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Education for the Knowledge Economy

The ability to produce and use knowledge has become a major factor in development. In fact, this ability is critical to a nation’s comparative advantage. Surging demand for secondary education in many parts of the world offers developing countries an invaluable opportunity to prepare a well-trained workforce can generate growth in a knowledge-driven economy.

Education for the Knowledge Economy (EKE) refers to the World Bank’s work with developing countries to cultivate the highly skilled, flexible human capital needed to compete in global markets—an endeavor that affects a country’s entire education system. Bank support specifically seeks to help countries:

Create a strong human capital base. Knowledge-driven growth requires education systems that impart higher-level skills to a greater share of the workforce. These systems must foster lifelong learning, particularly among existing workers who have not completed secondary or entered tertiary education. And they must offer recognized certificates through internally accredited institutions.

Build national innovation systems (NIS). A national innovation system is a well-articulated network of firms, research centers, universities, and think tanks that work together to take advantage of global knowledge—assimilating and adapting it to local needs, thus creating new technology. Tertiary education systems figure prominently in such systems, serving not only as the backbone for high-level skills, but as centers of basic and applied research.

What is the World Bank doing to support work in this area?

At the project level, Bank support of EKE encompasses a wide range of efforts, including assistance for:
  • secondary education that lays the foundation of a healthy, skilled, labor force capable of learning new skills as needed
  • tertiary education that creates the intellectual capacity to produce and utilize knowledge
  • lifelong learning that promotes education throughout the life cycle and helps countries adapt to changing market demands
  • science, technology, and innovation capacity that continually assesses, adapts, and applies new technologies
  • information and communications technology (ICT) that offers access to learning to people who most need them (such as out-of-school youth and children with disabilities) and that improves the quality of teaching and learning outcomes
  • efforts that cut across sectors to transform the role of the state in education (from sole educational provider to enabler and quality assurer), identify options for sustainable education financing, strengthen the linkages between education and labor market needs, and address the political economy of educational reform.

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Last updated: 2009-03-01