“Follow the money”, I was told in a recent discussion about OLE’s “business model”. That makes a lot of sense. It get it. One way or another we must to generate enough sustainable income to match sustainable expenses, with a bit more for a rainy day. However business models for satisfying basic human needs must meet multiple requirements. It is a fatal error to focus only on the financial balance sheet.
When it comes to meeting basic human needs, as distinct from enjoying a Tesla, a fair distribution of access and meaningful community engagement are additional requirements both for sustainability and for the kind of societies that we want and need. Human societies, including all of us living on this small planet, are significant beneficiaries of a highly educated, healthy and well fed population. Our public responsibility applies to whatever we define as the “minimum viable level” of learning, health and nutrition for our global society. Elementary and secondary level education certainly and probably Junior College fit those universal requirements today. That “line” changes over time. Beyond that, in my view, the costs involved in training for careers such as law or business, should be paid for, at least in part, from the financial returns those programs generate for their graduates.
What are the implications for learning among those living in poverty and in violent and disrupted conditions? It is our responsibility to ensure that all such people, independent of their ability to pay for such learnings, have unrestricted access to programs that enable them to achieve basic literacy and numeracy and to acquire the knowledge and skills they need to build sustainable and peaceful communities and nations. This not some idealistic “pie in the sky”. We know how to do this. It is happening in limited ways that are scalable everywhere. The private sector is providing powerful directions for such solutions but only the public sector can fulfill our responsibilities to all of our people. We hear a lot of talk about the need for more public resources. It is past time for us to stand up and fight so we can, indeed, “follow the money”.