Over half of the world’s population — an estimated 4.3 billion people — now use the Internet, and 90 percent of all people are covered by at least basic data services. Some countries have very high levels of internet usage; the members of the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), a group of advanced economies, have 84 percent individuals using the internet. Some countries, such as Iceland or South Korea, count almost everyone as users. But what of the rest of the world? What holds back about half of the world’s population from using the internet?
“Moving towards a more responsible and efficient use of natural resources is key, not only to address resource scarcity, wastage, and the associated environmental effects, but also for incentivising innovation and modernisation towards a circular economy. Resource efficiency essentially means doing more with less, as it allows us to create more value using fewer natural resources. This transition can contribute to sustainable economic growth that generates welfare, while limiting harmful impacts on the environment and hence future generations.” Ángel Gurría, Secretary General, OECD (from Preface, Flachenecker & Rentschler, 2018)
At the One Planet Summit in December 2017, French President Emanuel Macron cautioned that “we are losing the battle” on climate change and are “nowhere near” being able to contain rising temperatures to between 1.5°C to 2°C. Instead, Macron warned, temperatures could rise by 3.5°C or more by the end of this century.
Among the 29 countries and economies of the East Asia and Pacific region, one finds some of the world’s most successful education systems. Seven out of the top 10 highest average scorers on internationally comparable tests such as PISA and TIMSS are from the region, with Japan, Republic of Korea, Singapore, and Hong Kong (China) consistently among the best.
Lack of Early childhood programs perpetuates inequality
While good quality ECD is important for all children, it is essential to support the development of children in disadvantaged settings. Indeed, various studies have demonstrated how investment in ECD can help reduce inequality and break the cycle of poverty.
As Nobel laureate Professor James Heckman put it, “Children raised in disadvantaged environments are not only much less likely to succeed in school or society, but they are also much less likely to be healthy adults.” Effective early childhood programs can lead to improved economic prospects of children by helping them gain the foundational skills they need to be more productive in the future workforce.
Over the past decades, education investments in the developing world have led to unprecedented enrollment rates. Yet, even with these historic investments, children sit in classrooms every day without learning. More than a schooling crisis, we face a learning crisis. Despite progress in countries as diverse as Vietnam, Colombia and Peru, millions of children leave school without knowing how to read a paragraph or solve a simple two-digit subtraction.
Today on World Refugee Day, we hear once again that the number of people forcibly displaced due to conflict and persecution has increased to 65.6 million by the end of 2016, according to UNHCR’s latest Global Trends report.
These numbers have served to galvanize attention to the severity of this crisis, providing momentum for the global community to take action. At the same time, these numbers have caused anxieties among many hosts, especially in OECD countries. Taking center stage in the political debate, it has raised questions over their ability to support all of those fleeing conflict, at times leading to fear and rising anti-refugee sentiments.