Universal Basic Skills

What Countries Stand to Gain

image of Universal Basic Skills

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.



Executive summary

Discussions about expanding the Millennium Development Goals beyond 2015 acknowledge, in part, that the original goal of universal primary schooling should include a stronger component on learning outcomes. A focus on learning and skills is strongly supported by evidence about the economic benefits that accompany improved school quality. Economic growth and social development are closely related to the skills of a population, indicating that a central post-2015 development goal for education should be that all youth achieve at least basic skills as a foundation for work and further learning, not merely that they gain access to schooling. Achieving such a goal would lead to remarkable overall economic gains while providing for broad participation in the benefits of development.


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