A test match between India and Sri Lanka had to be repeatedly halted on Sunday because of the smog enveloping Delhi.
The Sri-Lankan team took the field after the lunch break wearing face masks, and play was halted for consultation with doctors. It then resumed, but was stopped twice more when two Sri Lankan bowlers left the field with breathing difficult and nausea; one of them was said to have vomited in the changing room. (further details are in this article in the Hindustan Times)*
This little story got me to digging around for evidence of the extent of pollution in Delhi – and it seems that it’s pretty bad – according to this BBC News Article pollution levels in early November 2017 reached 30 times the World Health Organisation’s acceptable limits, and the Indian Medical Association declared a state of medical emergency…
To my mind this is a great example of the relationship between development and environmental damage, which can be especially bad when development happens rapidly (or should I say ‘development’?) and there is a lack of regulation. Possibly yet another problems with neoliberal strategies of development?
*NB – The India cricket boss, CK Khanna, accused to Sri Lankans of making a ‘big fuss’, I guess it all depends on what level of pollution you regard as ‘normal’!
The August 1947 partition of India divided the newly independent country into two new states: A Hindu-majority India and a Muslim-majority Pakistan. The later was itself divided into western and eastern sections, more than 1000 miles apart: present day Pakistan and Bangladesh.
In the view of most historians, the partition of India was the central event in 20th century South Asian history. It precipitated one of the largest migrations in human history, as Muslims fled to Pakistan, and Hindus and Sikhs to India. Up to 15 million people were uprooted, and this was accompanied by a vast outbreak of sectarian violence, as communities that had coexisted peacefully for hundreds of years massacred and killed each other. More than a million people are thought to have been killed.
The partition also marked the departure of the British from the subcontinent after 300 years in India
What led Britain to leave India?
India’s 30 year-long nationalist struggle had made it increasingly difficult and expensive to run, and after World War Two Britain no longer had the resources to control it. Indeed, Britain’s Labour government, elected in 1945, was firmly in favour of the idea of Indian self-rule. In early 1947, prime minister Clement Attlee appointed Louis Mountbatten as viceroy, instructing him: “Keep India united if you can. If not, save something from the wreck. In any case, get Britain out.”
Mountbatten proceeded at a speed that is now generally deemed to have been disastrous, but from a narrow British perspective he was fairly successful, the British marched out of the country with only seven casualties.
Why was partitioning India deemed to be necessary?
As a result of Muslim conquests dating back to the 11th century, a fifth of India’s population was Muslim at the time of partition. And thought Muslims and Hindus had been living side by side peacefully for centuries, the two groups became heavily polarised in the early 20th century. Prominent Muslims, feeling that the Indian National Congress, the main nationalist movement, was largely Hindu, formed the Muslim league in 1906. From the 1920s there were outbreaks of communal violence; and in 1940, the League, fearing the prospect of a Hindu-dominated India, committed itself to a separate Muslim homeland.
Congress initially opposed this idea, and negotiations between Congress leader Jawahatlal Nehru and Mohammed Ali Jinnah of the Muslim League became ever more poisonous. In 1946, a British mission proposed a loose federal structure, with three autonomous groups of provinces, but this was rejected and Mountbatten wen on to convince the major players that partition was the only option.
How was India divided?
A British barrister, Cyril Radcliffe, was given little more than a month of remake the map of India. His two boundary commissions, for Punjab and Bengal, had to draw a line through the two most divided provinces. He sat with four judges on each – two Muslim, two non-Muslim – but they split equally on contentious issues, leaving him the casting vote. The final borders were not agreed until two days after Independence. Few were happy. And very large numbers of people were left on the wrong side of the new line.
Why was partition so violent?
This question has been the subject of decades of historical debate. Indian nationalists generally blame Jinnah’s intransigence: the only India he’d accept would be a ‘divided India, or a destroyed India’, and the Direct Action Day he declared in August 1946 led to rioting and killing in Calcutta. Local politicians also stirred up violent prejudice, while landlords and businessmen paid and trained gangs of militias. ‘Divide and rule’ had ramped up tensions between different communities and the swift withdrawal of the forces of law and order left a dangerous vacuum. From August 1946 on, there were regular massacres across the country, which in turn sparked others, building to a climax in the summer of 1947.
Where was the violence worst?
It was particularly intense in Bengal and worst in Punjab, where there were massacres, forced conversions, mass abductions and rapes.”Gangs of killers set villages aflame, hacking to death men and children and the aged, while carrying off young women to be raped,” writes Nisid Hajari in Midnight’s Furies, his history of the partition of India. “Some British soldiers and journalists who had witnessed the Nazi death camps claimed the partition’s brutalities were worse: pregnant women had their breasts cut off and babies hacked out of their bellies; infants were found roasted on spits.”
The Punjab was effectively ethnically cleansed, of Hindus and Sikhs in the west, and of Muslims in the east. Refugee trains were ambushed and sent on to the border full of the murdered and the maimed. Karachi, Pakistan’s first capital, was nearly half Hindu before partition, by the end of the decade, almost all its Hindus had fled. Some 200 000 Muslims were forced out of Delhi.
Those who suffered the most: the women
During the partition, women were abducted, raped and mutilated in vast numbers. Victims were tattooed with phrases such as ‘Jai Hind’ (victory to India) and ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ (long live Pakistan). Stories abound of men killing their own wives and children in order to spare them the shame of possible capture and rape.
The Indian government has estimated that 83 000 women were abducted in 1947, mostly from the vast columns of refugees known as Kafilas. Some 50 000 were Muslims and the rest Hindus and Sikhs. The larger number of Muslim victims is attributed to the actions of organised Sikh jathas, or armed bands. Rather than being abandoned, writes Yasmin Khan in The Great Partition, “tens of thousands of women were kept in the ‘other’ country, as permanent hostages, captives, or forced wives; they became simply known as ‘the abducted women’.”
In the eight-year period after partition, 30 000 women were eventually repatriated to the other country. More than 20 000 Muslim women were sent to Pakistan, and more than 9 000 Hindus and Sikhs to India. The rest never returned to their families.
What were the long-term effects of Partition of India?
India and Pakistan have existed in a state of permanent hostility as a result – they’ve fought three declared wars, two of them over Kashmir, the only Muslim-majority area to stay inside India. A decades-long insurgency there has left thousands dead. Today, a large Muslim minority of some 170 million people remains in India; a far smaller Hindu minority of around three million lives in Pakistan. Both groups face persecution.
Pakistan, as the smaller and weaker country, has been dominated by its army and intelligence services in large part due to the perceived threat of India. The Pakistan military has used its jihadi proxies to attack India, while India has in recent years elected intolerant Hindu nationalist leaders.
The wounds of 1947 have never healed.
Relevance of this case-study to A-level Sociology
Can be used to illustrate how religion can be a source of conflict.
Can be used to illustrate how conflict ‘retards’ development.
Can be used to illustrate the relevant of feminist theory (probably difference feminism) – women seemed to have suffered more than men due to the partition.
Can be used to illustrate the ‘ethnocentric nature’ the British history curriculum – most students will know nothing about the partition of India.
In 1999 Sugata Mitra put a computer connected to the internet in a hole in the wall in a slum in Delhi and just left it there, to see what would happen.
The computer attracted a number of illiterate, slum children, who, by the end of the first day had taught themselves to surf the internet, despite not knowing what a computer or the internet were, or being able to read.
Over the next five years Mitra progressed his hole in the wall experiment to focus on delivering more specific knowledge – by posing questions via the computer in the hole in the wall. One question he asked, for example, was ‘why does hair grow’? After a few days, non-English speaking Tamil students were able to answer this question with reference to cell-biology.
Mitra then advanced his experiment even further in the UK – bringing his methods to Schools of Gateshead – where, without the English language barrier, students as young as nine were able to teach themselves about Quantum Entanglement, just from the internet.
The absence of a teacher was acting as a pedagogical tool – with students as young as young as nine.
Mitra’s basic theory of learning is that children simply need two things to learn effectively:
Firstly, they need to be allowed to crowd around computers which are connected to the internet.
Secondly, they need the absence of a teacher.
This is the absolute opposite of our current model of education, which Mitra argues was built to meet the needs of the British Empire, when people had to do the work of machines, and the system needed identical people who needed to be taught to not ask questions, and under no circumstances be creative.
We still have this model today – which is also a ‘just in case’ model of education – we teach people to be able to do things (e.g. solve quadratic equations) just in case they need to be able to do so.
According to Mitra, this model is completely out of date and out of touch with (post?) modern times – now that all knowledge is available online, the idea of individual knowledge is simply redundant: we don’t need to know until we need to know – and we need to move to a ‘just in time’ model of education, in which kids are allowed to learn quickly from the internet what they need when they need it.
Interestingly Mitra says he finds the idea of the redundancy of individual knowledge distasteful, but he has to report what the data from his Hole in the Wall Experiment reveals.
Mitra isn’t saying that we don’t need teachers, just that don’t need the type of teacher who gives uni-directional instructions, rather you need a teacher to be a friend, for moral support and a role model, to guide you through learning.
What children need is a a self-organised learning environment – and it does help if you have an adult who isn’t necessarily knowledgeable but is admiring who spurs children on (like his own Grandmother did).
All of this raises the question of whether we actually need schools? The general consensus of the programme seems to be that we do, but primarily because they are social environments, and children benefit from the social aspect of schooling, and that we don’t necessarily need traditional teachers.
Mitra also suggests that we need to re-think about what socialising actually is, and how technology might be changing this – when you’re floating around on Facebook, for example, is that socialising, or is it something completely different?
Sugata Mitra is Professor of Educational Technology at the School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences at Newcastle University.
How to get full marks for a 10 mark ‘item’ question in sociology A-level.
This question cam up as part of the families and households option in A level sociology paper 2 (topics in sociology), June 2017.
In the 1950s, most immigrants into the United Kingdom came from Commonwealth countries such as India and Jamaica. More recently, many immigrants have come from European countries such as Poland. May immigrants are young adults seeking work.
These migration patterns have affected household structures.
Applying material from Item C, analyse two ways in which migration patterns have affected household structures in the United Kingdom.
Answer (hints and tips)
Point one – has to be about the variation in Caribbean and Indian household structures… quite easy I think… Of course you could talk about both separately.
Point two – asks that that you talk about more recent structures, drawing on Polish immigration.
What kind of household structures could you discuss?
Number of people in the household – so single person, or multiple occupancy.
The relationships between the people in the household – married or not? Friends or families? Ages?
Gender roles in those households – domestic division of labour
Numbers of adults and children (e.g. single person households)
Matrifocal/ Patrifocal household
The relationships between people in one household and other households (maybe a useful way to demonstrated analysis)
So a potential answer might look like this:
Point one – focusing on Caribbean and Indian migration
Caribbean households – 60% single parent families
Link to male unemployment/ racism in society
Contrast to Indian households
Higher rate marriage/ lower rate divorce
But later generations – divorce more likely
Discuss Mixed race couples
Point two – focusing on European migration
Almost certainly less you can say about this! But as long as you’ve made the most of the previous point, you could easily get into the top mark band…
Younger age structure
More likely to have children and be married
Higher proportion of married families with children
Probably more shared-households – younger people without children sharing.
However, it does concern me that the AQA’s online specification explicitly directs teachers to really dated material, and most of the text books focus on this, while this exam question expects students to know about recent events relating to migration and the family which are neither on their online specification or in any of the major A level text books.
I think the AQA needs to relax it’s focus on that really dated material (the classic question on ‘Functionalism and the Family’ in the same paper is a good example of how students are expected to know in-depth this stuff from the 1950s) if it’s going to demand a more contemporary focus.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with a contemporary focus, just all that dated material that was such a waste of time students learning (like Pahl and Volger FFS), just in case it came up. This is a real problem because it makes sociology lose credibility, undermining the discipline.
Critics might say this problem emerges from the fact that whoever sets the agenda for the AQA families and households syllabus is something of a timeserver who can’t be bothered to update the specification appropriately by cutting down all the dated material. They might cite as evidence for this the fact that the specification hasn’t really changed significantly in 30 years.
Full answer from the AQA
Below is an example of an abbreviated (by me) marked response to this question, which achieved a top band-mark, 10/10 in fact!
The example is taken from the 2017 Education with Theory and Methods Paper (paper and mark schemes available from the AQA website).
The Question with Item
The Mark Scheme (top band only)
Item C points out that most immigrants come to Britain from commonwealth countries such as Jamaica. Bertod did a study of Caribbean families which found a type of individualism: the norm that people had to right to be free within marriage even if they had a child with the other person. This meant many Caribbean fathers chose not to stay with the mother of their children, leading to an increase in lone parent families.
Thus it follows that the increase in Caribbean immigration has lead to an increase in single parent families which is up from 10% in the 1970s to 23% today.
Item C also says that immigrants come from India. A study by Ballard found that South East Asians have collective, traditional values and tight knit extended families which support traditional family values – women having many children and being in the expressive role, and men in the breadwinner role, with close ties to grandparents.
This should mean an increase in traditional extended families in the UK due to Indian immigration, however the statistics do not confirm this as the divorce rate has increased dramatically since the 1970s. This does not support the idea of increased traditional families as these value marriages.
However, functionalists argue that divorce can be healthy as it there is better quality relationships in surviving marriages and remarriages.
This is overkill, easily 10/10!
Apparently 4 students died instantly of boredom on seeing the question because of reference to yet more sociology from before their parents were born.
Feedback on the Examinations
Student responses and commentaries: Paper 1 7192/2 Topics in Sociology
Published: Autumn 2017
NB – this document is NOT available on the AQA website, but any teacher should have access to it via eaqa. I’m sharing it here in order to make the exam standards more accessible, and to support the AQA in their equality and meritocratic agendas, because there will be some poor students somewhere whose teachers aren’t organised enough to access this material for them.
In the early stages of Globalisation (1600 -1950s especially) Nation States were very powerful – Colonialism for example was led by European governments and monarchies and the most serious conflicts tended to be between nation states – culminating in World War 2. However, since then, many globalisation theorists argue that increasing global flows in trade and communications have reduced the relative power of Nation States…..
Evidence for the power of Nation States declining
National Governments increasingly face problems that are too big for them to deal with on their own – examples of such global problems include – dealing with these problems increases the need to co-operate and reduces the power of individual nation states environmental problems, international terrorism, drug and people trafficking and the threat of global pandemics.
The United Nations and The Universal Declaration of Human Rights – limits the power of Nations to restrict the freedoms of individuals. Linked to this we have an international court where some dictators have been tried for crimes such as genocide.
Global Social Movements such as the green movement and the occupy movement are increasingly interconnected – which are critical of nation states – also part of ‘cultural globalisation’.
Some Transnational Corporations are bigger than Nation States – and so wield power over them – BP for example makes £25 billion profit every year and employs thousands of British workers – it is so crucial to the UK economy that the government has little choice but to keep it sweet, and the same is the case with many of our largest banks.
The power of United Nations to make any real change in the world is limited. The recent war in Iraq shows that powerful nations will go to war even when the United Nations does not back these wars.
Evidence for Nation States still retaining power
The World’s leading Nation States still maintain huge military capacity – the US spends more than $680 billion in 2010 on its military and Britain maintains a standing peace-time army of around 100 000 troops.
Pessimists argue that the World Trade Organisation simply represent the interests of the most powerful nations – namely America.
‘National Identity’ is still important to billions of people – there is a trend to more nation states – as present nations divide.
Brexit and the election of Donald Trump also suggest an increase in the number of people wanting to restrict the free-migration of people, no other institution can realistically do this, other than the nation state.
An essay plan including Modernisation and Dependency Theory, Neoliberalism and World System’s Theory, Bottom Billion and Neo-Modernisation theory, as well as contemporary trends such as war and conflict and environmental decline and case studies such as India, China, Afghanistan and Haiti.
The view in the question is most closely associated with Dependency Theory which argued that poor countries would remain poor due to their exploitation through colonialism and then neo-colonialism.
However, the historical record of the last 200 years of industrial development clearly shows that the above view is overstated: most poor countries, including many ex-colonies, have got wealthier, and have done so through a number of different strategies. However, it is also true that despite enormous increases in wealth globally, many countries remain trapped in poverty.
In order to address the question above I will do the following:
Firstly I will review the various theories of development which have pointed to a number of different causes of and related solutions to poverty in order to demonstrate the overwhelming historical evidence against the view in the question.
Secondly, I will discuss how emergent global problems such as the spread of war, conflict and terrorism, increasing consumption and environmental decline could mean that those countries which today are still poor today might well remain poor in the future.
Numerous theories of development have pointed to a number of causal factors related to poverty – according to these theories if certain things happen then poor countries are likely to remain poor…
Modernisation Theory – Poor countries remain poor because of their traditional values
Dependency Theory – Poor countries remain poor because of the legacy of colonialism and neocolonialism
World Systems Theory – Poor countries remain poor because of trade rules established by the WTO which works on behalf of rich countries and TNCs.
Neoliberalism – Poor countries remain poor because of too much Official
Development Aid and Corrupt governments
People Centered Development – The question of whether poor countries are economically poor is irrelevant – there are many different paths to development and many different ways of measuring development
Paul Collier’s Bottom Billion Theory – Poor countries remain poor because of Four traps – Poor governance, ethnic conflict, the resource curse and being landlocked with poor neighbours
Hans Rosling and Jeffry Sachs – Poor countries remain poor because of the poverty trap and lack of Official Development aid from the west
Conversely, if certain things happen, then poor countries will not necessarily remain poor. Countries will develop if….
(MT) Poor countries need to learn from the West, industrialise and progress through the five stages of growth
(DT) Poor countries need to break free from Western Capitalism and isolate themselves through socialist models of development
(WST) They position themselves as semi-periphery countries, manufacturing goods rather than exporting raw materials – e.g. The Philippines/India/ China
(NL) Poor countries need to open up their markets through deregulation, privatisation and low taxation – e.g. Chile
(PCD) There are diverse paths to development but all of them should respect the principles of equality, democracy and sustainability.
(BB) We need a Marshal Aid plan for the Bottom Billion, countries need to sort out poor governance and we need fairer trade rules
(Hans and Jeff) We still need massive aid injections, which need to be targeted initially on improving health, but also on women’s rights and education.
Case studies and global trends information which suggests poor countries will remain poor
War and Conflict/ Terrorism
Higher rates of consumption as countries develop
Environmental challenges and the lack of global agreements on climate change
Increase Military Expenditure
The increasing power of TNCs and lack of fair trade rules
The lack of commitment to giving official development aid by rich nations
Case studies and global trends information which suggests poor countries will continue to develop
The lowering of birth rates
The increasing number of children in school
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
The UN’s sustainable development goals
Continued Economic growth globally
Conclusion and Analytical Points – Using the evidence above BUILD a conclusion
From the above evidence it is clear that not all countries have remained poor….
The most applicable theory which helps us explain underdevelopment today is ____________________ and following this theory poor countries are most likely to develop if….
However, some of the challenges in the world today suggest that some underdeveloped countries might remain poor in the future. For example…
On balance I feel that that while all countries will probably not remain poor (delete as appropriate) (1) the majority of poor countries will remain poor and only a few will develop / (2) most developing countries will develop but a few are likely to remain poor/ (3) add in an alternative closing sentence of your choice…
A brief summary of part of Arundhati Roy’s ‘Capitalism: A Ghost Story’ – In which she explores some of the consequences of privatisation (part of neoliberalisation) in India.
‘Trickle down hasn’t worked in India, but gush up certainly has’
The era of the privatisation of everything has made the Indian economy one of the fasted growing in the world and most of this wealth has gushed up to India’s Corporate Elite.
In India today, a nation of 1.2 billion people, one hundred people own assets equivalent to 25% of the GDP, while a 300 million strong middle class live among the ghosts of the 250 00 debt-ridden farmers who have killed themselves and the 800 million who have been impoverished and dispossessed and live on less than twenty Indian rupees a day.
The most egregious expression of this inequality is Antilla, a building on Altamount Road in Mumbai which belongs to India’s richest man Mukesh Ambanni. It is the most expensive dwelling ever built: it has 27 floors, including 6 for parking, 3 helipads, 600 servants and a 27 story vertical wall of grass. Ambanni is worth $20 billion dollars and his company, Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) has a market capitalisation of $47 billion.
Ambanni’s RIL Corporation is one of a handful which run India, some of the others being Tata and Vedanta, the later of which are truly global in scope – Tata, for example, runs more than one hundred companies in 80 countries.
The consequence of this concentration of wealth, is an increase in corruption, or as Roy puts it – ‘As gush up continues, so more money flows through the institutions of government’. As an example, in 2011, a corrupt minister of communications and information undervalued 2G phone licences by $40 billion dollars, to the benefit of the telecommunications companies which now profit from them, effectively costing Indian taxpayers $40 billion of revenue.
How the Elite in India Benefit from Neoliberal Policies
The way this typically works is that a corrupt government official signs a ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ (MoU) with a Corporation which privatises a chunk of publicly owned land, giving that corporation the right to use that land to establish a business – this either takes the form of mining the raw materials from under the land, or establishing a range of other projects such as Agribusinesses, Special Economic Zones, Dams, and even Formula One racing circuits.
Taxes are typically kept very low in these deals – often sow low in that local people see little of the financial benefit of the new business.
This is especially true were mining is concerned. In 2005, for example, the state governments of Chhattisgarh, Orissa, and Jharkhand signed hundreds of memorandums of understanding with private corporations, turning over trillions of dollars of bauxite, iron ore and other minerals for a pittance – royalties (effectively taxes) ranged from 0.5% to 7%, with the companies allowed to keep up to 99% of the revenue gained from these resources. (Allowing people like Ambanni to build their 27 story houses, rather than the money being used for food for the majority of the Indian population.)
In a third strand of Neoliberal policy, companies are subjected to very little regulation. It seems that they are allowed to develop their projects without protecting the environment or paying any compensation to people who are negatively affected by these projects, as indicated in the case study below:
Tata Steel in Chhattisgarh, North East India
Only days after the Chhattisgarh government signed an MoU with Tata Steel, a vigilante militia was established (known as the Salwa Judum). Organised by the state government and funded by Tata Steel the Salwa Judum initiated a ground clearance operation to eradicate the local forest peoples so Tata could set up its steel plant.
The Salwa Judum burned, raped and murdered its way through 600 local villages forcing 50 000 people into police camps and displacing a further 350 000. To keep these displaced persons in check, the government then deployed 200 000 paramilitary troops to the region to make sure that it remained a stable climate for investment and economic growth.
According to Roy the government has labelled these people ‘Maoist Rebels’, but in reality they are just displaced peoples.
What is the state of global education? What are the barriers to providing universal education for all, and how important is education as a strategy for international development and economic growth? Can western models of education work for developing countries, or are more people-centred approaches more appropriate and/ or desirable?
Under this objective The United Nations notes that:
Obtaining a quality education is the foundation to improving people’s lives and sustainable development. Major progress has been made towards increasing access to education at all levels and increasing enrollment rates in schools particularly for women and girls. Basic literacy skills have improved tremendously, yet bolder efforts are needed to make even greater strides for achieving universal education goals. For example, the world has achieved equality in primary education between girls and boys, but few countries have achieved that target at all levels of education.
Four specific challenges are identified:
Enrollment in primary education in developing countries has reached 91 per cent but 57 million children remain out of school
More than half of children that have not enrolled in school live in sub-Saharan Africa
An estimated 50 per cent of out-of-school children of primary school age live in conflict-affected areas
103 million youth worldwide lack basic literacy skills, and more than 60 per cent of them are women
Some of the specific targets for 2030 include:
Ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and effective learning outcomes
Ensure that all girls and boys have access to quality early childhood development, care and pre-primary education so that they are ready for primary education
Ensure equal access for all women and men to affordable and quality technical, vocational and tertiary education, including university
Eliminate gender disparities in education and ensure equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for the vulnerable, including persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples and children in vulnerable situations
The United Nations argues that Massive Aid Injections are Required to promote education
The United Nations estimates that to achieve SDG 4 developing countries would need to increase their education expenditure by an average of 50%, which they will not be able to afford by 2030, resulting in a funding gap of $39 billion, which will need to be met by outside investors.
Education in Developing and Developed Countries: A Comparison
Looking at the global picture is one thing, but looking at statistics country by country provides a much better idea of the differences between developed and developing countries in terms of education.There are a number of indicators used to measure progress in education and just some of these include:
The primary enrollment ratio.
The mean number of years children spend in school.
Attendance figures (at primary and secondary school and in tertiary education).
Literacy rates (which can be for youth or adults).
National Test Results (e.g. GCSE results)
Performance in international tests for international comparisons – such as the PISA tests.
The percentage of GDP spent on education
(The main sources for data on education come from the United Nations, UNICEF, and The World Bank.)
A selected breakdown of some of these statistics shows the enormous differences in education between countries:
In the UK, The government spends nearly £90 billion a year on education, employing over 400 000 teachers (all of whom have to be qualified)and over 800 000 people in total in the education system. Education is compulsory from the ages of 4 to 18, meaning every single child must complete a minimum of 14 years of education, and the majority of students will then go on to another 2-3 years of training in apprenticeships or universities. In the primary and secondary sectors, billions of pounds are spent every year building and maintaining schools and schools are generally well equipped will a range of educational resources, with free school meals provided for the poorest students.
Since the 1988 education act, all schools are regularly monitored by OFSTED and thus every school head and every single teacher is ultimately held to account for their results, and the system is very much focused on getting students qualifications – GCSEs and A levels, of which there is a huge diversity. At the end of secondary school, around 70% of students have 5 good GCSEs, but even those who do not achieve this bench mark have a range of educational and training options available to them.
It might sound obvious to say it, but there is also a generalised expectation that both students (and staff) will attend school – attendance is monitored regularly and parents can be fined and even sent to jail if their children truant persistently.
In addition to getting students GCSEs, schools are also required to a whole host of other things – such as teach PSHE lessons, prepare students for their future careers,foster an appreciation for multiculturalism,monitor ‘at risk students’ and liaise with social services as appropriate. Schools are also supposed to differentiate lessons to take account of each individual students’ learning needs.
Of course there are various criticisms of the UK education system, but after 16 years of schooling the vast majority of students come out the other end with significantly enhanced knowledge and skills. Finally, it is worth noting that girls do significantly better than boys in every level of the education system.
Things are very different in many poorer countries around the world – For a start the funding difference is enormous, more than a hundred times less per pupil in the poorest countries; many school buildings are in a terrible state of repair, and many schools lack basic educational resources such as text books. Attendance is also a lot worse, especially in secondary school, and in some regions of India 25% of teaching staff simply don’t show up to work (while reporting very high levels of job satisfaction). A third significant difference is that there is no OFSTED in developing countries, and so schools aren’t monitored- teachers and schools aren’t held accountable for student progress, which is reflected in the fact that a huge proportion of students come out of the education system with no qualifications.
How Can Education Promote Development?
There is no doubt that education can promote development…
Firstly, education can combat poverty and improve economic prosperity. For every year at school education increases income by 10% and increases the GDP growth rate by 2.5%.Teaching children to read and write means they are able to apply for a wider range of jobs – and potentially earn more money, rather than being limited to subsistence agriculture.
Secondly education can be used to improve health.School can be used to pass on advice about how to prevent diseases and thus improve health and they can also be places where free food and vaccinations can be administered centrally (as is the case in the UK) – improving the health of a population.
Thirdly, education can combat gender inequality.This is illustrated in the case study of Kakenya Ntaiya, who, at the age of 11 agreed with her father that she would undergo FGM if he allowed her to continue on to secondary school, which she did, eventually winning a scholarship to study in the United States. There she learnt about women’s rights and returned to her village in Kenya and set up a girls only school where currently 100 girls are protected from having to undergo FGM themselves.
Fourthly, education can get people more engaged with politics. You need to be able to read in order to engage with newspapers and political leaflets and manifestos, which typically contain much more detailed information than you get via radio and televisions. Thus higher literacy rates could potentially make a country more democratic – democracy is positively correlated with higher levels of development
Barriers to Providing Education in Developing Countries
There are many barriers to improving education in developing countries which means that development through education is far from straightforward…
Read the section below and complete the table at the end of the section.
Firstly, poverty means that developing countries lack the money to invest in education -this results in a whole range of problems – such as very large class sizes, limited teaching resources, a poor standard of buildings, not enough teachers – let alone the resources to monitor the standards of teaching and learning.
This is well illustrated in this video of Khabukoya primary school in a remote region of Kenya, near the Ugandan border.
Kenya spends 6% of its GDP on education and has a comparatively good level of education for Sub-Saharan Africa – yet this school appears to have been forgotten about. The school has 400 students and yet only one classroom with a concrete floor and desks, with all other classrooms having mud floors, and being so small that students are practically sitting on top of each other. Funding is so limited that the school relies of volunteer labour to partition the too-few classrooms they have, a task which is being done with mud and water, and to make matters worse half of the students are infected with jiggers, a parasitic sand flea which burrows into the skin to lay its eggs, which causes infections which are often disabling and sometimes fatal.
Secondly, the high levels of absenteeism in primary and especially secondary schools is a major barrier to improving literacy. Most developing countries have enrollment ratios approaching 100%, but the actual attendance figures are much lower. Even in India, a rapidly developing country, the female secondary attendance rate is 50%, while in Ethiopia, it is down at 16%.
Thirdly, the persistence of child labour– The International Labour Organisation notes that globally, the number of children in labour stands at 168 million(down from 246 million in 2000) and 59 million of these are in Sub-Saharan Africa.Agriculture remains by far the most important sector where child labourers can be found (98 million, or 59%), but the problems are not negligible in services (54 million) and industry (12 million) – mostly in the informal economy.
Fourthly, poor levels of nutrition in the first 1000 days of a child’s life significantly reduces children’s capacity to learn effectively – malnutrition leads to stunting(being too short for one’s age) which affects more than 160 million children globally and more than 40% of under-fives in many African countries including Somalia, Uganda and Nigeria. According to the World Health Organisation children who are stunted achieve one year less of schooling than those who are not.
Fifthly, War and Conflict–The United Nations notes that 34 million, or more than half all children currently not in education, live in conflict countries, making conflict one of the biggest barriers to education. Many of these children will be internally displace refugees, but on top of this there are approximately 7 million children living as refugees in non-conflict countries (stats deduced from this Guardian article) and most of these receive a poor standard of education. In conflict countries, the vast majority of humanitarian aid money is spent on survival, with only 2% going towards education.
One of the most interesting examples of conflict preventing education (at least ‘western education especially for girls’) is the case of Boko Haram in Northern Nigeria– A terrorist organisation who gained international notoriety in 2014 when they kidnapped 200 girls from their school dormitory.
Sixthly, Patriarchal cultural values– means many girls the world over suffer most from lack of education.Pakistan and India are two countries which have significant gender inequalities in education provision – In India (one of the BRIC nations) the percentage of girls attending school lags 10% points behind that of boys, a situation which is even worse in Pakistan, the country is which Malala Yousafzai was shot by the Taliban for attending school. In this video she describes some of the fear tactics the Taliban use to prevent girls going to school – such as bombing schools which allow girls to attend and public floggings of women who allow their daughters to attend school.
A seventh barrier is the lack of teachersto improve education –the link has a nice interactive diagram to show variation by country.Somewhat ironically this link takes you to an article which discusses how increasing primary education has led to problems as this has led to an increase in demand for secondary education – which many African countries are too poor to provide!
Finally, an eighth barrier is widely dispersed populations in rural areas means children may have difficulty getting to school.
Is a Western Style of Education Appropriate to Developing Countries?
Many of the education systems in developing countries are modelled on those of the west – in that they have primary, secondary and tertiary sectors, they emphasise primary academic subjects such as English, Maths, Science and History and they have external systems of exams which award qualifications to those who pass them. The idea that a Western style of education is appropriate to developing countries is supported by Functionalists/ Modernisation Theorists and generally criticised by Dependency Theorists and People Centred Development Theorists.
Functionalist thinkers (Functionalism is the foundation of Modernisation Theory) argue that Western education systems perform vital functions in advanced industrial societies. These functions include (a) taking over the function of secondary socialisation from parents (b) equipping all children for work through teaching a diverse range of academic and vocational subjects, (c ) sifting out the most able students through a series of examinations so that these can go on to get the best jobs and (d) providing a sense of belonging (solidarity) and National Identity. Functionalists thinkers such as Emile Durkheim and Talcott Parsons saw national education systems with their top-down national curriculums and examinations as being essential in advanced societies.
It follows that Modernisation Theorists in the 1950s also saw the establishment of education systems as one way in which traditional values could be broken down. If children in developing countries are in school then they can be taught to read and write (which their parents couldn’t have done in the 1950s given the near 100% illiteracy rate at the time), and the brightest can be filtered out through examinations to play a role in developing the country as leaders of government and industry.
According to modernisation theory, school curriculums should be designed with the help of western experts and curriculums and timetables modelled on those of Western education systems – with academic subjects such as English, Maths and History forming core subjects in the curriculums of many developing countries.
However, there are a number of criticisms of the Modernisation Approach to education.
Dependency theorists have pointed out that most people in developing countries do not benefit from western style education. According to DT, education was used in many colonies as a tool of control by occupying countries such as Britain, France and Belgium. The way this worked was to select one quiescent minority ethnic group and provide their children with sufficient education to govern the country on behalf of the colonial power. This divisive legacy continued after colonies gained their independence, with school systems in developing countries proving an extremely sub-standard of education to the majority while a tiny elite at the top could afford to send their children to be educated in private schools, going on to attend universities in the USA and Europe, and then returning to run the country as heads of government and industry to maintain a system which only really benefits the elite, while the majority remain in poverty.
One potential solution to the exclusion faced by the majority of children from education in the developing world comes in the form of Non Governmental Organisations such as Action Aid, who are best known for their Sponsor a Child Campaign, in which any individual in the west can pay £20/ month (or thereabouts) which can fund a child through education. One example of a homegrown version of this charity is the Parikrma Humanity Foundation which essentially ignores the daunting numbers of uneducated children and just focuses on educating one child at a time from the slums of India, to a relatively high level, so that they can escape their poverty for good.
People Centred Development theorists criticise Modernisation Theory because of the fact that Western style curriculums are not appropriate to many people in developing countries. In short, the situations many people in poor countries find themselves in mean they would benefit more from a non-academic education, and more over one that is not explicitly designed to smash apart their traditional societies. According to PCD if people from the west want to help with education in developing countries, they should find out what people in developing countries want and then work with them to meet their educational needs. One excellent example of this is the Barefoot education movement which teaches women and men, many of whom are illiterate, in North West India to become solar engineers and doctors in their own villages, drawing as far as possible on their traditional knowledge. There is one condition people must meet in order to become teachers in this school – they must not have a degree.
It might also be the case that modern technology today means that Western Education systems are simply not required in developing countries. Bill Gates (Head of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the largest Philanthropic charitable organisation in the world which controls over $30 billion of assets, and has a similar amount pledged by wealthy individuals) – who (again unsurprisingly) believes that developing online education courses will change the face of global education in the next 15 years because they can be accessed by anyone with a smartphone. One of the leaders in the development of online courses is the Khan Academy- whose strapline is ‘You can learn anything… for free.
An interesting experiment which suggests this might just work is Sugata Mitra’s ‘hole in wall experiment’ in which he simply put computers in a hole in a wall in various slums and villages around India and just left them there – children picked up how to surf the internet in a matter of days, and even learned some rudimentary English along the way. Mitra’s theory is that children can teach themselves when they work in groups, and his intention is to develop cloud based educational material which will enable children to teach themselves a whole range of subjects.
One problem with leaving education to People Centred Development Approaches or leaving it to children to educate themselves on the internet is that this will probably leave children in poorer developing countries lagging behind in terms of the skills and qualifications required to compete for the best paying jobs in the international job market. In comparison to developing countries, developed countries spend a fortune on their education systems and children spend considerably longer in education, and there is an undeniable link between the successful education systems in South East Asia and the hours invested in education by South East Asian children in countries such as China, South Korea and Singapore and the rapid growth of these economies over the past decades. The problem with this approach is that its success may well be related to the culture of the region which emphasises the importance of individual effort in order to achieve through education.
The three country case studies below all suggest that although neoliberal policies might promote economic development in the long run, in the case of Chile at least, there are some significant negative consequences of this pathway to development.
Chile in the 1970s
Boliva in the the 1990s
India – Contemporary
NB – If you’re here for a blog post about Neoliberalism in India – please click here (I moved it!)
The following clip from ‘The Shock Doctrine’ outlines the ‘neoliberal experiment in Chile from 1973 onwards, the very first neoliberal experiment in development.
Following the overthrow Salvador Allende, the democratically elected but Socialist President, the American backed Dicator Augusto Pinochet implemented neoliberal economic reforms.
These were written for him by by a group of American economists known as ‘The Chicago school’, headed by Milton Freedman.
Examples of neoliberal policies reforms included the cutting of taxes on imports to 10% (previously Chile had the second most protected economy in the world) and the privatisation of state owned companies.
In the short term – the policies increased unemployment and inflation and inequality and human misery which led to massive social unrest which Pinochet oppressed violently killing tens of thousands of people.
However, 40 years later… Chile is one of Latin America’s leading economies.
Neoliberals might argue tens of thousands of lives is a price worth paying for rapid wealth creation
Neoliberalism in Bolivia
This video clip from ‘The Corporation’ summarizes the case study of water privatization in Bolivia in the 1990s.
In the early 1990s, one local administrative area within Bolivia was forced to privatise the previously state owned water supply as part of a ‘Structural Adjustment Programme’
A Multinational took over running the water supply for a profit
The poorest people couldn’t afford to pay for water.
This led to massive protests which the government violently suppressed.
In this case the government eventually renationalised the water supply due to popular demand.
Did neoliberalism help development?
If you define progress as the right to clean water then no.
If you define it as increasing profit for European Transnationals then yes.
Neoliberalism in India
Arundhati Roy notes that ‘Trickle down hasn’t worked in India, but gush up certainly has’
She notes the following three ways in which the Elite in India Benefit from Neoliberal Policies
Corrupt government officials sign a ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ (MoU) with a Corporation which privatises a chunk of publicly owned land, giving that corporation the right to use that land to establish a business – this either takes the form of mining the raw materials from under the land, or establishing a range of other projects such as Agribusinesses, Special Economic Zones, Dams, and even Formula One racing circuits.
Taxes are typically kept very low in these deals – often sow low in that local people see little of the financial benefit of the new business. This is especially true were mining is concerned. In 2005, for example, the state governments of Chhattisgarh, Orissa, and Jharkhand signed hundreds of memorandums of understanding with private corporations, turning over trillions of dollars of bauxite, iron ore and other minerals for a pittance – royalties (effectively taxes) ranged from 0.5% to 7%, with the companies allowed to keep up to 99% of the revenue gained from these resources. (Allowing people like Ambanni to build their 27 story houses, rather than the money being used for food for the majority of the Indian population.)
In a third strand of Neoliberal policy, companies are subjected to very little regulation. It seems that they are allowed to develop their projects without protecting the environment or paying any compensation to people who are negatively affected by these projects.
This post is a brief summary of the Dependency Theory view of Development and Underdevelopment. It is, broadly speaking, a Marxist theory of development.
Andre Gunder Frank (1971) argues that developing nations have failed to develop not because of ‘internal barriers to development’ as modernization theorists argue, but because the developed West has systematically underdeveloped them, keeping them in a state of dependency (hence ‘dependency theory’.)
The World Capitalist System
Frank argued that a world capitalist system emerged in the 16th century which progressively locked Latin America, Asia and Africa into an unequal and exploitative relationship with the more powerful European nations.
This world Capitalist system is organised as an interlocking chain: at one end are the wealthy ‘metropolis’ or ‘core’ nations (European nations), and at the other are the undeveloped ‘satellite’ or ‘periphery’ nations. The core nations are able to exploit the peripheral nations because of their superior economic and military power.
From Frank’s dependency perspective, world history from 1500 to the 1960s is best understood as a process whereby wealthier European nations accumulated enormous wealth through extracting natural resources from the developing world, the profits of which paid for their industrialisation and economic and social development, while the developing countries were made destitute in the process.
Writing in the late 1960s, Frank argued that the developed nations had a vested interest in keeping poor countries in a state of underdevelopment so they could continue to benefit from their economic weakness – desperate countries are prepared to sell raw materials for a cheaper price, and the workers will work for less than people in more economically powerful countries. According to Frank, developed nations actually fear the development of poorer countries because their development threatens the dominance and prosperity of the West.
Colonialism, Slavery and Dependency
Colonialism is a process through which a more powerful nation takes control of another territory, settles it, takes political control of that territory and exploits its resources for its own benefit. Under colonial rule, colonies are effectively seen as part of the mother country and are not viewed as independent entities in their own right. Colonialism is fundamentally tied up with the process of ‘Empire building’ or ‘Imperialism’.
According to Frank the main period of colonial expansion was from 1650 to 1900 when European powers, with Britain to the fore, used their superior naval and military technology to conquer and colonise most of the rest of the world.
During this 250 year period the European ‘metropolis’ powers basically saw the rest of the world as a place from which to extract resources and thus wealth. In some regions extraction took the simple form of mining precious metals or resources – in the early days of colonialism, for example, the Portuguese and Spanish extracted huge volumes of gold and silver from colonies in South America, and later on, as the industrial revolution took off in Europe, Belgium profited hugely from extracting rubber (for car tyres) from its colony in DRC, and the United Kingdom profited from oil reserves in what is now Saudi Arabia.
In other parts of the world (where there were no raw materials to be mined), the European colonial powers established plantations on their colonies, with each colony producing different agricultural products for export back to the ‘mother land’. As colonialism evolved, different colonies came to specialise in the production of different raw materials (dependent on climate) – Bananas and Sugar Cane from the Caribbean, Cocoa (and of course slaves) from West Africa, Coffee from East Africa, Tea from India, and spices such as Nutmeg from Indonesia.
All of this resulted in huge social changes in the colonial regions: in order to set up their plantations and extract resources the colonial powers had to establish local systems of government in order to organise labour and keep social order – sometimes brute force was used to do this, but a more efficient tactic was to employ willing natives to run local government on behalf of the colonial powers, rewarding them with money and status for keeping the peace and the resources flowing out of the colonial territory and back to the mother country.
Dependency Theorists argue that such policies enhanced divisions between ethnic groups and sowed the seeds of ethnic conflict in years to come, following independence from colonial rule. In Rwanda for example, the Belgians made the minority Tutsis into the ruling elite, giving them power over the majority Hutus. Before colonial rule there was very little tension between these two groups, but tensions progressively increased once the Belgians defined the Tutsis as politically superior. Following independence it was this ethnic division which went on to fuel the Rwandan Genocide of the 1990s.
An unequal and dependent relationship
What is often forgotten in world history is the fact that before colonialism started, there were a number of well-functioning political and economic systems around the globe, most of them based on small-scale subsistence farming. 400 years of colonialism brought all that to end.
Colonialism destroyed local economies which were self-sufficient and independent and replaced them with plantation mono-crop economies which were geared up to export one product to the mother country. This meant that whole populations had effectively gone from growing their own food and producing their own goods, to earning wages from growing and harvesting sugar, tea, or coffee for export back to Europe.
As a result of this some colonies actually became dependent on their colonial masters for food imports, which of course resulted in even more profit for the colonial powers as this food had to be purchased with the scant wages earnt by the colonies.
The wealth which flowed from Latin America, Asia and Africa into the European countries provided the funds to kick start the industrial revolution, which enabled European countries to start producing higher value, manufactured goods for export which further accelerated the wealth generating capacity of the colonial powers, and lead to increasing inequality between Europe and the rest of the world.
The products manufactured through industrialisation eventually made their way into the markets of developing countries, which further undermined local economies, as well as the capacity for these countries to develop on their own terms. A good example of this is in India in the 1930s-40s where cheap imports of textiles manufactured in Britain undermined local hand-weaving industries. It was precisely this process that Ghandi resisted as the leading figure of the Indian Independence movement.
By the 1960s most colonies had achieved their independence, but European nations continued to see developing countries as sources of cheap raw materials and labour and, according to Dependency Theory, they had no interest in developing them because they continued to benefit from their poverty.
Exploitation continued via neo-colonialism – which describes a situation where European powers no longer have direct political control over countries in Latin America, Asia and Africa, but they continue to exploit them economically in more subtle ways.
Frank identities three main types of neo-colonialism:
Firstly, the terms of trade continue to benefit Western interests. Following colonialism, many of the ex-colonies were dependent for their export earnings on primary products, mostly agricultural cash crops such as Coffee or Tea which have very little value in themselves – It is the processing of those raw materials which adds value to them, and the processing takes place mainly in the West
Second, Frank highlights the increasing dominance of Transnational Corporations in exploiting labour and resources in poor countries – because these companies are globally mobile, they are able to make poor countries compete in a ‘race to the bottom’ in which they offer lower and lower wages to attract the company, which does not promote development.
Finally, Frank argues that Western aid money is another means whereby rich countries continue to exploit poor countries and keep them dependent on them – aid is, in fact, often in the term of loans, which come with conditions attached, such as requiring that poor countries open up their markets to Western corporations.
Strategies for Development
Breaking away from dependency
Associate or dependent development
Breaking away from dependency
This view argues that dependency is not just a phase, but rather a permanent position. The only way developing countries can escape dependency is to escape from the whole capitalist system. Under this category, there are different paths to development:
Isolation, as in the example of China from about 1960 to 2000, which is now successfully emerging as a global economic superpower having isolated itself from the West for the past 4 decades.
A second solution is to break away at a time when the metropolis country is weak, as India did in Britain in the 1950s, following world war 2. India is now a rising economic power.
Thirdly, there is socialist revolution as in the case of Cuba. This, however, resulted in sanctions being applies by America which limited trade with the country, holding its development back.
Many leaders in African countries adopted dependency theory, arguing that and developing political movements that aimed to liberate Africa from western exploitation, stressing nationalism rather than neo-colonialism.
Associate or dependent development.
Here, one can be part of the system, and adopt national economic policies to being about economic growth such as
Import substitution industrialisation where industrialisation produces consumer goods that would normally be imported from abroad, as successfully adopted by many South American countries. The biggest failure of this, however, was that it did not address inequalities within the countries. ISI was controlled by elites, and these policies lead to economic growth while increasing inequality.
Criticisms of Dependency Theory
1. Some countries appear to have benefited from Colonialism – Goldethorpe (1975) pointed out that those countries that had been colonised at least have the benefits of good transport and communication networks, such as India, whereas many countries that were never colonised, such as Ethiopia, are much less developed.
2. Modernisation theorists would argue against the view that Isolation and communist revolution is an effective path to development, given the well-known failings of communism in Russia and Eastern Europe. They would also point out that many developing countries have benefitted from Aid-for Development programmes run by western governments, and that those countries which have adopted Capitalist models of development since World War Two have developed at a faster rate than those that pursued communism.
3. Neoliberalists would argue that it is mainly internal factors that lead to underdevelopment, not exploitation – They argue that it is corruption within governments (poor governance) that is mainly to blame for the lack of development in many African countries. According to Neoliberals what Africa needs is less isolation and more Capitalism.
4. Later on we will come across Paul Collier’s theory of the bottom billion. He argues that the causes of underdevelopment cannot be reduced to a history of exploitation. He argues that factors such as civil wars, ethnic tensions and being land-locked with poor neighbours are correlated with underdevelopment.
The New Rulers of the World – summary of the documentary by John Pilger, which seems to be a pretty unambiguous dependency theory perspective on the role of the World Bank, the IMF, and Transnational Corporations in globalisation. The video focuses especially on their role in underdevelopment in Indonesia.
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