Friday, February 29, 2008

How important is education? How to make it the best it can be?

Dear Colleagues

Most people seem to understand that education is important ... but how to make it the best it can be is a much more difficult challenge.

Some people credit education in the United States as being one of the factors that helped the country to be one of the most innovative and productive countries in all of history. Certainly education has played an important role in helping to facilitate the economic development of America.

It was also widely recognised that the lack of education was a constraint on development in much of the world some fifty years ago ... and continues to be a constraint for most of the world's impoverished.

But making education the best it can be ... how is this to be done? Opinions differ. Education experts have very different views of what should be done ... even what education should be trying to do.

One of the ideas that seems to be worth considering is how to relate the young person's (or any person, for that matter) educational experience with the value adding that this experience opens up. The advantage of this sort of analysis is that the cost of education can be linked to the value of education, and in turn there is more potential for education to be made a priority investment, either by the family or by the society as a whole.

In practice, this might mean that education will take a direction that delivers more vocational education. In many places, and for many students, this might be a very good outcome. For others it is not the best outcome.

For some, the best outcome is for their brains to be challenged and for the student to gain an interest in learning that will last a lifetime and be ever changing.

The educational techniques that are best for one are not usually the best for the other. One size fits all does not work the best in education ... just as one solution for all problems never works anywhere.

What is abundantly clear is that education is important ... and, as in so much else, the world's leadership does not seem to want to invest in it and encourage it so that all can benefit from it.


Peter Burgess

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Education is a critical investment

Dear Colleagues

Tr-Ac-Net is convinced that education is an important investment ... but there are big questions:
  • How much of the expenditure is wasted,
  • Is the allocation of resources suited to getting the best results,
  • What is the role of public education? Private eduction?
  • Lots of questions ...

Generally speaking, there is a lot of support for education. In the field of international development assistance, education has a priority ... but is the sort of education that is supported by the international community the best sort of education for the comminities that have the most needs.

Tr-Ac-Net is concerned that education, like health, is only part of the solution to success and the achievement of sustainable social progress. Expenditure on education is, in itself, only part of the process of lifting a person out of poverty. In addition to education, a child must have opportunity ... and that requires initiatives way beyond just education.

Conversely, if there is opportunity ... but without education an individual does not have the capability ... there really is no opportunity. One without the other does not work. Together education and opportunity are an important piece of the sustainable development process.

The Tr-Ac-Net initiatives to establish performance metrics at the community level for socio-economic progress will help society get the optimum balance between the various segments of village economics ... the concepts are not complicated, but they are rarely applied in development economics and the management of relief and development resources.


Peter Burgess, The Tr-Ac-Net Organization