An OECD report just published ‘The High Cost of Low Educational Performance  the Long Run Economic  Impact  of  Improving  Pisa Outcomes’ argues that past experiences suggest that there are enormous economic gains to be had by OECD countries that can improve the cognitive skills of their populations.

Moreover, the gains, put in terms of current GDP, far outstrip the value of short-run business-cycle management. The study concludes that bringing the UK and other countries up to the level of Finland – the best-performing education system among the OECD nations – over the next two decades would create growth of around £4.5 trillion by 2090.  “This is not to say that efforts should not be directed at issues of economic recession, but it is to say that the long-run issues should not be neglected,” the report, written by economists from Stanford and Munich universities, says.  Changing schools and educational institutions is a generally difficult task the authors concede.  Moreover, countries that have attempted reforms of schools often find that the results in terms of student achievement are relatively modest.  But the analysis does not provide answers in terms of the reforms that might be most productive. Instead, it stops at providing an indication of the potential gains from true reforms that lead to improvements.

The report concluded “Relatively small improvements in the skills of a nation’s labour force can have very large impacts on future well-being.”  This report will be used by educationists to urge politicians to look to the longer term and  not effect drastic  cuts over the shorter term that will  harm education and importantly  longer term GDP gains .


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