What’s a poor country to do?

Infected by the bug of mass production since the 1780s, every country in the world has got its education policy wrong. Leaving aside the particular problems of the half- dozen advanced nations in adjusting to a post-manufacturing world, what about the other 190 countries which wouldn’t at all mind getting into manufacturing for the time being in order to take a full proportionate part in high-value trade?

If such a country is serious, it had better realise that the technological expertise and the innovative abilities of the leading advanced countries goes back 500 years to Martin Luther and his act of rebellion against the Catholic Church. It was only then that fresh thinking was starting to break into the minds of European intellectuals and when a new body of knowledge and thought began building up in philosophers and scientists. Somehow, 500 years of intellectual development has to be built into the culture of any aspiring country.

It can’t be done. And it certainly can’t be done by sending all the children to school to read and write and do arithmetic. What then? How can a poor country build up the expensive and expanding educational infrastructure that would then be required? Instead, such a country should concentrate on a small number of schools, one university and then spend lavishly on attracting the very best teachers, one-to-one mentors and brilliant researchers in one particular segment of science from anywhere in the world. After a few years, it might then might have a chance of lifting one small quality corner of the high value trade going on.

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