Culture and postgraduate education to reduce the gap between rich and poor countries

What has been the purpose of OUR EDITORIAL STAFF to address this issue? Facilitate culture and postgraduate education from state policies in order for poor countries to reduce the gap that differentiates them from the rich.

A clarification that we also make from OUR EDITORIAL STAFF: we refer to postgraduate education as a fundamental factor in a society so that, added to culture, they are engines of sustainable development. Of course, we do not ignore, nor do we leave aside basic education and less so university. But from the AEEN we are concerned about this point (culture and education) that we will demonstrate in today’s contribution the difference that it makes in the standard of living of the countries, and especially how it has manifested itself in third countries where there has been a contribution decisive for sustainable development by educating and training professionals in postgraduate courses.

Nigeria’s problems with development stagnation have been the same for most of its history. Source: Adedotun Ajibade

Why have we chosen this theme that is more typical of the development plans of the countries?

Since already in the models of economic growth it has been several decades that education has been considered as a fundamental variable to be considered. There is no doubt at this stage of the game, both education and culture have a direct impact on the development of any community that we analyze.

Now, a question immediately arises: Can this difference in wealth be drastically reduced with postgraduate education? We will start from the bottom by explaining how culture contributes to development, since it is undoubtedly a powerful engine for growth because it has a decisive impact on the social, economic and environmental spheres for a society. Moreover, it says a lot about a given society in terms of its order, the cleanliness of its cities, orderly traffic, respect for regulations and a long etcetera.

The example that they have always given us since we were children in that we should not throw papers on the ground, that is what the bins are for in all parks and on the streets. Therefore, here comes the other factor that together with culture can make the difference between a society concerned about clean cities that do not alter the environment and those that really harm it by polluting. We refer to this other factor which is education. Together, education and culture are what build nations.

What is culture-based development?

To put it very simply: it is necessary to identify (especially by the political class), even if it is a subject of the whole society, what are the mechanisms for culture and education to be integrated in political action and in the activity of every citizen. Because when a society has culture and education rooted in political and citizen awareness, those mechanisms and instruments that politics must put at the service of citizens, it becomes a powerful means of influence and redirection of human activities, towards the search for a social and cultural capital that is compatible with conventional economic and social development. But in addition, it is always necessary to prioritize in every political and business action, the sustainability of development as the principle of any action so that the building that is built as a country has a future.

Of the 20 least developed countries in the world, 19 are in Africa

It is also true that when culture and education are present (as they should be) in a society, their impact on growth rates is immediately noticeable (different magnitudes used at the macro-economic and macro-social level). This means that senior politics have to worry about the re-allocation of resources so that compatibility is balanced and efforts are not wasted or budgets are wasted, because they do not have a clear vision of the important role that education and culture really have in the development of countries.

What role, then, does graduate education play on this economic policy decision board?

Another question immediately arises, which is how can the cultural and educational development of a society be exemplified in measures implemented by the policy that become practical applications (useful for the community)?

Since a democratic society has among its most solid foundations, culture and education as the essence of what said community represents, it must have a permanent interest in social and economic improvement, especially in combating wealth inequality and social injustice. For this reason, it is important to be attentive (the political and business class) who are the ones who have the responsibility of laying the bases of action for society to evolve (some political measures and laws, the ones; business organizations that contribute to the creation of jobs and GDP growth, the others).

Therefore, a responsibility of politics is to have to explore what other societies in our environment are doing, for example, countries like France and Germany within the EU. This implies a kind of broad spectrum social and economic X-ray, for example, in the search to improve understanding and respect for different religions and cultural diversity and to what extent citizens understand, accept, respect and celebrate diversity, as evidenced by their tolerance and attitudes towards different religious, ethnic and socio-economic groups at the local level. From a sociological point of view, this is what is called an open society.

But well, where do we fit the institutions that are dedicated to quaternary teaching? Doesn’t it seem to you (our readers) that there is not yet a level of awareness on these questions of what are the authentic contributions of postgraduate teaching in a society? Obviously, on a social scale, there is no exact dimension of this contribution. Therefore, the first thing to do is explain the impact that postgraduate education has on a society.

Although it is true that great policies must be taken in the educational and cultural sphere, for various reasons, economists (and unfortunately many politicians) have avoided getting too involved in the concept of culture and its relationship with economic development. There is a general acceptance that culture must play a role in guiding a society in a certain direction.

Statistics of European citizens with tertiary education in 2018

From a political perspective, the malleable aspects of culture are more interesting as they open up the possibility of intervention. The World Bank’s World Development Report 2015 cites a number of examples of interventions that have led to a cultural shift to unleash improvements in well-being: one example is affirmative political action for women in West Bengal.

However, there are other complications when trying to use cultural explanations for economic development.

An author like Huntington in 2000 observed how, in the early 1960s, Ghana and Korea were broadly comparable in terms of per capita income, production structure, and foreign aid. Thirty years later, the contrast couldn’t be more pronounced. According to Huntington, culture played an important role in explaining it: “South Koreans valued savings, investment, hard work, education, organization, and discipline. Ghanaians had different values”. In short, cultures count and in what way!

The problem with this formulation is that it does not provide a very auspicious basis to start a dialogue with Ghana on how they could catch up with Korea. Not surprisingly, international financial organizations and bilateral donors have avoided framing the debate in terms of cultural norms.

The challenge came through the support of 24 academic research centers of excellence in eight countries, by the Eastern and Southern Africa Higher Education Centers of Excellence (ACEII) project, which managed to enroll more than 8,000 students, of which one a third were women, in master’s and doctoral programs, as well as short courses. To support capacity in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), the project focuses on five regional priority areas: agriculture, applied statistics, education, health and industry.

As in most of sub-Saharan Africa, the countries of Eastern and Southern Africa have not produced the number and quality of qualified graduates needed to expand and diversify their economies. Although university enrollments have increased over the past two decades, the Eastern and Southern Africa region has lagged behind other regions, especially in generating graduates in science, technology, engineering and engineering disciplines, mathematics (STEM) and in applying high-quality research to address local issues. In Rwanda and Tanzania, for example, enrollments in arts and social sciences (60 percent and 45 percent respectively) were substantially higher than in science and engineering (20 percent and 9 percent, respectively). The region also produced the fewest number of scientific researchers in the world. Rwanda and Zambia produced only 54 and 49 researchers per million population, respectively. These deficiencies were particularly severe in the regional priority areas of agriculture, applied statistics, education, health, and industry. Female enrollment rates (as a percentage of total enrollment) were very low: less than one percent in Malawi and four percent in Ethiopia.

By this we mean that postgraduate education and any form of specialized training by virtue of which region we are analyzing, as in the case of these African countries referred to, the impact on economic and regional development is unquestionable, and has already been tested.

The transformation that Covid-19 has caused in the postgraduate educational fabric

We have already dedicated enough lines to the post Covid stage for business schools, in that they have had to reinvent themselves thinking about what was the new business fabric that had been left standing and with a possibility of sustainable development after the pandemic. Although it might seem that the digital transformation required by the pandemic was going to end face-to-face training in business schools, the sector has evolved by becoming increasingly involved with companies and society to provide more value in the next economic recovery, of which there are already some indications that it is occurring, albeit slowly.

Therefore, an effort must be made from organizations and schools in the search and implementation of agreements that integrate technology in education adapted to the reality of the needs of each regional economy (companies that provide jobs and create wealth in that región or community). It is a stage in which business schools, although they are not going to deviate from training in knowledge, the time of high priority for their application has arrived, especially those that have to do with the daily reality of the region in particular where the headquarters and activities of that business school are located.

This awareness is vital on the part of society, we mean that wealth is being created from postgraduate training, even if it is a generation of deferred GDP, but without a doubt better professionals and managers trained to respond to problems, such as on the African continent, we pointed out the necessary growth spaces that people specialized in agriculture mean for certain communities. In our European environment, we will have to bet on greater applied technological knowledge such as artificial intelligence, robotics, etc. and compatibility with sustainable development. But in this growth equation, graduate education is a linchpin.

There is a dearth of research on the management skills and practices needed to promote innovation and deliver more results from certain inputs and thus economic growth. More research is required that involves asking questions about factor use, not just factor accumulation. When management practice provides a dynamic force that produces economic growth, it is necessary to examine this driving force at the firm level. This involves accumulating data at the company level and extracting the maximum amount of information. It should be clear that a closer examination of the role of management has the potential to make a real contribution to our understanding of the determinants of growth and, in particular, to the development of best management practices as a normal part of management activity. Rather than simply emphasizing the importance of the small business sector as the cradle of growth and locating the source of innovation only in the heroism of the entrepreneur, a better approach would be to recognize the routine role of managers in generating economic growth. It is critical that business schools engage in a research program that produces a better understanding of the relationship between management practice, productivity, and growth. By identifying good management practices, business schools can use the results of this research to inform teaching and disseminate best practices. This will improve the general level of productivity, with beneficial effects on economic growth.

This information has been prepared by OUR EDITORIAL STAFF