Please see recent education-related change below.
- What's New? - Education
- What Counts? - Education
- What's Changing? - Childhood
- What's Changing? - Gender
Universities are supposed to produce intellectual and scientific breakthroughs that can be employed by businesses, the government and regular folk. Such ideas are placed in the public domain, available to all. In theory, therefore, universities should be an excellent source of productivity growth. In practice, however, the great expansion of higher education coincided with a productivity slowdown. Whereas in the 1950s/1960s workers’ output per hour across the rich world rose by 4% a year, in the decade before COVID 1% a year was the norm.
- In a survey, 53% of British undergraduate students confessed that they had used AI to help them write essays. Most of them said they were merely using chatbots to suggest topics, though one in eight said they were generating the actual content.
- The first-ever study to look at a link between education and longevity found that for every year a person spends in school or university full-time, the risk of mortality drops by 2%. The research, which drew on evidence from industrialised as well as developing countries, showed that completing the initial stages of formal education (primary, secondary and tertiary) was akin to a lifetime of adopting a healthy diet – reducing the risk of death by at least 34% compared to those without any formal education attendance. For people who had never attended school, the absence of education "was as bad for adult health as consuming five or more alcoholic drinks every day or smoking 10 cigarettes each day for a decade".
- Students across Europe scored the worst performance drop in the history of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), published by the OECD. The education capabilities survey tested nearly 700,000 15-year-old students in 81 countries on mathematics, reading and science. Germany, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway and Poland recorded lower achievements in mathematics in 2022 than in 2018.
- Education systems around the world grapple with persistent issues related to equity, access, and quality, while also navigating the disruptions brought about by new technologies. These technologies, and specifically generative AI, offer a range of powerful applications, and present an opportunity to reimagine our education systems, but GenAI comes with its own set of unique concerns and challenges and its integration in education poses a significant challenge for educators, researchers and institutions. Governments worldwide need to develop robust and comprehensive regulations and policies tailored to the ethical use of AI in education to ensure that, inter alia, student data privacy and overall well-being are adequately protected.
- UNICEF warned that there is a global learning crisis, with more than 600 million children and young people in school unable to attain minimum proficiency levels in reading and mathematics. For out-of-school children, foundational skills in literacy and numeracy are even further away. UNICEF data showed that more than 1 billion children were at further risk of falling behind due to school closures aimed at containing the spread of COVID-19.
- George Monbiot argued that shortcomings of today’s education are limiting students’ readiness for an uncertain future. One: it is too rigid. Two: we don’t teach students about complex systems. Three: we don't equip students with meta-skills and metacognition, the ability to think about thinking. Monbiot claimed that "Many students will complete their education without ever being taught the principles of complex systems...schoolchildren should be taught to understand how thinking works, from neuroscience to cultural conditioning; how to observe and interrogate their thought processes; and how and why they might become vulnerable to disinformation and exploitation. Self-awareness could turn out to be the most important topic of all."
- Reading scores for US 13-year-olds fell to their worst level in 33 years, according to a national survey. Mathematics results weren’t much better, backsliding 19 years. Pandemic-related school closures were considered to be a major contributing factor.
- Society is changing: with rising inequality, disinformation, the effects of climate change and rapid advancements of technology, With this, the skills children need to navigate life and work are changing too, but less than half of the world’s children are on track to develop the skills they need to thrive, according to UNESCO. Children need to learn to collaborate, to look after each other and the environment, as well as to solve problems and think critically. Yet, historically, education systems around the world have emphasised acquiring knowledge and information and de-prioritised interpersonal skills.
- In a Brookings Institution series on teaching future skills, educator Kate Mills described “normalising trouble” in her classroom, looking for opportunities to showcase the way other students (not the teacher) have worked through problems, naming and describing the steps they used and reiterating how the process solved the problem. “After a few weeks,” Mills says, “most of the class understands that the teachers aren’t there to solve problems for the students, but to support them in solving the problems themselves.
- Further reading:
- At the United Nations’ Transforming Education Summit, world leaders, education experts, and activists spotlighted the urgency to recover pre-pandemic and COVID-related learning losses and agreed to ensure children all over the world are given the building blocks they need to go on to thrive in school. Even before the pandemic, more than half the 10-year-old children globally were not able to read and understand a simple sentence. After the school closures, global learning trajectories are getting worse: nearly two-thirds of all children globally cannot read with understanding.
- Girls' education has a 2.8x return on investment, according to the World Economic Forum, while early childhood education brings in at least a 9x return.
- India, Nigeria, and Pakistan are the top three countries with the highest numbers of the 244 million out-of-school children in the world, according to estimates by Unesco. Of particular concern is that the figure appears to be increasing in sub-Saharan Africa as it trends downwards in the rest of the world. In addition to Nigeria where there are now over 20 million out-of-school children, Ethiopia, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Sudan are in the unflattering top 10 with China, Indonesia, and Bangladesh.
- The number of UK applicants to UCAS reporting a mental health condition on their applications increased by 450% over the past decade. While that could be seen as a positive - with people being more willing to talk about their mental health - there is no doubt that it is also indicative of a pervasive underlying concern, including the fact that half of students say their mental health is worse than it was before the pandemic. To address this, Samaritans partnered with The Positive Planner, co-creating a journal designed to improve student well-being. The planner comprises daily intentions and reflections, mood trackers, mindfulness activities and positive affirmations, as well as meal planners, shopping lists and diaries.
Learning is in crisis. Even before COVID-19, 53% of children in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) were unable to read and understand a simple text by the age of 10. The pandemic was expected to push that figure up to 70%. However, recent years have witnessed major advances in technology and experimentation with digital learning solutions that enable a new kind of experience, by tailoring learning to the needs of the individual. Such digital personalised learning has shown promise in LMICs in closing education gaps for lower-attaining students by allowing them to learn at their own pace and to their own proficiency, positioning it as a potential tool to address learning gaps as the worst of the pandemic recedes.
- Further reading:
- Are universities of the past still the future - EY
- Millions of children learn only very little. How can the world provide a better education to the next generation? - Our World in Data
- What if advanced economies have hit peak higher education? - LinkedIn
- Your genes affect your education. Here’s why that’s controversial - Big Think
- Methods of education have not kept pace with advances in technology but the imperative of change is becoming more apparent. For example, virtual reality (VR) is being adopted more readily as the gains of experiential learning is being realised. VR can help make education less conventional and advance progress in higher education and vocational training.
- Dealroom warned that, despite advances in recent years, education remains vastly under digitised. In 2020, only 3.6% (or US$225B) of global education expenditure was allocated to technology. Although forecasts indicate an increase to 5.2% by 2025, this value can still be considered quite conservative, suggesting that the integration of effective technologies into formal education is still a complex endeavour.
- By the end of 2021, roughly 168 million school-aged children worldwide had missed out on classes for around a year during the pandemic, and one in three of those were unable to access remote classes. The toll of the pandemic on children's development and wellbeing will become more evident in the months and years ahead.
- For the FT, the 2021 Global Education Summit, held in London, was a success not just for education but also for multilateralism and international co-operation. Heads of government, corporate leaders, sovereign funds, philanthropists, civil society and educators came together with a keen awareness of the extensive, destabilising and far-reaching effects that coronavirus has had on education systems around the world. They pledged to find viable, lasting solutions to restore the path towards ensuring “quality education for all”.
- The pandemic disrupted children’s education on an unprecedented scale. By mid-April 2020 more than 90% of the world’s students had been locked out of classrooms. As demand for remote learning grew, education technology, or edtech, was increasingly adopted by teachers and children worldwide. New apps and software began to be used alongside traditional teaching methods, proving that digital learning had potential.
- By late 2021, India’s school children had lost a year to COVID. In the absence of physical classrooms, nearly 40% of students in underprivileged households had not been studying at all.
- School closures were one of the most common policies to curb the spread of COVID-19 - and one of the most contentious. According to UNESCO, the UN’s cultural agency, since the start of the outbreak schools around the world were wholly or partly closed for two-thirds of an academic year on average, with many children reliant on limited remote learning.
- According to some estimates, post the pandemic, 24m school-aged children in lower and middle-income countries may never return to the classroom, with many pushed into work and early marriage. Hundreds of millions more who are going back will struggle to catch up. The World Bank calculates the loss to lifetime earnings could exceed $10tn.
- India's government must do more to prepare children for the future. claimed GZERO Media. This is a country that produces state-of-the-art engineers and digital entrepreneurs, but India's new National Education Policy is designed to solve the problem that half of rural students in grade 5 can't read at a grade 2 level, and less than one-third can do basic division. India produces more than its share of stars, but it needs entire generations of well-educated children.
- Venture capital investments in education during 2020 were $9.7 billion, more than twice the amount in all of 2019, s the pandemic pushed educators, parents, and learning institutions to reimagine how to deliver knowledge under duress and pressure.
- A project in Fianarantsoa, Madagascar, built schools using 3D printing technology. A new, 3D-printed school can be built in under a week with less waste and lower carbon emissions than conventional construction. The aim is to address the infrastructure shortage - driven by a lack of skilled labour and resources - which limit the capacity for children to learn.
- School closures in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic could have long-lasting effects on the global economy, said the OECD. World GDP could be 1.5% lower for the rest of the century as the loss in learning could lead to a skill loss which will harm productivity. Distance learning during the crisis threatens to leave pupils who do not have devices or proper internet access behind, Unicef warned. Some 463 million schoolchildren - or one in three globally -have been unable to access online education during school closures, the UN agency found.
- Latin America is in the midst of an education crisis: more than 95% of the region’s 150m pupils remain at home and most countries have set no date for school reopening.
- Michael Sandel warned that we have prioritised technocratic knowledge over broad, civic, humane knowledge in our systems and universities,
- At least one third of the world's schoolchildren - some 463 million - were unable to access any remote learning in the months when Covid-19 shuttered their schools, Unicef said in a report, which revealed the limitations of remote learning for those children who do not have access to the necessary technology - and for those in countries that did not respond adequately to the situation. It also found significant inequalities across the world, with at least half of all schoolchildren in sub-Saharan Africa unable to access remote learning. "The sheer number of children whose education was completely disrupted for months on end is a global emergency," said Henrietta Fore, Unicef's executive director. "The repercussions could be felt in economies and societies for decades to come."
- At least 9.7 million children around the world may never return to school because of the coronavirus pandemic, Save the Children warned, saying the economic impact of the crisis on countries around the world could force children to enter the workplace early. Girls "are likely to be much worse affected than boys", the charity said, with many facing the threat of early marriage. The areas most at risk of seeing children drop out of education included countries in West and Central Africa, as well as Yemen and Afghanistan.
- Under a new government plan, all 43,000 schools in Russia will be equipped with facial recognition cameras and systems. And in an almost surreal twist, the name of the monitoring platform is "Orwell." The company that won the contract is owned by...a close friend of President Vladimir Putin, reported GZEROMedia.
- There is a welter of innovation happening in online education and teacher training, some of it hacked together by teachers themselves, and some coming via edtech startups working in partnership with other brands.
- The coronavirus pandemic reshaped education. With 1.5 billion students out of school and hundreds of millions attempting to learn solely online, the biggest educational technology experiment in history reshaped schools, the idea of education, and what learning looks like in the 21st century.
- By the end of April 2020, over three-quarters of the world’s roughly 1.5bn schoolchildren were out of school, according to UNESCO. This global locking of school gates is unprecedented in scope, duration and likely consequences.
- On the surface, universities are a nice idea. You go in, pick a subject you like, learn from the experts, and leave being job- and future-ready. This is why so many people (around 40% in rich countries) decide to go to college, even if it means making big financial and personal sacrifices. Yet just because so many people are doing it doesn’t mean it’s necessarily a good thing to do. In fact, while there is generally a cost – in terms of employment prospect – of not having a college degree, there are not always clear competitive advantages in having one, particularly if almost half of the population has one.
- Mounting insecurity and violence across Central and West Africa have caused 9,272 schools to close across the region in 2018 and 2019, according to a UNICEF report. That's three times the number that had closed at the end of 2017.
- Africa's population boom and rising living standards are putting pressure on the continent's higher education systems. African universities currently feature 50% more students per professor than the global average, even as rising enrollment rates still rank last among the world's regions.
- What tools should we be arming today’s children with so they stand a chance of surviving the world or work in one or two decades from now? “Many pedagogical experts argue that schools should switch to teaching ‘the four Cs’ – critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity,” Yuval Noah Harari wrote in his new book, 21 Lessons for the 21st Century. In a chapter entitled Education: Change is the only constant, Harari continued: “More broadly, schools should downplay technical skills and emphasise general-purpose life skills. Most important of all will be the ability to deal with change, to learn new things and to preserve your mental balance in unfamiliar situations.”
- It doesn’t matter where you go to university. Despite the college admissions scandal, the prestige of a school has little relationship to future success.
- Starting in 2019, undergraduate students at the National University of Singapore had the option to design their own course modules. Interested students needed to organise themselves into groups of at least 10 and submit a proposal. Upon approval, they could then invite industry experts as guest tutors, or select courses from online platform edX. A faculty mentor would then be assigned to guide them. The university aimed to allow students greater ownership over their learning journey, and the ability to pursue topics not currently offered by the university, from blockchain technology to sustainability and climate change to photography.
- The global share of children who do not attend primary school has fallen from 28% in 1970 to 9% in 2016. But progress is stalling, and is less impressive than it appears, warned The Economist. The share of children not attending school has fallen by less than one percentage point since 2007. Some 63m children of the relevant age do not go to primary school; another 200m do not attend secondary school.
- Literacy rates have been steadily climbing for decades now, and though it seems incremental, even a fraction of a percentage point can make a huge difference. Considering there are some 5.5 billion adults alive today, the 0.23 percentage-point increase from 2015 to 2016 (the last year for which data are available) means about 11.5 million more people can read, according to Quartz.
- Kenya will start teaching Chinese to elementary school students. The move further deepens China’s influence in the country, where it has invested billions in infrastructure and cultural projects, noted Quartz.
- Academics are only just beginning to understand the misfortunes of working-age Americans without a college degree. New evidence suggests that in the past 50 years, the earnings of this group have scarcely risen in real terms—and for men they have fallen. Such Americans are far more likely to live in rural areas, since the collapse of the urban wage premium means they no longer earn more in a city. And technological progress could make things worse.
- Raconteur asked what skills we should be teaching children in schools, in 2032, or 2042, and beyond. What tools should we be arming today’s children with so they stand a chance of surviving the world or work in one or two decades from now? Many pedagogical experts argue that schools should switch to teaching ‘the four Cs’ – critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity. Yuval Noah Harari wrote in his new book, 21 Lessons for the 21st Century, in a chapter entitled Education: Change is the only constant, Professor Harari continues: “More broadly, schools should downplay technical skills and emphasise general-purpose life skills. Most important of all will be the ability to deal with change, to learn new things and to preserve your mental balance in unfamiliar situations.”
- The global gender gap in education continues to close. The latest data showed that, in 2016, there were 99.7 girls enrolled in primary and secondary school for every 100 boys. For comparison, in 1986 that number was 85.1.
- In Essential education: future jobs must be taught with tech, Raconteur argued that the applications of technology in classrooms can add great value, but leave room for the human interactions of skilled teachers. Many education stakeholders are calling for a shake-up of organisation and curriculum to meet 21st-century needs. In a recent Australian Future of Education survey, undertaken by Real Insurance, 42 per cent of respondents said the current school curriculum is inadequate, 23.2 per cent said basic literacy is lacking and 30 per cent are not confident children are being prepared for future jobs.
- Online courses have been around for years, but often suffered by association with the kind of learning that gave education a bad name, poorly developed distance learning courses, heir to the dubious correspondence course of the early-20th century. But, noted Raconteur, recent MOOCs (massive open online courses) are a different kind of fish altogether, developed by world-class academics working at institutions, such as Harvard and Oxford, that need no introduction. These are courses that offer academic rigour combined with real-life experience.
- Raconteur further added that if recent headlines are to be believed, robots are already taking over our schools, relegating “Sir” or “Miss” to the status of a second-rate computer dumped at the back of the class. Yet to many experts, the real value of artificial intelligence (AI) to education may be far more humdrum as a back-of-house tool to free up time for human teachers to build students’ social skills, resilience, appetite for learning and character.
- IMF president Christine Lagarde noted that, given what we know about the future of work, how can anybody thrive in the modern economy without at least a secondary education? As H.G. Wells put it, “Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe.” According to UNESCO, world poverty would be cut in half if all people completed secondary education.
- Dispelling fears that Brexit would have somewhat dampened its appeal, London was ranked as the world's best city for university students in 2018.
- A new UNHCR report tells the stories of some of the world’s 7.4 million refugee children of school age under UNHCR’s mandate. In addition, it looks at the educational aspirations of refugee youth eager to continue learning after secondary education, and highlights the need for strong partnerships in order to break down the barriers to education for millions of refugee children.
- Further reading:
One of the most obvious but striking things about a modern education is that you go through it only once, noted The School of Life. You show up every day for a number of years, get filled up with knowledge and then, once you’re twenty-one or so, you stop - and begin the rest of your life. However, before modern education took off, the mightiest educational systems in the world were religions. It was religions that taught us about ethics, purpose and the meaning of life. And one of the interesting aspects of their pedagogy was that they were obsessed with repetition. For them, it was absurd to imagine ever learning anything if you went through it only once.
- If the move to digital learning continues, children will spend much, if not most, of their waking hours in front of screens, warned Aeon. They will use apps before they go to school, spend their days in front of computers, do their homework online, and then entertain themselves with digital media. Children are losing opportunities to experience the world in all its richness. Screens drain the vitality from many educational experiences that could be better done in the flesh.
- Basketball star LeBron James’ foundation partnered with the public school system in his hometown in Ohio, US to open the I Promise School, a public elementary school. The new school is intended to serve under-privileged children who are falling behind in educational attainment. In the US at least, Trend Watching sees this as a sign of brands increasingly solving shared problems and stepping into the gaps left by government.
- Our World in Data made a new set of presentation slides on education. It covers many aspects – schooling, learning, teaching, governance and much more. The slide decks comprise over 100 charts highlighting what the world has achieved and the policy challenges that lie ahead.
- Part 1: Population growth and pressure on global education systems
- Part 2: Progress in the expansion of schooling
- Part 3: Challenges in education quality and learning outcomes
- Part 4: Characterisitcs and behavior of teachers around the world
- Part 5: Corruption and accountability challenges in education systems
- Part 6: Cross-country correlations between education and other social outcomes
- Part 7: Missing data and statistics on education
- The RSA explored the plight of the thousands of children living in destitution in the UK who do not appear in school poverty statistics because their families, owing to their immigration status, cannot access public funds such as housing benefit and child support. Local authorities, schools and third sector organisations are picking up the pieces left behind by national immigration policies.
- Further reading:
Quartz noted that research has shown that students with highly effective teachers (those in the 90th percentile) learn 1.5 years’ worth of material in a year, while students with teachers in the 10th percentile learn just half a year’s worth of material in the same period. “No other attribute of schools comes close to having this much influence on student achievement,” an economist at Stanford University, told the Economist.
The students who stand to benefit the most from the most effective teachers are those in disadvantaged schools, continued Quartz. But a new report from the OECD finds that in many countries, including France, the Netherlands and the US, just the opposite is happening: Disadvantaged schools have less qualified or less experienced teachers, compared to advantaged schools. Instead, many of these countries attempt to address inequity by creating smaller classes or lower student-teacher ratios for worse-off schools.
- US Ivy League schools are highly selective and extremely hard to get into. But the good news is that all these universities now offer free online courses across multiple online course platforms.So far, they’ve created over 430 courses, of which around 344 are still active.
- Meanwhile, a commercial site offs students the chance to pay to "learn from the world’s greatest minds in just 10 minutes a day". Classes are divided into digestible lessons accessible on any device at anytime.
- Automation could displace between 400 million and 800 million workers globally by 2030 if we do not retrain them or change our education systems to prioritise lifelong learning, warned Shaping Tomorrow, whose robot, Athena found the following new education-related headlines (and many more).
- The collection and analysis of more personal information from schoolchildren will be a defining feature of education in coming years.
- European businesses, governments, and universities will need to substantially strengthen and renew their efforts in support of research, innovation, and education if they hope to maintain their narrow edge over agile Chinese competitors.
- 65 percent of all jobs will require some education or training beyond high school by 2020.
- By 2020, two-thirds of all US jobs will require education beyond high school.
- Automation could displace between 400 million and 800 million workers globally by 2030, if we do not retrain them or change our education systems to prioritize lifelong learning.
- In Africa and parts of Asia there is a huge demographic dividend due to a burgeoning youth market and this market offers opportunities to established higher education institutions with international strategies.
- Higher education participation rates will continue to rise, particularly in emerging and developing countries: By 2040, most countries will have a participation rate that will exceed 60%: demand for previously unmet domestic higher education will be met for countries such as China, India and Brazil.
- The projected rate of growth to the year 2040 in the number of internationally mobile students enrolled in higher education could be anywhere from 9.1 million to 12.3 million to 15.7 million.
- All this raises such questions as: Can China lead global higher education? Is the global push on education succeeding? What role should an emerging economy company play in general training and education, and in building the workforce you need?
- The US is very poorly prepared for an automation wave due to the structure of its education, suggests a new report. The main reason is the emphasis on long-college degrees rather than apprentice-oriented on-the-job training found in some European countries. This latter (closer to the push-and-pull of the market) may be more adaptable to employer needs.
- Education at a Glance: OECD Indicators claims to be the authoritative source for information on the state of education around the world. With more than 125 charts and 145 tables included in the publication and much more data available on the educational database, Education at a Glance 2017 provides key information on the output of educational institutions; the impact of learning across countries; the financial and human resources invested in education; access, participation and progression in education; and the learning environment and organisation of schools.
- There appears to be a growing consensus that mainstream education practices may not be fit for purpose to meet future global challenges, and that a wide range of alternatives should be explored. A noteworthy recent such example is Ken Robinson's now famous TED talk, on how to escape education's "death valley".
- Claiming that learning for all is the right goal for education worldwide, the World Bank asked for public partners as it helps developing countries invest early and smartly in learning.
- Educational Attainment Worldwide on the Rise found that people all over the world are completing more years of schooling than ever before.
- Globally, more than 61% of individuals 15 or older - just over 3 billion people - finished at least some secondary school education during their lifetimes as of 2010, up from 36% in 1970 and from 50% in 1990.