African elementary school girl smiling in a park, close up

Informing policy for a brighter future in Cameroon

In developing countries in general, and Cameroon in particular, young people struggle to get the quality of education needed for upward social mobility. I started studying intergenerational mobility in the labour market in Cameroon during my Masters studies, and moved my focus area to Sierra Leone for my PhD research, assessing the intergenerational impacts of the civil conflict on child labour, child education, and child health. The big challenge is how interdisciplinary the topic is, calling for an understanding across the sociology, psychology, political and economic influences of education, human capital, and mobility. I found myself often leaning on the resources of UNU-WIDER, drawn to the multidisciplinary research that was being conducted there. Inspired by the cross-over between my research interests and their work programme, I began to eagerly apply for fellowships and research positions, to no avail. When I saw the announcement for the UNU-WIDER Summer School, I thought ‘why bother?’ — I had been unsuccessful before, why would this time be different. But my mentor convinced me to have a go, just in case. And I am so glad I did! Hearing that I had been accepted for the programme was really two dreams coming true at the same time — becoming a member of the UNU-WIDER network, and being part of a programme at the University of Cape Town’s Development Policy Research Unit, one of the foremost think tanks in Africa! On the first day of the summer school I was overjoyed, as an early-career researcher, interacting with well-known development economists, people I used to cite in my research, was a great privilege. What I learnt over the two weeks has been immeasurably useful for me. The work that I do requires me to understand both theories of human capital and intergenerational mobility, but also, I need to be able to use tools to analyse data and support my theories. The summer school was able to give me that, discussing, and practicing with, tools at the cutting edge of applied development economics. Source Credits : wider UNU