Education is the most important investment individuals and society make for the future. The returns on education investments are high, and include not only economic but also social benefits. More educated societies have better health outcomes, lower rates of violence, higher productivity, and higher gross domestic products. Individuals with higher levels of education can expect to earn more over their lifetimes and live longer on average.
The type of education needed in today’s society extends far beyond basic literacy and numeracy. Children, youth and adults need to learn critical thinking, writing, and communication skills. Adults need to renew their skills and continue their learning to be able to work in different contexts. More generally, societies need skilled labor forces with the capacity to learn and adapt to compete in today’s industries and forge the industries of the future.
|"The illiterates of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn"- A. Toffler||While facing these new educational challenges, schools and other education actors must operate in rapidly changing and pressure-filled environments. They must cope with major societal changes including the information technology revolution, the ageing population and the arrival of new immigrant groups. At the same time, they are under heightened public scrutiny with the rise in importance of national and international ranking systems, and international comparative assessments.|
Although societies must address these new needs, available educational resources have not increased and are unlikely to do so in the future. All these education actors face considerable budgetary constraints, exacerbated by recent economic crises. This limited availability of funds heightens the need to maximise impact and efficacy of individual policies and programmes and adapt established practices to future challenges.
In addition to many of the challenges faced by actors in the public sector, private and corporate education actors also experience intense market competition and pressure for innovation by a steadily better-informed public that wants to get the most out of its private investment in education.