By ranking school performance in various countries, it becomes clearer which nation’s educational needs are not being met. In a report titled, “Universal Basic Skills: What countries stand to gain,” written by economists Eric Hanushek and Ludger Woessmann, 76 countries were ranked by test scores. Asian countries ranked the highest and the United States trailed behind in 28th place.
Many developing countries were closer to the bottom of the list, with Ghana receiving the lowest score of all 76 countries. As Andreas Schleicher, the Education Director of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, or OECD, points out, “the quality of schooling in a country is a powerful predictor of the wealth countries will produce in the long run.”
Hanushek and Woessmann believe that studying the discrepancies between nations can also lead to finding solutions to these discrepancies.
“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,” explain Hanushek and Woessmann. They also contend that if poorer countries try to emulate the educational practices of the more successful countries, they could meet the goal of “universal basic skills” within the next decade.
Hanushek and Woessmann also believe that if a country acquires these universal basic skills, poverty levels will decrease and the country will be able to better provide quality health care and technologies.
“Only improved knowledge capital makes these larger social goals feasible,” says Hanushek and Woessmann.
To the economists dedicated to studying this issue, it is not simply a contest to see which nation is smarter. An adequate education affects most, if not all, areas of a person’s livelihood. By prioritizing education, other problems stemming from poverty will consequently diminish, and people with higher education levels will have more resources and opportunities. If these findings gain traction, school systems around the world will benefit as they enact changes to prioritize the nation’s education needs.
– Melissa Binns