Adapting Education to the Global Economy

Publication | September 2003
Adapting Education to the Global Economy

Globalization is putting a higher premium on competitiveness, requiring Asian developing countries (ADCs) to develop not only more productive but also more flexible and sophisticated labor forces. Accordingly, constant rethinking and improvement of national education systems are called for. At the same time, ADCs are at different stages of a demographic transition, shifting from high to low mortality and fertility regimes. Although its specific timing varies from one ADC to the other, this transition offers many countries a 'demographic dividend' resulting from a greater share of workers relative to dependents.

The synergy between these economic and demographic transformations offers considerable opportunities for economic growth, catch-up with more advanced economies, and poverty reduction. However, countries that will fail to undertake appropriate policy reforms will not be able to take full advantage of the demographic dividend, thus faltering in the catch-up process. A key condition to reap benefits of the situation is to ensure that the larger working-age population becomes highly productive and adaptive.

Higher productivity and competitiveness require higher levels of education. Long-term education strategies in ADCs must therefore go beyond the focus on access to basic education enshrined in the Education for All and the Millennium Development Goals declarations. Competitiveness-driven reforms of education systems imposed by globalization are critical for long-term economic growth and, hence, sustainable poverty reduction.


  • Introduction
  • Education in the Global Economy
  • Demographic Transition as Opportunity
  • Status of Education in the Region
  • Policy Implications
  • References