Universal Basic Skills

What Countries Stand to Gain

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While access to schooling has expanded around the world, many countries have not realised the hoped-for improvements in economic and social well-being. Access to education by itself is an incomplete goal for development; many students leave the education system without basic proficiency in literacy and numeracy. As the world coalesces around new sustainable development targets towards 2030, the focus in education is shifting towards access and quality. Using projections based on data from the OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) and other international student assessments, this report offers a glimpse of the stunning economic and social benefits that all countries, regardless of their national wealth, stand to gain if they ensure that every child not only has access to education but, through that education, acquires at least the baseline level of skills needed to participate fully in society.




Everywhere, skills transform lives, generate prosperity and promote social inclusion. If there is one lesson we have learned from the global economy over the past few years, it is that we cannot simply bail ourselves out of an economic crisis, we cannot solely stimulate ourselves out of an economic crisis, and we cannot just print money to ease our way out of an economic crisis. We can only grow ourselves out of bad economic conditions and, in the long run, that depends more than anything on equipping more people with better skills to collaborate, compete and connect in ways that drive our societies forward – and on using those skills productively. Ensuring that all people have a solid foundation of knowledge and skills must therefore be the central aim of the post-2015 education agenda.


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