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Value of connectivity: Facebook and Deloitte look at the economic and social benefits of expanding internet access

December 19, 2014 Comments off

Value of connectivity: Facebook and Deloitte look at the economic and social benefits of expanding internet access
Source: Deloitte and Facebook

Extending the opportunities that the internet can bring is critical to accelerating economic and social growth in developing economies, while enabling the transition from a resource-based to a knowledge-based economy.

Facebook has launched a global partnership, Internet.org, with the goal of making internet access available and affordable to all. They have commissioned Deloitte to examine the ways in which extending access can change economies and societies in developing countries and what benefits this would generate on a number of economic and social dimensions.

The findings suggest that if developing countries could bridge the gap in internet penetration to reach levels developed economies enjoy today, they would experience large increases in GDP growth and productivity and improvements in health conditions and education opportunities. This provides a clear potential to reduce poverty and promote long run economic and social development. The study finds that extending internet access in Africa, Latin America, India and South and East Asia to levels seen in developed countries today would deliver numerous benefits:

  • Long run productivity could be enhanced by as much as 25% in these developing economies.
  • The resulting economic activity could generate $2.2 trillion in additional GDP, a 72% increase in the GDP growth rate, and more than 140 million new jobs.
  • Personal incomes would increase by up to $600 per person a year, thus lifting 160 million people out of extreme poverty.
  • Evidence on the link between health literacy and mortality rates suggests that internet access could save 2.5 million people and 250,000 children.
  • 2.5 million HIV/AIDS patients could increase their life expectancy thanks to better monitoring and adherence to treatment.
    Another 640 million children may be able to access the internet and the wealth of information it makes available while they study.
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A ‘Freer’ Flow of Skilled Labour within ASEAN: Aspirations, Opportunities, and Challenges in 2015 and Beyond

December 19, 2014 Comments off

A ‘Freer’ Flow of Skilled Labour within ASEAN: Aspirations, Opportunities, and Challenges in 2015 and Beyond
Source: Migration Policy Institute

Countries’ competitiveness, productivity, and growth depend largely on their ability to acquire and use new knowledge and constantly upgrade the skills of their workforces. Many countries do not, however, have the educational systems necessary to cultivate the kind of workforces they need, and in developing countries it is common for the most highly skilled workers to emigrate for job opportunities abroad.

Over the past decade, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), a political and economic organization of ten countries in Southeast Asia, began to tackle these issues directly. In 2007, ASEAN Member States agreed to fast-track the creation of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) by 2015, which is meant to transform the region into a single market and production base characterized by, among other things, a free flow of skilled labor. In response to the mounting evidence that migrants in the region lack the skills recognition required to put their knowledge and training to use in destination countries, ASEAN Member States are taking steps toward better qualifications recognition to prevent the resulting waste of human capital.

Trends in State Financial Aid: Actions from the 2013 and 2014 legislative sessions

December 18, 2014 Comments off

Trends in State Financial Aid: Actions from the 2013 and 2014 legislative sessions (PDF)
Source: Education Commission of the States

Key takeaways from this report

  • Trends in enacted policy include changes to need- and merit-based programs, linking financial aid and workforce outcomes, and focusing aid on transfer student pathways.
  • States are playing an increasing role in loan repayment assistance or forgiveness policies, with at least four states enacting programs.
  • A growing number of states — with at least 10 joining in the 2013 and 2014 legislative sessions — are using financial aid programs as a means to incentivize workforce outcomes.
  • Five states passed legislation appointing commissions to extensively research college affordability issues, with reports due through spring 2015.
  • At least 10 states created or made changes to existing need-based programs.
  • Maryland and Virginia both enacted financial aid programs geared to students transferring from two- to four-year institutions.

Opening the Curriculum: Open Education Resources in U.S. Higher Education, 2014

December 18, 2014 Comments off

Opening the Curriculum: Open Education Resources in U.S. Higher Education, 2014
Source: Babson Survey Research Group

This report, funded by a grant from The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation with additional support from Pearson, examines the attitudes, opinions, and use of Open Educational Resources (OER) among teaching faculty in U.S. higher education. Some of the key findings:

  • Faculty are not very aware of open educational resources. Depending on the strictness of the awareness measure, between two-thirds and three-quarters of all faculty classify themselves as unaware on OER.
  • Faculty appreciate the concepts of OER. When presented with the concept of OER, most faculty say that they are willing to give it a try.
  • Awareness of OER is not a requirement for adoption of OER. More faculty are using OER than report that they were aware of the term OER. Resource adoption decisions are often made without any awareness of the specific licensing of the material, or its OER status.
  • Faculty judge the quality of OER to be roughly equivalent to that of traditional educational resources. Among faculty who do offer an opinion, three-quarters rank OER quality as the same as or better than traditional resources.
  • The most significant barrier to wider adoption of OER remains a faculty perception of the time and effort required to find and evaluate it. The top three cited barriers among faculty members for OER adoption all concern the discovery and evalua- tion of OER materials.
  • Faculty are the key decision makers for OER adop- tion. Faculty are almost always involved in an adoption decision and — except for rare instances — have the primary role. The only exceptions are in a minority of two-year and for-profit institutions, where the administration takes the lead.

New From the GAO

December 17, 2014 Comments off

New GAO Reports
Source: Government Accountability Office

1. Hanford Cleanup: Condition of Tanks May Further Limit DOE’s Ability to Respond to Leaks and Intrusions. GAO-15-40, November 25.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-40
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/667191.pdf

2. Nuclear Regulatory Commission: NRC Needs to Improve Its Cost Estimates by Incorporating More Best Practices. GAO-15-98, December 12.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-98
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/667500.pdf

3. Defense Infrastructure: Risk Assessment Needed to Identify If Foreign Encroachment Threatens Test and Training Ranges. GAO-15-149, December 16.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-149
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/667551.pdf

4. Higher Education: State Funding Trends and Policies on Affordability. GAO-15-151, December 16.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-151
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/667558.pdf
Podcast – http://www.gao.gov/multimedia/podcasts/667387

5. Tax Filing Season: 2014 Performance Highlights the Need to Better Manage Taxpayer Service and Future Risks. GAO-15-163, December 16.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-163
Highlights –  http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/667562.pdf

An Assessment of the Present and Future Labor Market in the Kurdistan Region — Iraq

December 15, 2014 Comments off

An Assessment of the Present and Future Labor Market in the Kurdistan Region — Iraq
Source: RAND Corporation

The study addresses the question of how the Kurdistan Regional Government can improve the private-sector labor market in the Kurdistan Region — Iraq (KRI). Doing so will involve creating mechanisms by which job-seekers can develop the right skills and find employers who will hire them, employers can find the employees they need, and the government can create an enabling environment in which the best matches between job-seekers and employers can be made. The study estimates the likely number and education levels of new job-seekers through 2020. It conducts an original, scientific survey to learn about employer perceptions of skill gaps in the KRI. Then, it investigates sectoral employment growth in comparison economies to identify promising growth sectors. Finally, it outlines policy steps for the government to take to improve the functioning of the private-sector labor market.

New From the GAO

December 12, 2014 Comments off

New GAO Reports
Source: Government Accountability Office

1. Health Care: Information on Coverage Choices for Servicemembers, Former Servicemembers, and Dependents. GAO-15-4, December 12.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-4
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/667487.pdf

2. Hurricane Sandy: FEMA Has Improved Disaster Aid Verification but Could Act to Further Limit Improper Assistance. GAO-15-15, December 12.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-15
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/667470.pdf

3. VA Health Care: Improvements Needed in Monitoring Antidepressant Use for Major Depressive Disorder and in Increasing Accuracy of Suicide Data. GAO-15-55, November 12.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-55
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/666841.pdf

4. College-and-Career Readiness: States Have Made Progress in Implementing New Standards and Assessments, but Challenges Remain. GAO-15-104R, December 12.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-104R

5. Grants Management: Programs at HHS and HUD Collect Administrative Cost Information but Differences in Cost Caps and Definitions Create Challenges. GAO-15-118, December 12.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-118
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/667506.pdf

6. Grant Program Consolidations: Lessons Learned and Implications for Congressional Oversight. GAO-15-125, December 12.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-125
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/667482.pdf

7. Aviation Security: Rapid Growth in Expedited Passenger Screening Highlights Need to Plan Effective Security Assessments. GAO-15-150, December 12.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-150
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/667464.pdf
Podcast – http://www.gao.gov/multimedia/podcasts/667489

8. Medicaid: Federal Funds Aid Eligibility IT System Changes, but Implementation Challenges Persist. GAO-15-169, December 12.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-169
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/667485.pdf

9. Missile Defense: Cost Estimating Practices Have Improved, and Continued Evaluation Will Determine Effectiveness. GAO-15-210R, December 12.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-210R

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