I read a comment the other day suggesting that increased private investment in (private) education would improve its productivity.
I think this is debatable.
As in many other areas, it depends on how you define and measure productivity. We all know that productivity is quite different than production or output: fundamentally it involves the incorporation of resources consumed … mirroring the judgement we all face daily on assessing ‘value’ for goods and services we consume.
More investment would certainly raise the numbers of students coming out of private education …. but, as we have just said, that is not a measure of productivity….. nor, importantly, of that very elusive factor ‘quality’.
Take India as an example. Lots of private colleges and universities output thousands of students each year. Yet, there is some doubt about whether many of them are fit for the workplace. They know lots of stuff … but they can’t do very much. Their employability skills are lacking.
Even in admittedly strong areas like engineering, India’s education is limited. Their engineering graduates are excellent at solving ‘standard’ engineering problems .., but when faced with a problem that requires ingenuity and innovation, they lack the problem-solving and creativity skills to take the next step.
So, let’s define what we mean by ‘productivity’ in relation to education, let’s determine our aims, objectives and aspirations … and then try to assess whether more investment from the private sector can help us deliver.
It possibly can …. but if we don’t know what we want to happen, we can’t bring it about.