The latter half of the twentieth century witnessed the rise of the international development sector, bringing with it new government agencies and international organizations (see Appendix – International Education and Development Timeline). Education played a pivotal role in the new development sector: Rostow’s (1960) modernization theory stipulated that investments in education would put Third World countries on the path to development, eventually transforming them into industrialized societies similar to those in Western Europe and North America.
However, the experiences of Zambia and Nepal show that the relationship between education and development is not straightforward or deterministic. Zambia initially concentrated on secondary and technical education, but was later hard-hit by structural adjustment programmes and burdened with debt. Nepal’s history shows not only that primary education can be rapidly expanded in just a few generations, but also that this expansion can marginalize many groups within a society.
The most important outcome of the post-war period was a set of ideas about what development is and what it means to be developed. These were articulated by development theorists such as Rostow (1960) as well as through international development organizations (e.g. UNDP, World Bank, USAID). The notions that former colonies should develop into industrial nations, that international aid could facilitate the economic growth required, and that investments in education were one way they could do so, all emerged during this period. More than 60 years later, these ideas still underlie much of the work within the field of international development as well as the ways in which development is constructed in popular media and the press. However, the next chapter examines how challenges to these underlying ideas have redefined development work and the role of education within it.
In your own words, define development. What does it mean for a society to be developed? Is education necessary for development, and is it sufficient to ensure development?