Thomas Piketty’s main argument in his star rocking book ‘Capital in the 21st Century’ is that inequality results from the situation where return in capital is higher than growth. He marshals data over hundred years across countries showing how returns on capital have been higher than economic growth. He thinks that diffusion of knowledge is one way to counter inequality. (This is very basic, I hope to do a proper review of the book this month…fingers crossed). So that has got me to thinking critically about diffusion of knowledge, which I hope to express in the review. Luckily, this week I read a 2012 education monitoring report titled ‘Youth and Skills: Putting Education to Work’ and came across disheartening statistics on the status of education especially for youths across the world and…of course in developing countries. Well, the report focuses on 3 areas of knowledge that are fundamental for youth’s skills development. The areas are foundational knowledge, transferrable knowledge, and vocational/technical knowledge. These areas need to be given priority if we want to see real changes and development in our countries.
Well, what stroke me most in the report is one line with promising statistics, which I quote here “for every US $ 1 spent on education, as much as US $ 10 to US $ 15 can be generated in economic growth”. The line took my mind back to Piketty’s argument on returns on capital. Then I understood why he thinks diffusion of knowledge is the most effective means to counter inequality.
In that, I now link everything together and am herding towards a conclusion that education is the capital with the highest return that is also sustainable. Imagine, a capital with 10 to 15 times return? In light of this, I go back to my line of thought on the need to rebrand education…I blogged earlier on ‘Education is sexy’….and now I want us to further rebrand it as ‘capital’. I understand these are not new ways of rebranding education, but probably we need to highlight these brands more so many more people can understand the importance of education in the 21st century.
Before I end, let me bring in my favourite hip-hop artist in Tanzania ‘Roma Mkatoliki’ in this. While driving on Ali Hassan Mwinyi Road last night with my sis- Alilya and bro-Shiru, we were listening to him. Suddenly his one line hit my sis hard, which goes like ‘form four wakifeli ndo wanapelekwa VETA kwani umeme wa gari ndo unahitaji mazezeta?’…she then exclaimed, ‘Roma is deeeeep’! Did you hear that Aikande…?I was like yes, I did. Then I observed that that Roma was underlining (in a very special way) what I’ve read this week (I meant the report). In the report, as I mentioned earlier, there is an emphasis on technical/vocational training. In this, it argues that technical/vocational training needs to be promoted and expanded so that youths can acquire specific skills that will enable them to secure jobs or self-employment. It also argues that vocational training has to be respected. Authors of the report rightly noted that vocation training is not given much weight in some countries. This is indeed the case together with the feeling that vocational training is for secondary school failures while university is for those who passed. This mentality has to change and we need to respect vocational training and look at it as an effective education-training sector to counter unemployment, inequality, and poverty among increasing youth populations in developing countries…
All in all, Education in all levels (from foundation to higher levels) is the most profitable CAPITAL – i.e. Capital with highest returns.