What would it take to ensure that every child in the world, from age 6 to 16, receives an education of good quality? How important is universal education compared to other development objectives such as health, nutrition, income, and physical security? Would a concerted effort to provide universal education help reduce birth rates in countries where rapid population growth impedes economic development, damages the environment, and depresses living standards?
These are some of the questions that are being addressed in a major Academy project, Universal Basic and Secondary Education (UBASE), led by Joel Cohen (Rockefeller and Columbia Universities) and David Bloom (Harvard School of Public Health). The project is assembling teams of scholars and practitioners from a wide variety of fields to begin the preliminary study of the rationale, means, and consequences of providing universal education. Participants will offer informed but fresh perspectives on the magnitude of the challenge, the opportunity costs, and the potential benefits of such an ambitious undertaking.
Economists, developmental psychologists, demographers, statisticians, historians, cultural anthropologists, public health workers, business leaders, and others, working with representatives from the World Bank and the United Nations, will join with educators to study the environmental, demographic, economic, and cultural impact of universal education. They will develop a set of thoroughly researched, multidisciplinary, and well-integrated reports that will be published, along with critical commentary, by the Academy.
The study is supported by a major grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and a small number of individual donors.