Archive for March, 2010

Mar 03 2010

IB Economics students’ World Bank development project proposals: Students request funds to improve human welfare in the world’s poorest countries

As a culminating activity for the two year IB Economics course here at Zurich International School, senior econ students research, prepared and presented proposals to the World Bank. The purpose was to choose a developing country, identify its current development status, pinpoint the major obstacles to development, brainstorm the country’s major assets and areas of potential, then request funds for a specific development project aimed at improving human welfare in the country.

Proposals ranged from transportation infrastructure to language schools to fair trade schemes to improvements in police protection. In the table below all 22 of my students’ projects can be viewed by clicking on the country’s name and following the link to the student’s presentation. Also below I have embedded some of the presentations for you to browse and evaluate here.

World Bank Development Project Proposals: Click on the name of the countries below to view the student’s presentation to the World Bank.

AlexMyanmarbusiness schools to promote entrepreneurship

AleyaJamaicabetter training and higher pay for police to reduce corruption

BastiSierra Leoneinfrastructure improvements to increase investment in manufacturing

BenjiTogonational rail line to improve access to rural markets

Christian C.Senegalmicro-lending scheme for rural entrepreneurs

Christian E.Nigeriajunior leadership academies to foster higher education

DanielKenyamicro-lending scheme in Nairobi’s slums

DimitriZambiaconditional low-interest loans to firms who commit to avoid child labor

DominicEthiopiamore staffing at rural schools to improve education

FinlayMongoliasubsidies construction of winter barns and mines

GabrielBoliviaMicro-lending aimed at poorest 10% of population

HeleneMadagascarUV water sanitation systems for country’s 12m poor

JabboHaitirebuild damaged schools and professional development for teachers

Laura – Nepal: Water filtration systems to improve health and sanitation

MarenTanzaniamosquito nets to reduce incidences of malaria

Marc – D.R. Congo: language schools to improve communication between people and government

NickVanuatumicro-lending and mining infrastructure development

RocioNicaraguamicro-lending focused on poor women

RohanIndia: Rural schools for woman to improve literacy.

SimonCote d’ IvoireFair trade program to increase coffee farmer’s profit margins

TheresaAfghanistanwomen’s houses for widows to promote literacy and women’s rights

YounesMoroccoWind-generated energy off Morocco’s coast to create energy export industry

Samples of students’ presentations:

The assignment:

Goal: To win a concessionary loan from the World Bank to put towards a specific development project in the developing country you represent. Funds are extremely limited, and whether or not you will receive aid and how much aid you receive will be determined by a panel of judges consisting of your classmates.

Background: You will assume the role of Finance Minister for a country that you chose to research earlier in this unit. In that role, you will write a detailed report of your country’s development status, obstacles to economic development, existing resources and potential within the country, concluding with a proposal for a specific development project that will improve human welfare in your country. You will then make an appeal to lenders at the World Bank, requesting funding for your project. A committee made up of your classmates will decide whether to approve requests and bring them to the chief economist of the bank, your teacher. The best proposals (accurate, appropriate, achievable) will get the limited money available…and those students will earn the best marks.

Assignment:You will create a report for the country you selected in our earlier lesson, “Sources of Economic Growth and Development”. You will have class time over the next three weeks to research and prepare your report. The report may take any form you wish: It can be a written report to be delivered orally, it may be in the form of a Google Presentation, or it could be a video, such as a PhotoStory. You may also create a website containing the details of your report, or even an audio recording that could be podcasted in your appeal for financial support. Any other reasonable media may be used to prepare and present the report.

Resources online:

  1. The World Bank Countries and Regions
  2. CIA – the World Factbook
  3. African Development Outlook
  4. African Development Bank

Content Requirements:  Reports will contain the following four sections.

1. Current Development Status: Describe your country’s status along the spectrum of economic development. Focus on factors such as the following: Natural factors (land resources, geography, location), human factors (health, education), economic factors (GDP per capita, unemployment, inflation, economic makeup of country) physical capital and technological factors, political and institutional factors, externalities, income distribution and sustainability.

2. Obstacles to Development:: From the data presented in part 1, what would you consider to be the key internal factors preventing the further development of your country? What would you consider to be the key external factors preventing the further development of your country? Some obstacles to economic development you may focus on are:

  • Poverty cycle or poverty traps: conflict trap, natural resource trap, geography trap, education/poor governance trap, etc…
  • Institutional and political obstacles: ineffective taxation structure, lack of property rights, political instability, corruption, unequal distribution of income, formal and informal markets, lack of infrastructure
  • International trade obstacles: overdependence on primary products, consequences of adverse terms of trade, consequences of a narrow range of exports, protectionism in international trade
  • International financial obstacles: indebtedness, non-convertible currencies, capital flight
  • Social and cultural obstacles: religion, culture, tradition, gender issues

3. Resources and Potential: Describe the internal and external advantages your country possesses that will enhance its chances for development. What geographical, social, institutional/political, economic, technological, or other advantages does your country already possess that make it a viable candidate for external aid. Convince your audience that your country is a worthy aid recipient and will put resources to use responsibly towards socially and economically beneficial ends. Why should YOU receive scarce foreign aid?

4. Formal Proposal: Propose a specific plan to speed development and improve the welfare of the people in your country . This part is to be more extensive and should include:

  • Project type (infrastructure investment, fair trade organization, micro-credit scheme, health or education initiative, environmental or social project)
  • Project goals, specific details about who, what, when, where and how the project will promote human development in your country.
  • Examples of similar projects that have been successful in other developing countries
  • Financial analysis of project: Detailed cost estimates, expected rates of return, a repayment schedule detailing how and when the development loan will be repaid.

Week 1:  Choose the medium you will use for your report and the country you will represent. Research part 1: “Current Development Status”

Week 2: Continued research on parts 2 and 3: “Obstacles to Development” and “Resources and potential”. Progress update due to teacher for by end of week.

Week 3: Research complete, create formal proposal with required detail. One day dedicated for peer editing: each student must peer edit two other student’s reports and have theirs reviewed by two classmates.

Week 4: Completed reports due first day of the week. Report presentations and proposal review process. Funds rewarded and grades given by end of week.

Week 5: Review development economics, unit 5 test.

Distribution of Funds: During week 4, students will present their development reports and proposals to the loan committee. Following each presentation, the committee members (students) will complete a brief evaluation of which will be submitted to the World Bank’s chief economist (the teacher) for review. Final distribution of fund (and grades) will be determined by the chief economist. The countries whose reports best fulfill the above criteria will receive the most funds and the highest grades. Reports failing to adequately fulfill the above criteria will receive fewer of the requested funds (and a lower grade).

This assignment will be one of only four grades you will receive during the final semester of IB Economics. Below are the other assignments that will make up your grade.

  • Adopt-a-Country Development Report: 25%
  • Economic Development Test: 25%
  • IB Economics Mock Exam: 25%
  • Internal Assessment Portfolio (4 commentaries): 25%

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