Achieving Universal Basic Skills

Eric A. Hanushek
Published Date
Real Clear Education
Broad economic development is in the interest of all nations. To this end, at the end of September, the United Nations ratified a new set of development goals that are designed to guide investments of both nations and international organizations. These development goals are acknowledged to be ambitious – for example, “end poverty in all its forms everywhere” by 2030. But they give short-shrift to the one action, providing quality education to all, that offers hope for achieving the many different goals. The Sustainable Development Goals of the U. N. are a follow-on to its previous Millennium Development Goals and represent the culmination of two-years of international consultation. The 17 separate goals come with 169 targets that presumably enable tracking both investments and accomplishments. They cover poverty, health, hunger, gender equality, energy, and the environment. Tucked in the middle is “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education” and, separately, “promote sustained, inclusive, and sustainable economic growth. ” We argue that economic growth is what will ensure the other laudable goals and that quality education is the only way to achieve long run growth. Simply put, this economic growth goal and the means of achieving it through quality education stand at the top of the pyramid of the SDGs.