Developing nations need to improve education system: ADB report

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Singapore, Jun 17 (UNI) Developing countries in Asia need to improve the quality of their education systems as many graduates lack the skills needed in today's rapidly changing workplace, according to a report by the Manila-based Asian Development Bank (ADB).

''The shortage of skilled workforce in the Asia-Pacific Region, male and even more so female, has been a major bottleneck in economic and social development,'' ADB vice president Ursula Schaefer-Preuss said today at the launch of the report.

The study, titled 'Education and Skills: Strategies for Accelerated Development in Asia and the Pacific', is intended as a guide for ADB's future operations in the education sector.

ADB has provided some seven billion dollar in loans for education since 1970.

Many developing countries in Asia have had tremendous success in expanding access to primary and secondary schooling. However, this is now fuelling a spike in demand for post-secondary opportunities.

''Demand for higher education is booming and is expected to double in five years and triple in 10 years in many (of ADB's) developing member countries,'' the report said.

But this expansion will continue to be haphazard, spawning many institutions of inferior quality, it stated.

The report called for greater emphasis on technical and vocational education and training. Governments need to find innovative approaches to education financing, including public-private partnerships. The report also called for the mainstreaming of information and communication technology as a means to improve education content and delivery.

''Developing member countries need to balance priorities among education's sub-sectors to meet growing and increasingly complex education and skills requirements, taking into account the need to address the increasing number of unskilled young people entering the labour market annually, as they move up the development ladder,'' Ms Schaefer-Preuss said.

The Vice President also said greater emphasis should be put on getting girls into schools.

According to the recent joint publication by ADB, UNESCAP, and UNDP - ''A Future Within'' - which tracked the region's progress towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals, more than one-third of the countries were off-track in achieving gender parity in tertiary education.

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