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The relationship between education and development

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Sociology
Wordcount: 3756 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Development, which implies positive values, has been the concern of mankind from time immemorial. Many renowned thinkers devoted efforts to understand development better – consequently theories of development have emerged. Ingemar Fagerlind and Lawrence J. Saha (1983) cited at least four clusters of development theories, namely, the (i) classic cyclical theory, which includes the Greek and Roman views of the never ending cycles of growth and decay of all material things, including nations and civilization; (ii) Augustinian Christian theory, which represented the views of “doomsdayer” who sees the world as heading toward major catastrophe, including the threat from a nuclear war or the explosion of the population bomb; (iii) linear theory, represented by optimists who see development as a never-ending progress; and (iv) cyclical linear theory which combines the essence of the conflict orientation of the cyclical theory and the optimistic orientation of the linear theory.

By and large, people who see a dynamic interactive relationship between education and development are advocates of the linear model theory. Within this model, however, are three groups of social scientists, namely, the so called structural functionalists (e.g. Talcott Parsons and Robert Merton), the human capitalist theories (e.g. Theodore Schultz), and the modernization theorists (Alex Inkeles).

The human capitalist theory and to a certain extent the modernization theory constitute the framework for building cases to show that education enhances development.

The human capital theory postulates that the most efficient path to national development lies in the improvement of a country’s population. And of course, educators and almost all socio-economic planners are convinced that the best way to improve the population is through various forms of education and training

Those who think of education as crucial to development also draw inspiration from the modernization theory. Alex Inkeles and his colleagues think that to modernize is to develop. Society cannot develop unless its population holds modern attitudes and values. They see a direct relationship between education and socio-economic development, in that education brings about a change in outlook in the individual which promotes productivity and work efficiency. Education has a modernizing influence on values, beliefs and behaviours which make human beings more development-oriented. Viewed from the modernization theory, education is called upon to re-orientate and/or suppress beliefs, attitudes and values which tend to obstruct the initiation of the modernization process.


S.G. Strumlin first attempted to quantify the role of education in economic growth in 1925. It was not until the late 1950s and early 1960s that interest in the study of the nature of the changes occurring in the different sectors of the economy in the United States of America pushed economists to search for explanations. Some of these economists such as Denison and Solow found out that a large part of growth in Gross National Product (GNP) in the United States over the first half of the 20th Century remained unexplained when they tried to attribute the growth to conventional economic factors. Even after taking into account increases in real physical capital like equipment, structures and the like, and total number of hours worked, a large residual still remained to be explained. However, they came to realize that important qualitative changes in the labour force had occurred. People were more productive for each hour they worked because of the greater skills and knowledge they possessed. The assumption was made that formal education was instrumental to these high levels of productivity that

they were observing in the economy.

Economists such as Schults and Becker, and economists of education such as Welch and

Hoffman explained a part of the residual by what they called “Human Capital” of which

education through formal schooling was considered a major factor. It is the view of Fagerlind and Saha that one of the first systematic articulations of the Human Capital Theory occurred in 1960 in Theodore Schultz’s Presidential Address to the American Economic Association on the topic “investment in Human Capital.” In the address, Schultz suggested that education-was not to be viewed simply as a form of consumption but rather as a productive investment. He also argued that an educated population provided the type of labour force necessary for industrial development.

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Proponents of Human Capital Theory assume that formal education is highly instrumental to the improvement of the productive capacity of a population. The improvements of the productive capacity of the human work force in this sense is a form of capital investment. Human capital theorists postulated that the most efficient path to national development lies in the improvement of human capital through education. They also contended that the two pre-conditions for economic growth and development in any nation were investment in education and improvement in technology. Klees and Wells put this argument as follows:

Human Capital Theory considers educational activities explicitly as investment that contribute to efficiency now and growth over time. From this perspective, education develops an individual’s productive skills and therefore yields benefits over time to the individual and to the society as a whole. Thus we can evaluate, at least in part, the relative worth of allocating resources to educational activities compared to other alternative uses of these resources by examining educational costs and benefits. This framework has provided the basis for a considerable amount of educational resource and policy through the developed and developing world. This orientation championed by Schultz and Associates dominated the thinking in Economics of Education throughout the sixties. It formed the basis for manpower planning models used in forecasting educational enrollments required for specific development needs.

Human Capital Theory also gave economists the conceptual tools with which to link man -power demands, their changes over time in response to economic growth and the educational system; and to incorporate them into elaborate national development plans and growth targets.

Four manpower planning strategies or guidelines emerged from Human Capital research. They are the Social Demand Approach, the Manpower Requirements Analysis, the Cost-Benefit or Rate of Return Analysis and the Optimum Allocation of Resources Method.

The social demand approach assumes that education is a social good. It is believed that its

expansion as the demand arises will eventually result in benefits for the society. Therefore the state should bear the costs of educational expansion. Demographic data and social conditions are used in planning educational provisions when using this approach. Manpower require-ments for certain economic production targets can be estimated and produced through the formal education system. Planning education using this technique

involves estimating skill requirements for certain occupational categories needed for economic development over a period of time.

In cost-benefit analysis, estimates of the costs of acquiring various levels and kinds of education and the benefits associated with each kind and level are made. The assumption is that the value of the ratios so estimated would guide planners in decision-making with respect to the kinds of education to be offered or changed. In so doing, competitive rates of return on investment in education relative to other investment portfolios in the conventional capital markets can be maintained.

The method used in optimum allocation of resources is to describe the principal relationships between education and other sectors of the economy and then to allocate resources optimally, given some objective functions and constraints. In general, linear programming techniques are used to derive the education production functions.

In most developing countries, the manpower requirements approach was used as a guideline to relate educational planning to economic needs. A survey in 76 countries in 1968 showed that 65 of them had educational plans modeled after the manpower needs of the country. How-ever, as Sobel pointed out, protagonists of the manpower planning approach subsequently developed systematic mathematical models integrating manpower needs and educational planning which resulted in a proliferation of single-occupation studies in virtually all societies by each university or national university system, governmental manpower department, education ministry or vocational training department. Linear programming techniques were used to combine rates of return or cost-benefit analyses approaches with manpower requirements techniques to generate models of demand for education from the expected level and distribution of output in a given economy. These were done in an effort to ascertain whether the resultant manpower and education mix would maximize the growth of Gross National Product, maximize the excess of benefits over the costs of education. Most of the research findings showed that in country after country, a correlation exists between levels of education and subsequent lifetime earnings. In a comprehensive research study, Psacharopoulos standardized

53 rate of return studies for 32 different countries and sought to determine what generalizations could be made from the results. Some of the findings are as follows:

* rates of return are generally higher in less developed countries;

* primary education tends to yield the highest returns;

* returns to human capital exceed those on physical capital in underdeveloped countries but roughly equal those on physical capital in developed countries; and

* differences in per capita income can be explained better by differences in human than in physical capital.

This theoretical orientation of the Human Capital Theory, as Kless and Wells point out

“provided a basic justification for large public expenditure on the expansion of formal school systems in developing countries. Its appeal was based on the presumed economic returns to investment in education both at the macro and micro levels. Thus governments intensified efforts to invest in Human Capital so as to achieve rapid economic growth and development.”The obvious policy implication for most governments given the results of such empirical research was to expand enrollments and to provide for a longer period of schooling in order to maximize the benefits from schooling.

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In Africa, a Conference of African States on the development of Education in Africa was organized by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) from May 15 – 25, 1961. The Conference, as Thompson noted, “firmly grasped the concept that education was an investment in productivity” and urged that “educational provision should be planned continuously in relation to manpower needs at all times.”


Another dimension from which the relationship between education and development was

vigorously examined and explicated during the 1960s was in the social psychological and

sociological formulations of modernity theory. Modernity theorists argued that modernization is essentially a social-psychological process through which a country becomes modern only after its population has adopted modern attitudes, values and beliefs. They tried to show that there were causal links between modernizing institutions, modern values, modern behaviour, modern society and economic development. They maintained that the creation of modern values can be planned. Particular social institutions like the school, the family, the media and the workplace were identified as being of extreme importance in the emergence of modem values. However, most modernity theorists placed considerable emphasis on education because the school was perceived as a major agent in producing the skilled manpower and the modem

attitudes and values necessary for the existence of a modern society.

In the early post—World War II era, approximately twenty societies were regarded as highly modernized and roughly another ten to twenty were depicted as having passed a threshold on the path to modernization.

Definitions of modernized varied. Some noted structural features, such as levels of education, urbanization, use of inanimate sources of energy, and fertility. Others pointed to attitudes, such as secularization, achievement orientation, functional specificity in formal organizations, and acceptance of equality in relationships. Conscious of the ethnocentric nature of many earlier explanations for growth in national power and income, social scientists in the 1950s and 1960s generally omitted cultural traits associated closely with Western history from definitions of modernity. Yet, given the rhetoric of the Cold War and a preoccupation with democracy in U.S. national identity, political institutions became a central factor in many definitions.

The theory of modernization normally consists of three parts: (1) identification of types of societies, and explanation of how those designated as modernized or relatively modernized differ from others; (2) specification of how societies become modernized, comparing factors that are more or less conducive to transformation; and (3) generalizations about how the parts of a modernized society fit together, involving comparisons of stages of modernization and types of modernized societies with clarity about prospects for further modernization. Actually, reasoning about all of these issues predated postwar theory. From the Industrial Revolution, there were recurrent arguments that a different type of society had been created, that other societies were either to be left permanently behind or to find a way to achieve a similar transformation, and that not all modernizing societies had equal success in sustaining the process due to differences in economic, political, and other institutions. In the middle of the 1950s, these themes acquired new social science and political casting with the claim of increased rigor in analysis.

(Modernization Theory – Defining Modernization TheoryModernization Theory

Modernization theory is a description and explanation of the processes of transformation from traditional or underdeveloped societies to modern societies. In the words of one of the major proponents, “Historically, modernization is the process of change towards those types of social, economic, and political systems that have developed in Western Europe and North America from the seventeenth century to the nineteenth and have then spread to other European countries and in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries to the South American, Asian, and African continents” (Eisenstadt 1966, p. 1). Modernization theory has been one of the major perspectives in the sociology of national development and underdevelopment since the 1950s. Primary attention has focused on ways in which past and present premodern societies become modern (i.e., Westernized) through processes of economic growth and change in social, political, and cultural structures.

In general, modernization theorists are concerned with economic growth within societies as indicated, for example, by measures of gross national product. Mechanization or industrialization are ingredients in the process of economic growth. Modernization theorists study the social, political, and cultural consequences of economic growth and the conditions that are important for industrialization and economic growth to occur. Indeed, a degree of circularity often characterizes discussions of social and economic change involved in modernization processes because of the notion, embedded in most modernization theories, of the functional compatibility of component parts.

Although, there are many versions of modernization theory, major implicit or explicit tenets are that (1) societies develop through a series of evolutionary stages; (2) these stages are based on different degrees and patterns of social differentiation and reintegration of structural and cultural components that are functionally compatible for the maintenance of society; (3) contemporary developing societies are at a premodern stage of evolution and they eventually will achieve economic growth and will take on the social, political, and economic features of western European and North American societies which have progressed to the highest stage of social evolutionary development; (4) this modernization will result as complex Western technology is imported and traditional structural and cultural features incompatible with such development are overcome.

For example, in the social realm, modern societies are characterized by high levels of urbanization, literacy, research, health care, secularization, bureaucracy, mass media, and transportation facilities. Kinship ties are weaker, and nuclear conjugal family systems prevail. Birthrates and death rates are lower, and life expectancy is relatively longer. In the political realm, the society becomes more participatory in decision-making processes, and typical institutions include universal suffrage, political parties, a civil service bureaucracy, and parliaments. Traditional sources of authority are weaker as bureaucratic institutions assume responsibility and power. In the economic realm, there is more industrialization, technical upgrading of production, replacement of exchange economies with extensive money markets, increased division of labor, growth of infrastructure and commercial facilities, and the development of large-scale markets. Associated with these structural changes are cultural changes in role relations and personality variables. Social relations are more bureaucratic, social mobility increases, and status relations are based less on such ascriptive criteria as age, gender, or ethnicity and more on meritocratic criteria. There is a shift from relations based on tradition and loyalty to those based on rational exchange, competence, and other universally applied criteria. People are more receptive to change, more interested in the future, more achievement-oriented, more concerned with the rights of individuals, and less fatalistic.

Educational Reform and Human Capital Development.

Aga Khan University Examination Board (AKU-EB) is a Federal Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education established by Aga Khan University (AKU) in response to demand from schools for more appropriate school examinations. AKU-EB was founded in August 2003. It offers examination services to both Secondary School Certificate (SSC) and Higher Secondary School Certificate (HSSC) throughout Pakistan. Its primary purpose is to improve the quality of education by making examinations of reputable standard more accessible to Pakistani students and having them increasingly valued by leading higher education institutions in and outside the country.

In 2000, AKU-BOT approved the recommendation of the task force to establish and examination board. Its principal aim was to offer high quality public examinations using modern methods of assessment to test achievement within the national curriculum in order to enhance the quality of education. AKU-EB from the beginning was envisaged as a small undertaking which would be able to serve as a role model to have positive impact in field of education.

There has been great amount of funds poured in to AKU EB. Besides AKU, USAID supported through the Government’s Educational Sector Reforms throughout Pakistan . After the initial start-up period of five years, the University expects to become solely responsible for AKU-EB’s financial affairs.

The general objective of the AKU-EB is to design and offer high quality public examinations in English and Urdu based on the national curriculum for secondary and higher secondary education. It also arranges training sessions for teachers to develop appropriate learning materials to prepare teachers and students for the new examination system. It is intended to serve as a model of internationally recognized good practice in order to enhance the country’s capacity for educational assessment and tests, and therefore to improve the quality of education in schools, and through them, the quality of education in the national universities.

The concept of human capital and education revolutions intertwined because formal education is an important factor in human capital formation.

One of the objectives of AKU EB is to improve school environment by improving their curriculum by changing assessment strategy. Generally an individual’s levels of human capital are raised producing better school results. Hence this effect the policy making in public and privte sector involved in educational reforms.

Education is an investment in human capital, that is, in the skills and knowledge that produce a return to the individual in the form of higher earnings. Education also has social returns or spillovers. The presence of educated workers in a region enhances the earnings of those who, regardless of their own educational level, work with or near educated workers.

I would be interested to know about how AKU EB is measuring its impact on schools and teachers. How it can be explained by human capital development theory perspective? How is it investing in building infra structure and equiopment and training? What are individual and social returns of AKU EB efforts? And what are its effects on changing other local boards’ assessment strategies and curricula. How are teachers and parents looking at AKU EB as source of human capital development?


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