16 December 2012

Rwanda: Knowledge Is Wealth - Let's Invest More in Education


ACCORDING to a new book by James R. Flynn from Cambridge University Press titled Are We Getting Smarter?, Singapore tops the average I.Q. standings list at 108. But what is interesting to ponder is the fact that the world's poorest countries are also the ones with the lowest average I.Q.

Scholars argue that a significant part of the gap between rich and poor countries is due to differences in national intelligence. Even in the US, states with higher average I.Q. have higher incomes.

But why is it that Singapore ranks ahead of the US, UK, and even the whole of Europe? Well, the reason for this, many scholars believe, is not because children in Singapore are born smarter, but may have to do with the country's respect for learning and its outstanding education system.

In Singapore, education spending usually makes up about 20 per cent of the annual national budget, which subsidises state education and government-assisted private education for Singaporean citizens. In total, the government of Singapore spends about $6 billion on its education sector. Yet, its school-going population is about 2.2 million (from primary to PhD level).

Seeing the level of Singapore's economic development, the implication is that there is a return on investment in education. There are potential Leonardo Da Vincis and Albert Eisteins (read great inventors) in this country who are now working as subsistence farmers in rural areas who, with help, could become actual Einsteins.

The lesson here is the vast amount of human potential that is available if we can nurture and motivate our kids. Literacy programmes can help break cycles of poverty and unleash Rwanda's potential. Let's invest more in education.

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