Practice Case

Transforming a national education system

Client goal

Loravia is a fictional country located in Eastern Europe with a population of 20 million. The government of Loravia wants to make major improvements in both the quantity and quality of education for its children. Because McKinsey has great deal of global knowledge and expertise in the education sector, the Loravian department of education has asked McKinsey to advise on how it can achieve this transformation of its school system.

Situation description

Loravia’s free market economy is still developing, having emerged from many decades under communism. Recently, the government of Loravia put a new economic plan in place with aspirations to transform its economy and turbocharge its development so it’s well positioned to compete with its European neighbors. The government of Loravia realizes that the education of its children is a critical factor in meeting crucial economic development goals. It intends to transform the school system over the next ten years to enable it to support its economic aspirations.

Schooling in Loravia is completely public and is provided by a network of government-run schools that admit children from ages five through 18.

The first stage of this effort will involve diagnosing the current state of education in schools in Loravia to determine how best to meet the government’s future aspirations.

McKinsey study

McKinsey has been asked to support the Loravian department of education in diagnosing the state of its current school system, and in identifying the most important areas for improvement.

Helpful hints

  • Write down important information.
  • Feel free to ask the interviewer to explain anything that is not clear to you.

Question 1:

What issues would you want to investigate in diagnosing the current state of the Loravian school system?

Helpful hints

  • Take time to organize your thoughts before answering. This tells the interviewer that you think about the problem in a logical way.
  • Develop overall approach before diving into details.

Question 2:

The chart below shows some important education-related measures for Loravia and also for some comparison countries. Three sets of comparison countries have been used. The first set contains some of Loravia’s neighboring countries in Eastern Europe. In the second set are some of the most developed economies in Europe. Finally, in the third set are some countries that have similar sized economies to Loravia on a per person basis, which have similar GDP per capita.

What observations can you derive from this chart?

National Education Exhibit

Helpful hints

  • Take some time to look at the information and note any observations you have.
  • Challenge yourself to identify trends that are not immediately obvious from the data.

Question 3:

One of the clients at Loravian’s educational department mentions neighbor country “C” as an example, because it’s outperforming all of Loravia's economic peers and neighbors in the international assessment. She believes that the more concentrated school structure in this country is a big reason for better outcomes in the international assessment. She suggests that having larger, less fragmented schools allows for more effective teacher selection and training, leading to improved education outcomes for students. Finally, she shares that 15 percent of Loravia's population is currently attending school.

What would be the reduction in the total number of schools in Loravia if it were to achieve the same average school size as neighbor country C?

Helpful hints

  • Don't feel rushed into performing calculations. Take your time.
  • Talk your interviewer through your steps so that you can demonstrate an organized approach.