Policymakers in 30 countries can expect evidence-based analysis from national academics armed with newly acquired analytical skills assessing the impact of trade on their countries’ poor, gained through the third edition of the Virtual Institute online course on trade and poverty. Held September 14 to November 29, the course was funded by the Government of Finland.
The 51 graduates say they are keen to apply their new knowledge of data sources, tools, methods and policy-relevant research questions on trade and poverty in their teaching, research and work with their governments.
“Despite the fact that this programme was organized online, it has been very effective and it has challenged me to go the extra mile in coming up with research papers that will be of interest to policymakers in Ghana,” said Emmanuel Orkoh, of Vi core member, the University of Cape Coast. ”This course has broadened my understanding of the estimation techniques, and the transmission mechanisms through which trade policy influences household welfare.”
“The course on trade and poverty was an excellent opportunity to learn the latest techniques and review the literature on this subject,” said Aadil Nakhoda, of Pakistan’s Institute of Business Administration. “It covered topics that are relevant to policymakers today. For instance, we were provided resources on the topic of growth and poverty and material on how changes in prices of staple food may lead to poverty reduction. I feel that the exercises can be replicated to other country-specific datasets and can provide policymakers with more detailed information on the impact of policy shocks.”
“The course gave me a clear idea of what should be taken into account when analyzing the poverty influence of trade and trade policy in Belarus,” said Aleh Mazol, of the Belarusian Economic Research and Outreach Center. “It will now be much easier for me to perform policy analysis concerning the outcomes of Belarus accession to the Eurasian Economic Union, and the prospective accession to the WTO.”
All participants said the course met or exceeded their expectations, and that they had acquired the skills to conduct research on trade and poverty independently or in cooperation with a more experienced researcher. They also said they felt better prepared to teach their students about the tools and methods used in the econometric analysis of trade and poverty.
“As a researcher and lecturer, I have the strong conviction that my university will benefit from my participation in the course a lot,” said Sierra Leone’s Allieu Badara Kabia, currently a PhD student at China’s Liaoning University. “Not only in terms of teaching and mentoring of other lecturers and students but in extending this knowledge to other educational institutions in Sierra Leone in particular, and Africa as a whole.”
“The knowledge from course will help me analyze how much the change in the cost of compliance affects Indian grape farmers who suffer from sudden changes in technical barriers to trade imposed by the export markets, said Anirudha More, of India’s National Institute of Bank Management, India.
“I would like to explore the possibilities of interlinking the poorest and remotest communities through marketing cooperatives to facilitate trade in the economy,” said Pema Bazar, His Majesty's Secretariat in Bhutan. “I am now also in a better position to advise the government on the review of the Economic Development Policy especially when it comes to the industry and trade component.”
“The Economic Community of West African States will apply a new external common tariff from 2016,” said Arouna Sow, of Burkina Faso’s National Institute of Statistics and Demography. “Tthis course will be useful for me to estimate the impact of this new tariff on household welfare based on the recent household survey of the country.
Although most participants rated the level of difficulty of the course as high, they appreciated its pedagogical approach, the technical elements of the online learning platform and the excellent support of course tutor, Vi economist Julia Seirmann.
“I was very happy with the way the course had been structured, particularly the division of course contents into theoretical and empirical aspects,” said Indonesia’s Andre Wirjo, currently at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Secretariat in Singapore. “Very often, courses have difficulty teaching empirical aspects, especially in long-distance settings. I think this course is an exception and did this very well.”
“This way of study develops analytical skills and forms a comprehensive view of how to create models and adapt them to different research goals,” said Ekaterina Arapova, of Russian Vi affiliate member, the Moscow State Institute of International Relations.
“Some modules were a bit challenging and one had to really apply oneself. However, by reviewing more carefully and more attentively the readers and the papers made available, as well as listening to the recorded lectures on the DVD and doing the Stata exercises, things always became much clearer and I was able to do well in the quizzes,” said Zimbabwe ‘s Tsitsi Effie Mutambara, currently at South Africa’s Rhodes University. “The Thursday office hour discussions (a new web-based videoconference feature of the course) with Julia, as well as her expert and very clear answers to the questions posted in the forum, also helped a lot.”
“The DVD is excellent, given the challenges of Internet connections in the developing world,” said James Hurungo, of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe. “I really found it useful that you can do your work from anywhere. The technical support was excellent too.
“My expectations were far surpassed. I highly recommend this course for anybody thinking of researching or teaching household welfare dynamics. A true career-changing experience!,” said Derek Apell, of Rwanda’s National Institute of Statistics.
“This Virtual Institute professional development opportunity has enhanced my quantitative and analytical skills a lot,” said Togo’s Banawe Plambou Anissa, currently at Benin’s African School of Economics. “I am positively impressed!! Thanks to you all, especially to the Government of Finland for funding such an interesting programme.”