[IAEP] Another article that could probably use some measured response.

Bill Kerr billkerr at gmail.com
Mon Sep 14 20:39:12 EDT 2009

On Tue, Sep 15, 2009 at 9:40 AM, Bill Kerr <billkerr at gmail.com> wrote:

> On Tue, Sep 15, 2009 at 5:39 AM, Kevin Cole <dc.loco at gmail.com> wrote:
>> This may have already come up in the 680 unread messages I have in my
>> inbox...  If so, my apologies.
>> A researcher in my office subscribes to Miller-McCune magazine, whose
>> slogan is "Turning Research into Solutions".  After seeing last week's
>> presentation by SJ et al, he handed me an article from the latest issue
>> (September / October 2009, Volume 2, Number 5).
>> | News and Opinions by Timothy Ogden (page 12)
>> |
>> | There appears to be cheaper, more effective ways to improve education in
>> developing nations than the glitzy One Laptop per Child program.
>> The article is available on-line at
>> http://miller-mccune.com/business_economics/computer-error-1390
>> At the risk of being burned at the stake, though I'm one of the devout, I
>> think the author makes some good arguments that should be either countered
>> POLITELY and/or addressed.
> hi kevin,
> my thought was to ask: why do some NGOs criticise other NGOs  in this way?
> While other NGOs just get on with the job. Is this to do with a real
> discussion of the issues or is there another agenda, such as a fight for
> being noticed to attract funding?
> I would see a real discussion about the different efficiencies of different
> methods of helping developing countries as important and am very interested
> in such discussions - see http://universalcommunication.wikispaces.com/
> But what is the relevance of comparing deworming with the xo???? No one
> promoting the xo is critical of deworming. And such different approaches
> attract different types of people, surely there is room for both. The other
> comparisons too while a little more relevant don't make much sense to me.
> Esther Duflo's suggestion of teachers making a date stamped photo of
> themselves each day is going to improve teacher attendance at low cost.
> Great idea. But the goals of this approach compared to the xo approach are
> very different and so its difficult to compare. I didn't see this article as
> fair or balanced because it didn't attempt to setup a real basis for
> comparing things.
> Also the link provided by walter is very interesting - all the comments as
> well as Oscar Becarra's response

more information on the esther duflo approach here:

<http://econ-www.mit.edu/faculty/eduflo/papers>her approach is cost
efficient small interventions that make a big difference developed into a
"science" - that is the claim, which is interesting but my response is
skeptical - I'm not convinced we are at the stage of the one true scientific
approach wrt the developing world

I think from her perspective the OLPC mega change approach  is seen as

here is a popular article about her:

"She investigates, in elaborate detail, the practical, small things
which can make a difference in trying to improve the lives of the
poorest of the poor. For instance, not just "education, education,
education" but how to make sure pupils and their teachers turn up at
school. (Answer: tiny incentives, such as free meals or uniforms, can
transform attendance in poor countries.)"
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