Education : unlocking the doors to development : perspectives on the role education plays in development : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Philosophy in Development Studies at Massey University, Palmerston North
The needs of those living in the developing world are so great that no one area of learning or development can solve all those needs. If education is going to supply some of the keys needed to unlock the doors to appropriate and sustainable development then it needs to be education that is relevant, empowering, and available to all. This sort of education will enable individuals and countries to formulate the objectives and develop the skills necessary to engage in their own development. Human beings are born with the wonderful ability to learn, to communicate, to adapt, and to develop their environment. This ability is not limited to the information that can be gathered from the immediate surroundings. Through reciting, reading, writing, and information technologies, humans learn from the past and record today's lessons for the future. Humans have the unique abilities of being able to learn co-operatively, opening each other's minds to infinite possibilities. As a species we value education so highly we list it as a basic human right. Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights begins with the words. 'Everyone has a right to education' (Reprinted in Morsink 1999:335). It is the thesis of this paper that when everyone is allowed to exercise that right then many of the problems of the world and the doors that shut people out and deny them their basic human rights will be solved as together we learn how to live sustainably.
The year 2015 has been set as the goal for countries to achieve Education for All (EFA). Setting a goal like this generates all sorts of questions such as: How can that target be achieved? What sort of education will that be? What will be the purpose of that education? What should be taught in order to make a better, more sustainable world? How can developing countries compete against rapidly changing and expensive education systems when they can hardly afford to supply basic education, let alone food and health care to their expanding populations? It also places countries and lending agencies in the dilemma of asking what comes first, economic development and repaying debt, or educating the population?
In a short thesis, such as this, one can only hope to survey the surface of such a large topic and to point to some of the doors that the key of education can unlock in the quest for more sustainable forms of development. The thesis begins by showing that historically there has always been a strong link between education and development. The quantitative and qualitative issues associated with achieving Education for All (EFA) are then examined. The point is made that the 'banking concept of education' (Freire 1993:53) where education is seen as information that needs to be drilled into people is insufficient. Education that unlocks the doors to development needs to be education that, as Freire puts it, involves 'praxis and conscientization' (Narayan 2000:199). This sort of education places the emphasis upon the
process by empowering people to participate in their own development and trusting them to design their own solutions.
In Chapter 4 education is then placed alongside other development issues such as nutrition, health, and the environment. The relationship between each of these and education is analysed. Appropriate and relevant education is shown through the case studies as supplying some of the necessary keys so that the doors that trap people in cycles of underdevelopment can be unlocked. In the chapter on education without walls the ways alternative forms of education can be used to solve developmental problems and achieve life long learning for all is examined. Each chapter is illustrated with case studies drawn from the author's two decades of work with education in Asia and the Middle East. The conclusion of this thesis is that education does not need to be an impossible development goal on an ever-expanding list. Rather, when applied correctly, it can be part of the methodology for achieving those goals. As Dean Rusk very aptly put it, 'Education is not a luxury which can be afforded after development has occurred; it is an integral part, an inescapable and essential part, of the development process itself.' (Cited in Hanson & Brembeck 1966:28)