This morning I had the pleasure of delivering the keynote speech at the Education World Forum in London, a large annual gathering of education decision-makers from around the world. More than 80 ministers of education are attending the forum, plus many more high-level participants from donor agencies, private business and academia. I spoke about how much the global education community has to celebrate—the developing world has tripled the average years of schooling of an adult in just two generations, and in the past 15 years the ratio of girls to boys in primary and secondary education rose from 84 to 96 percent—but also about how much there is left to do less than a year to 2015.
In a Washington Post article that Dr. Qasem and I wrote entitled “The Arab Spring of Higher Education,” we spoke of the Amazon model and the eBay model of higher education. Here we elaborate on these two models and talk about what education will look like in the future.
First, let’s look at some US trends in higher education:
- Tuition costs are becoming increasingly unaffordable for college students. President Obama in his Michigan address asked colleges to think of ways to make education cheaper and more accessible. Large capital investments and fixed costs make it difficult for colleges to cut their expenses drastically
- College degrees are unaffordable for many and even so, do not guarantee a job. There is a demand for many prospective students is to learn materials and skills that would help them get a job
- Free availability of multimedia tools, broadband access, differentiated student base, demand for flexibility and modularized education, and technologically empowered end-users has created an environment where a demand for 24/7 education can be fulfilled by individuals or groups of individuals