The Joint Japan/World Bank Graduate Scholarship Program (JJ/WBGSP) held a one-day conference on November 12, 2007 at the Bank’s headquarters in Washington, DC. The purpose of the conference was to provide the JJ/WBGSP scholars who are currently pursuing their degree on the East Coast with the opportunity to interact with and actively learn from development practitioners of the World Bank.
Presentations on current development issues such as Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), Good Governance, Financial Crises, Knowledge Economy, and Human Capacity Building in Japan's Official Development Assistance (ODA) Policy were given by World Bank representatives, officials from Government of Japan, and a University professor.
Currently there are 64 scholars pursuing Master's degree in the United States. Forty scholars who are studying at the Universities in the East Coast, including Brandeis, Columbia, Cornell, Duke, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, North Carolina State and Pennsylvania State, The State University of New York, University of Wisconsin, and Williams College.
“I really appreciate that the JJ/WBGSP organized such a wonderful conference. All of the topics are interesting and related to what I study. I hope this event can be a platform to let us know more about this program, about people, and share our information and ideas to benefit our future, our countries and the world, because I believe some of us will become future leaders. Therefore the more communication, the more understanding, and we will make this world a better place for everyone”, says Ms. Na Feng from China, Columbia University.
Duc Phat, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development of Vietnam, who is an alumnus of the JJ/WBGSP. Mr. Phat has done significant work for Vietnam’s development including fighting avian flu, and we are very proud that he is part of the JJ/WBGSP community.”
The conference was opened by Mr. Rakesh Nangia, Acting Vice President of the World Bank Institute (WBI), who warmly welcomed the participants. “The year 2007 marks the 20th year of the JJ/WBGSP and I am happy to say that this program has been accredited across the board as one of the most effective investments in human capital in developing countries”, says Mr. Nangia. “When I was based in Hanoi, Vietnam, I had a chance to work with Mr. Cao
The conference was part of various activities carried out by the JJ/WBGSP’s Scaling-Up Program. The Scaling-Up Program was launched in 2005 with the objectives of better leveraging the new knowledge generated by the scholars and to foster a networked JJ/WBGSP community. Through its various scaling-up activities, the program has been essentially working to build a development community of practice to help fight poverty. This one-day conference was a new initiative for current scholars, whereas in the past, the focus was mainly on the alumni of the program.
for the developing countries.” Mr. Shikubu also appreciated all the scholars who made significant contributions to development at all levels in their home countries.
|Mr. Toru Shikibu, the Executive Director of Japan to the World Bank, in his opening remarks explained that Japan, between 1953 and 1966, borrowed 860 million dollars from the Bank and had once been the Bank’s second largest borrower. “Through our own development experience we believe that human capacity building and education play a very big role in the economic development and modernization of Japan. With this, in 1987, we initiated the JJ/WBGSP to foster high caliber human resources|| |
In the morning sessions, active discussions on core development issues included:
“I had been exposed to planning and implementation of projects aimed to achieve MDGs at a village level. Therefore the presentation by Dr. Lewis gave me a great opportunity to highlight how MDGs encompass the rhetoric and reality” says Ms. Eri Sherman from Japan, currently enrolled at Columbia University. Good Governance was another topic that provoked lively discussion. “I found the presentation on Good Governance most interesting because it is related with my dissertation topic. It is one of the controversial issues in development and was adroitly dealt by Mr. Kaufmann in his presentation”, said Mr. Debel Gutta from Ethiopia, Harvard University.
“Among all the topics, I like the "Financial Crises: Lessons and Prospects", delivered by Professor Guillermo Calvo” said Mr. Weigang Li from China, Harvard University. “When I was studying in China ten years ago, I leaned how the financial crisis brought the disastrous on East Asian countries. It has little effects on China at that time mainly because China did not open its capital account. But along with the reform of China's economy, China will gradually allow more cross-boarder capital mobility. How to maintain a stable international financial environment is among the crucial problems for very developing countries. That is one of the important reasons I come to Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University to learn the international development. With such a hope, I came to World Bank, the long-dreamed place with outstanding professionals, to learn more on that subject.”
The afternoon session focused on learning from Japan’s development experience, where presentations were made on Japan, Moving Toward More Advanced Knowledge Economy by Mr. Tsutomu Shibata, Senior Adviser, WBI (ppt., 419 KB), which gave an inspiration to many, covering the four pillars of the knowledge economy – An economic and institutional regime, an educated and skilled population, an efficient innovation system, and Information and Communication
The sessions were also connected by video conferencing to Yaounde, Cameroon, and Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, where the scholars and professors from Université De Cocody and Université De Yaoundé II, partner universities of the JJ/WBGSP, actively participated in the discussions. Many of them were very keen on asking questions as to how the experience of Japan and other East Asian countries could be applied to Africa, and also what might be the factors that cause the disparity of progress in efforts in achieving MDGs.
This event did not only provide learning opportunities but also facilitated a platform for building a network among the scholars and beyond. A new initiative that has been planned by the Scaling-Up Program – Study Tour for Future Leaders, was introduced which aims to further facilitate life-long exchange of knowledge and experience, inform scholars about Japan’s experience, and help create ties among the countries.
“I would like to say Thank You Very Much to the Government of Japan. The JJ/WBGSP has transformed my life and has made me a better person. I would go back home and do the best I can to help the development efforts of my country,” said Mr. Zekarias M. Hussein from Ethiopia, Harvard University. Mr. Orzimurad Gaybullaev from Uzbekistan, Williams College said “One day you will see the alumni of the program develop their countries. And we do not forget your support. As Mr. Tsutomu Shibata mentioned in his speech, without knowledge we cannot develop our economies.”
See more on Scaling-Up Activities
See also JJ/WBGSP Video Presentation