Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Mind Power: In BRICs and MINTs, Education Is Fuel for Growth: Opinion

Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Mind Power: In BRICs and MINTs, Education Is Fuel for Growth: Opinion

Article excerpt

As THE launches its emerging economies university rankings, Jim O'Neill says the UK can help the world and itself by going global.

In almost two decades with Goldman Sachs, including 10 years as its chief economist, I spent a lot of time thinking about the BRIC nations of Brazil, Russia, India and China.

In fact the acronym was created by me 12 years ago, and it went on to be so widely used that the countries concerned adopted it and formed a political club, later admitting South Africa (although for me, that country's economic size did not justify its admission).

Membership proved so desirable that I have often been asked whether I would include other emerging economies.

This autumn, having left Goldman Sachs, I have been travelling far more extensively in some of those countries in the course of working on a forthcoming BBC radio series about them.

This has taken me to Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey, countries I now call the MINTs.

These are of interest not only because of their large populations, but because they have better demographics for growth than any of the BRIC countries bar India. Over the next 20 years, their young, working populations will grow far more quickly than their dependent populations.

But population and demographics alone do not guarantee growth: you also need strong productivity, and one of the keys to this is education.

The appetite for educational improvement has been apparent throughout my recent travels.

In Mexico, for example, I was hugely impressed with an organisation called Ensena por Mexico, their version of the UK's TeachFirst, the very successful (and fashionable) scheme that places some of our most talented new graduates in the classroom.

There is an equivalent scheme in the US, Teach for America, and I sit on the global board of Teach for All, which represents 32 partner organisations with the potential to transform many of the emerging economies around the world.

What better teaching means for economic growth is also clear: at Goldman Sachs I developed a "growth environment score" consisting of 18 variables to measure and predict productivity and sustainable growth. This was applied to 180 countries, and at numbers one and two were Singapore and South Korea, both of which have invested heavily in education, and which have seen wealth grow sharply in the past 30 years. …

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