"Why 2018 Was the Best Year in Human History!"


Welcome to 2019! I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday and are ready to get the year started!

This incredible article has been making the rounds: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/05/opinion/sunday/2018-progress-poverty-health.html

As Nicholas Kristof puts it, “Let me try to make the case that 2018 was actually the best year in human history.” With the Our World in Data (https://ourworldindata.org/) information, Kristof lays out a number of incredibly achievements:

  1. Over the course of 2018, 100 million+ people got electricity, and another 100 million+ people got access to clean drinking water.

  2. In the 1980s, 44% of the world’s population was living in extreme poverty – today it is less than 10%.

  3. Child deaths have decreased dramatically – from 19% in 1960 to 4% today.

While Kristof didn’t spend a ton of time on the education gains that have been made, but I looked back at the Our World in Data dataset, and learned that:

Literacy rates are at the lowest level in history – and while there is still a lot of work to do in developing countries, most evidence shows that younger generations are better educated than older ones.

The world is more educated than ever in history, a result of both the increased understanding that education has benefits, and that governments now provide more funding and support to education. (There is a neat interactive map - https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/mean-years-of-schooling?year=1950)

Secondary and tertiary education is becoming more and more important. In 1970, there were only 700 million people in the world with secondary education or higher, but by 2100, we are expecting 7 billion people to be in this category.

In the last 20 years alone, we have halved the number of out of school children.

Still – there is a lot of work to do. Current projections estimate that it will not be until 2050, that most literacy gaps will be filled. While a ton of work has done to expand educational access, the truth remains that education quality has been more difficult to tackle. For us, it makes the work we do in Zambia even more critical – and worthwhile. As we reflect on 2018 and look forward to another year – I’m so impressed and pleased with the progress Impact Network has made to improve education quality for our 6,000 students. I can’t wait to see what 2019 has in store!