Brookings Now for the Weekend

Fred Dews
Fred Dews Managing Editor, New Digital Products - Office of Communications

August 2, 2013

As you head into the weekend, be sure to visit these important new research items from Brookings on private equity in Africa; Russia and Turkey compared; universal learning; Iraq; health coverage in Nigeria; and domestic surveillance vs. civil liberties. 

Brookings Blum Roundtable: Private Equity in Africa

The 10th annual Brookings Blum Roundtable convenes this weekend in Aspen, Co. This year’s theme is the private sector in the new global development agenda.

In a new policy brief, one of a series of briefs commissioned to inform the roundtable discussions, Jean-Michel Severino and Pierrick Baraton write that “[private] equity investments can play an important role in resolving some of Africa’s most pressing development challenges.” 

Read more about (and then download) their brief from scholars Laurence Chandy and George Ingram » 

Russia and Turkey, Putin and Erdogan: All the Same?

Recent protests in Istanbul’s Gezi Park and Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s response to them induced a group of Brookings experts to examine comparisons and contrasts to anti-regime protests in 2011 in Russia, and President Vladimir Putin’s crackdown.

Senior Fellow Cliff Gaddy drew a powerful contrast between how authorities dealt with demonstrations in both countries:

I think one of the key differences in the way the demonstrators have been dealt with in Istanbul as opposed to Moscow is that there are no water cannons. There’s no moving in and bashing heads indiscriminately in Moscow. Not yet, at least. The Russians are more selective I think.

Nonresident Senior Fellow Ömer Taşpınar described the government of Turkey this way:

We now have in Turkey a government which believes that the national will, the majority of the people, is for the first time in power. So what we see now is a much stronger populist style of democracy where the Prime Minister identifies himself with the silent majority — the people who have been oppressed, the people who never had a voice, the pious people who were never really treated as first class citizens by the founders of the republics — the so-called secularist elite, the White Turks who ruled everything.

Get more insight from the roundtable conversation and also listen to a discussion between Fiona Hill, director of the Center on the United States and Europe, and TÜSİAD Senior Fellow Kemal Kirişci on how the protests erupted in both countries and the emerging role of new media. 

Measuring Universal Learning

Achieving universal primary education for all of the world’s girls and boys is the second of the United Nations’ eight Millennium Development Goals for 2015. Brookings’s Center for Universal Education has partnered with UNSESCO’s Institute for Statistics to shift the global conversation from a focus on just access to education to access plus learning. This effort is conducted through the Learning Metrics Task Force, which has just issued its second of three reports, each one of which is designed to answer one of three essential questions:

  1. What should children learn?
  2. How should learning outcomes be measured?
  3. How can measurement of learning improve education quality?

As the report summarizes:

Measuring learning outcomes is a crucial step in ensur­ing that every child, everywhere, is able to realize their right to good-quality education and become a produc­tive global citizen.

Download the new report, “Toward Universal Learning: A Global Framework for Measuring Learning.” Download the first report, “Toward Universal Learning: What Every Child Should Learn.” 

The Fall and Rise and Fall of Iraq

The title is not a typo. As author Kenneth Pollack, senior fellow and director of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings, writes:

Iraq has been rekindled. Whether it will merely be singed or immolated entirely remains to be seen, but the fire is burning again.

Pollack traces the recent history of Iraq from the U.S. invasion of 2003, through the “botched occupation” from 2003-06, through Iraq’s civil war between 2005 and 2008, and into the present in an attempt to understand what may be next for Iraq and what lessons we may draw in addressing the Syrian civil war next door.

Why should American’s care about Iraq, coming up on two years after the last American troops left? Pollack writes that the reality that “most Americans stopped caring about Iraq long ago” is “an unfortunate mistake.” Citing Iraq’s position as OPEC’s second-largest oil exporter, its central position in a volatile region, and the fact that Iraq is becoming a hub for al Qaeda’s regional presence, Pollack explores possibly policy responses to the gathering fire.

Learn more in “The Fall and Rise and Fall of Iraq.”

Universal Health Coverage in Nigeria 

Nigeria, a country of over 170 million people—the world’s seventh largest, and Africa’s largest, nation—has among the poorest health indicators in the world, say the authors of a new paper from Global Economy and Development at Brookings. In “Achieving Universal Health Coverage in Nigeria One State at a Time: A Public-Private Partnership Community-Based Health Insurance Model,” Emily Gustafsson-Wright and Onno Schellekens examine the challenges and opportunities of bringing universal health care (UHC) to Nigeria through a variety of strategies and existing public and private institutions and networks.

The challenge is enormous, as they write:

Nigeria is making efforts to achieve UHC. Nevertheless, a mere 3 percent of the population is currently covered by the country’s national health insurance and government spending on health represents only 5.3 percent of GDP. Out-of-pocket payments for health equal over 95 percent of private spending on health and government spending only represents about 37 percent of total health spending.

Download the paper »

Government Surveillance and Privacy

Finally, recent leaks about vast NSA surveillance programs have raised fears that in the post-9/11 world the government has implemented policies that invade the privacy of millions of Americans. In a new Issues in Governance Studies paper, William Bendix of Keene State College and Paul Quirk at the University of British Columbia, closely examine the USA PATRIOT Act of 2001 and demonstrate major failures in congressional policymaking on domestic surveillance.

Download their paper, “Institutional Failure in Surveillance Policymaking: Deliberating the Patriot Act.” 

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