Brazil offers a good example of how international benchmarking can improve education. 

University rankings sell a lot of newspapers and magazines. But how seriously should teachers, students and, importantly, policy makers take them? 

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Higher education is growing rapidly, and becoming a veritable global sector in its own right. That means challenges for educators, students and policy makers. 

©Reuters/Luke MacGregor

The coalition government of the UK is seeking to achieve two main goals by reforming funding of higher education in England.

While the quality of online education is a subject of intense debate among educators, parents and students alike, what is no longer open to debate is the need for digital literacy. A recent report in The Guardian affirmed that adults with Internet skills are 25% more likely to get work and to earn as much as 10% more than their colleagues who don’t have such skills.

Canadian education enjoys an excellent reputation at home and abroad, thanks to strong performances in such renowned surveys as OECD PISA, which focuses on 15-year-olds. There are several reasons for this success, and as experts from the OECD and Canada explain, reforms that focus on equity and integration all help. But there are challenges too.

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Are today’s students prepared for the knowledge economy of the 21st century? What basic skills do they have, and how do different countries rank against each other when it comes to basic tasks such as reading, mathematics and science?

Anyone wondering why knowledge and skills are important to the future of our economies should consider two facts.

Unemployment soared in the crisis, and creating jobs is now a major policy priority. But jobs alone will not be enough. A greater emphasis on skills will be needed for the recovery to last. Investing more in lifelong learning is a good way to secure one's place in the job market and contributes to business competitiveness.

The OECD’s general conference, Higher Education in a World Changed Utterly: Doing more with less, identified one of the great challenges of expanding university systems: can higher education provide value while admitting more students and cutting back on spending in a recessionary climate? The problem is that no one knows how to measure the “value” of higher education.

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Economic data

GDP growth: +0.5% Q2 2019 year-on-year
Consumer price inflation: 1.6% September 2019 annual
Trade: -1.9% exp, -0.9% imp, Q2 2019
Unemployment: 5.2% September 2019
Last update: 18 November 2019

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