Mastering Globalization: From Ideas to Action on Higher Education Reform1
David E. Bloom Clarence J. Gamble Professor of Economics and Demography Harvard University 19 September 2002 Introduction At the broadest level, what I would like to speak about today is best summarized by the word “contradictions”. We all recognize that we live in a world of contradictions. And contradictions can persist for long periods of time. I’m sure you’re all aware of George Orwell’s famous novel, ‘1984’. What you may not know is that he invented a new word in that novel: the word doublethink, which provides an interesting characterization of many individuals and organizations who count themselves as members of the world’s development policy community: According to Orwell, "Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them." - George Orwell Almost everybody sees education as essential to development, but until recently very few of those responsible for formulating education policy for the developing world have acknowledged the value of higher education. This is one of several contradictions that characterize higher education and higher education policy in developing countries, and an example of what I’m going to focus on today. Education is always given a prominent position in lists of development goals, but higher education is almost never mentioned. Organizations like the World Bank have traditionally accorded higher education a very low priority, believing both that it favored the elite in society and that returns on higher education investment were much lower than returns on investment in primary and secondary education. In its new report, ‘Constructing Knowledge Societies: New Challenges for Tertiary Education’, the Bank itself has admitted that: “Much of the support provided by World Bank tertiary education projects... [continues]
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