the cost of ...

the cost of ...

The Cost of Not Educating the World’s Poor: The New Economics of Learning.

By Lynn Ilon (2015) Routledge. [Paperback released November 2017]

Wide-spread poverty is rarely caused by local circumstances alone Global poverty links are many…

Climate, financial contagion, social and political instability, disease, global trade and resources, migration, security, terrorism, social media and the cross-border shifts of money

Tackling poverty begins with a world that has this systemic understanding.

Such a method of learning is being developed, but requires we re-examine hard truths

  • Expertise contextual knowledge
  • Top-down co-constructed knowledge
  • Mastery adaptive learning

The book examines these assumptions through narrative and discussion of the latest research.

Summary of Chapters

“a” chapters are narrative and bring in experiences and examples from my work in some 20 countries.
“b” chapters are short summaries of the theories which are implied in the previous narrative chapter.


1a Introduction; 1b Introduction to the theories; 2a Development; 2b Shifting views on development

How the field of development came about and laid the groundwork for a view of markets as a means of both increasing wealth of richer countries and decreasing poverty of poorer countries


3a The value of an education; 3b Human capital theory; 4a Education and development; 4b The knowledge economy

How education was added to the development formula. The view that education was the “missing link” to help countries grow. How the fall of the Soviet Union caused a unified global market and began to take down barriers to trade. It caused labor markets to spread, creating incentives for countries to educate in order to attract factories. Wealthier countries had to compete by building “knowledge” industries and shedding lower skilled labor.


5a Learning goes global; 5b Networked learning; 6a Becoming creative; 6b From global production to digitization

How the digitization of knowledge changed the economics of knowledge. Suddenly, knowledge became a resource that was enormously cheap to replicate and spread around the world. As an economic resource, it was constructed both locally and globally. It adapted instantaneously and crowd-sources allowed it to become a powerful, often free resource.


7a The value of knowledge; 7b The economics of knowledge; 8a The power of ideas; 8b New growth theory

A new theory is born. The theory of knowledge as a resource unlike any resource before it. It is cheaper the more it is replicated. It could be used by millions simultaneously. It can be locally produced with only brain power and no natural resources or factories. It requires not so much top-down education as access to networks and the ability to collaborate. Learning becomes the new way to build the resource – not through schools but through networks. Famous authors begins to talk about “learning to learn” as the new “economic development.”


9a The social value of learning; 9b Social economics of learning; 10a Learning together; 10b New learning structures

Learning becomes social. The power of building knowledge collectively begins to be understood. Knowledge begins to be redefined as fluid, changing, collective and adaptive. Researchers start to explore how learning takes place in a collective environment – informally, networked on the web or in community centers.  Social revolutions, new entrepreneurship and civic engagements begin to be redefined throughout the world.


11a Social well-being; 11b Changing views on social welfare economics

Scholars start questioning whether older measures of national well-being are being adequately captured when knowledge is a resource. The first questions fall within old neo-classical economic theory and ask how to measure knowledge. But further, more creative work asks whether productivity is still an appropriate measure of social well-being in a knowledge age. A world that uses knowledge most effectively requires a basis in equity. Scholars suggests four clear links – a clear deviation to neo-classical views of economics.


12 Mis-education

Perhaps it is the education of people in wealthier countries who need a re-education about how the world works. A more globally systemic view and rethinking what expertise means might be a good place to start if poverty and the ill-effects of global problems are to be tackled effectively.


13 Education in a new age; 14 The cost of not educating

Education needs to be rethought away from its past based on physical constraints – classrooms, books, teachers, campuses, and desks. What is the environments in which people best learn and create? Further, if education is in service to society, what is the goal of a society? Today’s education maximizes productivity. In the age of knowledge, and global linkages, what defines a good society? Our rethinking learning needs to begin there.