Last month, I joined a group of former education ministers and experts for a consultation on the key challenges facing ministries of education and how to formulate an appropriate curriculum.

I told my fellow participants that the returns to education are high and that education matters now more than it ever did.  Every year of schooling raises earnings by 10 percent. This rate of return is, in fact, higher than alternative investments, including bonds, stocks, deposits, and housing.

To turn education spending into investment with high returns, an education system needs to focus public investment on the poor, put an emphasis on the quality of learning, and expand higher education through alternative financing mechanisms.

Education systems reforms are needed in many countries. There are six ways they can do this: