Education was once believed to be the raw fuel needed to feed genius and success. Over the past decade, it has become an expendable line item on too many of the world's greatest countries' budgets. This says volumes about our priorities, and worse, about the future of our planet if this trend is not addressed.
This article excerpt follows from the Huffington Post regarding a report from the Organization For Economic Development And Cooperation (the OEDC):
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development's "2012 Education at a Glance" report released today is a trove of education indicators.
By analyzing the education systems of the 34 OECD member countries and eight others, the report makes a number of global education comparisons. The United States, for example, is the fifth most educated country in the world, with 42 percent of those aged 25 to 64 having attained some level of higher education. American students, however, were also found to struggle more than their foreign peers to top their parents. The odds of a young person reaching a level of education higher than that of their parents is a mere 29 percent, one of the lowest levels among OECD countries.
The findings bring to mind previous OECD findings based on its Program for International Student Assessment, an international exam for 15-year-olds. In 2009, students in Shanghai who took the PISA for the first time outscored every other school system in the world.
On the same exam, American students ranked 25th in math, 17th in science and 14th in reading -- often behind countries like Finland, China, Singapore, South Korea and Hong Kong.
"The brutal fact here is there are many countries that are far ahead of us and improving more rapidly than we are," U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan told Bloomberg at the time. "This should be a massive wake-up call to the entire country."
Could you pass the test? Test your skills with some sample questions asked of 15-year-olds on the PISA, courtesy of the American Enterprise Institute.
Are you smarter than a 10th grader? [read this entire article]
What troubles me most about this publicly-available report is that the quality of education and expenditure on education in some of the great (and formerly great) industrial nations is declining, while their corresponding military expenditures are increasing as a total proportion of GDP. This does not speak well of our priorities.
It seems that too many of these big, but fiscally troubled, governments have made some correlative studies and have just neglected to share their results with us:
1) Education is not as important as a strong military;
2) Advancement in careers is no longer related to academic performance;
3) That militarization (and not entrepreneurship and education) is still a major way by which to bolster a flagging economy;
4) There is a growing "brain drain" in the most militarily powerful countries;
5) That the greatest minds of the future will be domiciled outside of the established industrial powers, and innovation, entrepreneurship and incentives will grow in the emerging nations while they all but evaporate in the older, floundering industrial behemoths.
I believe, speaking as the author of The Internationalist Page Blog, that we are heading toward a world which will be dependent upon less-educated persons and more aggressive military policies.
Better said, and speaking just for myself as Douglas E. Castle, "We had better win the war against ignorance before we start waging wars due to stupidity."
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