2010年9月28日 星期二

To combat poverty, get Africa’s children to school

2010年09月29日 06:59 AM

To combat poverty, get Africa’s children to school

As developed countries strive for post-crisis growth, Africa is on the verge of an economic leap forward. A $1,500bn economy, the continent is ready to leave the third world. Its resources, both natural and human, are untapped. Foreign investment is at last beginning to flow. Its leading nations are even competing to join the fast-developing “Bric” countries. But as will be clear at today’s millennium development goals summit in New York, while Africa is close to a breakthrough it has not happened yet.

在发达国家力争实现危机后的增长之际,非洲即将迎来经济腾飞。经济总规模达1.5万亿 美元的非洲大陆,已准备好脱离第三世界。非洲的资源,无论是自然资源还是人力资源,尚未得到挖掘。外国投资终于开始流动。一些领先的非洲国家甚至争着加入 快速发展的“金砖四国”(Bric)。但正如日前在纽约召开的千禧年发展目标峰会明确指出的,尽管非洲已面临突破,但目前尚未实现。

Any African advance will depend on three crucial factors. First, a wider opening to trade, given that 80 per cent of current exports remains in oil and agriculture. Second, a new African common market is needed. Only regional integration can overcome the fact that only a 10th of Africa’s trade is within Africa itself. Finally, better infrastructure: African road capacity is half that of Latin America and less than a third of Asia’s.

非洲的任何进步都要依赖于三个关键因素。首先,鉴于非洲仍有80%的出口集中在石油和 农业领域,它应当进一步开放贸易。其次,有必要建立一个新的非洲共同市场。只有区域一体化才能化解以下问题:目前非洲的贸易中仅有十分之一是在非洲内部进 行的。最后,改善基础设施:非洲的道路容量只有拉丁美洲的一半,不及亚洲的三分之一。

That said, Africa’s future also depends on a fourth factor: developing the skills the world needs. There are now up to 1m foreign workers in Africa, as some investors bring with them whole armies of workers to staff plants, build roads and work farms. Without more investment in education Africa will struggle to move up the economic value chain and runs the risk that any new investment will lead to inequitable growth.


Worse, today some countries, driven by a short-sighted orthodoxy, are considering serious reductions to their education budgets – a reflection of a broader choice being faced by all countries dealing with the fallout from the financial crisis. But governments, especially in the developing world, must think strategically about which investments will help them to grow out of the crisis. Education budgets should be near the top of this list, or a year or two of national budget cuts coupled with cutbacks in developed countries’ aid budgets, could undo a decade of progress.

更糟糕的是,在目光短浅的正统观念的驱使下,当今有一些国家正考虑大幅削减教育预算 ——这反映出,在应对金融危机的副作用时,各个国家的选择范围都更加广泛。但政府(尤其是发展中国家的政府)必须从战略角度出发,考虑哪些投资会帮助自己 走出危机。教育预算应该排在接近榜首的位置,否则,一到两年的国家预算削减,外加发达国家缩减援助预算,可能会让十年的进步历程毁于一旦。

Such cuts are especially unwelcome at a time when an extra 40m children are in school worldwide, and when a new push to speed up enrolment could put us in touching distance of getting all the world’s children into school for the first time in history. But evidence in a new report by the Global Campaign for Education suggests that progress is already slowing. If that continues, by 2015 numbers out of school will go up rather than down.

眼下,世界各地的在校儿童增加了4000万,而加快录取步伐的新举措,可以让我们在历 史上首次实现全世界所有儿童都能上学的梦想变得触手可及。在这种时候,削减教育预算尤其不受欢迎。但“全球教育运动”(Global Campaign for Education)最新发布的一份报告表明,这一进展已在减速。如果这种趋势继续下去,那么到2015年,失学人数将会增长而不是下降。

I have taken a new role with the Global Campaign for Education because I am angrier than ever about the injustice and waste in denying education. As well as boosting jobs and gross domestic product, the evidence is clear that education combats malnutrition, maternal and infant mortality and HIV/Aids. This month Unesco estimated that if every child could read, 171m children could be lifted out of poverty. Put simply, going to school is the best anti- poverty, anti-famine, anti-disease and anti-unemployment programme.

我之所以接受“全球教育运动”的新职务,是因为反对教育造成的不公正和浪费,让我感到 前所未有的愤怒。确凿的证据表明,除了能提振就业和国内生产总值(GDP),教育还能抑制营养不良、孕产妇和婴儿死亡率、以及艾滋病。本月,联合国教科文 组织(Unesco)估计,如果每个儿童都能够阅读,就会有1.71亿儿童脱离贫困。简言之,上学是抗击贫困、饥荒、疾病和失业的最佳途径。

Yet given the background of education budget cuts throughout Africa, what can be done to realise this vision? First, developed countries must pick up some of the slack. This means not just honouring existing aid commitments but a new drive to allocate at least 15 per cent of these aid budgets to basic education. In particular, Africa must recruit 1.2m new teachers – something that will be impossible without support for national training colleges.

不过,在整个非洲都在削减教育预算的背景下,我们要做些什么才能实现这个愿景?首先, 发达国家必须担起部分重任。这意味着,它们不仅要兑现现有的援助承诺,还需要采取新举措,将至少15%的援助预算划拨给基础教育。特别是,非洲必须再招募 120万名教师——如果没有对国立师范院校的支持,这是不可能实现的。

Second, developing countries must make changes too – and commit to spend at least 15 per cent of their national budget on basic education. Third, we need to finance anew the Fast Track Initiative, a programme set up in 2002 by the World Bank that could one day become the educational equivalent of Médecins sans Frontières: providing schools and teachers in the most conflict-ridden, broken states. While the FTI has not yet lived up to its potential, recent reforms can give it a chance to do just that.

其次,发展中国家自身也必须做出改变,并承诺将至少15%的国家预算用于基础教育。第 三,我们需要重新为“快车道行动计划”(Fast Track Initiative)提供资金支持——这是世界银行(World Bank)于2002年设立的一个项目,终有一天,它会成为教育界的“无国界医生组织”(Médecins sans Frontières),为饱受战火摧残而满目疮痍的国家提供学校和师资。尽管“快车道行动计划”尚未完全发挥潜力,但最近的改革能够给它提供一个这样做 的机会。

Finally, there is hope in innovation. Building on the rapid expansion of mobile phones, and using the pioneering work of Tim Berners-Lee and others, increasing access to educational material online can open Africa up to a new world of learning. With these steps we can not only address the fading momentum of the last decade but lead the most sustained assault on ignorance in human history – and help to create a new generation of African Lionesses that can more than match this generation’s Asian Tigers.

最后,创新也会带来希望。依赖手机的快速普及,利用蒂姆•伯纳斯-李(Tim Berners-Lee)等人的开创性工作,增加在线获得教育资料的途径,可以为非洲打开一个学习的新世界。有了这些措施,我们不但能够扭转过去十年逐渐 衰弱的势头,还能向愚昧发起人类历史上最持久的攻击——这将有助于打造新一代的非洲狮,实力远胜过当前这一代的亚洲虎。

The writer is former UK prime minister and convener of the high-level panel for the Global Campaign for Education