Click here for search results

Knowledge Sharing Forums

Japan’s Scholarship Partnership | Networks for Knowledge Sharing|
Promoting Communities of Practice | Skill Training | Contributing to Development |
Interviews with WBI Management and Program Scholars

Japan’s Scholarship Partnership with the World Bank Builds Cadre of Policymakers for Development                
Leadership for Results:
Interviews with scholarship
recipients, WBI staff and a leadership training expert
(9 min)
Mr. Gyaltshen Penjor, an alumnus of the JJ/WBGSP, is now Director at Royal Education Council of Bhutan.

 Gyaltshen Penjor, Director of the Royal Education Council in the landlocked Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan, attributes his role as “a decision-maker entrusted with formulating public policy” to a scholarship he obtained through the Joint Japan World Bank Graduate Scholarship program (JJ/WBGSP).

Penjor was awarded a scholarship in 1999 to study

economic policy management at Columbia University. The experience deepened his understanding of policy analysis, development and administration, he said, opening the way to an influential role on education policy in Bhutan. Given the small size of his country—it has a population of less than one million—such specialized learning experiences are not available at home.

Mr. Penjor spoke about his experience at a recent conference in Washington of alumni of the scholarship program. He noted that the graduate degree, while critical, is not the only advantage he gained. “The contacts I have maintained with Columbia faculty, staff of the World Bank, and fellow PEPM students have been most helpful,” he said.

Graduate Scholars Use Networks for Knowledge Sharing

Penjor is one of more than 4,000 graduates of three scholarship programs managed by the World Bank Institute (WBI). As part of its mission to develop capacity in developing countries, WBI administers the JJ/WBGSP, the Robert S. McNamara Fellowships Program, and the newly-launched Japan Indonesia Presidential Scholarship Program. The purpose of these programs is to create a community of accomplished professionals in various fields related to economic and social development.

Under the JJ/WBGSP, 11 partnerships have been forged with leading universities in Africa Japan, and the United States well as ties with more than 50 academic institutions worldwide. These partnerships enable regular enrolments by developing-country scholars.

“From our own development experience in Japan after the destruction of the World War II, we have consistently stressed the importance of investing in the human capital of developing countries,” said Mr. Toru Shikibu, Executive Director for Japan at the World Bank. “This is why the Government of Japan, together with the World Bank, established the Joint Japan/World Bank Graduate Scholarship Program in 1987.”

Mr. Toru Shikibu, Executive Director for Japan at the World Bank

“Cutting-edge knowledge and skills which they acquired have been indispensable for carrying out social and economic reforms in their countries toward national development and sustainable economic growth. Their dedication is living proof of success of this program over the past 22 years.”

Since 1987, the JJ/WBGSP has awarded 4,006 scholarships to mid-career professionals from over 150 countries to study at the graduate level in the world’s top-class universities. Last year, 278 scholarship recipients were selected to study development-related subjects like public policy and development, economics, and the environment. The JJ/WBGSP is solely funded by the government of Japan. Today it is the biggest scholarship program administered by an international organization.

Most scholars sustain their association with the program, by sharing information and experience through an active alumni network. This network gathers at conferences, and also stays in touch through JJ/WBGSP on-line newsletter and website.

Promoting Communities of Practice

Because scholars are potential future leaders who are expected to tackle development challenges in their countries and globally, the JJ/WBGSP Scaling-Up Program has been promoting knowledge sharing and networking among the current scholars and alumni.

The Scaling-Up Program works with scholars and alumni to promote networks in countries and regions. Since 2006, six regional conferences have been held in Africa and Asia, enlisting prominent professionals from the Government of Japan, the World Bank, academic institutions, and outstanding recent program graduates. Ten alumni associations have been established in the countries and regions where a relatively large number of program alumni reside.  

Since 2006, six regional conferences were held in Africa and Asia, enlisting prominent professionals from the government of Japan, the World Bank, academic institutions, and outstanding recent program graduates.

This Scaling-Up Program also supports Knowledge-Sharing Forums, such as those held recently in Paris and Washington, D.C. They provide an opportunity for scholars currently studying in the continental Europe and the US to learn from development practitioners about climate change, the financial crisis, and capacity development, among others. Four African partner universities (Makerere University, University of Ghana, University of Yaoundé II and Universite de Cocody) joined the event by videoconference.

Ms. Fransiska Gamises from Namibia, a participant at the Paris forum, who is currently pursuing a pursuing a master’s degree in Water Resources and Environmental Management at International Institute for Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation in the Netherlands

“As my research topic is closely linked to climate change, my experience at this forum sparked and energized me in these areas”, said Ms. Fransiska Gamises from Namibia, a participant at the Paris forum. She is pursuing a master’s in Water Resources and Environmental Management at the International Institute for Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation in the Netherlands.

Presentations were made by officials from the World Bank, the government of Japan, and University professors. Also attending were a number of program alumni, professors and universities faculty members, officials from the government of Japan and the World Bank. More than 200 people assembled for intensive knowledge sharing and network building.

Skill Training on Rapid Results Approach

At the Washington event, participants learned how to use the Rapid Results Approach methodology as a leadership tool. The session provided an understanding of the factors that influence performance and results in government institutions and government sponsored programs.

“There are many ways to approach the topic of leadership,” said Nadim Matta, Director of Rapid Results Institute. “The Rapid Results Way focuses on one aspect of leadership: stimulating improved performance and better results -- rapidly and also durably. By spending a day immersed in this discussion, we hope that these promising young professionals have a better handle on how they, as leaders, can drive better performance and  

Mr. Nadim Matta, Director of Rapid Result Institute

results in their organizations, communities, and countries.”

Mr. Anton Dolgovechny from Belarus, currently enrolled in a master’s program in Development Economics at Williams College, US
 Anton Dolgovechny, of Belarus, found the training useful. He said: “Frankly speaking, I had been skeptical about a seminar in general and the rapid results approach in particular,” said Dolgovechny, who is doing a master’s in Development Economics at Williams College. “But when our group elaborated a policy design during a case study group work, it was a striking experience! After this training, I started to look at every economic policy issue from a 

wider perspective and think about a solution, which not only fits a specific issue but with consideration given to the overall economic situation.”

Contributing to Development

After completing their degrees, scholars are expected to go back home to their careers in development work. Many, like Gyaltshen Penjor, now hold important government positions.

This year’s scholars expressed enthusiasm about taking the newly acquired knowledge back to their home countries.

“The JJ/WBGSP has made my dreams come true,” said Peter Biwott, of Kenya, studying at the Institute of Social Studies, the Netherlands. “As a young economist in Kenya, once I acquire my master’s degree in development studies, I will move up the ladder and be able to participate in higher decision-making with regards to economic policy development. The recent JJ/WBBGSP knowledge- sharing forum in Paris was a once in a lifetime experience for me.”


Mr. Peter Biwott from Kenya, studying at Institute of Social Studies, The Netherlands.

“I believe that the knowledge and skill I have accumulated here while studying at Williams College under the JJ/WBGSP is invaluable, “ said Rose Kuteesa, on leave from the Central Bank of Uganda, to complete a masters in development economics at Williams College, in Massachusetts. ”There is no doubt that I am going to make a significant contribution when I return to the Central Bank of Uganda after completion of my degree.”

Interviews with WBI Management and Program Scholars

audio icon Real Player or Windows Media Player is needed to listen to the radio talk show
 (duration 10:29 min).
 Click on link to download one of them for free according to your choice.

Listen to Podcast where Mr. Georges Collinet, World Bank podcast host and radio talk show host, interviews with WBI management and Program scholars who participated in these knowledge sharing forums to find out about WBI’s value added role in managing scholarship programs. 


Presentation materials and speeches are available from the links below:













Permanent URL for this page: