Development Timelines is a simple web application that puts global development data into historical context. It combines quantitative data with description of important historical events and changes in policy. Its aim is to help the development community measure progress towards the Millennium Development Goals, and to understand how (for instance), war, education reforms, and economic booms and busts, foster or hinder such progress. The application presents users with an empty chart on which they can plot key development data series in an easy and quick way. They can then choose timelines showing the events in each country’s history and make them pop up into the chart background. Collecting this historical data for every country would be an enormous task. We have started the ball rolling, collating some 470 events from databases such as the Uppsala Conflict Data Program and the UNESCO International Institute of Educational Planning. To build on this, the application lets users with a Google or OpenID account log in and share their own information on policies and other national and international events – expanding the historical database and raising the development community’s level of understanding. Development Timelines currently has a strong focus on education and the interplay between education, poverty, economy and conflict. This reflects some of the key themes of contemporary reports such as the World Development Report, State of World Population, and the Education for All Global Monitoring Report. In terms of the MDGs, it emphasizes the education-related ones (2 and 3), but also has data on MDG 1 (poverty and hunger) and 4 (child mortality).

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