16 May 2019
We are currently enjoying an EdTech boom. Microsoft, Dell, and Amazon, among others, are doubling down on their education offerings, developing new technologies, and tools to help transform learning environments and teaching methods.
But while new solutions are being created; educators are facing a different challenge. Specifically, a global education funding crisis.
Falling investment in Europe
According to EuroStat, general government expenditure on education across the EU-28 was equal to €715 billion or 4.6% of GDP in 2017. That figure is 0.5% less than the level in 2003 as a ratio to GDP. Looking at the share of spending on education in relation to total expenditure, it’s clear that number has also fallen: from 11% in 2003 to 10.2% in 2017.
The UK is no exception. Over the past three years, schools have faced a shortfall of £5.4 billion. Bringing that further into focus, the website School Cuts indicates that since 2015, 91% of schools have seen their funding per pupil cut.
A global problem: The US compared to Singapore
It’s a similar situation in the US. Spending is declining. In fact, between 2010 and 2014, investment in education fell by 4%, a figure that contrasts with the average of the 35 countries in the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development), where spending reportedly increased by 5% per student.
The challenges are not isolated to funding. Questions are also raised about how that education investment is being deployed.
Students in Singapore are typically 1.5 years ahead of their US counterparts in reading, 2.5 years ahead in science, and 3.5 years ahead in mathematics. These figures—from the National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE), a Washington-based thinktank—illustrate a range of factors affecting educational outcomes each need consideration.
A need for change
Technology is one of the biggest drivers to delivering better outcomes. It can create new learning environments for students both in and outside the classroom, and it provides a range of opportunities to extend it further. Students can gain the confidence to participate more in class, take charge of their own learning in a creative new way, and be inspired to tackle the world’s biggest issues as they advance through their education journey.
A new era?
Support to get EdTech initiatives off the ground remains a struggle but new initiatives are emerging. Last month, the UK government unveiled a new EdTech strategy in which tech companies will work with schools to help kick-start ‘a new era.’ This strategy, backed by a £10 million investment, is a first step on the journey to deliver better learning outcomes, while also supporting teachers by lightening their workload.
Partnerships drive collaboration
In previous posts, we’ve highlighted the value of partnerships between government and technology providers to support schools, so naturally this news must be viewed as positive. But it is vital that these initiatives not only provide teachers with new tools, but also give them the time needed to create a new generation of highly personalized learning environments for students.
Communities, such as those established by the UK government’s new strategy, play a key role in facilitating knowledge sharing. The free flow of information is critical to developing the right strategies, both for schools and for governments, to give them the confidence to allocate and assign budgets appropriately.
The role of EdTech marketers
The UK government’s investment is small but the intent is to be applauded. However, greater awareness is needed. EdTech marketers can play an important role by communicating the clear value of these initiatives to key audiences and stakeholders.
EdTech marketers need to be bold. They need to align their narrow business objectives to the higher order benefits education can bring to society. In this way, in addition to generating sales leads, EdTech marketers can create an environment which is supportive to their aims and objectives, and to the role of technology as a key enabler.