The Learning Curve: investing in education
Generally when we invest we are investing in the future: our retirement, our children’s future, and if philanthropically minded, we might think we are investing in endeavours that will ultimately deliver benefit to the assorted communities of the planet. But of all the choices available, investing in education must prove the most fundamentally important vehicle for a better future for all.
Without education, none of the fine companies, organisations and their values and goals will mean much. Education is the basis for anything happening anywhere. As a species we have grave problems to resolve, both in the present and in the future, all solvable no doubt by people trained to understand, invent, action and imagine. Without these educated drivers of endeavour nothing much will happen, and investment everywhere will lose value.
Education is the prime mover of humanity’s progress. As such, investment in this sphere has many benefits.
Looking at the education status as an investment
In a world driven by science and technology, it is unfathomable that, as a species dependent purely on knowledge, we are not educating our children to the best of our and their abilities. Education faces challenges in nearly all countries, opening up the field for almost unlimited investment and positive returns.
- As governments in general are not effectively meeting the growing demand for education, investors have the opportunity to enter a major market demand which holds the potential for solid financial returns, while also attaching high social value to their contribution.
- There is a distinct business dynamic to this sector, and it is increasingly recognised as a strategic growth prospect. Private funding is playing a pivotal role in developing education across the board. Tertiary education in particular is expected to reach a high growth rate annually over the coming years. Impact investment in education particularly, can prove good results in a few years.
- Education is a long-term and forward-looking investment: it contributes directly to the landscape of industry and investment opportunities of the future. A vibrant, continual and steadily growing sector, it will remain forever relevant in the decades to come.
- If students today are not made ready for the jobs of tomorrow, economies can only face decline. To remain relevant, educational institutions must respond to the labour market and industry needs, as well as balancing the ambitions and enterprising talents of the students.
- There is no doubt that education is evolving at a rapid pace, and as a result many institutions are powering up to compete with peers at international level. Education as a growth investment is growing globally in popularity.
Africa and South Africa – what are the options?
Unfortunately, the current view of the South African education system is not exciting. Potential investors tend to see government schools and community colleges as fairly low-quality, and requiring substantial upliftment. Neither are racial quotas popular with investors.
But the wheel is turning, and more private schools and colleges are finding their feet. Students are benefitting from smaller classes and well-equipped campuses with high standard teachers and lecturers, affording greater attention and assistance with studies. There are also more options for study courses available, broadening the spectrum of training. However, in South Africa, private educational institutions are subjected to the same level of accreditation, regulation, and oversight by the Government.
Social responsibility is beginning to play a larger role in investment choices. While business is concerned with profit, investors are looking for ways to make a difference to the world while gaining that profit. And private education is providing impressive avenues in this sphere, pushing for higher quality in the services provided.
Africa still holds huge potential. By improving government schools and investing in private education facilities, more high-quality learning opportunities can be created. This ultimately would transform the development path of low and middle-income countries. And this factor in turn, will present enriched investment opportunities across the continent.
When education is seen as a business, it’s attractive from several viewpoints:
- It’s an investment with a long-term revenue potential.
- The prices of private education will grow steadily, and African countries are expected to follow that pattern.
- The publishing industry in South Africa and Africa is wide-open for development. Books are the cornerstone of education – and currently this sector is languishing. It’s a business that has tremendous growth potential.
- Investors who favour education are seen as brands with heart, and will be long honoured as such.
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