“If you think education is expensive, you should try ignorance.”
            —Derek Bok, former President, Harvard University
Current Problem
876 million adults illiterate, 80% of world without access to college. 
Preferred State/What the World Wants
Literacy for 100% of humanity, and access to continuing education.
Buckminster Fuller proclaimed that the most important task facing humanity was “Getting the most people ‘in the know’ about the world, its resources, problems and options as quickly as possible.” Given the huge impact education has on all our local and global problems, there seems to be little with which one can argue against this point of view. Unfortunately, the current power structure doesn’t see it this way: an unbalanced and short-term approach to security has left some developing nations with more soldiers than teachers and more citizens illiterate than literate.[1]  Thirty deeply in debt African countries spend more on servicing their debts than they do on education and health combined.[2]  In developing countries about 120 million children of primary school age (6 to 11 age-group)[3] and 275 million at secondary level are not in school.[4]  246 million children between ages 5 and 17 are involved in child labor.[5]  While traditional efforts to increase attendance can have some effect, school systems in most developing countries will need assistance in attracting and keeping enrolled all school-age children. In many cases, developing nations cannot afford the enormous construction and infrastructure costs required to provide U.S. style schooling for all its children.  If any developing country were to spend what the U.S. spends on its students, it would be bankrupt within weeks.[6]
Progress has been made over the last 40 years. In 1960, only 25% of children in Africa were enrolled in primary school.  In 2000 it was over 60%. World literacy rates have risen from around 25% in 1900 to 80% in 2000.[7]   Illiteracy among adults in low-income countries fell from 47% to 25%, and for women it fell from 57% to 32%.[8]   Higher education, college, or tertiary education as it is variously called, is also on the rise. In 1960 there were 13 million students pursuing higher education in the world.  By 1991 this figure had risen to 61 million, and in 2000 it was close to 75 million, and in 2003 it was at 100 million— with China having more college students than any other country.[9]  (15 million people were attending universities in China in September 2003. After China came the United States, India, Russia and Japan. These top five accounted for 55 million students, about half the world total.)

Educating Humanity Strategy 1: Satellite/Television Literacy Campaign
We have known for over thirty years that people can be taught to read, write and do basic arithmetic through television.  We have known for at least ten years that they can do the same using computers.  Using available technologies, all children and adults who are not currently exposed to traditional education can become literate through educational television, computers and Internet access. 
One program that could eliminate illiteracy through the use of television would consist of ten to twelve communications satellites, approximately 10 million television receivers and satellite dish receivers, and an equal number of solar-powered photovoltaic and storage battery units.  The television receiver units would go first to the 1.55 million primary school teachers in the 41 least developed countries,[10] followed by teachers in developing countries with the highest illiteracy rates.  The satellites and their launching would cost about $2 billion; the televisions, dish receivers and photovoltaic/battery units for 2 million teachers would be about $400 million.[11] 
In this plan, the software (the actual television programming), would be the "expensive" part.  Special teams assembled from each unique culture would create it.  These teams, made up of educators, poets, scientists, musicians and other leaders in their fields would celebrate the diversity of each culture, instead of homogenizing it through programming that is similar or identical to American or other programming.  In addition to literacy programming, such an educational infrastructure could be the vehicle for programming on health maintenance, sanitation measures, agricultural productivity and other subjects that would benefit each society. 
Coupling a computer and Internet access to the above television would add enormous benefit to the poor of the world, as well, as will be seen later, to the entire world. 
There is a direct and strong correlation between increased literacy and elevated worker productivity and higher GNP.[12]  Along with the higher productivity come higher incomes.  One OECD study points to a doubling of income for those who complete secondary education over those who do not finish.[13]  Annual returns on investments in education for successful students range from 6.5% to nearly 17% in developed countries.[14]  Life expectancy, infant mortality and income per capita are all improved by education.[15]  Economic growth and lowered fertility rates also result from increased education.[16] 
A WHO study found that the most efficacious thing that can be done for lowering infant mortality is not getting more doctors, nurses, health technicians, hospitals, or clinics into a country, it is women’s literacy.  As women’s literacy goes up, infant mortality goes down.
The cost for the hardware and software for the Satellite/Television Literacy Campaign is $5 billion.  Using more traditional educational techniques could also eliminate illiteracy from the world. A UNICEF study points out that achieving universal primary schooling for Africa would cost $2 billion.[17]  Doing the same for the entire the world would cost $9 to $12 billion per year.[18]   The UNDP thinks it could be done for $6 billion per year. [19]
“Education is the ability to perceive the hidden connections between phenomena.”
—Vaclav Havel
Educating Humanity Strategy 2: Internet Access for All
The educational opportunities existing on the Internet are vast, unprecedented and largely untapped.  The courses, curriculum, syllabi, databases, even entire schools (such as MIT[20]) that have their educational resources available for free over the Internet could open up a quality higher education to hundreds of millions, even billions, of people currently without any access to college level education.  The experience would be different than what is commonly thought of as “college” in developed countries, but that does not mean that a well-designed college level Internet course or education need be inferior.
The potential for the Internet to raise the educational level of large segments of the world’s population is huge, but connecting everyone in the world to the Internet also offers other benefits that will accrue to the entire network— including those in the wealthy parts of the world that have enjoyed and benefited from Internet access for over a decade. 
At its most general level, this can be explained by Metcalf’s Law that states that the value of a network is a function of the number of nodes connected to that network.  More precisely, the value of a network rises with the square of the number of participants.  For example, if the network has two people connected to it, and we assign a value of “1” to each participant, the network has a value of “4.”  If there are 3 participants, the value of the network is 9.  If there are 1000 participants, the value of the network is 10002 or 1 million. If the Internet has 600 million active users or nodes (as it does in 2003[21]), and each user is given the value of 1, then the entire network has a value of 360,000 trillion.
Connecting the entire world to the Internet, making sure that every person over the age of 10 has easy access to the Internet and its educational resources, will not only provide those people currently without Internet connection access to the vast educational richness of the Internet, but enrich the Internet as well. 
(In addition to strictly educational uses, the Internet can be used to link farmers to markets, patients to doctors, craft workers to customers, suppliers to corporate buyers, and parents to children.  All this will accelerate local economic development, increase health and well being, foster communication and economic ties between neighbors and strangers alike.)
Building the high-speed wireless connection devices (or wire ones where appropriate and economical) will be a huge market and benefit to the global telecommunications industry. Manufacturing the computers and/or Internet access devices in the developing countries where the products will be used would also provide jobs, infrastructure, and technological expertise.  Training the technicians for installation, maintenance, and upgrading of the network and its access technology would provide additional jobs and expertise to the developing country. Providing electricity for Internet access through solar cells and other decentralized energy production technologies would provide electricity for a host of other important basic human need devices such as lighting, water pumping, and refrigeration (see Chapter 10, Energy for All).  The mass production of these devices to meet such a large global need would accelerate the lowering of the costs of these devices for the entire world,[22] and make ever more feasible and economical the phasing out of fossil and nuclear fueled energy production.[23]
A vital part of connecting the entire world to the Internet, as in the educational satellite/television strategy above, is the appropriate matching of the educational needs of a country and person in the developing world to the vast and seemingly unorganized resources of the Internet. To make the appropriate matches of need to capacity, teams from each country will assemble different Internet based courses for the people in their region.  The first courses will be organized around the real world needs of the poor, not the advanced educational needs of the well-educated elite.  Courses on topics such as increasing agricultural productivity, providing safe water and sanitation facilities, and affordable, abundant and clean energy supplies would be organized and offered.  Other courses, organized around traditional higher education academic subjects would quickly follow.
“Throughout the history of education there has been an insidious link between quality and exclusivity in education… the good tidings is that technology has shown that it can break that insidious link once and for all.”
—John Daniel, UNESCO
Open Internet University
To facilitate the rapid development of college level courses on the Internet the non-profit Open Internet University will be initiated.  This university will organize and make available at one site all the current college level offerings that exist on the Internet.  It will do this in the context of a full university’s course offerings, thereby locating the courses that are missing or weak. With this knowledge it will invite teacher’s from around the world to prepare or upgrade the needed courses. 
Each college and university in the world will be invited to prepare one “showcase” course that will display its educational prowess.  Every college or university in the world has at least one teacher whose ability to inform and inspire students is near legendary.  Students know who these teachers are (administrators rarely do) and do whatever it takes to get into theircourses.  Most of these teachers leave a legacy of people who have switched majors, chosen careers, and have gone on to accomplish great things based on the direction and inspiration they received from the one fantastic teacher who touched them with the power and magic of learning. The best teacher at each school (not the best researcher or most famous) will be invited to prepare a course for the Open Internet University thereby culling and leveraging one of the world’s most valuable resources in a way that will benefit all of humanity.  Everyone everywhere will be able to take a course from the world’s most inspiring teachers. Having a full university’s course offerings taught by the world’s best teachers will unleash more creative potential into the world than almost anything.
One of the Open Internet University’s features will be that all its courses to the developing world will be free.  Those to the developed world will have modest fees, set at a rate at least an order of magnitude lower than standard universities. The bulk of the fees will go to the teachers and their home institutions, thereby setting in motion a competitive drive for teaching excellence.  The best, most informative and inspiring courses will have the most students. Students from developing countries attending for free will also contribute to the reward structure by evaluating courses.  Annual Open Internet University Education Excellence Awards will be given to the best courses.
“’Doing Science’— conducting actual research side by side with researchers—is perhaps the best way to achieve scientific literacy.”[24]
—Project JASON
Another feature of the Open Internet University, one greatly enhanced by its Internet backbone, is collaborative projects and research by students.  Internet connections allow students to learn from each other as well as great teachers.  The social dimension of learning can be enhanced, not dimensioned, by using collaborative projects over the Internet.  “Distance learning” does not need to be synonymous with isolated learning. More importantly, these collaborative projects need not (and should not for the learner’s sake) be merely academic exercises.  They can be engagements in bonifide research that will help the world.  A global community of learners, working together with inexpensive but accurate instruments could measure local environmental conditions, including such things as air, water, and soil temperatures, soil and water pH, water salinity, light intensity, UV radiation, ozone and CO levels as well as conditions of locall flora and fauna.   Local GIS mapping could be carried out that would be part of global efforts to map a specific resource, problem or opportunity.  A prototype of a version of this is the U.S. National Science Foundation funded Global Laboratory that has linked over 300 school classes in 20 countries.[25]
“If classrooms in the heart of the Amazon rainforest can now exchange cultural and scientific data with scientists throughout the world, we can only imagine where science education will be in another ten years.”[26]
—Project JASON
In summary, the addition of three to four billion people to the Internet will have profound impacts on many facets of the Internet, as well as education, the growth of democracy, global and local problem solving, decision-making, research, communication in general and across cultures in particular, progress, and the general quality of life.

“Educate and inform the whole mass of the people… They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty.”
—Thomas Jefferson

Costs/Benefits—Educating Humanity
The costs of launching a satellite network, providing solar-powered television sets and satellite receivers to villages without adequate schools and developing appropriate programming for the satellite-based education initiative would total about $2 billion per year for twenty years.[27]  (This yearly cost is less than the cost of one B-2 bomber.[28])  Supplying textbooks, teaching aids, in-service teacher training and supervision would cost about $3 billion additional per year (about half what U.S. consumers spend on t-shirts[29]).  $1.4 billion ($140 million per year for ten years) would train 1 million new teachers in Africa.[30]
The costs of global wireless Internet access via communications satellites, and land-based technology where appropriate, would cost $4 billion per year for ten years. An additional $1 billion per year for ten years would be invested in the preparation of already existing Internet materials for use in developing countries.
The total amount for both the educational television and global Internet education access strategies is $10 billion per year for ten years.  This is less than .008 (8 tenths of 1%) of the global telecommunications industry revenues.[31]  It is also about 1.1% of the world’s total annual military expenditures, or 5% of worldwide annual illegal drug sales, or 12.5% of the cost of Gulf War 1,[32] or 2.8% of the 2003 tax cut given to the richest U.S citizens.[33]
The benefits of just reducing child labor through universal education for children up to the age of 14 would be over $5 trillion.[34]  Other benefits of an improved education and literacy program would include enhancing the quality of life for newly literate citizens now able to access written media, longer and healthier life spans attributable to easier and wider communication of sanitation and other simple disease prevention techniques, increased job skills and employment options, a more attractive local economy to outside investment, an increase in GDP,[35] a reduction in industrial and agricultural accidents as warning signs and instructions can be read by a wider population, and increased political participation.
Investing in education leverages the food, water, sanitation, and shelter advances described in previous chapters.  Education gives weight to all the previous advances in human well being and wealth creation— providing, either sooner or later, what is needed for the tipping point to be reached for global society.  What happens when the tipping point tips?  Before we can describe this amazing phenomenon, we need to examine some of our other needs.  Energy, and an affordable, safe, and clean supply of it, being crucial.
“Scientific understanding is no longer only a desirable good but clearly an imperative for building truly representative democracies.”
—Peter Raven, President, American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2001
“Educate part of a community and the whole benefits.”
 —Amartya Sen, Nobel Prize, Economics
“The best defense against terrorism is an educated people.”

—Peter Raven, President, American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2001
“The world is in a race between education and catastrophe.”
 —H. G. Wells

[1] 47 countries have more armed forces than teachers (UNDP Human Development Report, 1995, pp.162-163.); 33 countries have more illiterates than literates (UNDP, pp. 130-131.); In "least developed countries", there are 121 soldiers for every 100 teachers; the literacy rate is 37% (1985).  The 1985 literacy rate for the "developing” world is 60%. (UNDP, pp. 21, 78.). By 2000, this figure has climbed to over 80% (UNESCO 2000 Yearbook, Paris, UNESCO 2000).
[2] “No school, no future,” (The Economist, March 27, 1999, p. 45).
[3] UNICEF, State of the World’s Children 2003,
[4] UNDP, Human Development Report 1995 (New York, Oxford University Press, 1995, p. 16).
[5] Investing in Every Child: An economic study of the costs and benefits of eliminating child labor, (International Labor Organization, December 2003).
[6] U.S. education expenditure per capita is $928 (5.3% of GNP).  Population of developing world is 3.78 billion; multiplying the two gives $3.5 trillion, or 130% of the GNP of the developing world ($2.7 trillion). 
[7] UNESCO 2000 Yearbook, (Paris, UNESCO 2000).
[8] World Development Report 2003, (The World Bank, Washington DC, 2003, p. 6).
[9] “China's Number of College Students Tops the World,” (China Today, October 2003,
[10] UNESCO Statistics Survey 2000.
[11] Each satellite would cost about $150 million; each television is $50.; each dish receiver is $50.; each photovoltaic power unit is $100.
[12] Literacy correlates with cereal yields:  0.653; literacy with GNP/capita:  0.584; literacy with calorie consumption: 0.672.  Correlations were done in the software program Global Data Manager.  Literacy rate is from Central Intelligence Agency, World Factbook 1989 (Washington, D.C.: CIA, 1989).  GNP/capita is from The World Bank, pp. 178-179.; cereal yield is from World Resources Institute, pp. 278-279.; calorie consumption is from FAO, pp. 291-292; infant mortality and life expectancy are from World Population Data Sheet 1990.  Also see The World Bank, The Contributions of Education to Economic Growth: International Comparisons. World Bank Reprint Series, No. 320 (Washington, D.C.: The World Bank, 1985), where it is pointed out that 4 years of primary education is associated with an average increase in farm productivity of 10% or more.
[13] “Income by educational attainment,” (The Economist, June 23, 2001, p. 104).
[14] “Returns to education,” (The Economist, November 2, 2002, p. 96).
[15] Literacy with infant mortality:  -0.815 ; literacy with life expectancy:  0.822.  Correlations were done in the software program Global Data Manager.  For sources of data, see endnote #80. On average, each additional year of schooling is associated with a decrease in infant mortality rate of approximately 9 per 1000; K. Hinchliffe, The Monetary and Non-Monetary Returns to Education in Africa.  The World Bank Education and Training Series, Report EDT46 (Washington, D.C.: The World Bank, 1986).
[16] “No school, no future,” (The Economist, March 27, 1999, p. 45).
[17] ibid.
[18] “Enough talk,” (The Economist. November 24, 2001 p.14).
[19] UNDP Human Development Report 1998
[20] “MIT Offers World-Class Courses, for Free,” (Science, August 31, 2001, p. 1618).
[21] Vital Signs 2003 (Worldwatch Institute, Washington DC, 2003, p. 60).
[22] P.D. Maycock and E.N. Stirewalt, A Guide to the Photovoltaic Revolution, (Emmaus, PA: Rodale Press, 1986), p. 90-93.
[23] To replace the amount of electricity presently being produced by nuclear power plants in the U.S. would require approximately 1300 square miles of Arizona or New Mexico desert, an area about 36 miles by 36 miles square with photovoltaic efficiency of 8% operating at 10 hours per day.
[24] “The Spirit of Discovery,” (Science, March 3, 2000, p. 1595).
[25] “The World’s Biggest Science Class,” (UNESCO Sources February 1998, p.11).
[26] “The Spirit of Discovery,” (Science, March 3, 2000, p. 1595).
[27] V. Zinger and M. Gabel, World Deficit Report 3: World Literacy (Philadelphia: World Game Institute, 1988), p. 10.
[28] Center for Defense Information,
[29] State of the World 2004, (Washington D.C., Worldwatch Institute, 2004 p. 163).
[30] “Down with school fees,” $40 million is the amount needed to train 29,000 teachers in Angola. (The Economist December 13, 2003, p. 44).
[31] Telecommunications industry revenues in 2003 are $1.37 trillion, according to the International Telecommunications Union, as reported in “Beyond the bubble,” (The Economist, October 11, 2003).
[32] The 1991 Gulf War cost $80 billion (in 2002 dollars); “Increases in Military Spending and Security Assistance Since 9/11/01,” Arms Trade Resource Center, October 4, 2002 (World Policy Institute, Washington DC 2003).
[33] 2003 tax cut was for $350 billion.
[34] Investing in Every Child: An economic study of the costs and benefits of eliminating child labor, (International Labor Organization, December 2003).
[35] An increase of one year in average years of education may lead to a 3% rise in GDP.  The World Bank, World Development Report 1990 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990) 

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