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GDP: Digital Education is Part of the Solution


Ronaldo Mota – Scientific Director of Digital Pages and writes about new technologies in contemporary education and innovative educational methodologies

This month, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has released interesting analyzes of the relative contributions of each country to the global economy. From the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), sum of goods and services produced by each nation, adjusted for purchasing power parity, we can obtain indicators about the respective quality of life of its inhabitants.

One of the negative highlights of this recent study is Brazil. For the seventh consecutive year, our percentage share follows a downward trajectory, reaching only 2.5% in 2018, the lowest relative share, in almost four decades, in world GDP. To measure the size of the fall, in 1980 Brazil accounted for 4.4% of the world’s economy. From 1950 to 1980, the Brazilian economy advanced, on average, 4.5% per year; in turn, between 1980 and 2018, the average annual growth was 0.9%.

We passed that year from seventh to eighth world economy in terms of adjusted GDP, being exceeded by Indonesia. If we consider only GDP, without adjustments, we also moved to eighth place, in this case exceeded by Italy. If we consider only the most recent history, we are not well either. The per capita income, measured by GDP divided by the number of inhabitants, reached, in 2018, R $ 32 thousand, which is 9% lower than it was in 2014.

Understanding the reduction of the percentage contribution to world GDP needs to take into account the context of the China effect, whose spectacular growth in recent decades demands that other countries, on average, decrease their respective holdings. Even so, India, Korea, Vietnam, Turkey and a few others have increased their percentages. Neighboring countries such as Uruguay, Peru, Colombia and Chile have maintained their relative holdings intact.

Brazil’s most recent economic advances have been mainly anchored in the increase of food exports, as a result of increased competitiveness of agribusiness, and increased world demand for some commodities, especially ores. However relevant these areas may be, they must be contextualized in a marked dynamic of economic change on the global stage. For example, in 1980, the world’s top ten companies had a strong presence in the auto industry, which was no longer on the same list at the turn of the century, dominated by energy companies and banks. Today, all ten largest companies in the world are digital, although none of them were present at the beginning of the century. In short, we are moving very rapidly from an analogical economy towards a predominantly digital universe coupled with the drastic consequences of such a rapid transition.

In the current context, the possibility of sustainable economic, social and environmental development depends on multiple factors, but there is a relative consensus that the most relevant variable of all is the increase in average productivity. The main ingredient for increasing productivity is quality education, enabling employees, entrepreneurs and managers, private and public, to contribute more effectively to the production of goods and services.

Contemporary education demands we take into account all these aspects, therefore, being also digital, in form and content. As for the medium, alongside advanced literacy (production and comprehension of complex texts) and mathematical literacy (ease in more sophisticated mathematical operations), digital literacy (in the domain of platforms, software and elements programming). With regard to content, in addition to classical knowledge, the specific procedures of each area and the associated techniques, education nowadays requires to contemplate, with much more emphasis, some individual and collective skills.

Individual skills include cognitive (learning in diverse contexts) and metacognitive (learning to learn in a lifelong learning scenario) and social-emotional skills, critical understanding of complex historical and geographic realities , plus entrepreneurial spirit and creative ability. As far as collective skills are concerned, we must cultivate teamwork and the management of people, based on tolerance, empathy and compassion. As fruits of such predicates, we encourage the formation of professionals and preparing citizens, more complete and aware of the contexts in which they develop their offices and manage their lives.