As opposed to say energy or trade policy, education is a subject where all of us have real personal experience which makes those opinions all the more robust and heartfelt. Almost universally, either we, or our children, have been exposed to some form of primary, secondary, or tertiary education and therefore have a view on how effective that education has been, what it is worth, and how it could have been done better or more cost effectively.
Or if we haven’t benefited from education — something that is much more common than one might think in the developing world — we are much more likely to be acutely aware of what that lack of education will have cost us in terms of health, wealth, and happiness.
In our last Citi GPS report Education: Back to the Basics, we reviewed a lot of the academic work already published on education worldwide and although we identified a number of challenges, we confidently concluded the net impact of education on individuals, societies, and economies was firmly positive.
But this work was academic in nature. It looked at data and this data drove firm empirical conclusions, but it perhaps ignored the human element integral to a topic as important as education. With this in mind, the first aim of our follow up report was to validate our theoretical work by conducting a five country, 2,500 person study looking at attitudes toward education across the globe.
This survey reinforces some of the headline conclusions of our first report around the value of education but also uncovers some pretty significant asymmetries in the results; divergences in views that divide geographies, genders, and generations.
To be clear, not all of these are negative but the fact that these asymmetries are there at all underlines one of the key takeaways from our first Citi GPS report, which was that the different stakeholders — policy makers, companies, investors — cannot afford to take a monolithic approach to this $5 trillion+ global market. Nor, in reality, is there a huge amount of time if we want to address the challenges that face us in terms of automation and disruption and the impact it could have on workforces around the world.
Of these stakeholders, perhaps the most fleet of foot are private companies and the investors that support them. This speaks to the second key focus of our new report, which is on the opportunities for private capital. On the back of our survey work and guided by expert interviews, we identify pinch points where we think private capital can play a significant role in making education work better for everyone.
1. Nicky Morgan, U.K. Education Secretary made this reference in a speech to the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) conference in March 2015.
2. See Citi GPS Technology at Work IV, Citi, July 2019.