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Charting the Nexus: A Comparative Analysis of the Relationship between Education, Economic Growth, and State Formation in Pakistan and South Korea

With the advent of the ‘knowledge economy’, the role of education in development has, arguably, changed substantially (Green, p16, 2007). The concomitant advances in science and technology, especially Information and Communication Technology (ICT), can be harnessed by developing countries to realise economic development, provided they have either a workforce endowed with sufficient levels of human capital to assimilate and transfer this knowledge in order to establish an indigenous industry, or they are able to convince foreign multinationals that there is a sufficiently skilled workforce for them to invest (Green, p16, 2007). Education, however, should not only be considered as an instrument of economic policy through which to stimulate growth; as a political tool educational policy can be orchestrated to facilitate state formation by manipulating pupils’ perceptions of their national identity. It may well be the case that the resulting increase in social cohesion, and sense of national unity, may also have positive externalities in terms of effects on development but such effects are likely to be omitted from analysis which concentrates solely on the role of education in promoting skills formation. Therefore, by examining both the political and economic consequences of education policy, through a comparative analysis of Pakistan and South Korea in the second half of the 20th Century, this paper will seek to develop a holistic picture of the role of education in international development.

Education, economic development and state formation in Pakistan & S Korea




‘Of all the issues facing development economists, none is quite so compelling as the question of economic growth’ (Ray, 1998)

Article 45 of the Indian Constitution obliges the state to provide free and compulsory education for all children, up to the age of 14, and initially envisaged that this would be achieved by 1960 (Dréze & Sen, p17, 2003). Fifty years later, this goal of Universal Primary Education (UPE) has been incorporated into a rights based approach to education through international frameworks, such as ‘Education For All’ (EFA) and the ‘Millennium Development Goals’ (MDG) (UNICEF, 2007). The 2009 ‘Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Bill’ does not, however, fully comply with the assurances the Indian government made at Jomtien, where it acknowledged expansion and development of the early years curriculum as an integral part of the EFA objectives, as it does not cover children under the age of 6 (Singh, 2009). Given that the Bill confers on individual states the responsibility to provide free and compulsory education in a neighbourhood school within a period of three years from the commencement of the Bill, it is hard to envisage that India will fulfil its 2015 MDG commitments concerning access to education, let alone address inchoate concerns about the abysmal quality of Indian schools which continues to discourage many parents from sending their children to school, and yields extremely low average attainment of those pupils who do attend (Singh, 2009; UNDP, 2011, Dréze & Sen, p10, 2003).

Digital Divide – Quality Education in India