Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Human Capital

Author: Gary S. Becker**

To most people capital means a bank account, a hundred shares of IBM stock, assembly lines, or steel plants in the Chicago area. These are all forms of capital in the sense that they are assets that yield income and other useful outputs over long periods of time.

But these tangible forms of capital are not the only ones. Schooling, a computer training course, expenditures of medical care, and lectures on the virtues of punctuality and honesty also are capital. That is because they raise earnings, improve health, or add to a person's good habits over much of his lifetime. Therefore, economists regard expenditures on education, training, medical care, and so on as investments in human capital. They are called human capital because people cannot be separated from their knowledge, skills, health, or values in the way they can be separated from their financial and physical assets.

Education and training are the most important investments in human capital. Many studies have shown that high school and college education in the United States greatly raise a person's income, even after netting out direct and indirect costs of schooling, and even after adjusting for the fact that people with more education tend to have higher IQs and better-educated and richer parents. Similar evidence is now available for many years from over a hundred countries with different cultures and economic systems. The earnings of more educated people are almost always well above average, although the gains are generally larger in less developed countries.

Consider the differences in average earnings between college and high school graduates in the United States during the past fifty years. Until the early sixties college graduates earned about 45 percent more than high school graduates. In the sixties this premium from college education shot up to almost 60 percent, but it fell back in the seventies to under 50 percent. The fall during the seventies led some economists and the media to worry about "overeducated Americans." Indeed, in 1976 Harvard economist Richard Freeman wrote a book titled The Overeducated American. This sharp fall in the return to investments in human capital put the concept of human capital itself into some disrepute. Among other things it caused doubt about whether education and training really do raise productivity or simply provide signals ("credentials") about talents and abilities.

But the monetary gains from a college education rose sharply again during the eighties, to the highest level in the past fifty years. Economists Kevin M. Murphy and Finis Welch have shown that the premium on getting a college education in the eighties was over 65 percent. Lawyers, accountants, engineers, and many other professionals experienced especially rapid advances in earnings. The earnings advantage of high school graduates over high school dropouts has also greatly increased. Talk about overeducated Americans has vanished, and it has been replaced by concern once more about whether the United States provides adequate quality and quantity of education and other training.
This concern is justified. Real wage rates of young high school dropouts have fallen by more than 25 percent since the early seventies, a truly remarkable decline. Whether because of school problems, family instability, or other factors, young people without a college or a full high school education are not being adequately prepared for work in modern economies.

Thinking about higher education as an investment in human capital helps us understand why the fraction of high school graduates who go to college increases and decreases from time to time. When the benefits of a college degree fell in the seventies, for example, the fraction of white high school graduates who started college fell, from 51 percent in 1970 to 46 percent in 1975. Many educators expected enrollments to continue declining in the eighties, partly because the number of eighteen-year-olds was declining, but also because college tuition was rising rapidly. They were wrong about whites. The fraction of white high school graduates who enter college rose steadily in the eighties, reaching 60 percent in 1988, and caused an absolute increase in the number of whites enrolling despite the smaller number of college-age people.

This makes sense. The benefits of a college education, as noted, increased in the eighties. And tuition and fees, although they rose about 39 percent from 1980 to 1986 in real, inflation-adjusted terms, are not the only cost of going to college. Indeed, for most college students they are not even the major cost. On average, three-fourths of the private cost—the cost borne by the student and by the student's family—of a college education is the income that college students give up by not working. A good measure of this "opportunity cost" is the income that a newly minted high school graduate could earn by working full-time. And during the eighties this forgone income, unlike tuition, did not rise in real terms. Therefore, even a 39 percent increase in real tuition costs translated into an increase of just 10 percent in the total cost to students of a college education.

The economics of human capital also account for the fall in the fraction of black high school graduates who went on to college in the early eighties. As Harvard economist Thomas J. Kane has pointed out, costs rose more for black college students than for whites. That is because a higher percentage of blacks are from low-income families and, therefore, had been heavily subsidized by the federal government. Cuts in federal grants to them in the early eighties substantially raised their cost of a college education.

According to the 1982 "Report of the Commission on Graduate Education" at the University of Chicago, demographic-based college enrollment forecasts had been wide of the mark during the twenty years prior to that time. This is not surprising to a "human capitalist." Such forecasts ignored the changing incentives—on the cost side and on the benefit side—to enroll in college.

The economics of human capital have brought about a particularly dramatic change in the incentives for women to invest in college education in recent decades. Prior to the sixties American women were more likely than men to graduate from high school but less likely to continue on to college. Women who did go to college shunned or were excluded from math, sciences, economics, and law, and gravitated toward teaching, home economics, foreign languages, and literature. Because relatively few married women continued to work for pay, they rationally chose an education that helped in "household production"—and no doubt also in the marriage market—by improving their social skills and cultural interests.
All this has changed radically. The enormous increase in the labor participation of married women is the most important labor force change during the past twenty-five years. Many women now take little time off from their jobs even to have children. As a result the value to women of market skills has increased enormously, and they are bypassing traditional "women's" fields to enter accounting, law, medicine, engineering, and other subjects that pay well. Indeed, women now comprise one-third or so of enrollments in law, business, and medical schools, and many home economics departments have either shut down or are emphasizing the "new home economics." Improvements in the economic position of black women have been especially rapid, and they now earn just about as much as white women.

Of course, formal education is not the only way to invest in human capital. Workers also learn and are trained outside of schools, especially on jobs. Even college graduates are not fully prepared for the labor market when they leave school, and are fitted into their jobs through formal and informal training programs. The amount of on-the-job training ranges from an hour or so at simple jobs like dishwashing to several years at complicated tasks like engineering in an auto plant. The limited data available indicates that on-the-job training is an important source of the very large increase in earnings that workers get as they gain greater experience at work. Recent bold estimates by Columbia University economist Jacob Mincer suggest that the total investment in on-the-job training may be well over $100 billion a year, or almost 2 percent of GNP.
No discussion of human capital can omit the influence of families on the knowledge, skills, values, and habits of their children. Parents affect educational attainment, marital stability, propensities to smoke and to get to work on time, as well as many other dimensions of their children's lives.

The enormous influence of the family would seem to imply a very close relation between the earnings, education, and occupations of parents and children. Therefore, it is rather surprising that the positive relation between the earnings of parents and children is not strong, although the relation between the years of schooling of parents and children is stronger. For example, if fathers earn 20 percent above the mean of their generation, sons at similar ages tend to earn about 8 percent above the mean of theirs. Similar relations hold in Western European countries, Japan, Taiwan, and many other places.

The old adage of "from shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations" is no myth; the earnings of grandsons and grandparents are hardly related. Apparently, the opportunities provided by a modern economy, along with extensive public support of education, enable the majority of those who come from lower-income backgrounds to do reasonably well in the labor market. The same opportunities that foster upward mobility for the poor create an equal amount of downward mobility for those higher up on the income ladder.

The continuing growth in per capita incomes of many countries during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries is partly due to the expansion of scientific and technical knowledge that raises the productivity of labor and other inputs in production. And the increasing reliance of industry on sophisticated knowledge greatly enhances the value of education, technical schooling, on-the-job training, and other human capital.

New technological advances clearly are of little value to countries that have very few skilled workers who know how to use them. Economic growth closely depends on the synergies between new knowledge and human capital, which is why large increases in education and training have accompanied major advances in technological knowledge in all countries that have achieved significant economic growth.

The outstanding economic records of Japan, Taiwan, and other Asian economies in recent decades dramatically illustrate the importance of human capital to growth. Lacking natural resources—they import almost all their energy, for example—and facing discrimination against their exports by the West, these so-called Asian tigers grew rapidly by relying on a well-trained, educated, hardworking, and conscientious labor force that makes excellent use of modern technologies.

* From The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics, part of The Library of Economics and Liberty, (no date)

Original version:

Further Reading

Becker, Gary S. Human Capital. 1975.

Freeman, Richard. The Overeducated American. 1976.

Kane, Thomas J. "College Entry by Blacks since 1970: The Role of Tuition, Financial Aid, Local Economic Conditions, and Family Background." Unpublished manuscript, 1990.

Murphy, Kevin M., and Finis Welch. "Wage Premiums for College Graduates: Recent Growth and Possible Explanations." Educational Researcher 18 (1989): 17-27.

"Report of the Commission on Graduate Education." University of Chicago Record 16, no. 2 (May 3, 1982): 67-180.

About the Author

Gary S. Becker is University Professor of Economics and Sociology at the University of Chicago and the Rose-Marie and Jack R. Anderson Senior Fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institution. He was a pioneer in the study of human capital. He won the 1992 Nobel Prize in economics. (See also: Biography: Gary S. Becker.)**

**Biography of Gary S. Becker (from the same source as the above)

Gary S. Becker won the 1992 Nobel Prize in economics for "having extended the domain of economic theory to aspects of human behavior which had previously been dealt with—if at all—by other social science disciplines such as sociology, demography and criminology."

Becker's unusually wide applications of economics started early. In 1955 he wrote his doctoral dissertation at the University of Chicago on the economics of discrimination. Among other things, Becker successfully challenged the Marxist view that discrimination helps the person who discriminates. Becker pointed out that if an employer refuses to hire a productive worker simply because of his skin color, that employer loses out on a valuable opportunity. In short, discrimination is costly to the person who discriminates.

Becker showed that discrimination would be less pervasive in more competitive industries because companies that discriminated would lose market share to companies that did not. He also presented evidence that discrimination was more pervasive in more regulated and, therefore, less competitive industries. The idea that discrimination is costly to the discriminator is common sense among economists today, and that is due to Becker.

In the early sixties Becker moved on to the fledgling area of human capital. One of the founders of the concept (the other being Theodore Schultz), Becker pointed out what again seems like common sense but was new at the time: education is an investment. Education adds to our human capital just as other
investments add to physical capital. (For more on this, see Becker's article, Human Capital, in this encyclopedia.)

One of Becker's insights was that a major cost of investing in education is one's time. Possibly that insight led him to his next major area, the study of the allocation of time within a family. Applying the economist's concept of opportunity cost, Becker showed that as market wages rose, the cost to married women of staying home would rise. They would want to work outside the home and economize on household tasks by buying more appliances and fast food.

Not even crime escaped Becker's keen analytic mind. In the late sixties he wrote a trail-blazing article whose working assumption was that the decision to commit crime is a function of the costs and benefits of crime. From this assumption he concluded that the way to reduce crime is to raise the probability of punishment or to make the punishment more severe. His insights into crime, like his insights on discrimination and human capital, helped spawn a new branch of economics.

In the seventies Becker extended his insights on allocation of time within a family. He used the economic approach to explain the decisions to have children and to educate them, and the decisions to marry and to divorce.

Becker was a professor at Columbia University from 1957 to 1969. Except for that period, he has spent his entire career at the University of Chicago. He holds joint appointments in the departments of economics and sociology. Becker won the John Bates Clark Award of the American  Association in 1967 and was president of that association in 1987.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Everyone these days knows about the economic and socio-cultural importance of coastal and marine ecosystems. But in most of Africa, they are under constant attack as industry develops and unthinking use of natural resources increases. In Cameroon, for example, the coast and sea are afflicted by serious ecological problems. Such areas are much in demand because of the copious natural riches they contain, so there are environmental conflicts over the gathering and use of resources such as fish, oil, minerals, timber and farm products. Land disputes are especially acute in port cities such as Douala. The conflicts are usually limited to Cameroon itself but sometimes they spill across national borders. Disputes about maritime pollution are quite common along the coast of Cameroon. One example is the conflict, in the southwestern province, between the local population and officials of MINEF and MINEPIA over the use of chemicals by inshore fi s h e rmen. Another is between the wealthy people of the province and the oil companies, which have polluted the waters of the Rio del Rey, which are often used for domestic purposes. Then there are the ongoing battles involving local fishermen angry at low prices for their catch and the trawlers that sometimes destroy their nets. The natural resources themselves are both over-exploited and affected by many kinds of pollution.

The growth of ports also brings with it several kinds of pollution from the wharves, from ships, dredging operations and from contamination by urban sewage. The main effect of such pollution, and silt deposition, is cloudiness of the water, which reduces production of phytoplankton. The ocean floor environment is also changed by sedimentary deposits and waste material. Human health is affected too. We have some foul-smelling beaches which threaten the health of local people because they spread intestinal diseases like cholera and hepatitis. Shipping movements and related activity are also sources of pollution. About a tonne of copper ends up in the sea every year as a result of big ships repainting their hulls.

Monday, October 25, 2010



In 1995 the Integrated Coastal Area Management (ICAM) initiative in Kenya based on the National Environment Action Plan (NEAP) and other international protocols brought together hoteliers, researchers, planners, resource managers and relevant university departments to profile the problems confronting the coastal residents outside Mombasa town. To consolidate the issues in the study area and endorse strategies to address them, other stakeholders had to be included to complete the evaluation and make a comprehensive list of suggestions. These were administrators, boat operators, mangrove t ra d e rs , fi s h e rmen and tourism serv i c e providers. A lead institution for co-ordinating the effort was identified.

Th rough this part i c i p at o ry pro c e s s , the issues to be add ressed we re identified as rapid urbanizat i o n , d e cline in reef fi s h e ries and water quality, e rosion of the shore l i n e, d egra d ation of other coastal ecosystems and use conflicts. Both short - and long-term strat egies to solve the pro bl e m s we re also evo l ved and synthesized in a ‘ s t rat egie s ’ document to be implemented by various pe rtinent institutions/people based on mandate, ex p e rience and tech n i c a l / fiscal cap ab i l i t y. To start w i t h , some demonstration projects are being put in place to show off the real value of ICAM as a tool to manage coastal re s o u rces. To sustain the e ffo rt s , vo l u n t a ry technical wo rking groups on the va rious issues we re put in place and will execute and ove rsee the implementation of the va rious strat egies on behalf of a secre t a ri at and a multi-institutional Coastal Management Steeri n g Committee (CMSC). As a Co-o rd i n ator of the p roject for the last four ye a rs I would like to share h e re my ex p e rience with colleagues in the regi o n .


Formal education empowers and fully integrates an individual into his immediate and global community. The level of formal education in the majority of our coastal communities is low. As a
result, the environment and the biology of the resource base is not fully appreciated nor are conservation principles for sustainable use. For example, local stakeholders do not know that coral is a living organism that requires certain conditions for its continued growth and development. Their educational status also excludes stakeholders from knowledge of alternative uses of coastal products or substitution of other products to avoid overexploitation. The status also reduces risk taking in adopting new, appropriate and still affordable technologies.

Fortunately, with the type and amount of research information available on the study site, the challenge to raise awareness and encourage participation in implementing specific development strategies is a feasible one.


Cultural education and experience is knowledge that has been accrued over the generations by practice and habit. This cultural practice is therefore proven and it is definitely sustainable. M o d e rn ap p ro a ches to coastal management have to accept this information base and interweave the cultural experience with modern science in order to achieve the desired results. Custodians of cultural education tend to be resistant to parting freely with their knowledge. Appropriate incentives need to be evolved to reward the sharing of indigenous knowledge when it is sought for incorporation into planning development programmes. Such knowledge exists in boat making, sailing, night fishing, seasonal movements of pelagic fish schools, upwelling, selective fishing etc.


The success of coastal projects will be largely determined by how good a working rapport is established among all the stakeholders including government and the beneficiaries/supporters of
the projects. When bad communication/publicity is given about our coastal tourism, for example,
appropriate communication should be given to correct the record in order to sustain an industry
which accounts for up to 60% of total national tourism. Translation of policies, strategies and priorities into various local languages should be encouraged even though in Kenya we are united
by a national language that originated from the coast. Our experience has been amply shared through national radio and international conferences and our strategy document has been put on the Internet by our collaborators at the University of Rhode Island. The proposed codes of conduct for our conservation areas and the environmental impact assessment procedures to be incorporated in the government environment policy are highly articulated. On-the-job training, training of trainers and refresher courses appear to be the most efficient methods of communication with target groups already engaged in specific enterprises; it updates the workers on the latest technologies and methodologies. The benefits cut across generations as you make future leaders aware of coastal problems early in their lives.


Another determinant of the long-term success of the ICAM process is the development of a critical mass of trained pers o n n e l , a functional national framework and a sustainable financing
scheme tailored mainly from within individual c o u n t ries. This development will guara n t e e intensification, expansion and nationalization of the ICAM pilot projects. Continued sharing of experience and extensive use of technical expertise from elsewhere is encouraged. In this way, national efforts will be regionally and internationally integrated.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


Can news – fleeting info rm ation – help people to understand better the notion of integrated management of coastal regions in a context of sustainable development? Defi n i t e ly yes. Because the media, m a i n ly the independent written pre s s , is the last re s o rt for those who have been pushed aside by a development project wh i ch has taken scant notice of the socio-economic and ecological factors involved. There, they can express themselves and even vent their anger about it. This jars with the idea of integrated management which should be shared by eve ryone invo l ved in coastal deve l o p m e n t .

Mauritius is an island of coastal tourism, which uses up an enormous amount of coastal resources such as beaches, important natural geological sites, lagoons and coral reefs and other aspects of the landscap e. The touri s t industry is an important part of the country’s economic development and brought in US$459 million in revenue in 1997, making it the third biggest source of income after agriculture and manufacturing. The 1.1 million people of Mauritius welcome 600,000 tourists each year and the number is expected to reach an annual average of 845,975 by the year 2002. All of the 90 registered hotels are on the coast, where tourist facilities take up 41.9 km of the 322.5 km of the coastal zone of the 1,860 km2 island.

But the tourist industry may collapse if these resources are not managed in a way that co-ordinates the activity of interdependent elements with a view to sustainable development. It is significant that after years of unregulated development, people are now starting to talk about sustainable tourism. This famously fast-growing i n d u s t ry also affects the inhabitants of the coastal areas and their environment; conflicts often find their way, when all else fails, into the columns of the island’s newspapers. The need for sustainable development of the environment was first mentioned in the Mauritian press in 1990, though the concept had been launched by the Stockholm declaration in 1972, when tourism in Mauritius was taking off in a big way. It came up in the reporting by the newspaper Week-End of a scandal over construction of a hotel, started in 1989, at Balaclava on the northwest coast, which has the only bay in Mauritius where 90% of the coral is still living. The coral reefs at this unique spot, which has been earmarked as the site of the island’s first underwater park, were bulldozed to build a water-skiing lane. The outcry led to a new environmental protection law in 1991 which requires all new tourist projects along the coast to undergo an environmental impact assessment before getting the go-ahead. But another crucial part of sustainable development – the social aspect – was not dealt with.

Once more through Week-End, exasperated fishermen protested in 1993 against the dredging of
a lagoon at Trou d’Eau Douce, on the east coast, to build an artificial island for the Sun Resorts hotel group. The dredging permanently changed the water currents and jeopardized the inshore fishing, which was one of the local community’s main economic activities. The upshot of the media protest was that the hotel developer recognized the harm the project had done to the community and the fishermen were paid compensation. But the lagoon’s ecological balance has still not been restored and the fishermen, with the help of the money they
got, have turned to other work related to tourist development.

An overall awareness of what sustainable development is about has steadily gained ground and the part played by communication, using the written press, is very clear. Examples of it are increasingly cited by the newspapers and there are now opportunities for discussion and analysis
leading to awareness of its importance, especi a l ly wh e re integrated management of the island’s coastal areas is concerned. The press helps with reports, interviews and big articles, in non-technical language that is easy to understand and supports people’s concerns about the


At a deeper level, the spread of information about the environment along with a greater involvement of education in sustainable development programmes leads fi n a l ly to people understanding that natural resources are limited and that it is the job of all of us to look after them. So starting with the agents of communication and with journalists, we have to know the scientific facts about the ecosystems and how human activity affects them. The press is a powerful and essential tool in creating this awareness, especially at decisionmaking level, either in government or the private sector. Just like the media, sources of informal education such as bookshops, nature reserves and parks, training courses and research centres fit in with the aim of educating people to manage the environment. But messages from various sources can confuse things. The news can help the cause, as we have shown, but there needs to be greater involvement through specialized training. The task of e d u c ation in sustainable development programmes in coastal areas is to encourage economic activity and behaviour that is consistent with sustainable development by increasing the know-how and knowledge of the ecosystem and
natural resources. So alliances should be made among community groups, non-governmental organizations, industries and those involved in formal and informal education.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


During the past four years there has been much discussion in the Seychelles about sustainable coastal development and integrated coastal zone management. Various stakeholders, including rep re s e n t at ives from educat i o n , h ave been involved in an array of sometimes unrelated national and regional workshops on the subject. Inevitably, one of the outcomes of all of these meetings is the recognition of the vital role education must play in the development of a society able to live sustainably in coastal areas. As the Seychelles is an archipelago of small islands, most of its land area can be considered to be coastal, and most human activities have a direct impact on the coastal environment. For example, as new roads and housing developments cut into the hillside, rain washes loose red earth into the sea where it settles on sea grass beds and coral reefs. Pesticide and fertilizer runoff from agricultural activities eventually finds its way to the sea. Sewage from faulty domestic septic systems along hillsides and on the coast seeps into rivers and is then washed down to the sea. Most industrial developments are along the coast, where their effluent poses a potential hazard to coastal and marine life. The dumping site on the main island of Mahe is located on reclaimed land (coral fill) along the coast where leachate seeps into the adjacent sea. Environmental education activities that seek to address these problems all potentially could have a impact on sustainable coastal development. Since the early eighties, the Seychelles Ministry of Education has placed a strong emphasis on the environment in the national curriculum at primary and secondary school levels. Since this time, Seychellois pupils have learnt about the sea and coast in a range of subjects including science, English, art, French, Creole, and geography.

More recently, the Ministry of Education brought out an environmental education policy, outlining its commitment to further development of environmental education in the national curriculum from Crèche (nursery) to Polytechnic. In 1997 a curriculum guidelines document was produced which details a series of environmental learning objectives to be integrated into the national curriculum; it includes a strong focus on the marine environment. At present a new unit on coastal environments is being developed for the primary school science programme, and another is planned for secondary school geography. Part of the Ministry of Education’s strategy to further integrate environmental education into the curriculum is to provide training in environmental education (EE) for in-service and preservice teachers. Since 1993, short workshops on various aspects of EE have been offered every year for primary and secondary school and polytechnic teachers. In addition, in 1994 the local teacher training institution introduced a popular optional module on environmental education for pre-service primary and secondary school teachers. Teacher training initiatives aim to provide teachers with opportunities to learn more about the local environment and ecology, environmental problems, and provide them with first-hand experience through field trips and project work.

However, due to several constraints, schools at present are limited in their capacity to provide students with opportunities to participate actively in projects re l ated to sustainable coastal development as part of their timetabled lessons. It is rather in the context of co-curricular and extra-curricular activities that students are being more actively involved in coastal and marine conservation education. For example, each year in the Seychelles, the Ministry of Tourism collaborates with diving centres and the Ministry of Education to organize a festival of underwater photography, the ‘SUBIOS’ festival. Included in the annual programme of activities are art and creative writing competitions for sch o o l ch i l d re n , wh i ch are taken up as co-curricular activities by art and language teachers. This popular event provides an excellent opportunity for students and teachers to get involved in learning about coastal a reas. In add i t i o n , SUBIOS guest speakers (internationally renowned underwater photographers and marine biologists) make presentations in schools on a range of topics related to the marine environment.
A local non-gove rnmental orga n i z at i o n , Wi l d l i fe Clubs of Sey chelles (WCS), wo rks in close collab o ration with the Ministry of Education to co-o rd i n ate a netwo rk of ex t ra - c u rri c u l a r e nv i ronment and wildlife clubs in schools. W C S o rga n i zes training sessions for club leaders to fa m i l i a ri ze them with local wildlife and conservation issues. Many of these clubs wo rk on activities pertinent to sustainable coastal deve l o pm e n t , s u ch as monitoring coastal wildlife, v i s i ting coastal hab i t at s , t ree planting along coastal a re a s , visiting marine park s , cleaning beach e s e t c. In Ju n e, 1 9 9 8 , in re c ognition of the Year of the Ocean, all the wildlife clubs joined toge t h e r for a march through the capital to promote the p rotection of oceans and marine life. More re c e n t ly, clubs orga n i zed and perfo rmed a va riety show for the ge n e ral publ i c, wh i ch fo c u s e d on the protection of the marine env i ronment. A t p re s e n t , WCS is wo rking on a coastal and mari n e a c t ivity book for ch i l d re n , wh i ch will include a va riety of indoor and outdoor activities to help ch i l d ren learn about the marine env i ronment and p a rt i c i p ate in conservat i o n .

The Ministry of Education also works in partnership with the Division of Environment (DOE), which is mandated to co-ordinate environmental education initiat ives targeting the general public. The DOE works alongside the media (television, radio and newspapers) to produce regular articles, and television and radio p rogra m m e s , wh i ch often focus on coastal development issues as well as school environmental initiatives in this domain. In general, the situation in the Seychelles at the moment is conducive to environmental education initiatives, particularly in primary and secondary schools where there now exists a network of committed and enthusiastic teachers. The Ministry of Education’s close partnership with the Division of Environment and Wildlife Clubs of Seychelles is producing results: we are slowly beginning to see the development of a new generation of youth concerned about, and committed to, sustainability, including sustainable coastal development.

H oweve r, t h e re still remains room for furt h e r d evelopment and new initiat ive s , p a rt i c u l a rly in t e rms of strengthening our co-o p e ration with other small island states. Th rough our part i c i p ation in the technical wo rkshop in Map u t o , M o z a m b i q u e, on ‘ S u s t a i n able Integrated Coastal M a n age m e n t : The Role of Education and Commu n i c at i o n ’ , we hope to establish new contacts with other individuals and orga n i z ations so that we can learn from them and share our ex p e ri e n c e.

Friday, October 22, 2010


In Ta n z a n i a , e nv i ronmental degra d ation of coastal areas is a serious problem, which has escalated in the last 10 years, such that it has now given rise to serious concern. Tanzania’s coastline stretches 800 km along the Indian Ocean, which like other developing countries is experiencing rapid change. The following examples show the dimension of the problem. Dar es Salaam used to have very clean and at t ra c t ive beaches as well as commendabl e tourist beach hotels. But some, if not most of them, are now in danger of falling down because of coastline erosion.

Waves reach the beaches at a terrific speed and as a result erosion is inevitable. This has become possible because of, among other reasons, dynamite fishing, which has destroyed the coral reefs which used to buffer the hotels. Thus, dynamite fishing has not only destroyed life in the sea, but has given the sea a free ticket to destroy the beaches. The Hotel Africana was swallowed by the waters a few years ago, others which might also face extinction in the coming few years include Bahari Beach Hotel, Kunduchi Beach Hotel, Silver Sands Hotel and White Sands Hotel,
which was built just a few years back.

In efforts to fight erosion, hotel owners have c o n s t ructed stone and concrete barri e rs on beaches, but such measures have not stopped the erosion. Apart from that, the construction of these structures has made these beaches ugly and unsuitable for beach - go e rs incl u d i n g tourists. So it is just a matter of years before these hotels will be rendered useless like their predecessor, Hotel Africana.

Another beach hotel has just been stopped in its tracks. This one was being constructed along the Oysterbay. The point about this project is that the hotel, being built by a big businessman in Dar es Salaam is within 60 metres of the shore. This is contrary to the law on such projects. The law says that a hotel should be built a distance of more that 60 metres from the shore. This project was approved during the former President Ali Hassan Mwinyi’s tenure in office. This raised a lot of eyebrows in the country. The speed at which it was being built also raised a lot of questions.

However, during the campaigns for the general election in 1995, one of the presidential candidates promised to deal with the issue as one of his priorities, if he won. Well, he won and a few months later he said the project owner followed the right procedures to acquire the plot so he did not see the logic in stopping the project. However, a presidential commission on corruption maintained that the plot might have been allocated through corrupt means. This was partly because the law was in force when the alloca-tion was made after it was turned down several times before.

The project owners, Indian Ocean Hotels Ltd., stopped constructing the hotel more than a year ago. There are reports that the government has ordered the demolition of the hotel and offered to compensate the developers for the costs incurred so far. It is said that the owners were issued with a permanent restraining order by the City Commission two years ago and consequently suspended work.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Essential need for human communication

To communicate is essential to Christian ministry. If we look into the early Church as reflected in the Acts of the Apostles we find that at that early stage everybody was a communicator of her/his faith. “Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went” it says in Acts 8,4 referring to the persecution in Jerusalem (cf. also Acts 11,19-21!). Even when exiled, persecuted and driven away they communicated and shared their faith and conviction to people around them. In fact they saw it as a special calling and grace to become this way missionaries of the early faith community. It was the Holy Spirit who guided and ‘inspired’ them beyond any technical means. “Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip…” (8, 26); “Encouraged by the Holy Spirit” the church grew in Judea, Galilee and Samaria (9, 31); “While they were worshipping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said: Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul…” (13, 2) “Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the Word in the province of Asia…” (16, 6) This should not be different in the communication of the Church today! Therefore a proper communication education has to start on this personal and spiritual level. It has to start with the Holy Spirit!

Here we might also look in a special way into the ways and means of Jesus’ communication. How did the master himself communicate? He is not the “perfect Communicator” because he was successful in the modern sense of the word. He did not convert the Pharisees and the scribes but
he communicated the love and care of the Father and His Kingdom. He became the perfect communicator because he lived and practiced the basics of any human and Christian communication! He communicated in word and deed. The circumstances of his life, his birth in the manger, his death on the cross are a communication of God’s love and his humility to become
one of us. It is “giving of self in love” which is at the essence of Jesus’ communication of any Christian communication as one of the church documents described it (Communio et Progressio, 1971, no. 11).

Jesus’ healing and dealing with people reflects the basics of Christian communication. The healing of the mother in Law of Peter (Mk 1, 31) is just one example: He goes to her, holds her by the hand, and lifts her up i.e. heals her. These are the basics of any human and Christian communication which have to be developed already from the early stages in the seminary as an essential habit of a minister:

 Go to a person
 Place yourself into her/his situation (‘shoes’), and
 Lift her/him up, help and heal in the power of God/Christ.

If all our ministries and even our own lives and dealings with each other would be based on these
three steps our own communities and the world probably would be different! This shows also that seminary education in communication is not first and foremost a technical task but rather a concern for a deep spirituality and faith. It might be good at this stage also to remind ourselves that there is a great difference between training and formation which comes into play here. Training is concerned about skills whereas formation leads to an inner disposition. What we need first and foremost is a proper formation which is not only reflected in a curriculum but rather in the spiritual formation and the personal relationship and experience of the Lord. It really means to put on the body and soul of Christ in relating with others, in our own “giving of self in love” (C+P 11). It is not measured first and foremost in the ‘Doing’ but rather in the ‘Being’. Communication education in the seminary must start on the level of formation and develop from
there. Placed into an overview one might see the different levels and concerns in the following

· Education > Knowledge
· Training > Skills: ‘Doing’
· Formation > inner disposition: ‘Being’

Proper communication education starts on the level of formation which is not only taught in words and prescriptions but on the level of deep spirituality and faith and example. This must also be considered as a special concern in Asia because our Asian cultures are based and have their essential identity from their spirituality.

Friday, October 15, 2010


Aims for Development

8.1 The development plan for ICT in education within the next 10 years aims to intensify the development of ICT infrastructure; expand access to and equity for ICT facilities; expand ICT-based curriculum; improve on the assessment and evaluation systems using ICT; emphasise ICT integration in teaching and learning processes; improve on ICT knowledge and skills among students, teachers and personnel; intensify ICT usage in education management; improve on the management and maintenance of ICT equipment; increase R&D efforts in ICT; and increase cooperation between educational institutions and the community towards expansion of ICT in education.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


A foreign investor proposes to start prawn farming in the delta of the Rufiji River, which is the largest river in Tanzania. The project will involve the construction of ponds covering an area of 15,000 ha. This project, has generated a lot of controversy, both in terms of the number of the villagers who would be displaced and the long-term effects of environmental degradation to the area. Some people, opposed to the project, went to the extent of likening it to the tragedy which has befallen the Ogoni people in Nigeria, whose land has been extensively degraded by activities
of the multi-national oil companies.

The Rufiji Delta people themselves are also d ivided on the issue. Th e re are those who support the pro j e c t , citing its economic benefits (including employment ) , and those who oppose it. Those in opposition are supported by a my riad of env i ronmentalists including vocal non-gove rnmental orga n i z ations such as the Env i ro n m e ntal Jo u rnalists Orga n i z ation of Tanzania (JET), the Land Rights Research and Resources Institute (LARRRI) and the Tanzania Gender Netwo rk i n g P rogramme (TGNP) as well as the National Env ironmental Management Council (NEMC), wh i ch conducted an env i ronment impact assessment and advised the gove rnment against the pro j e c t . Despite all the opposition, the government approved the project. Although the project has yet to start, the people of Rufiji have gone to court to protest it. Let me at this juncture point out the ve ry c o m m e n d able job done by the media in Ta n z ania in cre ating awa reness and ge n e rating deb at e on the Indian Ocean Hotel saga and the Rufi j i p rawns pro j e c t , wh i ch is yet to take off. It wa s t h rough the media that people became awa re of the violation of their right to access the beach and the law wh i ch prohibits putting up perm anent stru c t u res on public beaches. The people of Rufiji came to know of the prawns pro j e c t after the media had interc epted some documents rega rding the project and immediat e ly made it public know l e d ge. Though the gove rnment has ap p roved the pro j e c t , most Rufi j i a n s a re not for it.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Broader Approach to Communication

These basic considerations need still a further dimension to show that communication education is not only about Mass Media but needs a much broader approach which includes especially also the cultural dimension. The Second Vatican Council was the first Catholic Church assembly of that level which issued a document on “Social Communication,” Inter Mirifica.

The expression Social Communication was proposed by the preparatory commission for the document in saying that expressions like Mass Media, Media of Diffusion, Audio-visual means and similar would not be sufficient to express what the Church is concerned about. This proposal
was accepted and became the standard expression in the Catholic Church but it was later adapted by secular communication institutions especially in Latin America.

Social Communication refers, beyond mass media, to all means and ways of communication in and of human society. It includes communication through traditional means like storytelling, dance, theater, music etc. as well as the modern means. It covers the whole range of human communication in society and thus creates a special challenge also for the communication education in seminaries.

Future Christian ministers must be open and possibly be trained in the proper application of communication means and methods which are part of our cultures. Many times, especially in rural areas, this communication is still more effective than modern technical means because it includes the direct personal involvement of the communicating parties. Such an awareness and support of traditional communication can also help to mitigate or even integrate possible negative effects of globalization especially on young people.

Christian faith has to be contextualized and inculturated which is not done necessarily with the modern means. This broader approach to communication, however, which gives equal ‘right’ to the basics of human communication and the traditional means of communication leads towards that.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Curriculum for social communication

How could a Curriculum for Communication in seminary education look like?

1. It first has to be stated again, that there is the basic need for communication formation on the
human and spiritual level. This is not done with a course alone but through the whole formation program and an open communicative atmosphere in a seminary. The three basic steps of human and Christian communication, to go, to embrace and immerse and to lift up (cf. Mk 1,31) are not only taught but practiced in daily life. If especially at the beginning of theological studies an introductory course could be given to make the students more aware of the basics of this human/Christian communication it would set the tone for all the following studies and activities in theology. In fact, I am teaching such a course since almost 20 years at the Divine Word School of Theology in Tagaytay, Philippines. Every school year the students of the first year of theology have in the first semester an obligatory course “Introduction to Social Communication” where we talk mainly about human communication, the theological dimension of communication and only in passing about the basics of media and group communication. (This is reflected in the textbook we use: “Communicating in Community,” where the first two chapters are more extensively covered, whereas the others are given only in the basics as far as time allows.)

2. We can not escape the fact, that the modern world is a world of communications. Pope John Paul II calls the world of communication “the first ‘areopagus’ of the modern age which is unifying humanity and turning it into what is known as a ‘global village’. The means of social communication have become so important as to be for many the chief means of information and education, of guidance and inspiration in their behavior as individuals, families and within society at large. In particular the younger generation is growing up in a world conditioned by the mass media.” (Encyclical Redemptoris Missio 1990, 37c) This requires from every theology student more than from others the ability of critically seeing and using the means of communication in daily life. It is the purpose of Media or Communication Education to bring this basic knowledge and develop a critical mind especially in young people. It actually should be an obligatory course and training already on the high school and college level. Such education introduces into the workings of modern media, their structures, means and methods. It shows e.g. the basic elements of a news item, how the different radio and TV programs are produced but also how communication companies are structured and try to exercise power in conquering the mind and taste of people for their purposes…

3. After this basic training there is a need for a special course on pastoral communication especially in the later development of theological studies: how to communicate in Ministry and Mission. How do the modern means of communication influence and determine those people we live with and we are to care for? How can we make good use of these means in our ministry to serve the needs of people better and bring them nearer to the Lord? The people we work with are living in a world determined by the media and even we are consciously or unconsciously part of it ourselves. How can we let the Holy Spirit come into such a situation? The same holds also for those ministries, who serve people from or in other cultures. Our communication has to adjust and be determined by these cultures because it is always the recipient who is the ‘basis’ for our decision making and our communication approach. Jesus starts with the life and concerns of the people. We have to do the same in our time!

In addition to these basic courses and approaches for every seminarian there should be also some offers for more specialized courses, especially for students with greater interest and some communication capabilities of their own. Thus there could be a film-club as a regular activity where seminarians once or twice a month watch a movie, discuss the content, methods in presenting the story and a critical evaluation. Cardinal Roger M. Mahony from Los Angeles has written 1992 a “Pastoral letter for Film Makers, Film Viewers: their challenges and opportunities” (cf. Eilers: Church and Social Communication. Basic Documents. Manila 1997) which could be very helpful for such an activity. Talented seminarians could also themselves practice radio and television productions or become part of such either on their own or in existing companies. Journalistic practices can be developed and taught. When I was a seminarian we had a “Press-group” where we wrote news items and articles for existing newspapers and periodicals; they were printed and published and we were very proud of it. Many of us saw our names printed for the first time…

Today we have new communication and information technologies. How are we going to ‘use’
them in our ministry and how can they help? What’s about E-vangelism, cyber-missionaries or
similar activities and possibilities?

Other fields like Media or Communication Ethics should also not be overlooked. They can be
part of Moral Theology but really would need a broader study in our times.

5. The need for serious research in the field of social communication and theology has also to be mentioned here. When Pope John Paul II talks about the “new areopagus” he also mentions that there is now a “new culture”. This culture “originates not just from whatever content is eventually expressed, but from the very fact that there exist new ways of communicating, with new languages, new techniques and a new psychology.” Such a situation calls for deeper research and study which is very often missing in our Christian communication activities. We very often live and work more according to trial and error than based on serious study and research. This is not only a call on theological faculties or other specialized bodies. Also seminary students should be involved in research and looking deeper into issues. They can be encouraged to write respective papers or even do their thesis on a communication related subject. They can be involved in surveys to discover a certain communication situation. Thus I did two years ago with my students a study on how young people in the areas around the theological school and in some parts of Manila use and see modern media in their lives. Unfortunately we have only very few scientific publications specializing in this field. It is high time that we go deeper to explore the ‘market’ but also to see better the different possibilities for God’s Word in our time.

Sunday, October 3, 2010


Education and communication on environmental degradation should be aimed at enabling one to come to terms with the fact that, while it is true that nature should be exploited for man’s survival, that exploitation should not be total, or destructive. That man should not get rich at the
expense of nature or by destroying the environment, as this in the long run might lead to mankind’s extinction!

Now, the big question is: Who will be, responsible for steering this education and communication?

In answering this question there are different schools of thought. There are those who believe that this should be spearheaded by the government and NGOs should play a supportive role. The government should take leadership of the campaign where its input is required. At the moment the environmental portfolio in Tanzania is held by the Vice President’s office.

But there are those who think that our gove rnments are not env i ronment sensitive and due to corrupt tendencies wh i ch have been regi s t e red and are still being regi s t e red there is no way politicians (who are in power) are going to arm the people with we apons they k n ow will in the end be used against them. Whence then the education? It is re c o m m e n ded that the lead should be taken by non-gove rnmental bodies such as NGOs, media organ i z at i o n s , f riends of the env i ronment gro u p s all over the country etc.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Information, Education and Communication (IEC)

Communication Planning is an integral part of planning for sustained development. The
development of human society has largely been due to its ability to communicate information and ideas with each other and to use such information and ideas for progress. The Programmes being implemented by the Ministry aim at sustainable holistic development in the rural areas. The success of these Programmes is critically dependent on the participation of the people,
particularly target groups, in the implementation process. To enable people to participate in the
development process, it is necessary that people have adequate knowledge about the nature and
content of these Programmes. Information, Education and Communication, therefore, assumes added significance in the context of the Programmes of the Ministry.

The feedback received on the implementation of Rural Development Programmes in the field indicate that these Programmes are critically dependent on the awareness level about them, transparency in the implementation process at the field level, participation of the people in the development process and accountability. In this context the Ministry has , adopted a 4- Pronged strategy of creating Awareness about the Programmes, ensuring Transparency in the implementation, encouraging People’s Participation in the development process and promoting the concept of Social Audit for ensuring Accountability. All the four elements of the above strategy are complementary to each other and appropriate IEC activities are an essential part of actualizing this strategy.

Information, Education and Communication plays a pivotal role in creating awareness, mobilizing people and making development participatory through advocacy and by transferring knowledge , skills and techniques to the people. It is also critical for bringing about transparency in implementation of the Programmes at the field level and for promoting the concept of accountability and social audit.

Though for the past few years, particularly since 1994-95, the Ministry has been undertaking IEC activities, their impact in terms of creating awareness and participation of people in the development process was not found to be substantial. Therefore, an Advisory Committee on Media comprising eminent journalists and media persons under the chairmanship of Shri P. Murari, former Secretary (I&B) was constituted by the Ministry in August,1998, to review and assess the impact of various media and other activities and to advise the Ministry on appropriate IEC strategy.
The Committee in its report submitted in October,1999, observed that the IEC efforts of the
Ministry need to be stepped up with more intensity and that it is necessary to go beyond undertaking merely media activities.

In pursuance to the 4- pronged strategy adopted by the Ministry and in light of the recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Media, the IEC activities have been substantially enhanced during 2001-2002 particularly through print, radio and TV.

The IEC efforts aim at creating awareness and disseminating information on the Programmes of the Ministry primarily to the target groups in rural areas, to the opinion makers and also to the public at large. The IEC Division of the Ministry has been entrusted with the responsibility of formulating appropriate IEC strategy in tune with the communication needs of the various Programmes. The IEC activities are to be undertaken through the available modes of communication in order to inform the people with messages and details on Rural Development