Last month, Treasury released a report with the Department of Education that explored the economics of higher education and how investment in education expands job opportunities and supports the kind of income mobility that is fundamental to a growing economy. The importance of education in promoting economic growth is a universal concept. At the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), where the
United States is a major shareholder, we seek to promote sustainable economic development and reduce poverty and inequality in the Latin American and Caribbean region through investments in a wide array of sectors, including education. Treasury values the IDB’s role as the leading source of multilateral development financing in Latin America and the Caribbean, which continues to be a source of strong and balanced growth that is helping to drive the global economic recovery.
At the IDB’s most recent annual meeting
, the U.S. Treasury Department underscored how
the economic stewardship of the Western Hemisphere is a shared responsibility among the U.S. and our partners in the region. The positive outlook for growth in these countries has been reinforced by the availability of multilateral resources made available through the IDB for supporting infrastructure and research; reforming regulations to improve competitiveness; expanding intra-regional trade; mitigating persistent inequality; reducing poverty and expanding the middle class; and investing in education.
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan recently participated in the IDB’s Regional Policy Dialogue series focusing on “Redefining Schools in Latin America and the Caribbean: How to Prepare Students to Succeed in the Labor Market.” Secretary Duncan’s speech was centered on educational policy reforms being pursued within the U.S. aimed at promoting competitiveness and economic growth. This strategy includes programs like the Race to the Top initiative, which provides states and school districts with new incentives to pursue systemic change, boost student achievement, and close opportunity gaps. Secretary Duncan noted that the United States and other countries in the Western Hemisphere share many similar challenges in improving educational achievement and reducing opportunity gaps to ensure that our labor forces can compete in today’s knowledge-based, global economy.
The IDB’s Regional Policy Dialogue on Education brought together policy experts and senior government officials from Latin America and the Caribbean to identify the key elements that should be included in educational reforms aimed at improving school-to-work transitions. Education is an important area of focus for the IDB because of its long-term effect on promoting sustainable economic development. The IDB’s education sector programming has a comprehensive reach, by encompassing many elements that support education reforms that will improve access to and quality of schooling in Latin America and the Caribbean. Among current projects, the IDB is financing the construction of schools in rural areas, supporting early education programs for poor children, providing access to computers and broadband connectivity in schools, and supporting vocational training and training of teachers and school administrators.
Education is just one example of many ways the U.S. Government has contributed to the economic development of Latin America and the Caribbean. Beyond providing capital to the IDB, sharing U.S. technical expertise and best practices in cooperation with the IDB has been a benefit to a region that is an important and growing destination of U.S. exports.
Gustavo Arnavat is the United States Executive Director at the Inter-American Development Bank.