Thursday, April 28, 2011

World Bank Advocates Primary Education

Fifteen years ago if you had told me that the World Bank was in Uganda, advising the government there to spend more money on roads, and more importantly, education, I would have laughed at your cruel joke. In the 90s the Structural MalAdjustment Programs (if you haven't heard about them click on it!) were in full swing, and government spending was tantamount to turning off the taps of international aid.

Now we have this: the President of the World Bank advising the President of Uganda to spend more on primary education. Education! One of the least clearly measurable investments, in terms of economic outcomes, a government can make! Imagine that!

We should be hard on the Bank for their terrible mistakes. We should be skeptical of them because of their structure. Dominated by US interests and barely influenced by the 'recipients' of their policies, the World bank has arguably done more harm than good in the past. However, ever since they realized that capital controls and fiscal stimulus are an integral part of the developing nation toolbox, they have been getting more and more things correct. The IMF even have a set of guidelines to help poor countries manage capital controls, check it out.