Importance of a Complementary Educational Agenda for DR-CAFTA

LAYING THE GROUNDWORKIn September 2000, the member states of the United Nations unanimously adopted the Millennium Declaration. That document served as the launching pad for the public declaration of eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – which include everything from goal one of halving extreme poverty to goal two of providing universal primary education; all to be accomplished before the year 2015. Progress towards the first seven goals are dependent upon the success of goal eight – which emphasizes the need for rich countries to commit to assisting with the development of “an open, rule-based trading and financial system, more generous aid to countries committed to poverty reduction, and relief for the debt problems of developing countries.”1At first glance, the recent actions of Central American countries and the United States to liberalize trade seem to support, at least partially, successful realization of MDG Eight. However, upon closer examination, the picture blurs and the outcome seems uncertain.Following only a year of negotiations, the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) or DR-CAFTA (as a result of its recent inclusion of the Dominican Republic), was signed by the governments of Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and the United States in 2004. The agreement, committing each country to reduce its trade barriers with the other DR-CAFTA countries, was ratified by the United States Congress on July 28, 2005.2Rather than attempting to analyze all of the specific economic and social intricacies associated with liberalizing trade in Central America, this brief aims solely to cast light upon the overlap between countries’ efforts to implement the Millennium Development Goal Two/Education for All and their need to implement a complementary CAFTA agenda.Specifically, this document highlights the importance of educational priorities if economic development efforts are to be successful. The premise of the argument elaborated here is that without sufficient prioritized emphasis by Central American countries, multilateral organizations and targeted donor countries on a complementary agenda that directs resources towards education infrastructure, CAFTA will never succeed in assisting these countries in reaching an ever elusive state of “economic prosperity.” In fact, it may deter them from fully accomplishing the MDGs as well.CURRENT STATE OF EDUCATIONWith the need for collaboration between economic and educational efforts in mind, let us examine the current status of MDG Two implementation and broader educational reform in Central America:Over the past fifteen years, most Central American countries have implemented at least basic forms of educational reform. As a result, more children are entering school and spending more days and years enrolled than ever before. On an aggregate level, the larger Latin American and Caribbean region has made considerable progress toward the goal of universal primary education enrollment and according to the most recent UN Millennium Development Goals report, “Net enrollment rates at the primary level rose from 86 percent in 1990 to 93 percent in 2001. The region’s pace of progress in this indicator has been faster than the developing world average (which rose from 80 percent to 83 percent between 1990 and 2001). Net enrollment rates in 23 countries of the region (12 in Latin America and 11 in the Caribbean) surpass 90 percent.” 3 The reality is that, large scale disaster or other unforeseen event aside, all six countries are on target to reach the MDG enrollment targets.Unfortunately, progress towards the target of completing five years of primary education has been slower and few countries in the region can boast success in this arena. The lack of progress towards completion of this target is most directly related to inefficiencies in the education system and the socioeconomic conditions of poor children – both situations that result in high repetition and desertion rates and both situations that must be ameliorated if CAFTA is to succeed. Furthermore, while the number of children initially enrolling in school has increased, the poor quality of education throughout Central America is also certainly a factor in children’s failure to complete their primary education. Quality must therefore also be taken into account when considering educational infrastructure needs.While not necessarily relevant to MDG Two but quite possibly relevant from the CAFTA perspective of needing a skilled workforce, Central America’s educational woes most definitely extend beyond the primary school environment. In response to the recent Millennium Development Goals Report 2005, an Inter-American Development Bank representative wrote “It is difficult to avoid the impression that the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean are falling behind with regard to secondary education. Although this is not included in the MDGs, it is the single most important educational indicator separating upper and lower income groups in the region.” 4
When less than one third of a country’s urban workforce has completed the twelve years of schooling that your or I take for granted, how can they hope to compete in today’s technology-dense free trade environment?HISTORY LESSON -HAPPENING AGAIN?Upon an examination of the Mexico of today as compared to pre-North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) times, a rise in the Mexican poverty rate over the last decade or so is apparent. Rather than being directly due to the implementation of NAFTA, it is more likely that this increase in the poverty rate is attributable to Mexico’s failure to simultaneously implement a complementary agenda; specifically, the inability of Mexico’s poorer southern States to improve their poorly trained workforce, infrastructural deficiencies and weak institutions in order to participate meaningfully in a liberalized trade environment. Rather than gain, the southern Mexican states lost even as the northern states benefited from the liberalized trade environment created by NAFTA.Dr. Daniel Lederman, co-author of the World Bank report entitled “NAFTA is Not Enough” (and issued ten years after NAFTA was originally enacted) explained in an National Public Radio (NPR) interview in 2003 that Mexico’s financial crisis in the 1990s was bound to deepen poverty there with or without NAFTA. Dr. Lederman said:Mexican income dropped in one year, 1995, by six percent. Wages across the board for all Mexican workers, on average, fell by 25 percent in less than a year…Still, NAFTA helped Mexico limit the damage, lifting per capita income at least 4 percentage points above where it would have been otherwise. The bottom line is, Mexico would be poorer without NAFTA today. Clearly trade alone won’t alleviate poverty. But if Mexico makes the right investments, especially in education, the next decade should be better. 5POTENTIAL FOR ECONOMIC SUCCESSAs was the case in Mexico, it is likely that the majority of households in Central American countries stand to ultimately gain from the price changes associated with removing trade barriers for sensitive agricultural commodities and other goods. However, in order for this to happen, as Dr. Lederman suggests above, each country must now make appropriate investments in development efforts (most especially in education) in order to guarantee an equitable distribution of the benefits of these efforts in the future.Simultaneously, it is of critical importance that each country provides for the needs of their most at-risk citizens. In order to guarantee that the children of these families are given the opportunity to be counted among those in school, countries must identify resources, both internally and externally, to provide incentives for families “to invest in the human capital of their children.” 6Examples of such incentives have been implemented through funding from the Inter-American Development Bank and several other organizations in Costa Rica (Superemonos), the Dominican Republic (Tarjeta de Asistencia Escolar), Honduras (PRAF), and Nicaragua (Red de Protección Social). Most immediately, these incentives (often in the form of conditional cash transfers) serve to increase food consumption, school attendance and use of preventive health care among the extremely poor. In the long run they are intended to assist with poverty and malnutrition reduction and to improve schooling completion rates. As reported by the IDB, “results are proving that it is possible to increase a family’s accumulation of human capital (measured by increased educational attainment and reduced mortality and morbidity) and, as a result, also raise potential labor market returns for the beneficiaries, as well as overall productivity. The programs have had a substantial positive long-term impact on the education, nutrition and health of its beneficiaries, especially children.” 7In the World Bank’s expansive document analyzing CAFTA’s potential impact on Central America, entitled “DR-CAFTA – Challenges and Opportunities for Central America” the authors repeatedly reference technology and emphasize the importance of a complementary educational agenda that is tied to each country’s stage of development and innovation. For example, “for those countries farthest away from the technological frontier -such as Honduras and Nicaragua– the best technology policy is likely to be simply sound education policy… in the more advanced settings of Costa Rica and El Salvador, where adaptation and creation of new technologies is more important, issues of education quality and completion of secondary schooling are more important.” 8 In fact, without ever making specific reference to the MDGs, the authors recommend that the former countries focus on the goal of achieving universal primary education while the latter countries focus their energy on expanding and improving secondary level education. Failing to do so is choosing failure in the open market.Ultimately, rather than seeing CAFTA as a first class ticket to a better economic end – with no strings attached, countries must acknowledge the critical importance of first implementing MDG Two – target three. This target, which says “by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling” 9 is a critically important step towards guaranteeing the emergence of a workforce that can respond to increased marketplace demand and evolving technologies. Without immediate investment in that future workforce via the education system, CAFTA will surely flounder and drag MDG Two along with it.Furthermore, as mentioned above, educational infrastructure must be put into place now that will not only guarantee a higher quality education but will also be made accessible and desirable to Central America’s most at-risk citizens. After all, based on Mexico’s experience, the likelihood of a positive outcome for both CAFTA and MPG Two is slim. Yet the possibility of economic success does exist if we agree to truly choose “Education For All.”CITATIONS1) Millennium Development Goals, Goal Eight, http://www.un.org2) At the time this brief was written (Dec 2005), the agreement still hadn’t been ratified by the Parliaments of Costa Rica, Dominican Republic and Nicaragua.3) The Millennium Development Goals Report 2005, http://unstats.un.org/unsd/mi/pdf/MDG%20Book.pdf4) The Millennium Development Goals in Latin America and the Caribbean: Progress, Priorities, and IDB Support for their Implementation, Inter-American Development Bank, Washington, DC, Aug 05, http://idbdocs.iadb.org/wsdocs/getdocument.aspx?docnum=5910885) National Public Radio, All Things Considered, Interview with Daniel Lederman, Monday, December 8, 2003 http://web.lexis-nexis.com/6) The Millennium Development Goals in Latin America and the Caribbean: Progress, Priorities, and IDB Support for their Implementation, ibid7) The Millennium Development Goals in Latin America and the Caribbean: Progress, Priorities, and IDB Support for their Implementation, Inter-American Development Bank, Washington, DC, August 2005, p. 568) DR-CAFTA – Challenges and Opportunities for Central America, Chapter VII: Obtaining the Pay-off From DR-CAFTA, p199.9) Millennium Development Goals, Goal Two, http://www.un.org

Click Your Way to a Photography Diploma with an Online Course

With a City & Guilds Diploma in Photography you can learn the skills and techniques of the professionals and take your interest in photography on to the next level.Using today’s modern cameras anyone can produce impressive results with relative ease, but if you want to go one step further and really learn how to get the most out of photography, a City & Guilds Photography Diploma is the ideal way to begin. City & Guilds courses are comprehensive and inexpensive, and lead to qualifications that are recognised throughout the industry, making them ideal if you’re looking to begin a career in photography.City & Guilds Diploma in PhotographyThere are two main City & Guilds Diplomas in Photography available:
City and Guilds Basic Photography
City and Guilds Black and White Photography
Each one can be studied through an online course, allowing you to work through your studies in whatever way suits you best, taking as long as you like to gain your diploma.An online course gives you a degree of freedom in your studies that traditional teaching methods simply cannot match. With no need for lectures or classes you can pick and choose where and when you work, fitting the online course around your existing lifestyle.Many City & Guilds Photography Diploma course providers offer extensive online support for their students, with the very best providing forums, tutor support and online learning resources.Photography Diploma – Subjects CoveredAll City & Guilds Photography Diplomas provide extensive instruction in photographic equipment, professional techniques and the principles of composition. Some of the areas you’ll learn about include:
Camera and lenses
Film, light and techniques
Composition, picture design and presentation
Final portfolio techniques
Taking a City & Guilds Diploma in Photography enables you to capitalise on your interest and develop a set of professional skills built on real practical knowledge. Whether you want to pursue a rewarding career in photography or just want to learn how to get the most from your hobby, gaining a City & Guilds Photography Diploma through an online course lets you fulfil your ambitions with the minimum of inconvenience and expense.

The Great Debate: Digital Vs Traditional Marketing

The Great Debate: Digital Marketing vs The Letter Box DropI attended a Sydney Marketing function in June this year held by the popular Real Estate platform, RateMyAgent, and led by CEO, Mark Armstrong. His presentation was aimed at addressing the evolution of communication with an audience based on how quickly the commercial environment is changing today. This is both a relevant and tough debate, indeed!While this event was Real Estate specific, it is a topical discussion being held across every industry and every market around the world in all boardrooms and strategy meetings: digital vs traditional marketing.Where do we spend our precious budget to get the most cut through to engage our audiences and achieve our organisational goals?So, it’s finally time to analyse both sides and get to the bottom of this debate.Where Are Our Customers?Effective Marketing is all about your audience. This is never up for dispute as we all know it to be true. Knowing that, it may be time to take a step back and consider that age old question: have we thought about our customer?Recent research shows that 87% of consumers now search online for reviews to determine the quality of a local business, and I’m sure that statistic is pretty similar for how people are researching product information too. This is a big shift in behaviour from only a couple of years ago. Organisations didn’t start this- consumers did. We did. We, as people, changed the game, and organisations today are hugely naïve if they don’t think people are already doing most of their research before even contacting your business.As An ExampleMark Armstrong said his son needed an internet router for his house the other day, and at first, he had no clue what a router even was. In about ten minutes online, he become a pro with all of the brands, prices and specifications, then went straight into a local store, went to the shelf and purchased it without speaking to anyone in store.This is very indicative of the modern customer.The Digital InterviewToday, it’s all about ‘the digital interview’- in other words, searching online to find more information about a person or business without actually contacting them. Online dating, LinkedIn, Facebook, websites- it’s all about research before meeting in person. Around 70% of customers make up their mind before that stage, which is something businesses need to accept and adapt to.While statistics are always fickle, all you need to do is think about your own customer’s behaviour, and you instantly know this to be true. Hardly ever does a customer go in unprepared or uninformed.They’re All OnlineHow often do we go to a bar or a restaurant, and find everyone looking at a screen? It’s a sad reality, but a reality none the less. That is where your customer is! On their digital device.People aren’t looking for reviews and information in your physical office or in your marketing collateral – they are looking online. So, being there for your audience is absolutely crucial for your business success.
It’s all about your audience, after all.The Three Arguments: Digital vs Traditional MarketingThere are the three main considerations when deciding the pros and cons of new digital marketing versus more traditional methods, like the letter box drop or print.(1) Cost
(2) Effectiveness
(3) AccountabilityCOSTAs a general rule, more traditional methods tend to be far more costly in so many ways. It’s expensive to design, print and physically deliver materials like these. Now look at digital methods: it’s almost instant, requires little design due to templates, and the reach is not physically limited, meaning you can get ten times the exposure for around one-tenth of the cost.They seem to be light years apart on the cost front.For example, a client came to me recently and told me that the only advertising he was doing was on the back of local shopper dockets, which wasn’t giving him any tangible results, but was still costing him a few hundred dollars a month. For a fraction of this cost, I put his adverts onto Facebook and Google, and he immediately noticed the difference in leads generated!EFFECTIVENESSHow long do letterbox drops, print media and even mainstream advertising last?
Think about a letterbox specifically. The printed material sits in an office, then in a mail box all day. Then, when your audience gets home, are they truly engaged when they check their letterbox, stumbling in from work? They are coming home with the shopping, or wrangling the kids. This material has literally one second to capture them in amongst the rest of the clutter, and is so easy to ignore. That’s not to say it doesn’t occasionally work, but the chance of engagement is very low.Now, consider digital ads. It stays online for a much longer time, and due to the customisable nature of online targeting, it can pop up when the customer is more engaged and in the right headspace. It meets them on their terms, like when they are on their phone killing time, or browsing on a website, and so on. They can also interact with it by clicking on it, watching it, zooming in on it, saving it and much more.In comparison, think about when you hear a radio ad or see a TV ad: you have to remember and recall the advert at a later time for it to have any impact. This means your audience has to spend the effort to remember to act on it at a later time when it’s more relevant, such as when they get out of the car. Making this worse today is that we are constantly bombarded by ads and messages, which means that it’s very hard to keep one specific advert in your mind. You can’t rely on your customer recalling the message – you need to make it easy and at their fingertips.Digitally, your customer can fully interact at the very point they experience the piece of content, meaning engagement is far greater.ACCOUNTABILITYWhich technique truly works? What really has cut through and metrics to measure it? If you ask most organisations who spend budget yearly on letterbox drops, for example, they will say things like “$50,000 a year”, and then if you ask them “does this work?”, all they do is shrug their shoulders.The problem is, some businesses get into a rut of “it’s how we’ve always done it.” This represents a concerning shortfall in our perspective and our priorities. Our industries are too tough and our competitors too smart for us to be thinking this way anymore.On the digital marketing side, with retarget marketing and tracking cookies, online communication and adverts are able to serve up your communication to more defined and far better aligned demographics. Your adverts are more intelligent because they learn about the behaviour of your audience and adapt to how they consume content, then works out where and when to best display your marketing.The Three Battlegrounds of MarketingFrom the 1960ies, there has been an evolution of Marketing and communication battlegrounds based on how we built our customer database.(1) The Physical AddressOrganisations clambered to obtain the physical addresses of customers to communicate with them physically, either with a sales person, door knocking or letter box communications.(2) The Email AddressNext, emails went through an effective stage and businesses rushed to fill their databases with everyone’s @.com address. However today, we have found this to be far less effective do the quantity of spam everyone receives daily.(3) The Computer AddressPeople live on their mobiles and tablets now- this is where they are today. The battlefield has become exposure based on IP address online. Building a database of tracking cookies has become the Marketing battleground of today.While these IP addresses are kept private due to Privacy Laws and you never get the actual details, it doesn’t matter as you can rest assured that this technology is getting your message in front of the right people. Then tracking success comes from the metrics and analytics behind these interactions.
The core essence of Marketing hasn’t changed across any of the above battlegrounds: it’s always been about reaching your audience. The only thing that has changes is how- and this is a direct result from how the marketplace and consumer behaviour is evolving.What is it about Digital Marketing then?Digital Marketing is effective because it is customisable. It can target specific demographics to ensure that the best audience is getting your adverts and content at the right times.The following are three combined ways of how digital marketing finds your audience.(1) LocationGoogle tags computers with a geographical location. While letterbox drops can do the same, location is where the comparison ends. Digital is able to combine location with the following two qualifiers to ensure that your message is tailored, rather than mass distributed to just anyone.For example, in the Real Estate industry, around 70% of residences are investor controlled, which means letterbox drops are ineffective because the people receiving the materials are not the decision makers and therefore not finding themselves in the hands of the right people. Digital equivalents would use location and the following two to ensure it is being fed to the right customers.(2) Browsing HistoryIt is the fact above that allows digital marketing to take it one step further. The history of your browser paints a picture of the type of person your customer is and their interests, which means that adverts can be served up to match this. It’s not a perfectly accurate science, however due to the cost effectiveness of digital marketing, it has a far better cut through and success rate.(3) Remarketing and Tracking CookiesAs you move from website to website, tracking cookies embed themselves into your web browser to allow the content be catered specifically to you, so you are not receiving irrelevant messages. This allows advertising content to be shown to a relevant audience rather than just anyone.Where is Marketing Heading Next?Given that digital marketing is following around your ideal customer and delivering them relevant content, it seems to be working effectively at the moment. However, if I know Marketing the way I think I do, the next stage will be empathetic retarget marketing, which means showing the advert not just anywhere on any website, but when the person is browsing material that is contextually relevant.For example, when your customer, who has already been identified as interested in Real Estate, reaches a Real Estate or property website, the ad will be displayed, as opposed to how it is now, where it comes up on any website they may be looking at.It’s all about being in front of the right customer when they are in the right frame of mind.