On the fifth of December 2013 Nelson Mandela died. He was the father of our country and the greatest man it has ever produced. While we all knew it was coming soon, the finality of death and the fact that his presence is no longer with us is truly saddening and has marked the beginning of a time of national mourning, remembrance and reflection. The picture above is a photo I took yesterday at Kirstenbosch Gardens at the Nelson Mandela sculpture which has become one of thousands of places around the country where people have laid cards and flowers in memory of our first democratic president. This colorful card by Caleb was such a gem: “Dear madiba I will miss you so much. thank you for changing all the rules, Love caleb.” It’s difficult to provide a better summary than this parsimonious account. Madiba really did change all the rules – the rules of apartheid, the rules of society and the rules of our country, yes, but also the rules we had allowed to govern ourselves – hatred, unforgiveness, discrimination and oppression. Madiba we will always love you. x
I still want to write a post about Madiba and what he means to me and what he represents to South Africa and the world but that will come later. Till then I really liked Maya Angelou’s tribute poem “His Day is Done” and Desmond Tutu’s tribute to Madiba. [Also this awesome flash mob tribute by the Soweto Gospel Choir in Woolies Parkview]
Links I liked…
- “Lant Pritchett on Education in Poor Countries” – an EconTalk podcast (64 min) I am definitely going to listen to. Pritchett is always good and Russ Roberts is an excellent interviewer.
- Justin Sandefour summarises the findings from an important low-cost-private-school voucher intervention in Andra Pradesh (by Karthik Muralidharan and Venkatesh Sundararaman (o_O) whose full article is available here.
- Great 2007 article by Deon Filmer: “Education inequalities around the world” – one of the brightest minds in the field. Really important reading.
- M&G article summarising some of the (encouraging) findings arising from the National Income Dynamics Study (NIDS)
- My M&G article: “ANA results are not comparable” explaining why the ANA 2013 results are not comparable to previous ANAs or across grades. Banging the same old drum in the hopes that someone is listening!
- New DBE reports now available online, including one on internal efficiency, macro indicators and the school monitoring survey
- Interesting and disruptive innovation in Kenya – Bridge International Academy offers a school-in-a-box solution where teachers are trained for 7 weeks and offer scripted lessons in a highly structured and specified way. Most educationists will hate it but I just think to myself – what kind of education would these kids be receiving if they weren’t at these pop-up schools? Sometimes the counter-factual is far worse than even a below-average solution.
- “How to speak and write post-modern” – I must say I chortled more than a few times.
- Interesting Economist article on Creationists and Science: “After they hit 18, half of evangelical youngsters lose their faith; entering a public university is especially perilous. As a generation, millennials (those born between the early 1980s and 2000s), are unimpressed by organised anything, let alone organised religion…Recent research (notably cross-species comparisons of gene sequences rendered non-functional by mutations) has greatly strengthened the case that humans and chimpanzees share a common ancestor. A creationist speaker in Baltimore shrugged such discoveries off, declaring that “science changes, but the word of God never changes.”
- Very interesting – Kagame on Rwanda: “Our thinking is based on people,” the tall, lean president tells This is Africa, from his hotel room on a recent trip to New York. “Investing in our people, what our people are capable of. In national budgets, we focus on education, health, we look at technology, skills, innovation, creativity. We are always thinking about people, people, people.” Rwanda looks to South Korea and Singapore, as well as developed countries, for lessons on “the way they managed their problems throughout history. And the central role played by people is very clear,” the president says. “We try to take all of that to our own needs and we have not been disappointed. You never go wrong by investing in people.“
- Pritchett quoting an Indian policy-maker: “You guys from the World Bank say you want to help the government of India with our development agenda but then all you want to talk about is poverty, poverty, poverty. Let me point out two things. First, India is a democracy and hence to be the government at all we have to have 51 percent of the votes and we don’t have that many poor voters. Second, once we are the government of India we are the government of all Indians, not just the poor ones, so our agenda has to reflect the aspirations of all Indians. So either you are really helping us with our development agenda or you are just pushing yours.” Wow. Just wow.
- Two South African education conferences in 2014 that are worth attending – SABEC (31 March JHB) – and SAERA (13 Aug DBN).