How after-school tutoring in Nepal hurts the students that can’t afford it | 

Students as Shreeshitalacom Lower Secondary School. Kaski, Nepal.
Students as Shreeshitalacom Lower Secondary School. Kaski, Nepal.
Simone D. McCourtie / World Bank

While conducting research in 2005 and 2006, Seema Jayachandran heard parents in Vietnam complain that teachers who offered paid tutoring were not teaching well during the school days. The parents accused the teachers of worrying more about the extra money they would make at the end of the day, rather than the students in the classroom.

The Northwestern University economics professor eventually had the opportunity to see whether there was any truth to the claim. He research in Nepal, recently published in the Journal of Development Economics, found that teachers who provided after school paid tutoring spent less time teaching in the classroom.

The students who are able to afford the tutoring performed better on secondary-school exams, those who don’t participate suffer. The problem is not unique to Nepal.

“It seems to be a pretty common phenomenon in mainly poorer countries in Asia,” said Jayachandran to Humanosphere. “In Africa it does not seem to be as common. Tutoring is not as common, but you do not hear this complaint in places where it occurs.”

Continue reading

The human cost of Qatar’s migrant policies | 

Doha Construction Site
Doha Construction Site

Revelations of the mistreatment of migrants working on the World Cup sites in Qatar continue to bring forward a larger problem in the Middle Eastern nation.

The AFP revealed on Monday that more than 450 Indian migrants have died while working in Qatar over the past two years. The data comes from a Right to Information request filed by AFP to the Indian embassy in Qatar.

Records show that 237 fatalities in 2012 and 218 in 2013 (through December 5). The rates are alarmingly high, adding to the evidence that the conditions for the more than 1.2 million migrant works in the country.

The Guardian determined that 185 Nepalese workers died in 2013. It’s groundbreaking report in September showed the terrible labor conditions faced by Nepalese migrants doing construction work on new stadiums.  Qatar won a bid to host the 2022 World Cup and is undertaking  a significant construction project to prepare.

Workers face slave-like conditions with their rights severely restricted in Qatar, reported the Guardian. Labor abuses, including working extended hours during the mid-day extreme heat, were attributed to the deaths of some of the workers. The concerns led to attention from the world soccer governing body, FIFA, who condemned the conditions in Qatar. Continue reading

Qatar construction sector rife with migrant abuse | 

Poor conditions at the PCSI workers’  labor camp in Doha’s Industrial Area.
Poor conditions at the PCSI workers’ labor camp in Doha’s Industrial Area.

A broken migrant worker scheme in Qatar has allowed widespread abuse in the construction sector, says Amnesty International.

The human rights group released a new report today that shines yet another spotlight on the treatment of the workers building World Cup stadiums across the country.

The series of interviews by Amnesty confirms earlier investigative work done by the Guardian that revealed a de facto slave labor system being used for construction in Qatar. Problems were found  Amnesty interviewed 210 workers, twenty-two companies and government officials as a part of the investigation. Stress caused by dangerous working conditions, long hours and poor wages is leading to ”severe psychological distress” in some of the workers.

Nepalese cement production workers told Amnesty that two workers suffered from heatstroke in 2012 as the result of excessively long hours and few days off, in the summer. The majority of Nepalese migrants to Qatar work in the construction sector. While it is hard to make a causal link, Amnesty suggests that poor working conditions may be behind a significant number of the 174 Nepalese nationals who died in Qatar in 2012.

“It is simply inexcusable in one of the richest countries in the world, that so many migrant workers are being ruthlessly exploited, deprived of their pay and left struggling to survive,” said Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International. Continue reading

Splash founder explains why he wants to kill off his charity | 

Eric Stowe wants to kill off his charity. The founder of Splash, a Seattle-based organization that brings clean water to communities, defines the success of his work as reaching a point where everyone has access to clean water.

His TEDxSeattle talk this June explains how Splash is working to spread clean water in countries like Nepal, China and India.

Stowe says that Splash will soon provide clean water in every orphanage in China. The organization’s community based approach means that they will collaborate with local schools and community leaders to ensure that clean water coverage extends to every person. A map illustrates the way he hopes clean water spreads across China in a way that looks almost like the outbreak of an infectious disease.

Quoting Dr Martin Luther King Jr, Stowe says that aid work is rooted in justice. That means working with communities to find solutions that not only work, but can bring an end to Splash.

“Cause keeping myself in a job and keeping whole communities dependent on us for their own solutions are dying models of self importance. They are at their core unjust. Because our work is not about us,” he says in his concluding remarks.

Catching Up on Cholera in Haiti | 

When cholera broke out in Haiti in October 2010, reporter Jonathan Katz* was the first to break the story connecting UN peacekeepers from Nepal to the outbreak. Nearly two years later, Haiti is still struggling to address the issue of cholera and the UN has yet to admit that it was to blame for the outbreak.

I caught up with Jonathan to discuss his original reporting, the outbreak and the UN’s response. Continue reading

GlobalPost: Obama’s Global Health Initiative shuns abortion services | 

The online international news organization GlobalPost has been taking an in-depth look at the Obama Administration’s Global Health Initiative (GHI) as part of its new endeavor, Global Pulse.

Managed and sometimes written by John Donnelly, one of the best global health journalists out there, I dare say the Global Pulse series is probably the most comprehensive, on-the-ground look at what the Administration is doing to fight disease in the developing world.

Here’s one of the their latest posts, by Hanna Ingber Win entitled GHI’s Missing Piece in Nepal, about the problems caused by the ongoing prohibition of U.S. foreign aid funding of abortion services.

Hanna Ingber Win, Global Post

Win opens her post:

LAMAHI, Nepal – United States President Barack Obama set up the Global Health Initiative to take a more comprehensive approach to improving health care in developing nations. In particular, his administration has given great weight to saving the lives of women and to supporting countries’ priorities in health care.

But there’s one exception: abortion.

In Nepal, that exclusion is in plain view, and many say the lack of support disregards evidence that safe abortions can save women’s lives. Nearly all experts here — with the notable exception of those employed by the U.S. government — publicly state that the best way to improve maternal health is by offering a wide range of services that includes more awareness about and access to safe abortion.