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Investment in education key to overturning pandemic inequalities

The IMF’s Fiscal Monitor published at the beginning April has said the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated pre-existing inequalities in access to health care, education and digital infrastructure, which could cause income gaps to persist generation after generation.

The Washington-based organization says in its report that in order change course, countries should, among other items, focus on better investment in education and early childhood development.

“Investing in education, healthcare, and early childhood development and strengthening social safety nets financed through improved tax capacity and higher progressivity, can strengthen lifetime opportunities, improve trust, and contribute to more social cohesion”, said the IMF.

It is further argued that additional spending on education, for example, can reduce the enrollment gap between children from poor and rich households. Inefficiencies should also be tackled.

In emerging markets and low-income developing countries, the difference between a country’s spending efficiency and that of best performers ranges from 8 percent to 11 percent for health health care and 25 percent to 50 percent for education.

Focusing on teacher quality and on early childhood development can also improve education outcomes, added the IMF.

Citing previous studies (Cunha and Heckman 2007; Attanasio 2015) the Fund argues returns to investment in early childhood education are especially large because cognitive skills are developed early in life, boosting school returns in subsequent education stages.


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