The Global Education Crisis

As many of you know, I have been doing research on the global school non-completion rate.  I believe that the lack of education is at the root of most of the world’s problems.  Yet as countries examine their critical economic crises, the ignore the long term critical problem of school achievement and completion.  As Thomas Friedman in his brilliant book, The World Is Flat pointed out, “A student in Bangalore, India is now as globally competitive as a student in Bangore, Maine.”   Mr. Friedman spends many pages discussing the need for globally competitive school systems.  The best graduates from New York City schools are not competing for jobs with the best graduates of Montreal schools but the best graduates in the world.  The economic success of India and China is based, to a large degree on their ability to focus improvement on their school systems.  If a nation wishes to be globally competitive, then it stands to reason that they must improve their school achievement and completion.  Yet when we look at the completion rate of some of the world’s nations, we see a vast chasm.  Let us look at a few countries using data from the United Nations, the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the World Bank, and Oxfam.

In Canada:  9.8% dropout per year.

In  Singapore: 1.6% dropout per year

In Morocco: many children in rural areas do not attend school even though it is free and compulsory through primary school.  Literacy rates are estimated at 39 percent among women and 64 percent among men.  The female literacy rate in rural areas among women is estimated to be only ten percent.

In the Philippines: 5.7% per year

In India only 80% of the country go to school, 46% graduate

In Japan 84% graduate

In Fiji, 15% graduate from primary school

In South Korea, 71% graduate.

In Brazil, 14% dropout

In the UK, 64% graduate.

In Germany 83% graduate

Ireland has a 60 percent graduation rate.

How can a nation address its short term economic problem without addressing its long term education problem?