On her daily walk down the muddy road that connects her home with school, Beatriz would sing a cumbia and dream of becoming a professional dancer. However, she would soon find out that her aspirations were short lived. At the age of 14, Beatriz got pregnant and never went back to school. In the six years following her pregnancy, she struggled with an unstable and low-paid job, cleaning rich houses in Guatemala City. By the age of 20, without minimum skills and a secure job, Beatriz had little control over her life and a murky picture of her future loomed.
En su caminata diaria por el camino lleno de lodo que conecta su casa con la escuela, Beatriz canta una cumbia y sueña con ser una bailarina profesional. Sin embargo, pronto descubrirá que sus aspiraciones durarán poco. A los 14 años, Beatriz quedará embarazada y nunca más volverá a la escuela. En los seis años posteriores a su embarazo, tendrá que lidiar con un trabajo inestable y mal pagado, limpiando casas de personas ricas en la ciudad de Guatemala. A los 20 años, sin contar con las habilidades mínimas y un trabajo seguro, Beatriz tendrá poco control de su vida y su futuro no será muy halagüeño.
Do you remember how you felt when you graduated from high-school or college? Like me, you probably experienced some uncertainty and anxiety about what comes next, asking questions such as: “Will I get a job, and if so, where? And am I fully equipped to compete in the workforce?”
Indeed, these are important questions for many graduates entering the labor market in my country, Kazakhstan, where strong economic growth over the last decade has exposed some major skill gaps in the workforce.
Quality education is one of the most powerful instruments for reducing poverty and inequality; yet it remains elusive in many parts of the world. The Programme for the Analysis of Education Systems (PASEC), which is designed to assess student abilities in mathematics and reading in French, has for the first time delivered an internationally comparable measure around which policy dialogue and international cooperation can aspire to improve. The PASEC 2014 international student assessment was administered in 10 countries in Francophone West Africa (Cameroon, Burundi, Republic of Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal, Chad, Togo, Benin, Burkina Faso, and Niger).
A few weeks ago, education policy makers and data analysts around the world were glued to their laptops when the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) published the results of PISA 2015. More than half a million students – from 72 countries and economies representing 28 million 15 year-olds – had taken the test. PISA, an international assessment administered every three years, measures the skills of students in applying their knowledge of science, reading, and mathematics to real life problems. PISA is one of the most influential international student assessments, which provides a rich set of information on the systems strengths and weaknesses, supports development of effective policies – and at the same time, benchmarks country's achievements vis a vis other participating countries.
There is no denying that governments around the world are expanding investments in education technology, from inputs that students use directly (like Kenya’s project to put tablets in schools) to digital resources to improve the education system (like Rio de Janeiro’s school management system). As public and private school systems continue to integrate technology into their classrooms, remember that education technology comes with risks.
Also available in: Spanish
Scott Ozanus, guest blogger, is the Deputy Chairman and Chief Operating Officer at KPMG. He is also a member of the ReadyNation CEO Task Force on Early Childhood
Better workers. Better communities. Better lives for our citizens.
Why is a company that employs over 189,000 people around the world, and hires about 40,000 people every year, concerned with early childhood?
It’s because all over the globe, countries and companies face a common challenge: How best to strengthen their economy and workforce, while also taking societal concerns into consideration. Early childhood is key to a productive current workforce as well as nations’ future success.
When Wenceslaus Mushi watches the evening news on the television at his home in Dar es Salaam, he often finds himself shouting out tips to the reporters. “They aren’t asking the right questions,” says Mushi, a 40-year news veteran and former managing editor of the government-owned Daily News.