I am an immigrant to this great country, but I did become an American. For a long time I have been telling people how much better the education system is in Colombia compared to here, but people always gave me a puzzled look and moved along.
I am not sure if it is the National Geographic specials in India’s and China’s economy, or having read The World is Flat by Thomas L. Friedman, but the topic that worried me the most about globalization is education. It seems I am not the only one since this morning I listened to a radio add about the topic.
A young voice starts saying the name of countries, at first I started to think of the Olympics, but then then a voice over beings saying that America ranks 21st amongst developed countries when it comes to education. Nothing shocking to me yet, but then the voice over continues to sound the alarm saying that with education, jobs go. This is a harsh reality that we all have to face, unless our education system improves, we are going to have a generations of under qualified people, if not many.
Research is one of the fields that worries me the most. While the ethical and moral debate on stem-cell research is happening in this country, Germany, China and Japan are moving full steam ahead with not just research but human trials. Yes, in China you can already get stem-cells implanted.
Just the other day I was discussing the illness of an acquaintance, then I mentioned something that to me was common knowledge, but it was brand new to them. Germany has some of the best medical research in the world. Everyone thinks of the top place in medicine to be the Mayo Clinic or Harvard have the best in the world, but that is old information in today’s reality.
Talking with my wife about Colombia made me very sad. If instead of having to fight a drug war for the past 20 years, Colombia would have invested on taking education further, we would be in the same position as South Korea. It is a place where technology and intellectual growth has catapulted an emerging nation.
Space research was something that NASA pretty much had cornered. In today’s world, a lot of countries have a space program. Heck, even Colombia has its own satellite. The US is not the only one in the game anymore.
The U.S. is still an economic giant, but we should be concerned when just today it was announced that Mainland China is now the biggest importer of Japanese products. Just think of the acquisition power they now have with an emerging middle class… and that is not even thinking of India.
Watching the Olympics my wife said, wow, Beijing is such a beautiful city. I agreed, but then I immediately thought of the preconception that many people have that everywhere but the US is just underdeveloped jungle. How many people think that huge metropolitan areas are not exploding around the world. While this brings us another big questions which is the natural resources in the planet to sustain the growth in population, I still think the immediate issue for the U.S. is education.
Another trend that is kind of scary is people getting an education in the US at a high level, and then tanking those brains somewhere else. While there are some people that via telecommuting are working from a sunny beach most of the year, what worries me is the best innovative minds in the world not being here in America.
Don’t continue to think the rest of the world does not matter. Wake up call people, we drop down our education standards, and we will lose the skilled jobs of the future.