes are examined through geographic analysis and a study of factors affecting employment at the individual level. The study concludes by setting out a set of policy implications.

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Assessing progress in Africa toward the Millennium Development Goals

This report, produced jointly by the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), the African Union (AU), the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), assesses the progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in Africa. Africa has seen an acceleration in economic growth, established ambitious social safety nets and designed policies for boosting education and tackling HIV and other diseases. It has also introduced women’s quotas in parliament, leading the way internationally on gender equality, and increased gender parity in primary schools. Although overall poverty rates are still hovering around 48 percent, according to the most recent estimates, most countries have made progress on at least one goal. Much more work lies ahead to ensure living standards improve for all African women and men. While economic growth has been relatively strong, it has not been rapid or inclusive enough to create jobs. Similarly, many countries have managed to achieve access to primary schooling; however, considerable issues of quality and equity need to be addressed.

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African human development report 2016

Gender inequality is costing sub-Saharan Africa on average $US95 billion a year, peaking at US$105 billion in 2014– or six percent of the region’s GDP – jeopardising the continent’s efforts for inclusive human development and economic growth, according to the Africa Human Development Report 2016. The report analyses the political, economic and social drivers that hamper African women’s advancement and proposes policies and concrete actions to close the gender gap. These include addressing the contradiction between legal provisions and practice in gender laws; breaking down harmful social norms and transforming discriminatory institutional settings; and securing women’s economic, social and political participation. Deeply-rooted structural obstacles such as unequal distribution of resources, power and wealth, combined with social institutions and norms that sustain inequality are holding African women, and the rest of the continent, back. The report estimates that a 1 percent increase in gender inequality reduces a country’s human development index by 0.75 percent.

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Gender issue guide: gender-responsive urban economy

Urbanisation has created gender and class-differentiated impacts. UN-Habitat seeks to support city, regional and national authorities to implement improved urban planning policies and strategies that will promote inclusive and equitable economic development; enhance municipal finances; and support the creation of decent jobs and livelihoods, particularly for youth and women.

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The state of China's cities 2014/15

As a report with joint efforts by China Science Center of International Eurasian Academy of Sciences, China Association of Mayors, Urban Planning Society of China and UN-Habitat, this publication integrates both the guidelines of the Third Plenum of the 18th CPC Central Committee and the Central Urbanization Work Conference and includes new concepts, ideas, measures and innovative cases gathered from various places in China.

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21 projects compendium: implementing the new urban agenda

For the last 40 years, UN-Habitat has been working to improve the lives of people in human settlements around the world. As our population has grown, so has the number of people living in cities, towns and villages on all continents. With around 3 billion more people expected to live in urban areas by 2050, it is more critical than ever that we plan and manage the way our cities expand. This publication demonstrates just a snapshot of UN-Habitat's overall portfolio and represents the ways in which, along with their partners, their work positively impacts the quality of life for people around the world. Working together we can, and must, promote economically, socially and environmentally sustainable urbanization and a better urban future for all.

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Making Philippine cities child friendly: voices of children in poor communities

The study analyses how the Philippines’ national Child Friendly Movement, which has engaged government, NGOs, civil society, children and UNICEF, has enhanced the capacity of local governments, communities and young people to fulfil the rights of the poorest children. The study uses participatory methodologies and reflects the viewpoint of children and the community. It reveals that in areas where the Child Friendly Cities strategy was adopted, greater attention is paid to the most excluded and vulnerable groups and interventions are developed on a wider spectrum of children’s rights. Beyond providing insights on concrete ways in which child rights are bring promoted at local level, it provides recommendations on how the fulfilment of child rights can be further enhanced by municipal governments.

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Early childhood education in Mexico: expansion, quality improvement and curricular reform

An accumulation of research across hundreds of studies shows the benefits of quality early childhood care and education for children’s later learning, school success and social development. In recognition of the value of providing early learning opportunities, many nations have expanded early childhood care and education in recent years. Mexico provides an interesting case in which expansion of early childhood care and education has occurred in the past 5 years, as have initiatives to improve quality and revise the national curriculum for pre-schoolers. This paper examines three policy initiatives that occurred in Mexico between 2000 and 2006 - preschool expansion, quality improvement and curricular reform. The preschool expansion included a mandate for all parents in Mexico to send their preschool-aged children (3, 4 and 5 years old) to preschool, with target dates of 2004, 2005 and 2008 for 100 per cent coverage of 5-year-olds, 4-year-olds and 3-year-olds, respectively. The quality improvement initiative was part of a larger programme providing supplemental funds to select preschools and schools in Mexico’s public education system. Finally, the curricular reform instituted a new preschool curriculum to be implemented nationwide for all programmes across the 3- to 5-year-old age range.

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Caring for children affected by HIV and AIDS

This IRC Insight highlights the urgent need to support families and communities to care for children orphaned by HIV/AIDS. The report looks at how the epidemic undermines children's health and schooling, and reinforces marginalization and deprivation. It explores the options for the care of children in communities affected by the AIDS epidemic. Beginning with the premise that the parent-child bond is the basic building block of child development and the family the basic unit of society, the report looks at ways to keep the family together for as long as possible. It then goes on to explore alternative care arrangements beyond the immediate family. Settings range from care by the extended family, to different forms of fostering in the community, through adoption and placement in residential institutions, which should be used as a last resort.

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