|A school in Tanzania credit: Worldcrunch.org|
Both of these findings support my argument that Chinese aid is all about politics, symbolism, and soft power -- and not a simple swap-for-resources, as it has often been portrayed.
How do we do it in the West? This morning I've been reading a dissertation by one of my students, Ryan Briggs. At one point he gives the startling example of a World Bank funded school construction project in Malawi.
Briggs reports that of the World Bank's target of 1600 classrooms, half were never built, and according to the World Bank's own report, 340 of the 858 classrooms that were built were "left unfinished ... implementation of this component was unsatisfactory and contributed to the premature depletion of funds" (World Bank, 2001: 8). Further, "the Government failed to provide the necessary oversight ... accounts were not well maintained ... records were not properly kept ..." (2001: 15).
Neither approach seems terribly satisfactory for making an impact on education. But in terms of financing school construction, the Chinese at least are dealing pragmatically with governance as it is, rather than governance as we wish it to be.
A h/t to Ryan Briggs.
Source: World Bank (2001) "Implementation completion report (IDA-28100; pp -p9380)
primary education project on a credit in the amount of SDR 15.1 (US$ million
equivalent) to the Republic of Malawi for a primary education project." Technical
report, World Bank.