One of the biggest economic benefits of schooling are labor market earnings. For many people, education and experience are their only assets. This is why I believe that it’s very important to know the economic benefits of investments in schooling.
I asked Martha, a Form Four (Grade 12) student at a secondary school in southern Malawi, if she considered herself a role model. Completing her education hasn’t been easy for Martha – being sent home for weeks at a time when her family struggled with school fees, trying to avoid the distractions of boys, and staying on top of challenging coursework are among the challenges she deals with.
Education and training play an important role in ensuring that youth develop the skills they need to live independent and prosperous lives. The research is clear: youth are more affected by unemployment than any other age group. Around the globe we have seen the political, economic and social consequences of young people not having jobs. Governments and international development organizations have turned to education and training initiatives as one tool to enable youth to find jobs or launch their own businesses.
For Tanzania, a predominantly rural economy striving to achieve middle-income status by 2025, a major challenge is to create employment for 800,000 youth entering the labor market each year.
The world is still recovering from the financial and food crises of 2008. A key response, especially in developing countries, was to scale up school feeding programs.
The importance of literacy for economic growth and development is already well established in economic research. Literacy enables people to access information and improve their productivity. I believe that literacy is crucial to the diffusion of new technologies, especially among the poor. It produces high economic returns, so much so that early literacy is viewed as a threshold for economic development.
A UNESCO report estimates that one in ten girls in Sub-Saharan Africa misses school during their menstrual cycle. By some estimates, this equals as much as twenty percent of a given school year.
Many girls drop out of school altogether once they begin menstruating. Should young women miss twenty percent of school days in a given year due to a lack of facilities or a lack of information or a lack of sanitary products?
The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) for education calls for learning for all. This includes ensuring that, by 2030, all students achieve relevant learning outcomes by the end of their primary and lower-secondary schooling. An important way to measure the attainment of this target will be to look at the percentage of children in each country achieving- at the very least- “minimum proficiency” on standardized math and reading tests.
In Haiti, about 90% of primary school-aged children are enrolled in school. While still falling short of universal enrollment, this is a big improvement over just two decades ago. But enrollment is just the first step in building human capital – many children will repeat a grade, and about half will drop out before completing primary school, leaving the school system without having mastered even basic language and math skills. Why does participation in school produce so little?
María is a single mother with two young children who spend about five hours a day in school. Since she has a full time job, it’s a challenge for her to care for them and not lose her only source of income. This may be a hypothetical situation but it’s replicated, every day, in many countries in Latin America that have a reduced school day.
In Latin America, several countries – Chile, Colombia, Uruguay, and Brazil – have introduced programs to lengthen the school day. The goal: to improve student learning, reduce student dropouts, and to ultimately shrink income inequality.