In the last decade ... the governments of the nations where most of the world’s poorest actually live have begun to turn to an idea that seems radical in its simplicity: Solve poverty and spur development by simply giving out money. In Brazil and Mexico, India, China, South Africa, and dozens of other nations, hundreds of millions of poor people are now receiving billions of dollars in cash grants. The programs vary widely, but typically the money — disbursed through banks, post offices, state lottery offices, and even, in rural Africa, ranging armored cars with ATMs on them — goes directly to the poor, rather than being spent on particular projects by government or international aid officials.
Development aid can be very controversial. Are we giving enough? Is it for the right projects? Is it effective? Does it harm specific groups? Despite these tough issues, here is an example of a program with long-term benefits that I think just about everyone can get behind:
Japan will build about 1,000 elementary schools in Africa over five years, Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura said Wednesday.
Komura announced the African assistance plan at an international forum on education held here.
To build the schools, Japan will offer some 30 billion yen under the official development assistance program, he said.
The world's challenge to improve accessibility, quality and fairness of education is only half done, Komura said, underscoring the importance of educational support.
Komura also said Japan will help improve the abilities of some 300,000 science and mathematics teachers in Africa and other nations.
Specialized knowledge and technical capabilities are necessary for economic growth in developing countries, he noted.