Social Sector

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We help educational systems and providers to improve outcomes for millions of students globally.

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We help governments, foundations, nonprofits, and corporations to achieve rapid gains in student learning and completion outcomes.

At any one time we have more than 175 consultants working on education projects, and we have completed 600 projects in 50 countries over the past five years. Our teams include former teachers, institutional leaders, researchers, and policy makers. We work at local, regional, and national levels of education.

Transforming school systems

We help school systems to bring about rapid improvements in literacy and numeracy outcomes at the classroom level through our work across diagnostics, strategy, and implementation. Since 2010, we have completed 220 projects, including more than 10 national and 20 regional system transformations. Our work has delivered impact for 400,000 schools, 3 million teachers, and 60 million students. Our projects include:

  • Supporting a Latin American childhood literacy project that achieved a 75 percent increase in proficiency rates in four years.
  • Helping an Asian country to increase primary-school enrollment by 1 million children in 18 months, get 30,000 more teachers into schools, and improve infrastructure in 50,000 facilities.

Supporting higher education institutions

We help universities and research institutions to design and implement digital strategies, strengthen teaching and research, reduce operating costs, and improve graduation rates. In the past five years our work with more than 20 institutions has affected the lives of 1.6 million students. Examples include:

  • Developing a world-leading online learning platform for a US state university system to provide engineering, healthcare, and business degree programs for more than 100,000 students.
  • Advising a top-three research university on reshaping its strategic priorities in science, engineering, medicine, business, and education, and redesigning its operations, organization, and governance.

Delivering “education to employment” solutions

We collaborate with employers, education providers, governments, and foundations to help students make a seamless transition from education to work. Our goal is twofold: to build young people’s job readiness while meeting employers’ talent needs. Since 2009 we have helped improve the job prospects of over 900,000 students in more than 10 countries and secure $6 billion of additional funding for vocational and technical training. Recent successes include:

  • Helping to create 25,000 new training places in less than a year in a Middle Eastern country where youth unemployment runs at more than 25 percent.
  • Improving graduation rates in a US city’s community colleges by 40 percent in one year.

Harnessing educational technology

We work with public, private, and social institutions to apply innovative digital tools to revolutionize teaching and learning both inside and outside the classroom. In the past five years we have undertaken almost 100 projects at every level from primary school to university, including:

  • Supporting five US school systems with strategies to scale up personalized learning in the classroom and reach 250,000 students by 2019.
  • Advising a Middle Eastern country on developing online courses to prepare job seekers for entry-level positions, targeting 300,000 learners by the end of 2015.

Advancing knowledge

We combine hands-on work for clients with intensive efforts to build our knowledge. Our reports on improving school systems and education to employment have been widely quoted and helped shape global debate on these topics.

To enhance our client service, we invest in developing our own tools and benchmarks, including a school systems diagnostic toolkit, a database of over 600 proven educational interventions, and a survey and case library on education to employment solutions.

Meet our people

Li Kai

Li-Kai Chen


Latest thinking


Education to employment: Designing a system that works

January 2013—Young people can’t find jobs. Yet employers can’t find people with the right entry-level skills. How can we close this gap?more

  • includes:

McKinsey on Society


Insights into ways to tackle some of the world’s most urgent social challenges.more