What Do I Think of Education and Bridge International Academies? Pt. 4

What Do I Think of Education and Bridge International Academies? Pt. 4

The following is part four of a five-part post about education in development and Bridge International Academies. The first and most obvious criticism of the Bridge model of education is that a scripted curriculum creates a non-dynamic learning environment for children.  The western model of education is presmised on the idea that critical thinking is essential to success.  The very idea of a liberal arts education is a distinctly Western concept.   So, naturally, when people here that our teachers are…

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What Do I Think of Education and Bridge International Academies? Pt. 3

What Do I Think of Education and Bridge International Academies? Pt. 3

The following is part three of a five-part post about education in development and Bridge International Academies The Bridge model is a fundamentally libertarian idea.  It is premised on the belief that school choice is a good thing.  Many organizations, including development titans like UNICEF, believe that education should be a public good, provided free by the government.  This may be true in theory, but, like most development theories, it is rarely true in practice. For example, Kenya already technically…

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What Do I Think of Education and Bridge International Academies? Pt. 2

What Do I Think of Education and Bridge International Academies? Pt. 2

I think that one of the reasons that Bridge has been so successful at innovating has been its willingness to bring in a multidisciplinary team to run the show.  People like me, who have no background in education, but a good deal of experience in other areas, bring fresh ideas to an industry that, apart from certain ed-tech companies and charter schools like KIPP, is not known for innovation.  Our head of operations was the former director of business development…

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What Do I Think of Education and Bridge International Academies? Pt. 1

What Do I Think of Education and Bridge International Academies? Pt. 1

After six months learning about agriculture in West Africa and working on a project whose objective was to improve the private sector, I decided to return to the private sector, since the public sector was not very good at making it any better.  I had interviewed with the Acumen Fund for its global fellowship in Nairobi six months prior.  I knew a few folks through my Kiva connections, and began networking for jobs there.  I cold-emailed a few, hit up…

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What Do I think of Nairobi?

What Do I think of Nairobi?

When you live abroad, you are, with certain key exceptions, surrounded by people with a similar zest for seeing things differently.  This is particularly true for places that are either particularly off the beaten path or destinations for people whose interests reflect your own.  Burma a couple of years ago fell into the former category, while Kenya this past year would be the latter. People ask me all the time what I think of Nairobi.  I tell them that I…

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What Do I Think of World Travel?

What Do I Think of World Travel?

Over the last three years, I’ve visited nearly two dozen countries on five of the seven continents.  I lived and worked in the Philippines for eight months, Ghana for another six, and Kenya for exactly one year.  In addition, I spent around six months backpacking through various a dozen far-flung places like Burma, Uganda, the DRC, and, most recently, Thailand.  In fact, as I write this, I am sitting at the beach bar at Ban’s Diving Resort in Koh Tao,…

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What Do I Think of Microfinance? Pt. 2

What Do I Think of Microfinance? Pt. 2

This is part two of a two-part post on microfinance.  Part one can be read here In the last post, I gave a rundown of the mechanics of microfinance and explained the criticism of high interest rates.  Another criticism came from development economists like Dean Karlan, founder of Innovations for Poverty Action and pioneer in the utilization of randomized controlled trials for determining the efficacy of development interventions, and Jonathan Morduch, who, in his seminal book, Portfolios of the Poor,…

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What Do I Think of Microfinance? Pt. 1

What Do I Think of Microfinance? Pt. 1

This is part one of a two-part post on microfinance. Through Kiva and Negros Women for Tomorrow Foundation, microfinance became my entrée into this world.  I knew very little about microfinance prior to finding Kiva, other than what I had seen on an episode of Frontline highlighting the company’s early days.  Over the subsequent nine months on the ground in the Philippines, I learned as much as I could, and became a bit of a microfinance apologist, believing it could…

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How to Break Into Development, pt. 2

How to Break Into Development, pt. 2

This is part one of a two-part post on getting involved in international development work.  Read part one here. Trying to answer these questions – at first in vain, and, a few years later, more successfully – helped me so much that I have dispensed this same advice a dozen times since.  But I would add a fourth question is to these questions as philosophy is to math.  Ask yourself, “What do I want out of this experience?” Because figuring…

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How to Break Into Development, Pt. 1

How to Break Into Development, Pt. 1

This is part one of a two-part post on getting involved in international development work.  Read part two here. One day back in May 2009, I was sitting at my desk at my office on Boylston Street in downtown Boston reading Next Billion.  I had decided the week before that I would quit my job in September and leave the U.S. for an adventure.  After a cursory review of the options, I decided backpacking and teaching English weren’t for me,…

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