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Leapfrogging Inequality

Remaking Education to Help Young People Thrive

By Rebecca Winthrop; With Adam Barton and Eileen McGivney

Exemplary stories of innovation from around the world

Universal public education traditionally is seen as the one sure means to promote widespread economic and social advancement. But around the world, education is increasingly fueling inequality. Experts predict that by 2030, 825 million children—half of today’s youth generation—will reach adulthood without the skills they need to thrive in work and life. More worrisome still, it will take approximately 100 years for the most marginalized youth to achieve the learning levels that the wealthiest enjoy today. And in countries like the United States, getting a good education is one of the most promising routes to upper-middle-class status, even more so than family wealth. In a world where the ability to manipulate knowledge and information, think critically, and collaboratively solve problems are essential to thrive, access to a quality education is crucial for all young people.

Confronted with pervasive and persistent inequalities, we must make room for bold new approaches that have the potential to deliver quality learning for all children and youth—not a century from now, but today.

In Leapfrogging Inequality, researchers at the Brookings Institution chart a new path for global education by examining the possibility of leapfrogging—rapidly accelerating educational progress to ensure that all young people develop the skills they need to thrive in a fast-changing world. Analyzing a catalog of nearly 3,000 global education innovations, the largest such collection to date, researchers explore the potential of current practices to enable such a leap.

As part of this analysis, the book presents an evidence-based framework for getting ahead in education, which it grounds in the here-and-now by narrating exemplary stories of innovation from around the world. Together, these stories and resources will inspire educators, investors, leaders of nongovernmental organizations, and policymakers alike to rally around a new vision of educational progress—one that ensures we do not leave yet another generation of young people behind.

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