This Week's Herman Trend Alert

Leadership in Normal 2.0

  The Herman Trend Alert

March 31, 2004

Exporting Education

The dynamics of world trade involve the movement of goods and services across international boundaries. Countries produce goods and services to export to other countries, while they import other goods and services from global trading partners. Theoretically, each country concentrates on what it can produce most cost-efficiently, with governments sometimes subsidizing certain of their industries to maintain strength, capacity, and jobs that are needed to keep their economies strong.

Some countries are better at educating their citizens than other countries. There are dozens of countries that struggle with weak economies because their workforce---their population---is not educated and trained sufficiently to perform jobs with reasonable economic value. Nations with higher literacy rates are customarily the ones that enjoy the stronger economies and more respectable places on the world stage.

As we see global economic growth, more job creation, and more shifting of jobs to other countries, nations with underdeveloped economies will seek ways to share in the wealth. The key is education. Consequently, more third world countries will invest in their futures by raising the potential and productivity of their populations through education and training. The development and implementation of stronger educational systems will be paid for by governments, employers, or organizations like the United Nations. Consumer countries will benefit from enhanced knowledge, skills, productivity, and self-reliance of indigenous populations.

Each developed country has a different way of delivering education. Government plays a role…and often private sector organizations do as well. In the United States, private companies have even contracted with public education agencies to provide various services…including managing schools. Education has become a profitable entrepreneurial endeavor. Social good is combined with a viable economic model.

Can this kind of service be exported? Can private enterprise in countries with effective educational systems export their services to provide buildings, administrators, teachers, and support personnel to interested communities in less developed countries?

The export of education and training could be big business, but may increase the drain of teachers from an already tight education employment market. Competition for American educators may be strong from countries willing to invest more in education.

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