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There are many reasons why education is important. For every US$1 spent on education, as much as US$15 can be generated in economic growth. In general, education — as a critical component of a country’s human capital — increases the efficiency of each individual worker and helps economies to move up the value chain beyond manual tasks or simple production processes.
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.
There is a wealth of literature on this topic, showing the long-held expectation that human capital formation (a population’s education and health status) plays a significant role in a country’s economic development. Better education leads not only to higher individual income but is also a necessary (although not always sufficient) precondition for long-term economic growth. A study from 2015 has empirical evidence stating that it shows the crucial role of education for individual and societal prosperity. Education is a leading determinant of economic growth, employment, and earnings. Ignoring the economic dimension of education would endanger the prosperity of future generations, with widespread repercussions for poverty, social exclusion, and sustainability of social security systems. For every US$1 spent on education, as much as US$10 to US$15 can be generated in economic growth (UNESCO 2012). If 75% more 15-year-olds in forty-six of the world’s poorest countries were to reach the lowest OECD benchmark for mathematics, economic growth could improve by 2.1% from its baseline and 104 million people could be lifted out of extreme poverty (UNESCO 2012). 
Education for All
Twenty-five 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.
In 2015, world leaders agreed to 17 goals for a better world by 2030. These goals have the power to end poverty, fight inequality and stop climate change. Guided by the goals, it is now up to all of us, governments, businesses, civil society and the general public to work together to build a better future for everyone.
The fourth goal is about quality education for all; “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.” The seventh target in Goal 4 is about education and development. The target says that we should think about education for sustainable development and global citizenship.
The target is set that by 2030, ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development.
With a world population of 7 billion people and limited natural resources, we, as individuals and societies need to learn to live together sustainably. We need to take action responsibly based on the understanding that what we do today can have implications on the lives of people and the planet in future. Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) empowers people to change the way they think and work towards a sustainable future.
A Lifetime of Learning, Smart Investments, and for All
Elizabeth King focused in a speech at Education World Forum in 2011 on three issues :
- 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 labour 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 a 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.
Education Enriches People’s Understanding
Education enriches people’s understanding of themselves and the world. It improves the quality of their lives and leads to broad social benefits to individuals and society. Education raises people’s productivity and creativity and promotes entrepreneurship and technological advances. In addition, it plays a very crucial role in securing economic and social progress and improving income distribution.
Reference Catherine Grant, The contribution of education to economic growth
institute of Development Studies (2017) UNESCO Education for Sustainable Development  Elizabeth King focused in a speech at Education World Forum (01/28/2011)
Lucubrate Magazine, Issue 52, January 18th, 2019
The photo on top: Fancycrave.com
Categories: Magazine, Education, Development