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World Bank Institute in China: Evolving Partnership on Learning, Capacity Development and South-South Knowledge Exchange

September 25, 2013


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The World Bank Institute (WBI) supported China’s domestic capacity development and knowledge partnership with other countries over the last three decades. Watch the slideshow.


In response to the country’s needs in development and economic transformation, and at the request of the government, the World Bank Institute (WBI), the training arm of the World Bank Group (WBG), supported China’s domestic capacity development and knowledge partnership with other countries over the last three decades. WBI provided a variety of learning and training programs targeted at provincial and local government officials, covering a range of themes from project management and procurement to health economics and urban development. It has also helped China share its development knowledge and experience with the rest of the world.

Challenge

The economic transformation launched in China in the late 1970s revealed capacity and knowledge gaps in many sectors. With increasing international and domestic investments in infrastructure in the 1980s and 1990s, there was a growing demand for hundreds of thousands of engineers and other personnel skilled in the areas of project management and procurement. To ensure balanced regional development, the Chinese government put a strong emphasis on large scale training of public officials from the provinces, particularly from the remote Western Region, aimed to provide them with access to the state of the art knowledge and learning facilities. Furthermore, as the health sector reform progressed, there arose a need in the government, hospitals and other public health institutions for training of human resources in health economics, health financing and research capabilities. In addition, since the early 2000s, the World Bank was invited to play a role in facilitating sharing China’s development experience with other developing countries in Asia, Africa and beyond.

Solution

In order to address the capacity constraints in the area of project management, the Economic Development Institute - precursor to today’s WBI - partnered with the Chinese Ministry of Finance (MOF) and Tsinghua University in the 1990s to (i) deliver the Project Management Training of Trainers Program; (ii) establish the Network for Project Management Training; and (iii) launch the China Sustainable Procurement Program.

In 1991 the Chinese Government established the China Network for Training and Research in Health Economics and Financing. Initially, it was comprised of seven centers to provide training to government officials, conduct policy research, advise on policy reforms and provide a platform for technical dialogue.           

The China Development Distance Learning Network (CDDLN) was officially launched in August 2004 to serve as a platform for managerial training of high-level government officials from the Western Regions. WBI provided financial and technical support to the creation and development of the CDDLN.

Finally, WBI has implemented the China-Africa Knowledge Exchange program which falls under three categories: the annual China-Africa High-Level Experience Sharing Program; workshops jointly organized with the Ministry of Commerce; and special initiatives driven by requests from MOF or other line ministries. In all of the WBI programs, the strong support and commitment of the Chinese government has proved to be a key success factor.

Results

Project Management Training of Trainers Program (1994-1999):

  • 18 “seed” teachers and 915 managers trained; and
  • 33 training courses conducted.

China Sustainable Procurement Program (2003-2006):

  • 11 “seed” teachers and 756 managers trained; and
  • 18 procurement trainings conducted.

By 2009, some 10,000 practitioners enrolled in project management courses. The project management and procurement training contributed to the development of new rules and regulation governing public procurement, which in turn contributed to expanding international contractors in China.

China Development Distance Learning Network (CDDLN):

  • The network covers 12 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities in China’s Western Regions; and has 78 local classrooms and 48 prefectural distance learning classrooms.
  • The network can annually offer training for 23,000 participants from Western China, including 13,000 trained via real-time network and 10,000 through online learning.
  • The resource pool includes 522 class hours of common courseware and 325 class hours of interactive courseware in English; additionally, it has capacity to develop more than 100 hours of network teaching courses every year.
  • In the first phase (2006-2007), more than 70,000 people were trained.
  • In the second phase (2008-2010), the Chinese government constructed more distance learning centers independently, which demonstrates sustainability of the network beyond donors’ exit.
  • CDDLN currently draws nearly 100 organizations and 1,000 experts.
  • In 2010, the NDRC announced initiating the third phase of the project.

China Network for Training and Research in Health Economics and Financing (1991-2003):

  • 19 member institutions;
  • 48 courses offered;
  • 1,400 executives, 700 academics and 40 policy advisors trained; and
  • Some courses adopted into the curriculum of some Chinese universities.

Sharing China’s development experience with the rest of the world:

  • More than 200 public officials from 41 African countries and Cambodia participated in the various knowledge sharing events co-organized by WBI between 2008 and 2011;
  • Participants felt that the exchange programs helped improve their ability to solve problems and “turn barriers into opportunities.” They acquired: greater skills in program and policy development; greater ability to transfer knowledge; greater insight into sector dynamics; greater professional enhancement in the area of institutional change; and greater insight into the pace and challenge of the reform process.
  • The participants were enabled to apply the knowledge to a range of actions from organizing workshops, making presentations and preparing reports to developing policy recommendations, designing legal framework, and reviewing and implementing specific projects.

" The training program on higher education development strategy that I attended was well designed and relevant to the reality in China. The participants could learn from each other, and interact with the experts. Through the program, I gained a better understanding of higher education development and reform. "

Huang Jian

HR Officer, Guangxi Economic and Trade Polytechnic

Bank Group Contribution

WBI complements the World Bank Group’s program in China by delivering capacity development, learning and knowledge exchange. Specifically, WBI organizes workshops and knowledge exchange and training programs for government officials in areas such as health system reform, climate change mitigation, or sustainable urban management.

WBI brings international experts in particular areas of interest and connects Chinese practitioners and policymakers to their counterparts in and beyond the East Asia and the Pacific region, sharing success stories from China’s development, as well as introducing relevant knowledge and experience from other countries.

Throughout its long and fruitful engagement with China, WBI has developed a broad network of domestic knowledge institutions such as the Chinese Academy of Governance or Tsinghua University, most recently around the topic of distance and e-learning.

Finally, WBI provides opportunities for the WBG to broaden its partnership and engagement in China. A recent example is the collaboration with the Ministry of Commerce in two high-level workshops on international development cooperation and infrastructure development in Africa.

Partners

  • Ministry of Finance and its affiliated training institutions
  • Ministry of Commerce and its affiliated training institutions
  • China Development Bank
  • Asia Pacific Finance and Development Center
  • Training Center of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC)
  • The International Poverty Reduction Center in China (IPRCC)
  • Ministry of Health and other agencies in the China Health Economics Network
  • National Academy of Governance (NAG)
  • Tsinghua University School of Public Policy and Management
  • Provincial and local level educational and training institutions 

Moving Forward 

Going forward, WBI will continue to support south-south knowledge exchange priorities of the Chinese government, working closely with the China Country team and other units within WBG.  It is envisaged that priority themes of WBI’s future program will center on urbanization – for instance, WBI will help document China’s development experience by drafting case studies in urban transport. Furthermore, WBI will help foster partnerships between Chinese institutions and their counterparts and knowledge institutions in other countries. Finally, WBI will support the government in training and capacity development of civil servants, by creating and customizing learning content and designing an e-learning program which will be suitable and responding to Chinese capacity development needs. 

Beneficiaries 

The training program on higher education development strategy that I attended was well designed and relevant to the reality in China. The participants could learn from each other, and interact with the experts. Through the program, I gained a better understanding of higher education development and reform.” -  Huang Jian, HR Officer, Guangxi Economic and Trade Polytechnic 

WBI has made great efforts and contribution to capacity development in China. Every course is carefully arranged and taught by sector experts.  Participants can learn a lot of knowledge which benefits their work and helps improve their ability and competence. ” -  Li Chunjiang, Bazhong City Party School Distance Learning Center

I’ve participated in six training events since 2005. And every time I came away with different feelings. Generally, the course was based on local conditions and appropriate teaching approach was selected according to the topic.  And the courses were updated frequently so that participants could access the latest knowledge and skills. This helped broaden my professional perspective, gain frontier knowledge in poverty reduction, and grasp the state of the art learning tools and methods. ” -  Zhao Jia, Deputy Director, Information Division, IPRCC

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10,000
By 2009, some 10,000 practitioners enrolled in project management courses.