Columbia International Affairs Online: Policy Briefs

CIAO DATE: 10/2013

The Rebirth of Education: Why Schooling in Developing Countries Is Flailing; How the Developed World Is Complicit; and What to Do Next

Lant Pritchett

September 2013

Center for Global Development


More than a billion children worldwide—95 percent—are in school. That’s due in part to steady progress toward the second Millennium Development Goal that every child “be able to complete a full course of primary school” by 2015. To put that in perspective, the average adult in the developing world today receives more schooling than the average adult in advanced countries did in 1960. Schooling, however, is not the same as education. Few of these billion students will receive an education that adequately equips them for their future. The poor quality of education worldwide constitutes a learning crisis; donors and development agencies have been complicit in its creation, but they can and should be part of the solution, not by prescribing changes, but by fostering environments where change is possible.