Student Politics in the Third World

Topics: Politics, University, Youth activism Pages: 25 (9545 words) Published: March 27, 2009
Student Politics in the Third World Author(s): Philip G. Altbach Source: Higher Education, Vol. 13, No. 6 (Dec., 1984), pp. 635-655 Published by: Springer Stable URL: Accessed: 26/03/2009 11:04 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available at JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unless you have obtained prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and you may use content in the JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use. Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this work. Publisher contact information may be obtained at Each copy of any part of a JSTOR transmission must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or printed page of such transmission. JSTOR is a not-for-profit organization founded in 1995 to build trusted digital archives for scholarship. We work with the scholarly community to preserve their work and the materials they rely upon, and to build a common research platform that promotes the discovery and use of these resources. For more information about JSTOR, please contact Springer is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to Higher Education. 635 Higher Education 13 (1984) 635-655 Elsevier Science Publishers B.V., Amsterdam - Printed in the Netherlands STUDENT POLITICS IN THE THIRD WORLD PHILIP G. ALTBACH Comparative Education Center, State University of New York at Buffalo, Buffalo, New York, U.S.A. ABSTRACT Student political activism remains a key issue in the Third World despite its decline in the industrialized nations. Students continue to be active in politics and frequently have an impact on societal events. The historical development of student politics and student involvement in independence struggles, the role of students as incipient elites, and the fragility of the political structures of many Third World nations all contribute to the efficacy of student politics. Universities, as key intellectual institutions in their societies, also play an important role in Third World societies. Students, especially those in the social sciences, are fairly easy to mobilize and they often have a basic interest in political and social issues. It is argued that student movements emerge from their social and political environment and it is not surprising that activism continues as a powerful force in the Third World. Introduction Student political activism remains a key issue for Third World universities - and frequently for political systems as well [1]. Students continue to be politically active and involved, and on occasion contribute to political unrest. There are considerable national variations and the scope and pace of student politics changes over time and across national boundaries. But the issue remains one of the most important for higher education administrators, planners and for government officials. In the 1980s, the contrast between continued political activism among students in the Third World and relative quiet in the industrialized nations of Western Europe and North America is dramatic. This article considers some of the reasons for this contrast as well as the key factors relating to student activism in the Third World, a complex phenomenon which has implications for both university and society. Student politics is generally viewed by those in authority as a negative factor 0018-1560/84/$03.00? 1984 ElsevierS cienceP ublishers B.V. 636 - something to be eliminated from academic life. Indeed, student politics some-times affects higher education and on occasions sweeps beyond the campus to have disruptive implications for the political system. It is, however, not enough to condemn student...

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