Assess the view that western models of education are not appropriate to developing countries (20)

Overview plan

  1. What are Western Models of Education?
  2. What are the arguments and evidence for western models being appropriate to developing countries?
  3. What are the arguments and evidence against/ what other models might be appropriate?
  4. Conclusion – when might Western models be appropriate/ when not?

This is a possible 20 mark essay which might come up on the AQA’s A-level sociology (7192/2) topics in sociology paper. Below is my extend plan. You might like to read this post on education and international development first, most of the material below is based on this.

Extended plan

1. What are Western Models of Education?

  • Free state education for all, funded by tax payer
  • Functions – apply Functionalism – crucial link to work and economy
  • Expensive, requires tax base, trained professionals
  • Industrial model/ factory model
  • National curriculums, standardised testing (downsides)

2. What are the arguments and evidence for western models being appropriate to developing countries?

  • Mainly modernisation theory – link to breaking traditional values
  • There is a correlation between education and economic growth.
  • Would anyone disagree with the idea that teaching kids to read/ keeping them out of work is a good idea? Near universal agreement.
  • Western companies are involved in running education systems in developing countries (linked to neoliberalism)

3. What are the arguments and evidence against western education being appropriate/ what other models might more appropriate?

  • Dependency theory argues western education is simply part of the colonial project – a ‘reward’ for the natives who obey the colonisers.
  • Western education focuses too much on Western history, it’s ethnocentric, and erases diverse voices (Galeano)
  • Bare Foot Education (people centred development) might be more appropriate – local education systems run by local people to meet local needs (focussing on agricultural technology, women’s empowerment for example).
  • Most obvious reasons ‘Western education’ might not work are due to numerous barriers to education – e.g. poorer countries cannot afford the teachers, rural populations are too dispersed.
  • Building on point d above, two of the biggest barriers are groups such as Boko Haram who prevent girls from getting an education.
  • Neoliberals and others suggest we can educate effectively in poor countries without the need for massive state sectors like in the west (through online learning, e.g. the hole in the wall experiment).

4. Conclusion – when might Western models be appropriate/ when not?

  • In principle the western idea of funding education for children for 11 years is hard to argue against
  • However, there are problems with many aspects of the western education system – top-down national curriculums for example, and the focus on too much testing, and the sheer expense.
  • Also, there are massive barriers to rolling out western style education systems in developing countries which would make massive state education difficult to maintain.
  • So in conclusion I’d say the most effective way to implement and improve education in poorer countries is to adopt some but not all aspects of western models – maybe having the state and aid money guarantee teacher training and reading programmes, combined with a more ground-up people centred development approach to make sure local people are included in shaping specific aspects of education to meet their local needs.

 

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