How Socio-economic development of a country depends upon higher education
Q.1 How Socio-economic development of a country depends upon higher education? Is higher education in Pakistan playing its role effectively? How or why not?
The twentieth century witnessed major growth in the provision of educational opportunities across the globe, which is a good thing. Landmark multinational agreements such as the 1948 Declaration of Human Rights and the more recent United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) put forward a right for all children to be educated
There are many reasons to believe that increased educational opportunity and achievement lead to social progress. The aim of this chapter is to examine how can educatıon promote social progress.
Answering this question is not straightforward. Education has multiple aims, and the way in which education is provided – educational governance, educational institutions and educators, curriculum, and pedagogy – all matter a great deal. We will cover each of these topics in this chapter, looking at trends across the globe and seeking to ascertain what scholars know about better and worse forms of educational provision.
To understand the connection between education and social progress, we must first distinguish among four distinct aims of education: economic, civic, humanistic, and equity promotion
Current conditions and challenge
In this section, we present a broad view of education in the world today, showing how formal education has expanded in the last decades and emphasizing how it relates to citizenship, growing opportunities for social mobility, economic development, and equity. We take stock of what has been achieved and is still to be done to improve access to quality education in the poorer parts of the word, through the Sustainable Developed Goals fostered by the global community, which is mostly concerned with initial and mandatory education; and take a closer look at the special roles played by vocational and tertiary education. Each of these dimensions is subject to controversies, which we try to take into account while emphasizing the overall positive effects of education for social progress.
Education and social progress
Culture, “that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom and any other capabilities and habits” (Tylor 1870) is the most distinctive element of human societies, and in its broadest sense education is the process of facilitating learning or the acquisition of culture. Education takes place informally, starting with the interaction of children with their parents and relatives, but becomes to a large extent formal in complex societies, as it is codified (in primers, manuals, catechisms, handbooks) and provided by specialized institutions (churches, schools, universities, professional guilds, academies) according to specific methods (lecturing, memorization, demonstration, interpretation, collaboration, practice, experimentation).
Expansion and increased access
In the last century, and especially after World War II, access to formal education expanded dramatically. In the same period, governments shifted their priorities from education for citizenship to education for productivity, with great consequence.
National examples, there is the interesting and promising Navrongo Community Health and Family Planning Project, a field experiment conducted between 1994 and 2003 in the isolated and impoverished northern region of Ghana. As the Matlab experiment in Bangladesh showed a decade earlier, the Navrongo study showed that even under conditions of extreme poverty and depressed living standards, demand for fertility limitation could be identified and satisfied by appropriately designed services (Phillips et al. 2006). Fertility was reduced by 15 percent in the program areas, whereas it remained essentially unchanged in the control areas.
Kenya, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Rwanda, and the Navrongo project, have all demonstrated that population policies and reproductive health programs can work in Africa. What is needed now is for African leaders to understand this and also to believe that effective fertility control programs need to become essential elements of the economic development strategies they design and implement in their countries. Effective family planning is as essential to the future success of Ghana, Cote D’Ivoire, and Mozambique as it was for Korea, Thailand, and Indonesia.
In June 2007, when Gordon Brown succeeded Tony Blair as Prime Minister, he immediately quoted his school motto (“I will do my utmost”), thereby showing his commitment to education. This was one of the key policies of New Labour governments and can be more systematically analyzed as the Brown years are now over. We will thus explore education policies in England from 1997 to 2010, laying the emphasis on Gordon Brown’s role in his successive positions. His commitment to education was apparent in setting funding levels as Chancellor of the Exchequer, but also in March 2007, when he announced the school leaving age would be raised, and as Prime Minister, with the decision to split the Department for Education and Skills in June 2007. We will first focus on New Labour’s education policy from 1997 to 2010, particularly on the continuity in its tenets and on government funding. We will then analyze specific elements such as standards, the intervention of the private sector, social mobility, and efforts to improve the employability of English youths.
New Labour’s Education Policies from 1997 to 2010
Everyone will remember the famous New Labour slogan “Education, education, education.” When he became Prime Minister, Gordon Brown carried this commitment further, by splitting the education department. The remit of the Department for Children, Schools and Families was broadened beyond its traditional role but such institutional reform attained its limits in June 2009, when the Department for Innovation, Universities, and Skills was merged into a bigger department under Lord Mandelson who became Secretary of State for Business, Innovation, and Skills.
From 2007 on, education policies were characterized by continuity with New Labour tenets, particularly on issues like parental choice in an education market. This also implied diversification in education providers with the creation of new schools (e.g. specialist schools, Academies) and the growing intervention of the private sector. Also central in Labour education policies, from 1997 to 2010, were interventionism in the name of excellence and focusing on the rights and responsibilities of education protagonists such as teachers, parents, and graduates. Testing was one of the cornerstones of reforms implemented since the 1980s but one significant change occurred in 2008. After Educational Testing Service Europe was in charge of test marking caused a “fiasco”, Children’s Secretary Ed Balls announced the end of testing at 14. The Guardian described such a decision as “historic”, but its impact must not be overstated as the government rejected calls for a global assessment of testing in education and the very idea of dropping tests altogether.
Before dealing with some New Labour policies in greater detail, we wish to turn to their sinews, that is funding. Although the 1997 manifesto promised to “increase the share of national income spent on education,” prudence was rather the norm in the early years as spending remained within the limits set by the Conservatives in the last years before 19972. From 2001 on, however, education budgets rose markedly with their proportion of GDP going from 4.9% in 1997/98 to 5.5% in 2003/043 and 5.9% in 2006, slightly below the OECD average.
Because of the current recession, such a trend could not go on unchecked. In September 2009, Gordon Brown pledged education spending would not be cut until 2011, but Children’s Secretary Ed Balls announced that efficiency savings worth £2 billion should be defined by then5.
One of the key policies was the constant focus on standards with test and exam results as expressed in league tables. Ofsted is also part and parcel of such a policy with its assessment of teaching standards. The Standards Task Force and Standards and Effectiveness Unit were set up in 1997 and a website wholly dedicated to standards shows how central this issue has remained. This has meant an avalanche of targets and some more were in fact added to the Public Service Agreements (PSAs) released in October 2007, for example, “narrow[ing] the gap in educational achievement between children from disadvantaged backgrounds and their peers” by 20117.
Private Sector Intervention
At first, New Labour was rhetorically cautious regarding the intervention of the private sector in education, but in June 2001 Education Secretary Estelle Morris asserted there were “‘no ideological bars’ to any solutions that could help schools.” Such a stance was reiterated by Gordon Brown in December 2007: “The role of the private sector in this area is expanding and […] will be a lot bigger in the next few years than it is now. In September 2008, Children’s Secretary Ed Balls urged community groups to create cooperative schools. We will however deal only with private companies in education as the voluntary sector is not yet a key player in this field. Private firms manage Local Authorities and schools which were considered to be failing. Their investment into schools created under New Labour governments has also given them some say in managing academies, specialist and trust schools, as they are free from Local Authority control. Special offers were advertised to attract private sponsors, like in September 2009, when it was decided they would no longer have to pay £2 million in advance, but rather establish their will and capacity to manage an Academy. Private companies have also been in charge of educational services like marking Standard Assessment Tests (SATs) and exams. Some have been given the right to award higher education degrees like BPP College in September 2007 or to offer work experience which could be part of A-levels or vocational diplomas12. Private firms have also been active in the development of vocational diplomas. Finally, the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) which was inaugurated in the early 1990s experienced dramatic growth with New Labour which based its school-building program (Building Schools for the Future) largely on PFI.