Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 7

The problematiqueOver 580 million children live in South Asia1, the largest number of children and young people

under 18 in any region. They make up between 35 to as much as half the population in the individual countries. This large number of children and young people is a gift - an enormous potential for creativity, initiative, change and transformation, but also a daunting responsibility, since they have the right to and a need for societal support and social services, and families need to be enabled to provide each child with full attention, care, and resources to enable her or him to meet their full potential. Despite its Millennium commitments, the South Asian region is performing poorly in terms of social or human development in general, and child development and well-being in particular. Taking the MDGs as a point of reference, most of South Asia's countries are unlikely to meet their targets by 2015. For example, as many as 330 million children live in poverty.2 Child malnutrition, infant and child mortality, and maternal mortality levels are among the highest level globally. 46 per cent of children under 5 are underweight. 560 in every 100 000 births end with the mother's death each year. School enrolment and literacy rates remain dismally low:3 Primary school enrolment is at 74 per cent. Adult literacy is 58 per cent total and 45 for women, 4 and, as a result of decades of poor or unavailable schooling, in India, only one in two adult women can read, in Nepal - one in three, in Afghanistan - one in five. This is not to diminish the many advances in human development that have been made. Several of the region's countries - Bangladesh, Bhutan and Maldives - have reached gender parity in education. 5 Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have achieved almost universal primary school enrolment, and in 2004, 80 per cent of school-age children in South Asia were completing their primary schooling. Nevertheless, more boys than girls from each cohort, and the quality of learning and the appropriateness of curricula and the knowledge imparted is uneven, even in the most advanced of countries in the group.

Cultural geographies
Conceptually, the design of policies, the resources committed, and the stringency of delivery are shaped by normative and institutional histories, by levels of development, and by the political economy and notions of the role of the state. In sum, social policy is a derivative and a mirror of the role

ascribed to government, and the functioning and scope of social policy can be captured in discussions around the concept of the welfare state. It is interesting to compare these - very simplified - European, American and Southeast Asian phenotypes with the role of government in South Asia, to explore whether South Asia might offer a fifth variant, considering the persistent commitments to citizens' well-being and the contrast with the low performance on many of the indicators that would constitute such wellbeing.

South Asian welfare state model, transformative social policy and social exclusionThe broad, human-development oriented position combined with the potential to perform well drives an enquiry into the nature of social policy and the role of government in South Asia. A first pointer suggesting that South Asia offers its own welfare state model - one that is distinct from the other welfare states - lies in the institutions that shape policy in the South Asian countries: since the 1950s, they have been working along five year development plans, which lay out socio-economic priorities, and define the direction of government fiscal investment. These plans are increasingly merging with the World Bank-led Poverty Reduction Strategies, and also increasingly building on the MDG methodology. The notion of multi-year planning of government budgets has multiple roots in colonial administration and Soviet planning techniques. Inherent in this planning has been the understanding of a government role not merely for welfare citizens' well-being, but also for the economic development of the country concerned. Table 1. Interventions in South Asia - Welfare State Elements
Policy on Free Primary Education Primary Education Compulsory Free Primary Education (de Facto) Policy on Free Primary Health Care Free Afghanistan Bangladesh Bhutan India Maldives Nepal Pakistan Sri Lanka



Primary Health Care (de facto) Roving Government Salaried Health Workers Free essential medication School Meals Public ECD Centers Employment Schemes Dedicated Tax to Support Education


(not covered) funded

all Donor -funded




(to finance National Plan of Action for Children)

Source: Jennifer Keane. Overview of Social Policy Interventions in South Asia. UNICEF ROSA 2006

Specific interventions in South Asia to address social exclusion transformative social policy Policy principles: Policies that take the form of quotas or restrictions, to ensure access of socially excluded or disadvantaged groups mainly in education, and in government service Policy design to ensure take up: Policies to increase the use of social services: the midday school meal is the prime example. In theory, it has two types of effects: to attract children to school, and to improve nutrition, and derived from this to enhance concentration and thereby improve school performance and increase completion rates. Policies on delivery: These would include socio-cultural measures to encourage and enable socially excluded groups to use the social services offered, such as health or education services, by improving service delivery, for instance by training and employing members of socially excluded communities to provide the service with dignity and quality. Measures to economically enable the use of social services offered: Transfers in kind or in cash to support socially exclude or disadvantaged groups: scholarships for all girls in Bangladesh, for dalit children in Nepal; oil or other foods for girls attending school in Pakistan. And more broadly, income-generating measures.

Measures to compensate for real and opportunity costs make use of scholarship schemes in various forms. One example is Bangladesh's large scale government initiative which has been offering every girl in secondary school a stipend to enable her to complete secondary education. Objectives include ensuring that the gap in girls' education be closed and delaying marriage. Over time, this enlarged cadre of trained young women can become the women doctors and teachers needed to help the next generation of children go to school in a country where girls are meant to be taught by women teachers. Educated women are also in a better position to claim their rights in their families and to control the number and timing of children they have, to negotiate family planning, and to give more enlightened care and attention to their children. The scholarship is paid directly to the girl student, and continues as long as she passes her exams, attends at least 80 per cent of school days, and does not have children. In Nepal, a stipend is available for dalit children to enable them to come to school. Economics-Our inquiry certainly got off to a good start. Larry sent off e-mails to editors of electronic journals asking about their costs, while he started to scour the literature in search of published figures on online journal costs. However, before he had sent more than a handful of e-mail queries, he had an answer back from Gene Glass, who had founded Education Policy Analysis Archives (EPAA) in 1993 as a born digital peer-reviewed journal. Glass was blunt and multilingual about his business model: We went on to identify a small group of electronic journals that were spending in the area of $20,000 a year. For example, the Electronic Journal of Comparative Law had had its books reviewed by the accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, which calculated that the Dutch open access quarterly was costing $20,084 annually (Bot, Burgemeester, and Roes 1998; also see Fisher 1999; Integration 2002). Adding up the author fees of $525 per published article (for most of its 100 or so open access journals, although a few charge more) yields a similar figure for the journals published by BioMed Central, a corporate venture in an entirely online and open access approach to journal publishing. Some journals contract out their e-journal edition, and HighWire Press, at Stanford University Library, was charging $35,000 to $125,000 in the late 1990s to set up an electronic journal, with ongoing operating fees of several thousand dollars a month (Young 1997).

A recent, if somewhat obscure, crime story throws further light on the

economics of digital access. The victim of this intellectual-property crime was JSTOR, a nonprofit organization that offers online access to the back issues of scholarly journals. JSTOR was founded in 1995, as an initiative of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, which is playing a leading role in the introduction of new technologies into scholarly communication. JSTOR offers institutional subscribers, largely university libraries, online access to complete sets of journal back issues. It provides readers with digitized images of the original journal pages, and an ability to search the journal, for what is currently 600 journal titles, from the Academy of Management Journal (launched in 1963) to the Yale Law Journal (founded in 1891). As it continues to add back-issue sets to its collection, it brings considerable historical depth and reach to the online journal literature, dating back to the first issue of the Philosophical Transactions from March 6, 1665. However, in the autumn of 2002, this nonprofit archive experienced a sophisticated attack, according to Kevin M. Guthrie, then president of JSTOR. The breach enabled someone to to systematically and illegally download tens of thousands of articles from the JSTOR archive (Unauthorized 2002, 16). The hacker had apparently entered JSTOR by tunneling in through an unprotected proxy server on a campus (left unnamed) where the university library had a JSTOR license. As a result of the hack, 51,000 articles, drawn from eleven of the journals in the archive, were downloaded to an unlicensed computer without being detected in the process. The Mellon Foundation set up JSTOR to improve dramatically access to journal literature for faculty, students, and other scholars,

The need for developing countries to become a greater part of a new world information order has inspired a number of global initiatives by the private sector and aid agencies to build developing countries technical infrastructure.2 As a result, computers and connectivity are appearing, if only in very small numbers, in the research libraries and laboratories of universities in the developing world. In one United Nations Development Program (2002) project, the 5,600 students and staff of the Bangladesh Agricultural University were able, as part of a national wireless initiative focused on educational institutions, to shift from a single modem and an unreliable phone line to high-speed wireless connectivity linking them to the capital city of Dhaka, 100 kilometers away,

and to the rest of the world. In India, Indira Gandhi National Open University is providing computer education courses to remote areas of India, while the Information and Library Networkwhich connects 150 university libraries, 50 postgraduate centers, and 200 research and development centersis implementing library automation and database systems, with gateways to international research databases (Rao 2001). A corresponding development in the technological savvy of librarians also appears to be taking place in developing countries, judging by Lampang Manmarts (2001) study of Thailand, which elucidates how university degrees for librarians in that country are being recast as information. At this point, for example, the World Bank is devoting $800 million to increasing the Internet connectivity of developing countries; one example is the World Bank Groups Global Development Learning Network Project, a $3 million venture in Indonesia devoted to new communication and learning technologies for higher education. Vietnam has a $100 million World Bank Higher Education Project aimed at capacity building, institutional development, and computerization. These projects are described on the World Bank Group Web site hhttp://web.worldbank.orgi. Other programs for improving Internet access in developing countries include the Digital Opportunity Taskforce, the United Nations Development Program, the African Information Society Initiative, and the Global Information Infrastructure Commission. In addition, the U.S. government has been supporting a five-year, $15 million Leland initiative to support Internet infrastructure in twenty-one African countries (Adeya and OyelaranOyeyinka 2002, 31). Marine fiber cables now circle the African continent, with Internet connectivity having grown from two connected countries in 1994 to all

African nations in 1999, although the distribution of that connectivity is still extremely sparse, especially in the interior. In conclusion - a thesis for further reflection In light of these multiple elements, one can make the case that a South Asian model of the welfare state may be emerging, and that it is potentially transformative in nature. It is a combination of the traditional welfare state model's commitment to provide social goods universally - the notion of universalism - combined with three new strands. Firstly, it is guided at the normative level by an entitlements- or rights-based approach. Secondly, it comprises elements to enable participation in decision making, via the decentralisation process. Thirdly, it reinforces the principle of universal coverage with special efforts to address social exclusion which in some cases incorporates moves to change attitudes and behaviours so that the disadvantaged can access quality services. And hence it can, over time, generate a new type of welfare state which moves, potentially, beyond providing for communities and citizens - which would be in tune with the European models - to enabling and empowering socially-excluded communities - which is a transformative model.

Politics-As if the digital divide did not pose enough of a challenge to extending the benefits of the Internet to a wider population, Pippa Norris, a political scientist at Harvards Kennedy School of Government, contends that a democratic divide is being created by current government efforts to place more and more information online (2001). It is all well and good, Norris notes, that government Web pages serve as a new channel for transparency and accountability, but in the absence of other sources of information, government postings can amount to a form of state propaganda (237). Her concern is that even as nations place information and policies online, saving paper, postage and ink, they rarely launch deliberative consultative exercises through un-moderated chat rooms or other forms of consultation and deliberation (237). The theme of helping citizens take advantage of new information sources to further their democratic participation lies at the heart of the political case, as I see it, for open access to research and scholarship. THE END