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Effective Investments in Education

The Challenge

Education is a fundamental right for everyone and key to the future of any country. Education has its price everywhere—but the only thing more expensive than investing in education is not investing in education. Inadequate education produces high costs for society in terms of public spending, crime, health, and economic growth. No country can afford to leave too many of its children behind and not to help them achieve the competencies needed for a self-fulfilled life in economic independence.

But the main challenges in education differ across countries and continents. The industrialized world faces the impacts of demographic change, such as a shortage of skilled labor and ageing societies. Emerging countries need to respond to increasing demand in education. And in some parts of the world, it is still not a given that every child has the right to go to school—and, hence, a big share of the population cannot read and write.

Despite these differences, there are common challenges. For example, the "inheritance of educational status" is a global problem: people's education achievement largely depends on their socioeconomic background and the educational status of their parents. Although some countries provide more equal opportunities than others, it remains a challenge everywhere to improve the chances of those children lost to inadequate education.

But education budgets are limited, especially in times of economic downturn. Thus, it is worth comparing countries that have decreased and augmented their education budgets during the crisis—and evaluating the consequences of these decisions. If, on the one hand, investments in education are vital and, on the other hand, budget constraints restrict the available resources, investments should be as effective as possible. The question then is: where does it make sense to invest most in education?

Researchers generally agree that investing in early education has the highest returns. As the Nobel laureate James Heckman has shown, early investments enhance equal opportunities and higher achievement at the same time. How can this be applied to education financing structures in different countries? And given the fact that early childhood education is often very costly for parents while school education is usually free, what should be the financial contribution that families make to the education of their children?

An alternative view of investments in education is that they should be higher where the problems are greatest: that would mean greater effort to tackle inadequate education and more money for programs for children who are lagging behind. Research shows that inadequate education is a problem for the whole of society—even the elites—and that everyone benefits from minimizing the number of low-educated people. Is it possible to invest in more quality in education? What form of qualification will produce the best teachers and pedagogues? And what mechanisms should be used to allocate resources?

Education remains one of the most important duties of any government: it is a public responsibility to provide access to high quality education for everyone. Therefore, public investments need to ensure a good educational infrastructure for lifelong learning. But can private organizations, companies and nonprofit organizations provide additional supply. Could they become substitutes or should they instead function as supplements to public institutions?

Intelligent financing concepts for education should be based on needs and specific background rather than distributing untargeted subsidies. New concepts of resource distribution require greater transparency. But what should this transparency look like? Will external accountability enhance quality or should there be more focus on capacity-building and self-assessment to improve the education system? How can financing mechanisms provide effective and sufficient investments in education even in times of crisis?

    Solutions

    Solution

    Bring together efforts from governments,...

     
    Bring together efforts from governments, schools, the private sector and civil society to initiate education initiatives and learn from promising education initiatives worldwide.

    Bring together efforts from governments, schools, the private sector and civil society to initiate education initiatives and learn from promising education initiatives worldwide.

    Solution

    Governments should invest in fair,...

     
    Governments should invest in fair, objective and comprehensive metrics for evaluating teacher performance.

    Governments should invest in fair, objective and comprehensive metrics for evaluating teacher performance.

    Polity, Civil Society
    Solution

    Focus education policy on providing...

     
    Focus education policy on providing rewards and sanctions for achieving better performance to energize local capacity and knowledge instead of trying to improve outcomes through general regulation.

    Focus education policy on providing rewards and sanctions for achieving better performance to energize local capacity and knowledge instead of trying to improve outcomes through general regulation.

    Polity, Civil Society
    Solution

    Governments should focus their investments...

     
    Governments should focus their investments on both individual and collective capacity-building—training pedagogues to use methods of individual support and to serve as "learning coaches" to help chi ...

    Governments should focus their investments on both individual and collective capacity-building—training pedagogues to use methods of individual support and to serve as "learning coaches" to help children "learn to learn" as well as being actively involved in local environments.

    Polity, Civil Society
    Solution

    Governments should invest in embedding...

     
    Governments should invest in embedding technology into pedagogical concepts to enable interactive learning experiences. For an effective use of technology, give teachers training and rewards, integrat ...

    Governments should invest in embedding technology into pedagogical concepts to enable interactive learning experiences. For an effective use of technology, give teachers training and rewards, integrated in incentive systems for student performance, to be champions of such new approaches.

    Academia, Business, Civil Society
    Solution

    Use technological innovations to individualize...

     
    Use technological innovations to individualize public education cost-effectively.

    Use technological innovations to individualize public education cost-effectively.

    Civil Society

    Proposals

    Proposal

    Guiding principles for investors to transform education for the 21st century

     
    The world is changing: rapid population growth, climate instability, dwindling energy and water supplies, and rising poverty impact billions of lives. At the same time, information and communication t ...

    The world is changing: rapid population growth, climate instability, dwindling energy and water supplies, and rising poverty impact billions of lives. At the same time, information and communication technologies have dramatically recast how we understand and experience the world. Digital technologies have redefined how we live, work, communicate and learn, making the once unimaginable routinely possible. Education must be at the core of society´s response to these powerful issues. Our collective progress depends on us applying knowledge and skills to address these formative and far-reaching matters. It is critical that we develop a pervasive culture of innovation, not only inside

    Polity, Business, Civil Society
    Proposal

    Bad apple in the classroom? Know it, to change it

     
    Proposal:  Take the alibis out of education systems by putting performance data in. Rationale:  A growing and compelling body of research shows that teacher effectiveness varies widely -- even acro ...

    Proposal:  Take the alibis out of education systems by putting performance data in. Rationale:  A growing and compelling body of research shows that teacher effectiveness varies widely -- even across classrooms in the same grade in the same school.  Getting assigned to a bad teacher has not only immediate, but also long term, consequences for student learning,college completion and long-term income. But most education systems do not know how many bad -- or good -- teachers they have, or where they are working, or whether their performance can be improved.  They lack objective data on even the most basic elements of teachers' performance -- whether

    Polity, Academia, Business, Civil Society
    Proposal

    Effective Investments in Education

     
    Education is one of the most important issues of our times. But investing effectively in education is a very complex problem – and thus cannot be tackled with quick fixes. Local conditions, difficul ...

    Education is one of the most important issues of our times. But investing effectively in education is a very complex problem – and thus cannot be tackled with quick fixes. Local conditions, difficulties such as deprived neighborhoods or financial straits, and individual resources have to be taken into account to find effective approaches. Calling for a “silver bullet” or “one fits all strategy” will lead nowhere: effective investments are a matter of quality (i.e. in people) and not a matter of structure. Capacity building for high quality pedagogues is key, accompanied by strong political and institutional leadership to form a

    Polity, Academia, Civil Society
    Proposal

    Replace regulations with incentives in education

     
    Education policy is plagued by attempts to improve outcomes through regulation, a situation that impedes improvement and frequently puts a ceiling on what outcomes are possible. These attempts invaria ...

    Education policy is plagued by attempts to improve outcomes through regulation, a situation that impedes improvement and frequently puts a ceiling on what outcomes are possible. These attempts invariably require treating all circumstances similarly, thus failing to recognize the importance of local demands and local knowledge and capacity. The alternative is providing incentives for better performance so that the abilities and energies of local people can be energized. Setting proper incentives requires establishing good educational institutions. DetailsThe fundamental idea of improved incentives is establishing rewards and sanctions for those who move education toward higher achievement. These rewards would be a

    Polity, Civil Society
    Proposal

    Keep good teachers and eliminate bad teachers

     
    All available research shows that the quality of the teacher is the most important ingredient of the school to student achievement. The difference in effectiveness between teachers can spell the diffe ...

    All available research shows that the quality of the teacher is the most important ingredient of the school to student achievement. The difference in effectiveness between teachers can spell the difference between success in education and dropping out of school. There is, however, no simple description of what makes a good teacher and of how to develop a good teacher. Thus, teacher policy should stress evaluation of teachers and incentives for performance (including firing of ineffective teachers). Good policy should also step back from regulations on who can enter teaching and how teachers are prepared. Similar policies must also be

    Polity, Civil Society

    Background Paper

    Background Paper

    Effective Investments in Education

     
    Identifying the main challenges in the field of education is not complicated as they have been the same for years: “raising the bar and closing the gap” has become a common slogan almost everywher ...

    Identifying the main challenges in the field of education is not complicated as they have been the same for years: “raising the bar and closing the gap” has become a common slogan almost everywhere in the world. In this paper, we will try to give some background information on effective education investments. The paper should pave the way for finding new strategies to a not-so-new challenge in the context of this year’s Global Economic Symposium2. We first give a short overview on why investments in education are one of the most important governmental tasks. Then, we would like to discuss what “effective investments in education” are characterized by. Thirdly, we present some strategies how to implement reforms so that resources are utilized effectively and discuss financing mechanisms to support effective investing. As a concluding paragraph, we draw together some main aspects of possible solutions.

    Polity, Academia, Business, Civil Society

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