The Virtual Institute selected 71 academics from 37 countries to participate in the third edition of its online course on trade and poverty, scheduled for September 14 to November 29. All participants were granted scholarships, made possible with funding from the Government of Finland.
"We received 157 applications, so the selection committee was faced with a very difficult task. But we are trying to raise funds for further editions of this course," said Vi Chief, Vlasta Macku.
Developed in 2013 to support the Vi project on trade and poverty, the course has so far trained over 100 academics from more than 50 countries, and generated 12 policy-oriented research papers, eight of which were compiled in the Vi publication, "Trade policies, household welfare and poverty alleviation."
The objective of the course is to provide participants with the empirical tools needed to assess the impact of trade and trade-related policies on poverty and income distribution. Part of the Vi’s broader effort to strengthen research capacities in participants' countries, the course aims to support governments in the design of pro-poor trade policies conducive to the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals and their successor Sustainable Development Goals.
The six-module course, which includes multimedia lectures on theoretical and empirical aspects, as well as readers, quizzes and exercises, emphasizes hands-on data manipulation and the use of econometric tools.
"Many courses tend to offer more theoretical teaching with little focus on the empirical and practical aspects," said first edition participant, Khutsafalo Sekolokwane, of the South African Customs Union Secretariat in Namibia. "This course has been an exception in that it balanced and aligned the theoretical and empirical aspects. The hands-on and the videos guiding the empirical exercises were very useful in enhancing our learning and application of the instruments at hand."