The World Cup provides education opportunities around the world


When in doubt, talk sports. Over a lull in dinner conversation last night someone mentioned the recent English win over Australia, making England the world champions in speed cricket. As someone who doesn’t know the first thing about the game, I learned quite a bit – how the long games normally are (too long) and the rules of cricket (too complicated). By the end of dinner, I learned just as much about the sport as I did about the team’s countries and cultures as well.


As the World Cup South Africa approaches, many countries and schools are taking advantage of the football fever among their students, and officially incorporating football into the curriculum. In Argentina, educators hope football curriculum will spark children’s interest in learning more about the history and politics of South Africa. An initiative called GOAL 1 is using footballers’ fame to draw attention to efforts to promote education for all children.


In South Africa, a “Football for Hope” festival, a partnership with FIFA, will invite 32 teams from disadvantaged communities from around the world to South Africa to show how football is linked with development. After a recent trip to South Africa, OECD analyst Fabrice Henard, remarks on progress: “Football brings communities together around shared goals: playing and winning with respect. Teams can reduce social differences between communities and help create positive cross-cultural attitudes.”


Regardless of whether you’re an England or Brazil fan (or don’t know the first thing about sports), it is clear that sports can be a powerful tool to bring students together to learn. We hope that education efforts leading up to the World Cup South Africa will demonstrate how linking football and education can be a win-win game.


Read what the OECD has to say about the South African education system.