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“Addressing the need for a social infrastructure”: Education for development

Introduction

Education is a major contributing factor in eliminating poverty while promoting growth and overall development. Ignoring the importance of education has led to poor investment in capital in such economies hampering the necessary economic growth. Developing economies in the sub- Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia are few of the regions that lack necessary improvement in education. Since, the UN emphasis on the need for education as a basic human right, one out of three in Sub Saharan Africa cannot read or write. In South-East Asia over 26.6% of the people are illiterate, which was earlier estimated to be 50% in 1990, but today, one out of four individual is unable to read and write. There are disparities recorded in least economically developed countries whereas most of the developing economies are severely affected by illiteracy. However, many international development agencies are converging the gap of illiteracy, a firm political will and urgent address to reform will be needed to reinforce such extensive efforts.

Taking into account the number of students in primary education, many complete their primary education without learning the necessary skills. There is an absolute need to produce regions based skilled force which is only possible by providing primary students the basic training which will make them ready and armed with a skill. Many international agencies are currently focussed on providing economic development to LEDC’s and MEDC’s through various programs, however, without a proper dialogue between policy makers and international experts the efforts will not fruit the desired results since education is directly proportional to a pragmatic economic growth, government institutions and other development agencies should focus their attention on various measures to make the rural population skilled.

Education cannot prosper without an adequate infrastructure. Infrastructure, is a necessary part in the dynamics of education development and can be further classified into two: hard and soft. Hard infrastructure comprises of school buildings, transportation routes, and other educational materials that play a key role in effective learning. Many development agencies tend to provide financial assistance to local government and policy actors, but none of them actively addresses soft infrastructure. Soft infrastructure comprises of necessary environment needed to for education examples include adequate educated staff personnel, educated and active school management, and competent oversight. Both aforementioned forms of infrastructure are necessary for the fostering awareness towards education and economy can achieve universal literacy by achieving both.

Universal literacy is predominantly affected by geographic locations as well. Rural populations are less educated as compared to urban populations. Because of widespread population, the transportation and infrastructure services are highly inadequate, government institutes are unable to provide the necessary financial aid, and thus begins the migration of people to urban communities. It is important to note that geographic locations hinder the growth of rural population which are also reinforced by poor awareness mechanisms and programs of the governments and lack of finances thus leaving a large of rural population illiterate.

It is also important to note that competent oversight and accountability plays a large role in strengthening soft infrastructure. The role of regional government institutions and development agencies to ensure that the financial aid provided for the programs and initiatives for education be utilised in time. Competent authorities should ensure the flow of financial aid and see to that the money reaches to the designated programs or the initiatives. In least economic developing countries, development agencies should contribute local governments in creating a viable concrete education policy, diminishing any chances of corruption.

Factors that will help in education development

Below are factors which a developing economy should focus to achieve successful education initiatives for development –

Hard Infrastructure

 

In order to achieve the necessary educational environment, government institutes should build proper schools, roads, basic sanitation amenities, where as necessary school supplies should be available to the students. Developed countries have already overcome such hurdles and should assist the developing economies in achieving the same.  The developed countries can provide valuable consultation education should provide necessary valuable financial aid to the completion of such projects and to regional or local governments in developing infrastructure for. These efforts facilitate the development of educational infrastructure while providing greater access to large communities.

Soft Infrastructure

Soft infrastructure comprises of knowledge possessed by the teachers, school management and policy makers working in the field of education. In developing economies, many students complete their primary education and still are unable to read or write. Policy makers need to ensure that the education schemes are properly advocated to students and students are able to enroll in such schemes and also need to ensure that students are able to receive the lucrative monetary benefits which will encourage them to pursue higher education. In a recent report, the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development stated that, soft infrastructure “supports long-term human and social development that private creditors do not finance” and “promotes key policy and institutional reforms”. Additionally, policy makers should involve themselves in development projects of international aid organizations such as the World Bank in an effort to have an in-depth understanding of development initiatives and procedures, giving them the necessary expertise while creating policies in for the state.

Capacity Building

 

Policy makers should understand the importance of establishing long term education programs rather than focussing on short term initiatives, as long term programs for education ensures a sustainable future for the coming generations. In order to implement a long term education program, policy makers need to focus their attention on strengthening soft infrastructure. Local and regional government should focus more on strengthening the education system rather than focussing their efforts on hard infrastructure. Many non-governmental organizations working in the field of education, should be involved in crucial decision making.

Geographic Accessibility

The rates of illiteracy are quite high in the rural agricultural dominated areas because of poor hard and soft infrastructure in place. Rural population is defined by international development agencies such as the UN as “10,000 people living in a settlement predominantly surrounded by farms, forests, deserts, or other geographically isolating features”. Without a proper political voice, the rural population are deprived from government initiatives.”.  Over 70% of the illiteracy in the world accounts in rural areas, where the voice of development is unheard. With no economic opportunity and no access to educational finance, generations of such communities go illiterate. Local and regional government initiatives to promote “education for all” should include scholarships, community interaction centres, and better economic incentives for teachers.

Oversight and Accountability

 

One of the main problems for policy makers in developing economies is poor accountability and oversight. Corruption and poor infrastructure have crippled numerous government initiatives in the past and will continue to do so if the policy makers do not effectively resolve these issues. Governments need to establish an oversight and accountability by forming a competent authority comprising of officers from government, international aid organizations and experts from non-governmental sector, partnership at such level enhances the competency of a project. Governments should work towards “better monitor development impact, improve aid effectiveness and coordination, and enhance transparency and social accountability,” and minimise the level of corruption and maximise the capacity of initiatives. When schools are established under a competent authority with an appropriate over watch, they tend to work both efficiently and effectively.

Conclusion

Policy makers need to understand that both hard and soft infrastructure are required for a strong environment for education. Moreover, the issue of political ignorance and policy failure to involve rural population is an issue which most of the developing countries are facing.

It is also important to note that competent oversight and accountability plays a large role in strengthening soft infrastructure. The role of regional government institutions and development agencies to ensure that the financial aid provided for the programs and initiatives for education be utilised in time. Competent authorities should ensure the flow of financial aid and see to that the money reaches to the designated programs or the initiatives. In least economic developing countries, development agencies should contribute local governments in creating a viable concrete education policy, diminishing any chances of corruption.

Community involvement is one way, policy makers can address the issue of sanitation, poverty, and nutrition issues that hinder educational opportunities on every continent. The issue of incompetent accountability and oversight needs to be effectively addressed, leaving no gaps for corruption to breed. The government needs to focus its attention on educational reforms and its efforts to counter poverty and unemployment on all times. Only by achieving universal literacy, governments will be able to counter global poverty and illiteracy thus, the need to address expansion of human capital should also be kept in mind. It is important for policy makers to create a multifaceted monetary initiative to reinforce educational programs of the government in an effort to address educational reform through infrastructure. It is important for the governments to ensure that there is no discrimination and everyone has the right to access primary education.

 

IMG_6627-1 Anant Mishra is a former Youth Representative to the United Nations. He has served extensively in United Nations General Assembly, the Security Council along with the Economic and Social Council. He is also a visiting faculty for numerous universities and delivers lectures on political economics and foreign policies.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of The Indian Iris and The Indian Iris does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.

 

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