Volume 15, No.7 - July 2011

Trends and analysis

Discussing the relationship between disability, education and employment

DESA Briefing Seminar Series; Disability and Economics: The nexus between disability, education and employment will be held in New York on 1 July

It may seem obvious to say that education is an advantage in the labour market, and, in some cases, possessing it is what allows some individuals to enter the job market to begin with. However, in countries like Nepal, when considering the case of persons with disabilities, such common knowledge does not hold true in the minds of many. The prevailing belief is, still, that even if persons with disabilities are educated, they are less likely to make use of the education, or that they will not be useful in the workforce.

To empirically challenge this assumption, an evidence-based study was conducted in Nepal. The study found that the return on investment in education was very high among persons with disabilities, ranging from 19.4 to 32.2%. Despite this high return, one significant finding was that, across the board, persons with hearing impairments had fewer years of schooling than their counterparts with visual or physical impairments. This confirms the crisis of the lack of schools for students with hearing impairments.

Additionally, when analyzing the likelihood of employment of persons with disabilities, it was found that years-of-schooling, type of impairments and age are significant in predicting the likelihood of participants’ employment. Among these variables, years-of-schooling has a positive effect on the probability of employment. However, even aside from this finding, there are also several important nuances when the data is broken down by age and/or type of disability. The results suggest that unless affirmative action is taken on their behalf, it may be difficult for persons with physical impairments to enter directly into the competitive labour market.

A panel discussion will be held at UN Headquarters to discuss the relationships between disability, education and employment. Using the findings of the study conducted in Nepal, the panelists will highlight the moral, social imperatives of including persons with disabilities in the labour market, as well as show that it is good economics. They will also offer options for the further inclusion and participation of persons with disabilities in the labour market.

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Updating knowledge of citizen engagement to enhance public service delivery

Expert Group Meeting on “Engaging Citizens to Enhance Public Sector Accountability and Prevent Corruption in the Delivery of Public Services” will take place in Vienna on 7-8 July

The goal of this meeting is to update global knowledge in the field of citizen engagement to enhance public service delivery, with particular attention to ways in which participatory approaches are being used in countries around the world to strengthen public sector accountability and prevent corruption. This objective is of particular importance at this time, as the UN Member States have identified participatory approaches to the provision of public services as a useful course of action for countries in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The meeting will bring together experts and practitioners in diverse aspects of citizen engagement, including public and social accountability, prevention of corruption and e-government, both from developed and developing countries, who work in national governments, international organizations, civil society organizations, and academic and research institutions. It will proceed as a series of dynamic round table discussions on specific aspects of citizen engagement and expected concrete outcomes include an analytical report to be published by the UN. In addition, the outcomes of the meeting will be used by DESA’s Division for Public Administration and Development Management (DPADM) to develop the framework of two capacity building workshops to be held later this year and to produce a related publication, guidelines and online training courses.

It will be held back-to-back with the Workshop on Engaging Citizen to Enhance Public Service Delivery and Strengthen Accountability, also organized by DPADM in Vienna.

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Improving efficiency and accountability in public service delivery

Workshop on Engaging Citizen to Enhance Public Service Delivery and Strengthen Accountability will be arranged on 11-13 July in Vienna

This Workshop will explore how the engagement of citizens — and their organizations in civil society and the private sector — can contribute to improve public accountability in public service delivery and spending. The workshop aims to promote a better understanding, and to develop concrete skills and abilities for the analysis, design, implementation and evaluation of citizen engagement processes aimed at improving efficiency and accountability in public service delivery, especially those services which are closely related to the MDGs.

The Workshop will provide ample time for discussion on regional trends and contexts, and on public services related to the achievement of the MDGs, such as healthcare, primary education, employment and entrepreneurship services. It will also allow for consideration of emerging accountability mechanisms involving citizen, parliaments and public enterprises. Key lessons learned will be reflected in a set of recommendations, presented in the concluding session, and incorporated in the report of the proceedings of the Workshop, to be published on-line.

The Workshop will be held back-to-back with the UN-INTOSAI 21st Interregional Symposium also to be held in Vienna.

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Assessing how Supreme Audit Institutions around the world engage citizens

The 21st Interregional Symposium will be organized by DESA’s Division for Public Administration and Development Management and the International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions in Vienna on 13-15 July

The Symposium will focus on the theme “Effective practices of cooperation between Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs) and citizens to enhance public accountability”. It will provide the opportunity to identify, assess and exchange knowledge internationally about ways in which SAIs from countries around the world engage citizens, and innovations under analysis and consideration in this field as part of SAIs institutional development. For instance, publication of audit reports in the media, participation of citizens in inter-institutional advisory bodies or councils, and decision to start determined audits on requests formulated by certain number of citizens.

The theme of the Symposium reflects a growing recognition of the need to deepen the participatory processes in public administration matters. Given their responsibilities for independence, professionalism and reliability, SAIs are uniquely positioned to serve the public to promote effective public governance, increase the efficiency of public administration, improve development outcomes, fight corruption and promote trust in government. In terms of greater public scrutiny, SAIs have a very important and relevant role to play.

By making their reports public, they make government actions transparent for the citizens; and, by being responsive to the legitimate concerns of citizens, the civil society and the private sector, they help to build public confidence. The Under-Secretary-General of DESA, Mr. Sha Zukang, will participate in the opening and closing ceremonies of the Symposium and will chair one of its substantive sessions.

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World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in Geneva

In connection with the WSIS in Geneva on 16-20 May, DESA’s Division for Public Administration and Development Management arranged a number of events

Ensuring implementation of WSIS action lines

On 18 May, DESA through DPADM, convened the Sixth Facilitation Meeting on implementing three of the 11 WSIS action lines, providing a platform for participants to: a) exchange information and experiences; b) identify the propriety areas for implementation within the Action Lines; and c) create synergies among different stakeholders for more effective knowledge sharing and collaboration to ensure the implementation of WSIS at the international, regional and national levels as well as enable further coordination of major stakeholders’ activities to support strategic planning and implementation of accessible, inclusive and participatory governments.

Exchanging experiences and practices on e/m-government

On 19 May, the workshop on “Greater Government Transparency and Citizen Engagement to Promote Effectiveness and Accountability in Public Service Delivery” was arranged. Organized by DPADM in cooperation with the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), it provided opportunities for participants to share experiences and exchange practices on e/m-government with speakers in order to develop new capacities for designing and implementing successful programs and policies for better government transparency and citizen engagement and create or strengthen international networks of stakeholders and practitioners based on proven viable experiences that have enabled lasting development results in different socio-economic and cultural contexts. A report on the workshop will be prepared.

IGF Open Consultations and MAG meeting

The Internet Governance Forum (IGF) held its Open Consultations and a meeting of the Multi-stakeholder Advisory Group (MAG) from 18 to 19 May at the ILO Headquarters in Geneva with approximately 100 people in attendance. The MAG deliberations, which mainly focused on the selection of workshops and the format of the main themes, including the selection of speakers, were considered positive and resolved to finalize the programme through online collaboration. They welcomed the note asking them to continue with their work until the conclusion of the 2011 IGF to be held in Nairobi and individual members volunteered as focal points for each theme shepherding it until then.

Fourteenth session of the Commission on Science and Technology for Development (CSTD)

While discussing agenda item 2 “Progress made in the implementation of and follow-up to the World Summit on the Information Society outcomes at the regional and international levels”, it was agreed by the Commission that the mandate of the “Working Group for the improvements to the IGF” should be extended for one more year to give it time to complete its work. The meeting also adopted a draft resolution which will be sent to ECOSOC for deliberation as part of the report.

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