The Learning Challenge in the 21st Century

15 Pages Posted: 14 Apr 2020

Date Written: April 13, 2020


Truth matters, and the norms associated with a democratic society, such as the common good, responsibility, ethics, and civic engagement, are under attack with the emergence of the post-truth society. There are concerns worldwide that public education is failing us on pushing back on disinformation. And, in most countries, education systems are not providing workers with the skills necessary to compete in today's job markets. The growing mismatch between demand and supply of skills holds back economic growth and undermines opportunity. At same time, the financial returns to schooling are high in most countries. Schooling remains a good economic and social investment, and there are record numbers of children in school today. The skills that matter in the coming technological revolution are likely the same as what is needed in a media environment of disinformation. More and better education and noncognitive skills will not only prepare students for the future world of work, they will also prepare them to navigate the increasingly complex post-truth society. They will also allow young people to gain trust. In other words, better education is democratizing, to the extent that it promotes truth, values, and civic engagement.

Suggested Citation

Patrinos, Harry Anthony, The Learning Challenge in the 21st Century (April 13, 2020). World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 9214, Available at SSRN:

Harry Anthony Patrinos (Contact Author)

World Bank ( email )

1818 H Street NW
Washington, DC 20433
United States

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