Thursday, April 8, 2010

Haiti, Pakistan, and education

Now here's a bit of a twist: reading a piece of online writing in a hard-copy newspaper. In the Wash. Post for April 1, which happens to be in front of me at the moment, there's an excerpt on the op-ed page from Lee Hockstader's entry for that day on Post Partisan, the paper's opinion blog. He writes about last month's UN conference on Haiti called to receive pledges of support and to discuss reconstruction. $5.3 billion was pledged for the initial two-year recovery program.

Hockstader notes among other things that Haitian president Préval's speech at the conference called for help for Haiti's educational system, "which even before the earthquake had produced an illiteracy rate of almost 40 percent for adults and a quarter of all children with no experience of school whatsoever." In January I had written a brief note about a W.Post article on Pakistan's public schools; the article referred to half of all adults in the country not being able to sign their name. Since it's too late to look up the exact figure, I'll interpret this as meaning that Pakistan's illiteracy rate is (roughly) 50 percent, higher than Haiti's. Pakistan is of course less poor than Haiti, so this is further evidence if any were needed that you can't infer facts about 'human development' just from GDP per person.

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