Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Human Capital Theory and Education for Development, Part Deux

By Allison Dower


Modern Imperialism?


As articulated in my previous article, Human Capital Theory (HCT) is a Western theory that gained a following after the U.S.’ (and to a lesser extent, Europe’s) success after World War II and during the Cold War.  HCT is used as the justification in the education for development field, which is dominated by Western development agencies, and often several contentious issues arise in the discussion.  These issues often lead to the same academic critique of agencies in the education for development field: these efforts are spawning a modern form of
imperialism. First of all, the exposure of developing communities to HCT and their subsequent belief in it will be briefly considered.  Next, the restructuring of developing government education sectors using western education sectors as models is reminiscent of imperialism.  Finally, the language of instruction in the schools on the ground in countries where these education for development agencies operate is possibly the most controversial issue and deserves more attention.  

In addition to providing the populations of developing countries with the tools for an education, development organizations may also (purposely or inadvertently) impart a new outlook or way of thinking to the population of the developing country.  This is a great fear among many foreign leaders.  Many students, within the education for development models, for example, may begin to put stock in HCT.  Along with the new curricula, they will be taught that hard work and effort on their part will result in their own betterment and the betterment of their country.  This Western idea is wrapped up in the development packages that many organizations deliver around the world.  This may lead to eventual disillusionment (much as it has in the developed world!), considering the many complexities involved in the successful economic development of a country.  Additionally, the economic limitations inherent in HCT, which will be discussed in my next article, are fundamental and preclude the actual realization of economic development.

The World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) are often criticized for what some critics view as covert imperialism within their loan conditions.  Struggling countries are forced to adopt Western economic policies and governmental structures in order to receive funding to develop their economies.  They are also often criticized for the high interest rates on repayment programs which make it difficult for financially stressed countries to repay their loans within the given amount of time, furthering their debt to the financial giants.  There is criticism of a similar nature within academia toward the international education for development organizations.  Parallel examples can be drawn between these financial giants and the education for development efforts.  The most obvious example is the required restructuring of whole education sectors using western education sectors as a model, as advised by Education for All in the Fast-Track Initiative's Framework.  This is especially vexing when Western education systems are not even performing at their highest rate!  The use of western models as the example for developing nations echoes an imperial past.

Not only is the restructuring of whole governmental sectors occurring as a result of HCT’s influence in Western development, the language of instruction in local developing country schools has also become a controversial issue.  On one hand, it is increasingly viewed as a necessity everywhere to learn Western languages, especially English, in order to compete in today’s global market.  In support of that, the logistical implications of printing learning materials in the large number of local languages within Africa, for example, is daunting to think about.  For example, Nigeria alone has more than 500 local languages.  The cost of such a project would be astronomical.

On the other hand, language is embedded in a society’s culture.  Many scholars and cultural leaders view the necessity of knowing Western languages today as a threat to local, tribal languages, especially in Africa.  If students begin to speak only in English, for example, they may in time forget their local language altogether.  The advocates for local languages cite studies that conclude that, “students who have learned to read in their mother tongue learn to read in a second language more quickly than do those who are first taught to read in the second language.”  This idea is written into USAID’s Education Strategy that this should be observed: educating students in local languages, “allows for earlier comprehension and a smoother transition into other languages in subsequent years.”  On paper, these organizations encourage learning to read in local languages before the western language.  However, there are still vocal critics of organizations that continue to teach English in developing countries, like the British Council for example. 

            A 2008 review called The British Council Achieving Impact criticized the organization for its student base.  The review and report, conducted and written by the National Audit Office (NAO) in the UK, drew attention to the high costs of the British Council’s English classes abroad.  The high fees made it necessary for the English centers to be located in business and diplomatic districts, where the population was mostly wealthy and could afford the classes.  Consequently, the British Council was really only reaching the higher-class populations throughout the world and not underserved populations, which leads to the perpetuation of the cycle of inequality of opportunity.  This issue has been debated for several decades, yet the need for western languages only increases. 

            HCT itself is embedded in development plans and packages throughout the world.  What implications does this have for developing nations; what effect will it have on the populations?  We have yet to see concretely, but many academics watch in anticipation.  Additionally, clear parallels can be drawn between the required restructuring of government education sectors using western models and an imperial past.  Finally, the necessity of fluency in a western language in today’s society makes the case for some academics: education for development efforts, grounded in HCT, are reminiscent of imperialism.
             My question for these academics is, what would you propose that we do instead?

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

You're question shouldn't be for academics. You're an academic. What you need are results. Assuming that academics have all the answers will limit the quality of your answer. If you're asking what tney would do because, as academics, they're the people with the power to make important decisions, You still don't need them. I can answer that. They're going to do conduct business as usual.


Allison....What's a developement organization? Is there a cartel of development organizations? Are they mostly western? Are struglling countries being forced to adopt western characteristics to qualify for funding because that's exactly the way things are meant to work, or does the desperation of such a struggle force THEM to make these sacrifices?

Are they too miserable to care? That'd be my bet. You seem to care a great deal about equality and education throughout the world.

YOu're goal is for everyone in the world to have access to some form of education in the hope of improving life for everyone.

Allison......

What's wrong in those struggling countries? Why are they forced to adopt western ideals? What makes them so desperate?

Money.

They don't have money.

They can't create wealth of thier own. This is why nations don't develope. This is why nations fail.

What no one ever has the balls to discuss on a panel show could explain things a lot more clearly...but I'd rather focus on what can be done...if you REALLY want to understand this problem.

The mad man is telling the truth. What became of our wealth? I mean everyone's wealth.

Where's the money?

They need funding.

EVERYTHING ELSE...all this nonsense about what's different etc. They need money.

If its anything other than that, you're up against much more than a global need for education.

What about insuring that educational systems properly recognise intelligence itself, or understand that learning and knowledge are not disposable products of a tedious existence.

We've got to try something new. Something insane.

Look to history.

When do things change, and WHO changes them.

Find the great academic who answers my question.

My favorite writer was also a doctor who shot himself after Bush got re-elected.

His heart broke because he could see what was wrong, why the bastards win everytime, and who shot JFK.

I guarantee, human beings were intended to be as diverse as marine life.

The nations and languages, arts and mythology. We're already one world. Put the diagram down. See what works. Then ask more questions.

Great job, and thank you.

THE WINNER said...


When the pain is SO acute, and SO personal...it has to be coming from something other than natural, normal, or usual occurrences that can cause an individual to become unhappy enough to end their life.

I have the sanctity of mind to acknowledge that I'm being killed by something that was placed inside of my mind.

I've tried for a decade to get Allison Dower https://www.facebook.com/allison.m.dower?fref=ts

to talk to me., because this is something that would be absolutely necessary in order for me to overcome the need to kill myself, and this too could be the result of "brainwashing" or "coercive psychology".

If I've been saying for ten years that scientology has been trying to kil me, while explaining what coercive psychology, and covert psychological harassment are...and I find myself over-come with a desire to end my life...which I am fighting at this very moment with everything I've got, -why is it unreasonable to think that scientology is responsible.

These are my questions.

1. Was Allison Dower sent into an office where I worked as a telemarketer to profile me for CIA, or was she there to make me fall in love with her so I could be psychologically coerced...or controlled at all for that matter?

2. Is SHE an actual person, who I recognized immediately as the love of my life, who was psychologically coerced by James Bravohttps://www.facebook.com/james.bravo.98?fref=ts&pnref=story who DELIBERATELY USED TO SCIENTOLOGY TO REPLACE ME IN HER LIFE BEFORE SEDUCING HER AND CREATING AN EMOTIONAL/SEXUAL HOLD OVER HER...through which she could be used to torture me?

I LOVE Allison Dower. I loved her right away. If I could convince myself that YES is the answer to question number one, I'd be free and clear. I'd cheer right up.

The possibility of the answer being "YES" to question number 2, is a bullet that may already be inside my body, working it's way to my heart, exactly like Iron Man and the shrapnel in Tony Starks body.

"-tastes just like coconut!!..and Metal!"

Please...someone,

answer MY questions, so I can move on with my life.

I am being murdered before your very eyes.