By Wale Tinubu of Oando PLC

The tragic case of the more than 250 schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram in northern Nigeria has shone an international spotlight on education in the country and generated much-needed dialogue in Nigeria about strategies to improve the country’s education system. The actions of these dangerous terrorists continue to present a considerable threat to education in a region already beset by high levels of illiteracy.

Education faces daunting challenges throughout Nigeria. Some parents do not believe it matters, while others strive to provide it but cannot afford it. Whatever the reasons, the reality is one we must tackle head-on. Read more

“Anyone who says that Africa is missing the Millennium Development Goals is missing the point.” You might expect such a tart statement about a canonical organising principle of development policy to come from one of the aid industry’s many curmudgeonly sceptics.

That it came instead from Jan Vandemoortele, a Belgian economist who helped create the United Nations MDGs in the first place, raises questions whether propagating a single set of targets to drive government policy across the entire developing and emerging world is worth doing at all. The “sustainable development goals”, successors to the MDGs, are currently being developed, but the unfortunate signs are that they will be yet more complex and yet less meaningful than the originals.

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You might be awkward in the spotlight and less than attractive but that need not stop you from becoming a television star, according to a burgeoning industry that has sprung up in Seoul to train and groom would-be TV announcers.

Korea’s three major broadcasting companies hire only three to five announcers a year, typically to host news or entertainment shows. The jobs are in high demand – a recent opening at the SBS network attracted 2,000 applicants – reflecting the prestige of the country’s successful entertainment industry, as well as an increasingly tough jobs market for young graduates. Read more

Poland has the EU’s best growth record in the last five years, but there is a growing awareness that keeping growth high is going to be increasingly difficult in the future – which is why two recent reports on corruption and educational achievements make such good news. Read more

Brazil and Turkey, long the laggards of the OECD’s triennial Pisa student tests, still lag behind the rich countries of the world when it comes to education.

But look at the improvement in the results over the past decade and a different picture emerges. In a trend that is almost unnoticed amid all the carping at poor standards, the young in both countries are much brighter and much cannier in maths, science and reading. Read more

If a county’s future wealth and influence can be assessed by its American-educated intellectual elite, then China is well set.

In less than a decade, the number of Chinese studying in the US has quadrupled, from a little over 60,000 in 2004, to almost 240,000 in 2013, a report from the Institution for International Education shows. China now accounts for almost one in every three international students in the US, a historic high for any country. Read more

As the FT’s Daniel Dombey pointed out recently, Turkish women have a pretty raw deal. For example, just 28 per cent of them participate in the labour force. Yet, as underlined by their showing in this year’s street protests, many of them have undergone a terrific shift in attitudes over the past decade, from a relatively conservative worldview to a more liberal one. Read more

Ru xiang sui su – when entering the village, follow its customs. So runs the Chinese proverb. Ever since China entered the global village in 1979, it has followed one global custom with particular enthusiasm: learning the English language.

This week, however, it began to follow it less enthusiastically. The English language section of the gaokao, China’s national university entrance exam, was downsized. The move will delight many – but what about the country’s Rmb30bn ($5bn) English teaching industry? Read more

March 2011

A three-week teachers’ strike in Oman suggests that the genie of unrest is out of the bottle in this unassuming corner of the oil-rich Gulf.

The strike has affected up to three quarters of Oman’s roughly 1,000 schools, where open dissent is becoming a regular occurrence since the strategic sultanate had its own outburst of Arab spring-inspired unrest in March 2011. Read more

Education in Brazil has been one of the hottest sectors for private equity wheeler dealers in recent years. Little surprise, then, that some are looking to cash out now.

The latest is GAEC Educação, which on Friday filed plans to raise as much as R$626m ($282m) through an initial public offering. Read more

Investors may not look at school attainment rates very often but perhaps they ought to. Study the indicators and you see that – in terms of education at least – Sri Lanka far outshines the rest of south Asia.

The country is far from paradise. Sri Lankans hunger for a lasting peace after a long and painful civil war; sections of the Tamil minority still complain of repression. But the country’s record in education at least holds out some hope. Read more

Indian education desperately needs improvement. As the government is looking to raise the pupil-teacher ratio in government schools (as part of the Right to Education Act), even the poor are sending their children to fee-paying schools.

Perhaps India can get better value for money out of their teachers? A new study from the National Bureau of Economic Research has found that low cost, untrained contract teachers are no less productive that the formal option. Is there a solution here for a debt-laden public sector? Read more

Gaokao 2012

China’s parents will do anything to help their child succeed in life – and at this time of year, that means attending to even the most miniscule details of their sleep and evacuation patterns to guarantee maximum success in college entrance exams (gaokao) in the first week of June.

Parents throughout China are booking hotels and restaurants near every exam venue, to make sure their child can study until the very last minute on exam day, and eat nutritious meals nearby that will not send him out of the examination halls with the kind of bowel complaint that could consume precious exam minutes. Read more

and so 1990s

While many Chinese of a certain age are reliving their college days through the movie “So Young”, the country’s students of today are facing the fiercest ever competition for jobs, with a record high number of nearly 7m graduates this year.

“So Young” – a nostalgic look at student lives and loves of the 1990s from actress-turned-director Zhao Wei – has successfully captured the collective memories of those who left campus all those years ago. But when they look at the pressures facing today’s graduates, they may be glad their own student days are in the distant past. Read more

Several reasons have been given for Brazil’s economic slowdown: a self-inflicted sudden stop caused by capital controls; currency appreciation, making exports more expensive; and falling demand for commodities, especially from China.

But if Brazil really wants to hold onto its position as a leading emerging market, it must address structural problems, starting with infrastructure and education. And as Chart of the Week shows, it has a lot of ground to make up. Read more