Malaysia

Competitive Cities: A Game Changer for Malaysia

Competitive Cities: A Game Changer for Malaysia

Photo: mozakim/bigstock


As an upper-middle income country with a majority of its population living in cities, Malaysia is situated among the countries that prove urbanization is key to achieving high-income status. Asking “How can we benefit further from urbanization?” Malaysian policymakers have identified competitive cities as a game changer in the 11th Malaysia Plan. To this end, the World Bank has worked with the government to better understand issues of urbanization and formulate strategies for strengthening the role of cities through the report, “Achieving a System of Competitive Cities in Malaysia.”

While Malaysia’s cities feature strong growth, low poverty rates, and wide coverage of basic services and amenities, challenges still remain. 

Its larger cities are characterized by urban sprawl, particularly in Kuala Lumpur, where population density is low for an Asian metropolis. This inefficient urban form results in high transport costs and negative environmental impacts. This is matched by low economic density, indicating Malaysia’s cities can do better in maximizing the economic benefits from urban agglomeration.  

A second challenge hampering Malaysia’s cities is the highly centralized approach to urban management and service delivery, a system that impedes the local level, and obstructs service delivery and effective implementation of urban and spatial plans.

Third is a growing recognition of the importance of promoting social inclusion to ensure that the benefits of urbanization are widely shared.

Thus, a set of key recommendations have been identified to increase the competitiveness of Malaysia’s cities:

  • Foster Urban Economic Growth: Encouraging more flexible and efficient utilization of land, and coordinating this with the development of connective infrastructure could increase economic density in many Malaysian cities. To improve efficiency, incentives can be provided to cluster services and knowledge-based sectors in large cities, while systematically relocating land-intensive manufacturing industries to smaller cities and towns. Initiatives to repurpose old industrial districts could include catalytic projects to make the city’s spatial structure more efficient, livable and sustainable.
  • Ensure urban environmental sustainability: Furthering the use of public transport would reduce pollution, sprawl and congestion.  Integrating climate change and risk-reduction considerations into urban planning and management would increase urban resilience in Malaysia’s cities.
  • Strengthen institutions for city competitiveness: To increase the effectiveness and efficiency of urban service delivery in Malaysia, management and decision-making roles could be shifted to local level, particularly for areas such as: intra-urban highways and federal intra-urban roads; public transportation; drainage and flood mitigation; and solid waste management.  Investing in building capacity at the local level, and revising the system of fiscal transfers to local authorities to be more transparent, predictable and formula-based would help strengthen local service delivery. 
  • Foster social inclusion: Strengthening programs for at-risk urban youth would help to prevent school dropouts and encourage entry into the labor market. Social inclusion can be facilitated through better spatial integration of housing and transport, while safe neighborhood programs can foster a sense of belonging which may have powerful impacts on Malaysian youth.  
  • Promote innovation through information:  Accessing data in Malaysia has historically been difficult.  Providing more open access to data can create new business opportunities, help solve civic problems, and allow Malaysia to benefit from data-enabled urban management. More could be done to use the data to facilitate collaborative decision-making among government agencies and between government and citizens, ultimately enhancing the competitiveness of cities.

Many of the changes identified involve shifting from existing norms and require sustained efforts and political will to implement. The benefits for Malaysia would far outweigh the costs as it offers opportunities to harness the benefits of urbanization and achieve a system of competitive, sustainable and inclusive cities.
 

by · Tuesday, 4 July 2017 · Malaysia
Vietnam studies Malaysia’s experience with facilitating state relationships

Vietnam studies Malaysia’s experience with facilitating state relationships

Photo: Sasin Tipchai/bigstock

Vietnam has a vision. By 2035, it aspires to become a prosperous, creative, equitable and democratic nation. Achieving this ambitious goal has set Vietnam on a path of transformation on multiple fronts – economic, social, and political.

At the core of this transformation is the re-orientation of the state’s role in economic management.  This requires adapting Vietnam’s economic governance so that the state becomes a skilled facilitator of three types of relationships: among government agencies, between the state and market, and between the state and citizens. 

Not too long ago, Malaysia walked in Vietnam’s shoes, implementing its own wide-ranging transformation. In 2009, Malaysia embarked on the National Transformation Program (NTP) that included focus on both government and economic transformations.  Malaysia had also adopted good practices that simplified regulations, which made it easier for firms to interact with the state.

Through the international conference on “Economic Governance for a Facilitating State,” jointly organized by the Government of Vietnam and the World Bank in Hanoi earlier this month, Malaysian officials shared their experience to contribute toward Vietnam 2035 aspirations. These lessons focused on strengthening institutions so they can facilitate better development outcomes.
Here are some lessons that Malaysia shared with Vietnam:

  • Coordinating interactions between agencies from the Prime Minister’s Department improved policy implementation in Malaysia. Although the NTP was implemented by line ministries and agencies, it was coordinated and rigorously monitored by the Prime Minister’s Performance Management and Delivery Unit (PEMANDU). Coordination of the NTP from the center of government raised the profile of these initiatives and increased stakes in their successes.
     
  • Malaysia’s transformation program had a manageable number of high-level priorities, which were broken down into detailed tasks.  PEMANDU then helped the implementing ministries create implementation routines with deadlines, assigned responsibilities and measurable performance indicators. The importance of this lesson was emphasized at the conference by Ku Kok Peng, Executive Vice President of PEMANDU, who said that transformational leaders are ruthless about prioritization and executing it through the discipline of action. Driving this process from the Prime Minister’s Department, he relies on ministries, departments and agencies to implement the NTP, which in turn creates commitment, coordination and collaboration among government agencies to deliver the outcomes to citizens.
     
  • Malaysia’s government worked closely with business leaders to improve the regulatory environment. Malaysia enabled effective interactions between the government and businesses through a joint task force called PEMUDAH, a Malay acronym for “Special Taskforce to Facilitate Business” that took charge of the regulatory reform.  Made up of government and business captains, PEMUDAH has helped re-engineer business processes and reduce the steps required to provide licenses and business permits. Dato’ Latif Abdul Abu Seman, Deputy Director General of the Malaysia Productivity Corporation, spoke passionately at the conference about how this process has helped businesses focus on productive activities rather than spend time on filling forms.

Both PEMANDU and PEMUDAH, besides being acronyms, are also Malay words with symbolic meaning. PEMANDU means “driver,” as this unit was tasked with driving the implementation of the NTP.  PEMUDAH means “easy” or “simplification” in Malay, reflecting the role of the task force to make things easier and smoother for businesses in Malaysia.

These lessons resonated with the Vietnamese counterparts, who requested follow-up briefings on both PEMANDU and PEMUDAH’s experiences. The participation of the Malaysian officials at the Vietnam 2035 conference was facilitated by the World Bank Group Global Knowledge and Research Hub in Malaysia.  One of the key roles of the Hub is to analyze, curate, and distill the elements of Malaysia’s experience that can serve as valuable lessons for other countries. 

The Hub has recently completed an assessment of Malaysia’s experience with PEMANDU and is embarking on an assessment of Malaysia’s adoption of good regulatory practices, including PEMUDAH.  We look forward to working closely together with the World Bank Vietnam country office in Hanoi and further sharing the Malaysian experience to aid Vietnam in its path toward achieving its 2035 aspirations.
 

by · Saturday, 1 July 2017 · Malaysia, Vietnam
Three things to know about migrant workers and remittances in Malaysia

Three things to know about migrant workers and remittances in Malaysia


Migrants represent 15% of Malaysia’s workforce, making the country home to the fourth largest number of migrants in the East Asia Pacific region. The migrant population is diverse, made up of workers from Indonesia, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar, Vietnam, China and India, among many other countries.

Migrants have become an integral part of Malaysia’s economy and support their families by sending substantial amounts of remittances to their home countries. In fact, remittance growth by migrants in Malaysia has been dramatic since 2006, with an increase in remittance outflows of more than 500% in the past ten years.

Project Greenback 2.0 Johor Bahru
 
Project Greenback 2.0 Johor Bahru is the product of a partnership between Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) and the World Bank Group (WBG) to identify migrant workers’ financial behaviors and their prevalent practices and needs in sending money home. Johor Bahru is the first Greenback champion city in Asia after Turin, Italy, and Montreuil, France.
 
The project has been implemented with many partners including the City Council of Johor Bahru, the Malaysian Association of Money Services Business, the Embassy and Consulate General of Indonesia, the Association of Chinese Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and plantation and remittance companies.
 
Since its launch in November 2015, a joint Greenback team from BNM and WBG has been engaging with migrant communities who are employed in Johor Bahru City and in plantations within a 50 kilometer radius of the city. A survey was conducted targeting migrants working in these urban areas and remote plantations.
 
Three things that came up as a result of the survey: 

1. Income, savings and bank account ownership   

Urban migrants earn 46% more than plantation workers and higher education levels are positively correlated with higher incomes. Nevertheless, beyond a secondary school education, migrant wages stabilize since the type of labor performed by migrants typically does not require higher educational levels.
 
The savings rate of plantation workers is 13% higher than that of urban workers, which can mainly be attributed to the lower cost of living in remote plantations.

The level of bank account ownership is low at 22% for plantation workers and 55% for urban workers. Certain workers cannot comply with the basic requirements to open a bank account due to a lack of proper documentation. For plantation workers, payment of wages in cash and the remoteness of their work locations most affect the level of bank account ownership. These make traveling to banks not only hazardous (cash is carried) but also a time-consuming undertaking. A quarter of plantation workers replied they had to travel at least 30 km to get to a bank or other regulated remittance channels. 

2. Remittance behavior  

Purchasing basic necessities to support dependents in the home country is the main reason for remittances which typically are sent on a monthly basis. 
 
Generally, the transaction fee is 20 Ringgit or less. However, apart from this transaction fee, workers are less aware of the other remittance costs components, such as the foreign exchange cost and costs charged to the recipient.

Non-bank remittance service providers are the most popular regulated remittance channel used by two thirds of the respondents whereas banks are only used by one third of the respondents. Basic factors when selecting a remittance channel are the same among all migrants: safety, ease of transaction, speed and reliability. Nonetheless, the first determining factor for choosing a specific (regulated or unregulated) remittance channel is the convenience of location, after price and trust.    

3. Use of information and communication technologies 
 
Among the surveyed migrants, 74% own a smart phone and 90% access the internet through it. These numbers are high and present a tremendous business opportunity for technology driven remittance service providers who invest in educating their consumer base and provide reliable and competitive remittance services.  
 
By issuing the Financial Technology (FinTech) Regulatory Sandbox Framework, BNM acknowledged FinTech as a catalyst for the development of progressive financial services. This framework allows regulatory flexibilities to be granted to financial institutions and FinTech companies to experiment with FinTech solutions in a live controlled environment for a limited period. Through this initiative BNM will ensure that the Malaysian financial services sector keeps up with the paradigm shift in the use of technology in financial services, and therefore continues to remain relevant regionally and globally.
 
Greenback 2.0 is an ongoing project in Malaysia where progress will be measured through yearly reports. Two additional reports are currently being developed – one which will measure the remittance behavior and needs of SMEs, and another focusing on migrant remittance behavior and needs between Johor Bahru and Lombok, Indonesia.
 
Last but not least, a Greenback 2.0 Pick Remit mobile application was developed which aims to create transparency in remittance prices on a global level. The app aims to help migrant workers make the best choice of services when sending money back home.
 
The impact of Greenback 2.0 in Johor Bahru has been substantial. Average remittance fees decreased by 40%, from 3.33% prior to December 2015 (Pre-Greenback 2.0) to 2.02% in December 2016. As a result, Malaysia is one of the cheapest remittance-sending corridors in the world today.
 
Thanks to this type of initiatives, the cost of sending remittances from Malaysia to neighboring countries is expected to decline further. Moreover, a growing number of migrant workers employed in plantations and other remote locations will be able to remit money home through financial institutions thanks to the use of their smartphones. Thus, a larger volume of remittance outflows will be channeled through financial institutions on a secure, efficient, and cost effective manner for both senders and recipients.

Second-generation capacity development: A story of Malaysia-Laos knowledge exchange on reforming civil service

Second-generation capacity development: A story of Malaysia-Laos knowledge exchange on reforming civil service

What do you imagine when you hear the words “capacity development”? Most development professionals associate capacity development with training, seminars and perhaps study tours.  Most of the countries the World Bank works in require a significant boost in their capability to implement policies, programs and projects, especially in countries supported by the Bank’s fund to the poorest, International Development Association (IDA).

For training to be sustainable and have high impact, it should be targeted to a particular public sector problem, and coupled with initiatives to improve organizational and institutional capacity. 

There is now a model of capacity development via knowledge exchanges. The World Bank Knowledge and Research Hub in Malaysia specializes in bringing the country’s development experience to other countries, both in the ASEAN and globally. This works best when the Bank has an existing engagement in a country, so that the knowledge exchange can be tailored to a particular issue that the government is trying to solve.

Using this approach, the World Bank Governance and Macro Fiscal Management teams conducted a knowledge exchange between Malaysia and Lao PDR. 

Our Lao counterparts are grappling with how to improve the management of the civil service, contain their wage bill, and create a more performance-oriented civil workforce. The wage bill currently represents an estimated 8.4 percent of GDP, which is significantly higher than its ASEAN peers. At the same time, public sector employment reached an estimated 2.8 percent of the population, which is well above the 1.1 percent global average for developing countries. With the current fiscal challenges, including a fiscal deficit of around 6 percent of GDP in fiscal year 2015-2016 and a public debt increasing to around 70 percent of GDP, such a large wage bill is unlikely to be affordable.

The World Bank is providing advice in this area through its ongoing Public Expenditure Analysis, and during this process, the Lao PDR government specifically requested to learn about how other countries have dealt with similar problems. 

The World Bank team in Vientiane reached out to the Kuala Lumpur-based colleagues to see if Malaysia could offer a relevant example for Lao PDR. Over the past decades, Malaysia has instituted a number of reforms focused on increasing performance orientation of its civil service.  It has also introduced measures such as early exit for civil servants to help constrain the high wage bill.  Today, Malaysian authorities continue to face many issues similar to those of their Lao counterparts, while having experimented with various reform measures and gleaned valuable lessons.

To better understand the civil service reform issues in Lao PDR, the World Bank’s Malaysia-based team met with the team in Vientiane. They then worked with the Malaysian Public Service Department to identify the right officials to travel to Vientiane to share their experience with the Lao PDR Ministry of Home Affairs (MOHA) and Ministry of Finance (MOF), as well as to adapt their presentations to suit the Lao context.

The knowledge sharing workshop took place in Vientiane with about 40 government officials actively participating.  Three Malaysian officials presented Malaysia’s experience in reforming pay and compensation, job analysis, performance appraisal, and human resource management information systems, while the World Bank team provided global references and helped moderate the workshop.

The energy in the room was palpable.  There were many probing questions, follow-ups, and animated exchanges. The value of this exchange was the wealth of knowledge shared by actual practitioners who faced similar challenges in the past and were able to offer lessons of how to tackle them – and which pitfalls to avoid.

As a next step, the World Bank discussed a follow-up knowledge exchange visit by the Malaysian officials that would go even deeper:  a week of coaching where they would work with the Lao counterparts on specific issues such as developing job descriptions or rolling out the HRMIS to subnational levels.  Moving forward, the World Bank will now be able to discuss a more detailed plan in order to continue to support the government of Lao PDR on its civil service compensation and performance agenda.

The proof will ultimately be in the ability of Lao PDR to adapt these lessons to their own civil service reforms.  These results will take time to materialize.  However, this particular event was successful in that it facilitated a very targeted, problem-driven knowledge exchange of the experience from Malaysia to Lao PDR.  This generated excitement to build capacity for reform, as well as create momentum for concrete next steps. 

by · Monday, 27 March 2017 · Laos, Malaysia
世界上哪个地区的孩子最聪明?经合组织数据显示,该地区为东亚地区

世界上哪个地区的孩子最聪明?经合组织数据显示,该地区为东亚地区

图中为越南芹苴市附近Tran Dai Nghia高中的学生(图片来源:D7K_4030,摄影:makzhou,按照知识共享组织CC BY-NC 4.0规则使用/已对原照片进行裁剪)


经合组织上月发布的国际学生评估项目(PISA)最新调查结果表明,全世界学习成绩最好的学生中,很多都来自东亚地区。
 
正如在最近发布的《国际数学于科学趋势研究报告》TIMSS )的结果表明,新加坡学生在国际学生评估项目每一学科的成绩均在世界上名列前茅,以较大优势领先于其他经济体和国家。新加坡学生在科学、数学和阅读三门学科上的成绩水平,要比同地区和经合组织国家的学生成绩水平高出两个学年。另外,几乎所有的新加坡学生都达到了基本熟练水平或更高水平。同时,他们的成绩越来越好,成绩低于基本熟练水平的学生人数因此而显著减少。
 
日本学生在科学、数学和阅读学科上的成绩,也明显高于大多数参与该项目的经济体。不过,与上一轮评估相比,日本学生在阅读方面的分数有所下降。尽管如此,与新加坡一样,日本90%的学生已经达到了基本熟练水平或更高水平。

国际学生评估项目是于2000年发起的一项国际调查项目,每三年展开一次调查,其宗旨是在测试15岁学生技能和知识水平基础上对世界各国教育系统进行评估。2015年,该项目对72个国家和经济体超过50万名学生在科学、数学和阅读等三方面进行了评估。
 
总体而言,东亚经济体的表现突出,在前10名中占据7席。

 
在“科学”这一学科上,不但高收入的东亚国家(如新加坡韩国日本、香港特区、中国)占据领先地位,越南也首次进入前10名之列。对于一个低收入国家能够取得这一结果,的确令人赞叹。越南学生的成绩继续明显高于其收入组别的平均水平,并高于很多高收入国家。其在“科学”的得分水平大约高于经合组织和本地区平均水平一学年左右。
 

2015年之前,上海是唯一代表中国参加国际学生评估项目的城市,它的成绩即代表了整个中国学生的成绩水平。我们在之前对此已进行过充分记载。今年有四个省市参加了国际学生评估项目,它们分别为北京、上海、江苏和广东。这些学生的成绩也明显高于经合组织各参与经济体的平均水平。
 
但也存在挑战
 
但是,其他东亚国家的表现却有些差强人意。 印度尼西亚马来西亚泰国也参加了2015年的国际学生评估项目,但这三个国家学生的成绩均低于按其国家收入而预期设定的水平。与本地区和经合组织平均值相比,学生们每个学科科目的成绩继续滞后2至3年。大约50%的学生低于基本熟练水平,这使得他们在接触第二十一世纪技能时,几乎属于功能性文盲,尽管他们已经完成九年的小学和高中学业。
 
在泰国,在科学和阅读学科上的成绩大幅下滑,数学成绩则略有下滑。尽管印度尼西亚在测试分数上已经取得显著提高——科学测试的成绩水平升高了约0.7个学年;在阅读方面,印度尼西亚在2000年至2015年间提高了26分(从371至397分),但其整体成绩水平仍远远落后于经合组织和本地区的平均水平。
 
成功经验
 
东亚各国的成功并非奇迹,也无秘密可言。成功归因于勤勉的付出和良好的政策。
 
正如多年前韩国所做的那样,取得好成绩的东亚各国都做好了基础工作,它们从对基础教育进行精明投资入手,之后推广有效的早期阅读课程。对私营部门服务或资金和公共资金的经济有效使用,能够帮助弥补所存在的差距。在建立和完善基础教育体系的同时,东亚各国对于高等教育采用创新性的资金扶持计划,例如按收入比例还款型学生贷款计划,即学生可通过其未来收入筹集学费和其他费用。得益于学校同行业和用人单位建立的紧密联系,面向小学毕业后学生的技能培训项目得以顺利实施。此外,上述各国也很好地利用了发展机构的贷款。
 
越南的成功得益于下述几个因素。该国除了重视国家预算对教育的投入之外,家长也会通过经常帮助学校或向学校募捐等方式,更多地参与到孩子的学习生活当中。教师的教学工作得到更多的监督,与其他发展中国家相比,越南更加重视学生的成绩。学生也因此更加专注和认真对待其学业。他们较少担心数学,并且对将来如何应用数学知识更有信心。
 
越南也做好了基础工作。该国已从对学校和教师素质的早期投资中获益。学校的最低质量标准以及学科知识、技能和行为标准得以实施。教师均具有很高的职业水平。该国强调识字和识数能力标准化评估的重要性。这些举措所获得的优势很早就开始显现:研究表明,五岁以下越南儿童的表现已略优于其他发展中国家的同龄儿童。
 
应当先从这一地区吸取成功经验。我们将通过区域研究和在3月在印度尼西亚召开的会议上总结上述经验。
 
请可通过Twitter@hpatrinos关注Harry Anthony Patrinos

by · Friday, 10 February 2017 · China, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam
世界上哪个地区的孩子最聪明?经合组织数据显示,该地区为东亚地区

世界上哪个地区的孩子最聪明?经合组织数据显示,该地区为东亚地区

图中为越南芹苴市附近Tran Dai Nghia高中的学生(图片来源:D7K_4030,摄影:makzhou,按照知识共享组织CC BY-NC 4.0规则使用/已对原照片进行裁剪)


经合组织上月发布的国际学生评估项目(PISA)最新调查结果表明,全世界学习成绩最好的学生中,很多都来自东亚地区。
 
正如在最近发布的《国际数学于科学趋势研究报告》TIMSS )的结果表明,新加坡学生在国际学生评估项目每一学科的成绩均在世界上名列前茅,以较大优势领先于其他经济体和国家。新加坡学生在科学、数学和阅读三门学科上的成绩水平,要比同地区和经合组织国家的学生成绩水平高出两个学年。另外,几乎所有的新加坡学生都达到了基本熟练水平或更高水平。同时,他们的成绩越来越好,成绩低于基本熟练水平的学生人数因此而显著减少。
 
日本学生在科学、数学和阅读学科上的成绩,也明显高于大多数参与该项目的经济体。不过,与上一轮评估相比,日本学生在阅读方面的分数有所下降。尽管如此,与新加坡一样,日本90%的学生已经达到了基本熟练水平或更高水平。

国际学生评估项目是于2000年发起的一项国际调查项目,每三年展开一次调查,其宗旨是在测试15岁学生技能和知识水平基础上对世界各国教育系统进行评估。2015年,该项目对72个国家和经济体超过50万名学生在科学、数学和阅读等三方面进行了评估。
 
总体而言,东亚经济体的表现突出,在前10名中占据7席。

 
在“科学”这一学科上,不但高收入的东亚国家(如新加坡韩国日本、香港特区、中国)占据领先地位,越南也首次进入前10名之列。对于一个低收入国家能够取得这一结果,的确令人赞叹。越南学生的成绩继续明显高于其收入组别的平均水平,并高于很多高收入国家。其在“科学”的得分水平大约高于经合组织和本地区平均水平一学年左右。
 

2015年之前,上海是唯一代表中国参加国际学生评估项目的城市,它的成绩即代表了整个中国学生的成绩水平。我们在之前对此已进行过充分记载。今年有四个省市参加了国际学生评估项目,它们分别为北京、上海、江苏和广东。这些学生的成绩也明显高于经合组织各参与经济体的平均水平。
 
但也存在挑战
 
但是,其他东亚国家的表现却有些差强人意。 印度尼西亚马来西亚泰国也参加了2015年的国际学生评估项目,但这三个国家学生的成绩均低于按其国家收入而预期设定的水平。与本地区和经合组织平均值相比,学生们每个学科科目的成绩继续滞后2至3年。大约50%的学生低于基本熟练水平,这使得他们在接触第二十一世纪技能时,几乎属于功能性文盲,尽管他们已经完成九年的小学和高中学业。
 
在泰国,在科学和阅读学科上的成绩大幅下滑,数学成绩则略有下滑。尽管印度尼西亚在测试分数上已经取得显著提高——科学测试的成绩水平升高了约0.7个学年;在阅读方面,印度尼西亚在2000年至2015年间提高了26分(从371至397分),但其整体成绩水平仍远远落后于经合组织和本地区的平均水平。
 
成功经验
 
东亚各国的成功并非奇迹,也无秘密可言。成功归因于勤勉的付出和良好的政策。
 
正如多年前韩国所做的那样,取得好成绩的东亚各国都做好了基础工作,它们从对基础教育进行精明投资入手,之后推广有效的早期阅读课程。对私营部门服务或资金和公共资金的经济有效使用,能够帮助弥补所存在的差距。在建立和完善基础教育体系的同时,东亚各国对于高等教育采用创新性的资金扶持计划,例如按收入比例还款型学生贷款计划,即学生可通过其未来收入筹集学费和其他费用。得益于学校同行业和用人单位建立的紧密联系,面向小学毕业后学生的技能培训项目得以顺利实施。此外,上述各国也很好地利用了发展机构的贷款。
 
越南的成功得益于下述几个因素。该国除了重视国家预算对教育的投入之外,家长也会通过经常帮助学校或向学校募捐等方式,更多地参与到孩子的学习生活当中。教师的教学工作得到更多的监督,与其他发展中国家相比,越南更加重视学生的成绩。学生也因此更加专注和认真对待其学业。他们较少担心数学,并且对将来如何应用数学知识更有信心。
 
越南也做好了基础工作。该国已从对学校和教师素质的早期投资中获益。学校的最低质量标准以及学科知识、技能和行为标准得以实施。教师均具有很高的职业水平。该国强调识字和识数能力标准化评估的重要性。这些举措所获得的优势很早就开始显现:研究表明,五岁以下越南儿童的表现已略优于其他发展中国家的同龄儿童。
 
应当先从这一地区吸取成功经验。我们将通过区域研究和在3月在印度尼西亚召开的会议上总结上述经验。
 
请可通过Twitter@hpatrinos关注Harry Anthony Patrinos

by · Friday, 10 February 2017 · China, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam
世界上哪个地区的孩子最聪明?经合组织数据显示,该地区为东亚地区

世界上哪个地区的孩子最聪明?经合组织数据显示,该地区为东亚地区

图中为越南芹苴市附近Tran Dai Nghia高中的学生(图片来源:D7K_4030,摄影:makzhou,按照知识共享组织CC BY-NC 4.0规则使用/已对原照片进行裁剪)


经合组织上月发布的国际学生评估项目(PISA)最新调查结果表明,全世界学习成绩最好的学生中,很多都来自东亚地区。
 
正如在最近发布的《国际数学于科学趋势研究报告》TIMSS )的结果表明,新加坡学生在国际学生评估项目每一学科的成绩均在世界上名列前茅,以较大优势领先于其他经济体和国家。新加坡学生在科学、数学和阅读三门学科上的成绩水平,要比同地区和经合组织国家的学生成绩水平高出两个学年。另外,几乎所有的新加坡学生都达到了基本熟练水平或更高水平。同时,他们的成绩越来越好,成绩低于基本熟练水平的学生人数因此而显著减少。
 
日本学生在科学、数学和阅读学科上的成绩,也明显高于大多数参与该项目的经济体。不过,与上一轮评估相比,日本学生在阅读方面的分数有所下降。尽管如此,与新加坡一样,日本90%的学生已经达到了基本熟练水平或更高水平。

国际学生评估项目是于2000年发起的一项国际调查项目,每三年展开一次调查,其宗旨是在测试15岁学生技能和知识水平基础上对世界各国教育系统进行评估。2015年,该项目对72个国家和经济体超过50万名学生在科学、数学和阅读等三方面进行了评估。
 
总体而言,东亚经济体的表现突出,在前10名中占据7席。

 
在“科学”这一学科上,不但高收入的东亚国家(如新加坡韩国日本、香港特区、中国)占据领先地位,越南也首次进入前10名之列。对于一个低收入国家能够取得这一结果,的确令人赞叹。越南学生的成绩继续明显高于其收入组别的平均水平,并高于很多高收入国家。其在“科学”的得分水平大约高于经合组织和本地区平均水平一学年左右。
 

2015年之前,上海是唯一代表中国参加国际学生评估项目的城市,它的成绩即代表了整个中国学生的成绩水平。我们在之前对此已进行过充分记载。今年有四个省市参加了国际学生评估项目,它们分别为北京、上海、江苏和广东。这些学生的成绩也明显高于经合组织各参与经济体的平均水平。
 
但也存在挑战
 
但是,其他东亚国家的表现却有些差强人意。 印度尼西亚马来西亚泰国也参加了2015年的国际学生评估项目,但这三个国家学生的成绩均低于按其国家收入而预期设定的水平。与本地区和经合组织平均值相比,学生们每个学科科目的成绩继续滞后2至3年。大约50%的学生低于基本熟练水平,这使得他们在接触第二十一世纪技能时,几乎属于功能性文盲,尽管他们已经完成九年的小学和高中学业。
 
在泰国,在科学和阅读学科上的成绩大幅下滑,数学成绩则略有下滑。尽管印度尼西亚在测试分数上已经取得显著提高——科学测试的成绩水平升高了约0.7个学年;在阅读方面,印度尼西亚在2000年至2015年间提高了26分(从371至397分),但其整体成绩水平仍远远落后于经合组织和本地区的平均水平。
 
成功经验
 
东亚各国的成功并非奇迹,也无秘密可言。成功归因于勤勉的付出和良好的政策。
 
正如多年前韩国所做的那样,取得好成绩的东亚各国都做好了基础工作,它们从对基础教育进行精明投资入手,之后推广有效的早期阅读课程。对私营部门服务或资金和公共资金的经济有效使用,能够帮助弥补所存在的差距。在建立和完善基础教育体系的同时,东亚各国对于高等教育采用创新性的资金扶持计划,例如按收入比例还款型学生贷款计划,即学生可通过其未来收入筹集学费和其他费用。得益于学校同行业和用人单位建立的紧密联系,面向小学毕业后学生的技能培训项目得以顺利实施。此外,上述各国也很好地利用了发展机构的贷款。
 
越南的成功得益于下述几个因素。该国除了重视国家预算对教育的投入之外,家长也会通过经常帮助学校或向学校募捐等方式,更多地参与到孩子的学习生活当中。教师的教学工作得到更多的监督,与其他发展中国家相比,越南更加重视学生的成绩。学生也因此更加专注和认真对待其学业。他们较少担心数学,并且对将来如何应用数学知识更有信心。
 
越南也做好了基础工作。该国已从对学校和教师素质的早期投资中获益。学校的最低质量标准以及学科知识、技能和行为标准得以实施。教师均具有很高的职业水平。该国强调识字和识数能力标准化评估的重要性。这些举措所获得的优势很早就开始显现:研究表明,五岁以下越南儿童的表现已略优于其他发展中国家的同龄儿童。
 
应当先从这一地区吸取成功经验。我们将通过区域研究和在3月在印度尼西亚召开的会议上总结上述经验。
 
请可通过Twitter@hpatrinos关注Harry Anthony Patrinos

by · Friday, 10 February 2017 · China, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam

The bully in all of us

The tension in our circle was palpable as I asked the question, “Why do you think some of you did better than others in this game?” Nervous eyes looked from one teammate to another. The silence was broken by a slightly built boy of about 14: “They bullied me! They ganged up on me!” The boy did not lose the game, but he was close to the bottom. The girl who did lose said, “I felt that I lost because I ‘attacked’ others more. But I also felt betrayed by my friends.” It was the end of the first day…

The post The bully in all of us appeared first on UNICEF Connect.

by · Monday, 6 February 2017 · Malaysia
The FinTech revolution: A perspective from Asia

The FinTech revolution: A perspective from Asia

Will cash and checks still exist 15 or 20 years from now given the increasing digitization of money? Is the smartphone our new bank? Will many people working in the financial sector industry lose their jobs due to growing use of technology, robots, algorithms, and online banking? Is financial technology (FinTech) the solution to providing financial services to the 2 billion people in the planet that still lack access to finance? Will digital currencies and other innovative FinTech products pose systemic risks in the future? What is the best approach to regulate FinTech companies?

These questions and many others were discussed at the Global Symposium on Innovative Financial Inclusion jointly organized by Bank Negara Malaysia and the World Bank Group Global Knowledge Research Hub in Malaysia. The symposium brought together more than 400 participants from 35 countries from around the world, including senior representatives of central banks, financial institutions, and new FinTech companies.
 
Some of our takeaways:
 
FinTech is changing the way people and firms save their money, make payments, invest, borrow, and acquire insurance products. Nowadays, millions of people around the world perform a wide range of financial transactions through their smartphones with no need to go to a bank branch. New financial products and mobile wallets targeting low-income households are emerging in Africa and Asia. Technology is making it possible to do practically any type of financial transactions – savings, payments, lending – in remote villages with the use of smartphones. FinTech can accelerate financial inclusion especially for poor people around the world.
 
Technology giants such as Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Alibaba are infringing on traditional financial institutions by offering convenient and well-interconnected financial solutions to their customers. And new online platforms offer people and small- and medium-enterprises (SMEs) attractive options to invest and lend with one another in a rapid and cost-effective manner. All these technological breakthroughs are enabling new technologies to fill the gaps in SME finance.
 
The benefits of FinTech are enormous not only for consumers, but also for financial institutions in managing risks and securing efficiency gains. For example, with the use of technology, loan applications can be appraised, approved, and disbursed much faster thanks to new ways to encode, share and analyze data. FinTech also shortens the time to trade and settle securities transactions. For financial institutions, it offers shorter, speedier transaction chains, greater capital efficiency, and stronger operational resilience.
 
But FinTech also brings risks and challenges that must be understood properly. FinTech can be a source of increased risks for stability, integrity, and market conduct. Risks may present themselves in various forms. Personal information of customers, for example, may be lost or stolen. When the IT system of a financial service provider is attacked, large-scale loss of personal data may occur. IT systems may also be accessed and manipulated to effect criminal payments.
 
The rapid pace of innovation is not only posing challenges to financial institutions, but also to financial sector regulators. The legal and regulatory frameworks in which FinTech players operate can be outdated, leaving room for regulatory arbitrage and uneven playing fields.  Supervisory capacity may not be adequate yet to understand, identify, and monitor emerging risks.
 
Looking forward, the challenge for financial sector authorities is to foster innovation and establish an enabling regulatory environment for Fintech. There is a need to properly standardize regulatory approach for FinTechs by allowing them to experiment with new technologies in a safe environment.
 
Several countries in Asia, such as Australia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand are adopting the regulatory sandbox approach to FinTech. This is a safe and conducive space to experiment with FinTech solutions, and where the consequences of failure can be contained. The sandbox cannot remove all risks, as failure is an inherent characteristic of innovation. In this regard, the sandbox aims to provide an environment where if an experiment fails, its impact on consumers and on financial stability will be limited. 
 
Finally, a clear message that came out of the Global Symposium is that in order for the FinTech industry to succeed, dialogue and collaboration between emerging FinTech companies and authorities are needed. We all must understand and be prepared to embrace disruption and innovation that technology is bringing to our lives. The nascent FinTech industry requires a proper enabling environment to continue growing. 
 

by · Thursday, 20 October 2016 · Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand
Islamic finance in Malaysia: Filling the gaps in financial inclusion

Islamic finance in Malaysia: Filling the gaps in financial inclusion

In the past decade, the Islamic finance industry has grown at double digits despite the weak global economic environment. By 2020, the Islamic finance industry is projected to reach $3 trillion in total assets with 1 billion users. However, despite its rapid growth and enormous potential, 7 out of 10 adults still do not have access to a bank account in Muslim countries. This means that 682 million adult Muslims still do not have an account at a banking institution. While some Muslim countries have high levels of account ownership (above 90 percent), there are others with less than 5 percent of their adult population who reported having a bank account.

At the Global Islamic Finance Forum that recently took place in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, global business leaders and policy makers met to discuss the challenges faced by the industry. This year, the Forum focused on technological innovations and how it can impact traditional financial services in terms of access to finance, expanding alternative delivery challenges and strengthening the regulatory environment to reflect new market developments.
 
Three main lessons emerged from the Global Forum:
 
1. The Need to Scale-up Financial Inclusion 
 
Adults with an Account (%)

 
 
 
The use of financial services is still developing in Muslim countries. According to the 2014 Global Findex, 40 percent of adults reported having borrowed and saved any money in the past 12 months. And only 9 percent of adults saved at a formal financial institution. In comparison, in high-income OECD countries 52 percent of adults saved formally.
 
Thus, Islamic finance can play a significant role in narrowing the gap of financial inclusion in Muslim countries. Historically, Malaysia has been a leader in developing innovative savings, credit, and investment instruments that are Sharia-compliant for low-income households. Moreover, Malaysia has established specialized financial institutions offering only Islamic finance products, such as Bank Rakyat, the largest Islamic cooperative bank in the country.
 
2. Incorporating New Digital Technologies
 
Technology has the potential to drive change in the Islamic finance industry, especially for the 2.3 million Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) located in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).
 
Financial Technology (FinTech) companies are using innovative solutions to make access to financial services more efficient. Despite the fact that 76 percent of enterprises in MENA has a bank account, only 26 percent reported having a credit from a financial institution. Given this low credit penetration at the corporate level in Muslim countries, some solutions have been implemented to narrow the credit gap which is estimated to be more than US$140 billion.
 
In the case of Malaysia, an Investment Account Platform (IAP) was implemented in the beginning of 2016. Through this solution, Islamic banks match investors with projects in need of funding. The innovation of this approach is that after the bank screens the project, a credit rating is assigned, and then the project is uploaded to a platform where the investors can select the investment according to their risk appetite.
 
3. Addressing Regulatory Challenges
 
Authorities not only in Muslim countries but also in other jurisdictions are still addressing the challenge of revising regulatory standards in order to foster innovation in alternative finance platforms. The current debate is centered on how to regulate non-financial institutions that are receiving money from global investors and lend it to local companies or entrepreneurs through the Internet.
 
In July 2016, Bank Negara Malaysia launched a discussion paper on Fintech Regulatory Sandbox . The Sandbox will allow both FinTech companies and financial institutions to experiment with FinTech tools. The introduction of this initiative represents a progressive regulatory response that aims to foster the value of technology on financial services.
 
In the region, Singapore issued FinTech Regulatory Sandbox Guidelines in June 2016 to encourage more FinTech experimentations. Indonesia is also preparing its FinTech legislation that will be ready in December 2016.
 
Another challenge for Muslim countries is to upgrade their financial standards to common international principles that are applicable in all Muslim jurisdictions. There is still no consensus on whether a financial product such as an investment account or bond is compliant in all Muslim territories. This generates uncertainty to non-Muslim investors that are willing to finance infrastructure projects but are not sure that their investments are 100% compliant to the generally accepted principles of financial securities.
 
The Islamic finance industry is well positioned to seize the opportunities to embrace new market technological developments. The need to create new products to attend the unbanked population such as zero-fee accounts, small loans, or family insurance could open a new window to provide formal financial services to the unserved population in Muslim countries.

by · Thursday, 20 October 2016 · Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore