Scientific and technological advances are transforming lives: they are even helping poorer countries close the gap with rich countries in life expectancy. But, poorer countries still face tremendous challenges, as almost a quarter of children under five are malnourished, and 60 percent of primary school students are failing to achieve even a rudimentary education. In fact, more than 260 million children and youth in poorer countries are receiving no education at all.
There is a moral case to be made, of course, for investing in the health and education of all people. But there is an economic one as well: to be ready to compete and thrive in a rapidly changing environment. “Human capital” – the potential of individuals – is going to be the most important long-term investment any country can make for its people’s future prosperity and quality of life.