school kids india Paul Simpson/Flickr

Conocimiento, motor de progreso

LONDRES – Hace 236 años, un joven gobernador del estado de Virginia (EE. UU.) se salió del molde con una reforma educativa. En su proyecto de una Ley para la Difusión más General del Conocimiento, ThomasJefferson abogó por “un sistema de instrucción general” que llegara a todos los ciudadanos, “de los más ricos a los más pobres”. Fue el primer paso en la creación del sistema estadounidense de educación pública, una institución que ayudó a motorizar el ascenso global del país.

A principios del siglo XX, Estados Unidos era un líder mundial en escuelas públicas. Las inversiones en educación catalizaron el crecimiento económico, la creación de empleo y una mayor movilidad social. Como Claudia Goldin y Lawrence Katz han demostrado, el “excepcionalismo” educativo de Estados Unidos le permitió adelantarse a los países europeos que no invertían lo suficiente en capital humano.

Esta semana, los líderes mundiales se reúnen en la Cumbre de Oslo sobre la Educación para el Desarrollo, y las lecciones de esta experiencia conservan toda su relevancia. En tiempos en que la economía global está cada vez más basada en el conocimiento, el futuro de los países depende más que nunca de la educación y las capacidades de su gente. Aquellos que no logren crear sistemas de educación inclusivos se enfrentarán a crecimiento lento, aumento de la desigualdad y pérdida de oportunidades de comercio internacional.

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