Deep-dive into Economic Development

20 August 2019

While yesterday the participants were easing into Eswatini and UWC, today we are plunging into a topic central to the course: Economic Development. We wanted the participants to reflect on the concept and take into consideration the different causes, impact, and contexts of development.

The morning session challenged participants to choose areas that needed to be improved in order to attain “excellent” economic development. The tricky part—they could only choose one and defend their reasoning. Among the factors discussed were employment, future responsibility, peace and cohesion, good governance and human rights. After sharing their justifications, the participants concluded that the issue is interconnected, complex and even went on to discuss poverty reduction, free trade and progress. The morning session was very insightful indeed!

A quick break and we drove deeper into economic development by introducing the participants to the Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs). The students needed to select one SDG to be implemented in their home country in order to reach higher economic development. The majority viewed education quality, reduced inequalities and peace, justice and strong institutions as the focus SDGs while other SDGs like life on land and partnership for the goals, only had 1 participant supporting it.

The activities continued with a Pub-quiz TFD style. The exercise was based on the theory developed by statistician Hans Rosling to indicate how profoundly- entrenched our negative feeling on the state of the world is. The coordinators designed a set of ten questions that cover everything from global literacy rates to electricity access, to the universality of extreme poverty. It tasted the optimism of participants as it showed that many of us underestimate the progress which has been made in the world. Rosling’s point, and the one emphasized to participants, is not to undermine the gravity of the global problems, but rather to understand the problems instead of publicizing them without context.

The  day continued with more thoughtful activities where students had to put themselves in the shoes of characters to reflect on global inequality.  As usual, we included leisure time and allowed the participants to rest before the final evening session. Tonight, we had a special guest, Mangaliso Mohammed, a Research Economist and Acting Senior Research Fellow at the Eswatini Economic Policy Analysis and Research Centre (ESEPARC) and a WKUWCSA’06 alumnus. He provided insights on economic development, Eswatini’s goals for development, and opened the discussion on how social development can influence economic development.

The participants returned to their hostels to unwind and reflect while facilitators are working on making the next day as good as today 😉


Tomorrow’s topic: Human Rights and Gender’s Role in Development

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