Education is Fundamental to Development and Growth


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Earlier this month, I was invited to be a keynote speaker on the theme of "Education for Economic Success" at the Education World Forum, which brought education ministers and leaders from over 75 countries together in London.

Education is fundamental to development and growth. The human mind makes possible all development achievements, from health advances and agricultural innovations to efficient public administration and private sector growth. For countries to reap these benefits fully, they need to unleash the potential of the human mind. And there is no better tool for doing so than education.

Twenty years ago, government officials and development partners met to affirm the importance of education in development—on economic development and broadly on improving people’s lives—and together declared Education for All as a goal. While enrolments have risen in promising fashion around the world, learning levels have remained disappointingly and many remain left behind. Because growth, development, and poverty reduction depend on the knowledge and skills that people acquire, not the number of years that they sit in a classroom, we must transform our call to action from Education for All to Learning for All.

The World Bank’s forthcoming Education Strategy will emphasize several core ideas: Invest early. Invest smartly. Invest in learning for all.

First, foundational skills acquired early in childhood make possible a lifetime of learning. The traditional view of education as starting in primary school takes up the challenge too late. The science of brain development shows that learning needs to be encouraged early and often, both inside and outside of the formal schooling system. Prenatal health and early childhood development programs that include education and health are consequently important to realize this potential. In the primary years, quality teaching is essential to give students the foundational literacy and numeracy on which lifelong learning depends. Adolescence is also a period of high potential for learning, but many teenagers leave school at this point, lured by the prospect of a job, the need to help their families, or turned away by the cost of schooling. For those who drop out too early, second-chance and nonformal learning opportunities are essential to ensure that all youth can acquire skills for the labor market. 

Second, getting results requires smart investments—that is, investments that prioritize and monitor learning, beyond traditional metrics, such as the number of teachers trained or number of students enrolled. Quality needs to be the focus of education investments, with learning gains as the key metric of quality.  Resources are too limited and the challenges too big to be designing policies and programs in the dark. We need evidence on what works in order to invest smartly.

Third, learning for all means ensuring that all students, and not just the most privileged or gifted, acquire the knowledge and skills that they need. Major challenges of access remain for disadvantaged populations at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels. We must lower the barriers that keep girls, children with disabilities, and ethnolinguistic minorities from attaining as much education as other population groups. “Learning for All” promotes the equity goals that underlie Education for All and the MDGs. Without confronting equity issues, it will be impossible to achieve the objective of learning for all.

Achieving learning for all will be challenging, but it is the right agenda for the next decade. It is the knowledge and skills that children and youth acquire today—not simply their school attendance—that will drive their employability, productivity, health, and well-being in the decades to come, and that will help ensure that their communities and nations thrive.


Read the full text of my speech to the Education World Forum here.



Elizabeth King

Non-resident Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution

Vicky Enoch
February 01, 2011

for a better life perfect

February 06, 2011

Yes, education is key for development. In some regions of the world, the opportunity for education is not there. Take for example, the Somali Pastoralists in East Africa? Does the World bank Know about them?

Ayorinde P. Oduroye
February 23, 2011

I am in support that education is necessary for development. When the people are educated, it will be easier to lead them. When people are educated, they will be able to think better and apply innovations into the ways of doing things in the environment.

I am of great opinion that education is a tool to development. Education in itself cannot do the work but educated people can be used or bring about the necessary development in the environment or the nation.

Please, help to education Africa so that development can be rapid.

God bless.
Ayorinde P. Oduroye
Babcock University, Nigeria

Diana Blues
June 06, 2011

It is great to read about World Bank's efforts for education. I came across this article on medical education in India. Apollo Hospitals Group India has identified Chennai, Hyderabad and Madurai to set up three medical colleges to expand its medical education venture. Read more……

August 04, 2011

yes its very important for growth.

dima godfrey
March 18, 2013

its indeed true that education is important tool tto devt but however its importaaant to note the type of the education . for example, is it ccreative education, is it in line with resources available in aparticular country, aaand is it base on local talents

Austina Jason
August 27, 2013

Yes its true that education is the most important fundamental factor for having proper development and growth as well. Each and every people should be educated in order to become independent and get success in life.

Rajendra S. Malwal
December 24, 2015

I agree that education is must for human development. It is not only necessary but it is education that differentiate a human being from an animal. Human infant is the weakest as compared with the infants of other species but it is education that enables him to rule the world.

August 22, 2016

Sure, with improved educational standards, countries fared well in terms both economic and social development. However, the World Bank need to know that the educated are more more harm than good in many countries (i. e. Ghana). In some few years to come most people in Ghana can not further their education due to two major issues. 1. high cost of tuition & academic user fees, and interviews or processing fees. For instance, each year, health institutions sale more than 1000 application forms but could or admits only less than 100 students. apart from this, all those who purchased the forms are invited for interview (i.e 1500 students. Each student will pay GHc80.00 to GHc150.00 as interview and confirmation fees.Finally, they admit less than 100 students. Surprisingly, during interviews, the Ministry of Health personnel will be part of the panel and take the percentage of the ministry back to the ministry. They do that in each health institution.
Problem, many Ghanaian can not even afford application fees not to talk of interview fee. Majority those students who could application fees finds it difficult to attend attend interviews.
Empirical evidence, Many universities (i.e University for Development Studies) receive less applicants to their programs as well as teacher training colleges. The teacher training colleges even cancelled interviews this year.
QUESTIONS: Is education in Ghana a right again? Can half literates enhance growth and development?

Daniel Rotich - Nakuru Kenya
August 24, 2017

I sincerely agree that education is critical to development. Quality and well programmed education system will empower the citizens on skills necessary for innovation. An educated population will interpret policies and bring them to reality,an educated population Will practically apply technology to real life situation. (Rotich - Nakuru)

Ayush Jain
September 22, 2017

Schooling is the most element in the evolution of the nation. Some people across the world would think that money is an important factor, but it is wrong because without education, no money. Learning is the major factor which is related to education if you learn new things, then you will educate more and more. Without the education you will not explore the new ideas it means you will not able to develop the world because without ideas there is no creativity and without creativity, there is no development. Across the world, we saw that some country is more germinate and some are not. The country which is more growing the more educated people ratio compares to the country which is less developed. Education is the tool which provides people require knowledge, skill, technique, and information and enables them to know their rights and duties toward their family, society, and obviously nation. Education expands the vision, outlook to see the world. Education develops the capabilities to fight the injustice, violence, corruption and other factors. Just as a face is the mirror of the heart, level of education develops the status of the nation. Our system is like that rich students get more and more education and poor will not. Education in nowadays becomes more costly such that poor parents of the most talented student cannot even think of getting their wards admitted into such institute. We need a system that will provide equal opportunity to both rich and poor students that can contribute to the development of the country. By providing education, we remove the poverty and every person in the country will become successful and provides their contribution to developing their country. Hence we can easily conclude that for an evolution of a country, there is need of education, we have to change the person's mind and make a country a developed country.

Chetan Gupta
December 13, 2017

I believe education is something or I should say education is everything and one can only attain it through our will. See nobody can force you to study or to believe what they say. There is a great saying “ The books are person’s best friend.” But only books can not give us what our life want from us. We have to take a step to implement on our life. An educated person knows what is right and what is wrong. It improves our life standard , personality and mindset. The way you explained everything here is so amazing. Keep this awesome sharing. Best Wishes...