MILLIONS of students in the United States are settling into new classrooms as the school year begins. But young Americans are just a small part of the world's student body. From Argentina to Zimbabwe, children and young adults are engaged in formal learning, preparing to be the citizens and workers of the future.
In many countries, as in much of the US, the academic schedule still follows the seasonal, agricultural cycle (except that in schools, fall is the time of planting and spring is harvest season). In lots of areas, however, that traditional model is being abandoned, as more and more students attend classes throughout the year.
The old educational paradigms are giving way in other respects, as well. Societal forces are imposing new demands on educators, at the same time that computers and other technological advances permit - indeed, require - rapid innovations in schooling.
In a changing world in which knowledge and ideas are capital, adaptibility is essential, and the response time to economic, social, and environmental challenges grows shorter, no resource is more vital to nations or to mankind as a whole than educated people.
In this issue the Monitor presents the first of three special reports on the state and future of education around the world. These reports are a joint project with the World Media network, a consortium of newspapers in 26 countries that publishes twice-yearly reports on topics of global interest. Each newspaper contributes articles, graphics, and photographs for the participants to use.