Academics taking part in the first edition of the Vi online course on trade and poverty, held in 2012, affirm that the skills and knowledge acquired during the course had great impact in their teaching, research, and work with policymakers.
Respondents to a 12-month post-course evaluation reported that their participation in the course allowed them to enrich courses in development economics, international trade, public policy, and quantitative analysis at universities in Argentina, Japan, Kenya, Mauritius and Myanmar, where the course also served to train junior colleagues and PhD students.
"I teach my PhD students in the course on modeling and econometric applications how to include links between trade and poverty I learned in the course,” writes one of the course participants. “I also share my knowledge with the students who attend a Master in public policy. Some of them are policymakers."
Graduates also reported success in applying the methodologies learned in the course to their research, having completed or commenced several papers analyzing trade and poverty issues in Argentina, Bangladesh, Burundi, Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Myanmar, Nigeria, Pakistan and Uganda.
"I am working on a paper on the distributional impact of the East African Communityliberalization on household welfare in Uganda between 2000 and 2011 using the methodology that I learnt in the online course,” said another participating researcher. “The methodology provided a ground-breaking approach to trade and poverty analysis using household level data which had never been done for the case of Uganda."
The nature of the research being conducted indicates that the course was successful in achieving the ultimate objective of this Vi capacity-building effort: linking research with policymaking.
"I shared the preliminary results (of my research) with the Ministry of Agriculture,” reported one participant. “Based on the findings, we are working to identify actions to improve productivity in agriculture. We are also thinking to extend the analysis to regions."
"I have had a session with government officials from Nigeria's Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development on the need to consider the welfare effects of trade costs and rising food prices," added another course graduate.
For 89 percent percent of the respondents participation in the course also brought professional advancement, in the form of academic promotions and new assignments, as well as consultancy and advanced education opportunities.
The survey also indicates that the course benefits extended to the participant’s institutions.
"My institution is responsible for producing the poverty numbers after every household survey data collection,” said an academic from Uganda. “The course will now enable us to generate policy messages from the trade and poverty dimension."
"My institution, the Ethiopian Economics Association, has a plan to launch a Master's programme and short-term training early 2014,” added another participant. “I strongly believe that I will be able to make use of the knowledge I gained in the online course to give short-term training to the government and the private sector."
"Our course in economics has undergone an accreditation review,” commented the participant from the Philippines. “It was good that the online course gave me additional credentials in the criteria of training of the faculty. So, the university and my department profited from my involvement in the online course indirectly through the accreditation."