- Misha Glenny, The Guardian: “Although Pisani cannot really explain all of Indonesia’s et ceteras, she does project a more optimistic and warmer picture of a fascinating country than most outside commentators. For anyone about to visit the place, her book is an essential companion.”
- Joshua Kurlantzick, The New York Times: “For the most part, [Pisani] remains content to drift back into anecdotes rather than pull them together…. Pisani falls back on easy clichés about Jakarta, reform, and the population itself…. Another opportunity to know the unknown giant is lost.”
- Ashlee Betteridge, DevPolicy blog: “Part adventurous travelogue, part investigation into nationbuilding, Indonesia Etc. is easy and entertaining to read. For those who have spent some time in the country, you will likely find yourself nodding along with the author’s observations and experiences. For those who know little of our neighbour, it’s a worthy and engaging overview.”
- The Economist: “There are very few good books in English to help the general reader to understand it. Ms Pisani’s is probably the best. Into a beautifully written, richly entertaining account of a year spent travelling around the archipelago, she weaves a deep knowledge of the country acquired first as a reporter there, and then as an epidemiologist.”
- Ben Bland, Financial Times: “Occasionally, she overreaches in her pursuit of the colourful phrase (she describes a town on the island of Flores as smelling of “stale sex” after the meat from a whale hunt is hung out to dry) and her insistence on “just saying yes” to new experiences can give her the air of a worthier-than-thou backpacker. But her regular comic mishaps, punchy insights and journalist’s eye for the telling detail more than compensate.”
- Pallavi Aiyar, L.A. Review of Books: “A rollicking good adventure that knits together a complex of stories and insights, in a feat that rivals the knitting together of the sprawling nation it describes…. To read Indonesia, Etc. is to grow rather fond of both author and country.”
- Jim Della-Giacoma, New Mandala: “Pisani has produced a book on Indonesia that is as fresh for the novice as for those who have a lifetime of experience in the country.”
- Kirkus Reviews: “A brave, lively writer opens up a wondrous, changing nation.”
I have three recent posts over on World Bank blogs. Check them out!
- How to leverage the time children spend out of school for learning
- The Latest Quantitative Research on Education in South Africa (and What It Tells Us about the Rest of the World)
- The power and limits of personal connection
Over at Let’s Talk Development, I write about an experiment that showed an inspirational movie to Ugandan high school students and led many of them to pass their math exams:
I wrote a couple of items this week around the blogosphere:
Looking for a shortcut to identifying great teachers? You may be out of luck. On new evidence about the relationship between teacher performance on tests and student learning.
“The right data at the right time”: How to effectively communicate research to policy makers. A policymaker from Jamaica’s Ministry of Education shares insights on how to communicate your research.
Rwanda is an exciting country with a tragic history. Before a recent work trip there, I asked the Twitterverse for book recommendations about the land of a thousand hills. Here is what I heard back, along with a few of my own. (Asterisks are on the ones I’ve actually read.)
On Rwanda today
- A Thousand Hills: Rwanda’s Rebirth and the Man Who Dreamed It*, by Stephen Kinzer (my review) – A short history of Rwanda, with a major focus on post-genocide. Kinzer is very sympathetic to the current government. It’s easy to read and a good introduction to modern Rwanda. The author – Kinzer – wrote a defense of Paul Kagame in the Boston Globe a few weeks ago.
- Bad News: Last Journalists in a Dictatorship, by Anjan Sundaram – Documents limitations to free speech in Rwanda today.
- Business, Politics, and the State in Africa: Challenging the Orthodoxies on Growth and Transformation, by Tim Kelsall — Uses Rwanda as one (of three) case studies on modern African economic growth.
- Rwanda, Inc.: How a Devastated Nation Became an Economic Model for the Developing World, by Patricia Crisafulli and Andrea Redmond – Super-sympathetic analysis of government support for business in Rwanda. I started it but didn’t finish it. (On Twitter, I received one recommendation for this but also one critique.)
- The Orderly Entrepreneur: Youth, Education, and Governance in Rwanda, by Catherine A. Honeyman – “investigates the impact and reception of the Rwandan government’s multiyear entrepreneurship curriculum, first implemented in 2007 as required learning in all secondary schools” (from Amazon blurb)
- Rwandan Women Rising, by Swanee Hunt – “While news of the Rwandan genocide reached all corners of the globe, the nation’s recovery and the key role of women are less well known. In Rwandan Women Rising, Swanee Hunt shares the stories of some seventy women—heralded activists and unsung heroes alike—who overcame unfathomable brutality, unrecoverable loss, and unending challenges to rebuild Rwandan society. … Rwandan women did not seek the limelight or set out to build a movement; rather, they organized around common problems such as health care, housing, and poverty to serve the greater good.” (from the Duke University Press blurb)
- Remaking Rwanda: State Building and Human Rights after Mass Violence, edited by Scott Straus and Lars Waldorf – “Remaking Rwanda is the first book to examine Rwanda’s remarkable post-genocide recovery in a comprehensive and critical fashion. By paying close attention to memory politics, human rights, justice, foreign relations, land use, education, and other key social institutions and practices, this volume raises serious concerns about the depth and durability of the country’s reconstruction.” (from Amazon blurb)
- Africa’s World War: Congo, the Rwandan Genocide, and the Making of a Continental Catastrophe, by Gérard Prunier – “follows the 1996–2002 war in the Democratic Republic of Congo through many bewildering twists and turns.” (from Amazon blurb)
- Women and Power in Postconflict Africa, by Aili Mari Tripp — “gender disruptions that occur during war” (some on Rwanda in here). Review by Alice Evans.
On the genocide
- We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will be Killed with Our Families: Stories from Rwanda*, by Philip Gourevitch – I found this well-written and powerful. It was the first book I read about Rwanda, and it was perfect for a novice, giving an intro to the history and then the genocide itself.
- Machete Season: The Killers in Rwanda Speak*, by Jean Hatzfeld (my review) – Hatzfeld interviewed a series of genocidaires while they were in prison. Insightful work.
- The Order of Genocide: Race, Power, and War in Rwanda, by Scott Straus – Social science approach.
- Genocide Lives in Us: Women, Memory, and Silence in Rwanda, by Jennie E. Burnet — “This clear and engaging ethnography of survival tackles three interrelated phenomena—memory, silence, and justice—and probes the contradictory roles women played in postgenocide reconciliation.” (from Amazon blurb)
- Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda, by Roméo Dallaire — “For the first time in the United States comes the tragic and profoundly important story of the legendary Canadian general who ‘watched as the devil took control of paradise on earth and fed on the blood of the people we were supposed to protect.'” (from Amazon blurb)
- And a couple of novels:
- A Sunday at the Pool in Kigali, by Gil Courtemanche — “A moving, passionate love story set amid the turmoil and terror of Rwanda’s genocide.” (from Amazon blurb)
- Running the Rift, by Naomi Benaron — “Running the Rift follows the progress of Jean Patrick Nkuba from the day he knows that running will be his life to the moment he must run to save his life.” (from Amazon blurb)
Many thanks to Adolfo Avalos-Lozano, Sarah Baird, Danielle Beswick, Erika Edwards Decaster, Alice Evans, Andrew Gerard, Seva Gunitsky, Mike Holmes, Robert Marten, Jonathan Mazumdar, Gaby Saade, for Elisabeth Turner for suggestions.
[Updated 8/23/2017 at 2:30pm]
Over at Let’s Talk Development, I give my take on an interesting new study using school report cards.
Better information to improve service delivery: New evidence
Countries around the world have experimented with “school report cards”: providing parents with information about the quality of their school so that they can demand higher quality service for their children. The results have been mixed. Andrabi, Das, and Khwaja bring a significant contribution to that literature in last month’s American Economic Review with their article, “Report Cards: The Impact of Providing School and Child Test Scores on Educational Markets.”
Here’s the abstract: “We study the impact of providing school report cards with test scores on subsequent test scores, prices, and enrollment in markets with multiple public and private providers. A randomly selected half of our sample villages (markets) received report cards. This increased test scores by 0.11 standard deviations, decreased private school fees by 17 percent, and increased primary enrollment by 4.5 percent. Heterogeneity in the treatment impact by initial school test scores is consistent with canonical models of asymmetric information. Information provision facilitates better comparisons across providers, and improves market efficiency and child welfare through higher test scores, higher enrollment, and lower fees.”
Read my take at the original post!
- This morning I posted “What a new preschool study tells us about early child education – and about impact evaluation” over at Development Impact, about an interesting study “Cognitive science in the field: A preschool intervention durably enhances intuitive but not formal mathematics,” which is a randomized controlled trial in Delhi, India.
- You can also just watch the researchers explain that paper below.
3. The French version of my post, “A Framework for Taking Evidence from One Location to Another,” based on the work of Mary Ann Bates and Rachel Glennerster, is now available: Comment déterminer si un projet avec de bons résultats dans un pays fonctionnera ailleurs ?
4. The Portuguese version of my post, “Are good school principals born or can they be made?” based on the work of Roland Fryer and others, is now available: Os bons diretores da escola nascem ou podem ser criados?