Spring 1997 - Volume I, Issue
...a great responsibility rests on the educational system.
Its role should be that of a midwife to the emerging social order. Instead it
is the chambermaid of the existing social order. "
Williams, Education in British West Indies
assigned the nomenclature of Third World Countries, have shared a common
experience of colonialism and from this source their current formal educational
systems have emanated.
"...colonial educational policy was not clearly
thought out. It was often a hasty response to an immediate crisis as was
sometimes the case for the French in Indo-China and the British in Ceylon. It
was often inconsistent and was frequently changed, depending upon the findings
and recommendations of different royal commissions, and each colony evolved its
own system independently. There was no blueprint for all the colonies. Too
often analysis of colonial educational policy was based on policy statements
and documents issued in London, Paris or the Hague, when the reality of what
happened in practice was often very different from official policy statements,
because local situations demanded local responses and because the character and
temperament of individual officers in the field were so variable (Watson, p.
Third World countries participated in, and in a sense supported
through their participation, systems which did not necessarily promote the
development of the majority of the local population. These countries faced a
continuous dichotomous dilemma. They needed to participate in the system in
order to access the educational provision, but at the same time this
participation promoted the very features of education that were
counterproductive to their own development. Their participation in the system
was one way of declaring a level of legitimacy and viability for their sense of
nationhood. Cognizant of the low levels of participation in the formal system
and the high levels of illiteracy, the local leadership continuously sought to
introduce into the educational system those features which would respond to
local needs. But since the local participants lacked access to policy making
and implementation machinery, the impact of any of these infusions was diluted.
These infusions were never system-wide and therefore did not impact those most
in need of an education related to local experiences and needs.
Further, in many Third World countries there was a significant number of
foreign born children who participated in the system. There were schools
specifically designed to respond to this segment of the population. So third
World countries worked diligently to educate their people in a system that was
in essence counter productive to the major strands of their development.
The importance assigned to the activity of education and the belief that the
outcome would be beneficial to individual and collective development caused a
type of psyche to be ingrained into the people. The local populations assigned
a high value to education but the school systems that were developed under the
colonial power were essential}y alien creations. They reflected the philosophy
of their founders, whether the metropolitan power, the voluntary agency or the
missionary society, and they were designed to serve the needs and interests of
these groups as perceived by them. (Watson, p.26) As Becker (1972) noted, the
educational legacy of colonialism was a sort of debilitating inertia,
constraining local cultural initiative and developing a colonized condition of
the minds of the people.
The fact that almost no educational facilities
were established during the first and longest phase of colonialism in the West
Indies, has determined the legacy of this period to be probably more profound
that any other in educational terms. (Watson p. 26)
provided by the government and by other individuals and agencies such as
religious denominations and was compulsory to about age 14. Entrance to
secondary schools was by a selective, competitive examination and students paid
tuition. There were limited employment opportunities for those exiting the
educational system at age 14, and they were employed primarily in the
agricultural or 'manual' labor sector. Secondary education was for those who
were successful at the 11+ examination and could pay the requisite tuition.
Noting the following features of the educational systems would further
suggest who the systems were designed to serve.
were representative of the colonial power
had a large
percentage of untrained teachers
were formalistic authoritarian and
dominantly verbal in the instructional methodologies.
In such systems, those exposed to an academic and
social culture that mirrored the school culture could survive in the school
structure with a minimum of difficulties. Those who lacked the academic and
social culture were almost always locked out of the system. Those who worked
diligently to acquire the requisite academic and social culture but lacked the
'ability to pay' the fees were siphoned out of the system.
system provided an elitist, grammar type education mirrored from the colonial
power for those who could afford it and produced workers, at the end of the
secondary cycle, to staff the jobs in government offices.
and class played a determining role in some employment opportunities, in those
Third World countries whose inhabitants had come as 'masters', slaves or
indentured servants from Europe, Africa or Asia.
Most of the Third
World countries that gained their independence during the decades of the 1950's
and 1960's placed much of their faith for improving living conditions on the
expansion of education. The political leaders of the Third World formulated
plans for the development of education with the following expectations:
That better education would overcome ignorance and so open the way for
individuals to lead richer lives, to establish better social relationship
within communities, and so enable the local communities to gain in self-respect
and become more democratic and responsible, more able to take initiatives for
their own improvement and to become more outward looking.
to improve education would contribute to economic growth, thus raising the
general standard of living, and help towards better employment opportunities,
health, housing, etc.
That education would improve the quality of rural
life, especially the level of agricultural skills with the aid of literacy and
the opportunities of richer cultural life.
That education would improve
the training in skills for the development of industries, and also modern
social services, increasing the readiness to learn new techniques required for
innovation and change.
That education would be the most effective means
of developing a more equitable society, with better opportunities for
individuals in the countryside as well as in towns, with less extremes of
poverty and affluence, more responsible leaders and administrators.
education would contribute to nation building, by fostering a growing respect
for each nation's own culture and traditions, and by aiding the development of
political maturity, which would be capable of combining orderly leadership with
freedom of thought and expression, and respect for individual rights.
Through these goals, educational access has been expanded to include
both urban and rural populations, to educate a greater majority of the
population beyond the elementary level, to train teachers for instruction in a
greater variety of disciplines, and to make provision for participation for
those who are challenged by economic circumstances.
With the achievement of independence, Third World countries have forged
educational priorities to respond to their national development. Their task is
to educate their citizens for service in their own countries while
participating in a global scenario. But more challenging than the transmission
of skills for national development is the maintenance of values and mores
necessary for the application of the skills-set developed by academic training.
Developed countries confront a range of challenges as they seek to promote
An impasse in 1996 between the President of the
United States of America and the U.S. Congress on a balanced budget amendment,
is one such example. We might, therefore, reliably anticipate that developing
countries would confront an even larger range and greater number of challenges
as they seek to promote national development.
Two challenges will be
presented here. The first relates to teacher education: maintaining adequate
numbers and levels of qualified teaching staff to ensure the highest quality of
education for the citizens and hence promote national development. The second
relates to ways in which Third World countries do or do not participate in the
technological development that has become part of the day to day interactions
of developed countries.
colonial period the countries of the Caribbean shared similar political,
economic and social structures. Inadequate financial and human resources within
each territory made it imperative for the countries to share some common
resources. One of these was higher education, including teacher education.
The following outlines the design and content of teacher education in the
decades of the sixties and seventies.
It has been a
competitive and selective pattern of training, which has failed to produce the
number of trained teachers to service the educational system;
It has been
an expensive pattern of two years residential and non-residential training for
a limited number of teacher trainees;
It has isolated the teacher trainee
from the schools except for occasional forays for teaching practice;
program has not been geared specifically to equipping teacher trainees with the
skills and competencies which are known to be necessary for them to perform
efficiently in schools;
It has not always taken cognizance of
the particular skills which teacher trainees would require to participate in
the curriculum development and other innovative activities which have been
introduced into the educational system. As a result of the failure of the
traditional college pattern of teacher training to provide a sufficient number
of trained teachers a pattern of in-service and/or on the job patterns of
training at the pre-college and college levels with part-time attendance at a
teachers' college or a teachers' center was introduced. This new in-service
pattern of training tended:
To be less expensive, as teachers
were not withdrawn from their schools for full time attendance at a teachers'
To produce a greater number of trained teachers;
provide training which was more directly related to the skills which teachers
required to perform their tasks in the classrooms;
To be more flexible in
its attempts to deal specifically with suggested solutions to problems
encountered by teachers in their uninterrupted teaching in the schools;
The training and
adequate supply of qualified teachers was always recognized as one of the more
serious needs of the educational system. When the Royal Commission traveled
through many of the West Indian islands to analyze the causes of financial
distress, the provision of education was criticized. The teachers, in
particular were found to be inadequate in both quantity and quality of
training. (Gordon, p.81) In 1966 in Guyana, sixty three percent of the teaching
force had no professional training of any sort By 1973 74 the percentage of
trained teachers in the system had risen by seven percent from the 1966 figure.
Though the qualified teachers were dispersed throughout the systems some
instruction was being undertaken by qualified personnel.
Since the decade of the 1970s, Caribbean countries have
experienced a significant exodus of its people to North America. Whether these
persons are highly educated or not, they represent a drain on the human
resources needed for the development of the country.
headline, "Unending Exodus From the Caribbean, With the U.S. a Constant
Magnet," appearing in the New York Times of May 6, 1992 and written about
events in the Dominican Republic, tells the story of the effect of immigration
on the development of Caribbean countries.
"Before dawn on many days, in
a ritual repeated across the Caribbean, long lines of people anxious to build
new lives in the United States begin forming outside the high white walls of
the American Consulate..." Hit by hard economic times and seduced more than
ever by influences like mass tourism and satellite television this region (the
Caribbean) of 15 independent countries and a smattering of dependencies of the
United States and European countries, with a total population of only about 33
million, has been consistently exporting more of its people in percentage terms
than any other area of the world....Tiny states like St. Kitts and Nevis,
Grenada and Belize are sending 1 percent to 2 percent of their citizens to the
United States every year, meaning that they are exporting all of their
population growth to us (U.S.)...
Between 1981 and 1990, the four
Caribbean nations that supply the largest number of immigrants together
accounted for nearly 12 percent of all legal immigrant admissions to the United
States, according to Immigration and Naturalization Service data The Dominican
Republic sent 251,803 people to the U.S., Jamaica 213,805, Haiti 140, 163 and
Guyana 95,374. In 1990, 111,000 citizens of Caribbean countries already living
in the United States, applied to become legal residents." All of this data is
naturally swelled by the number of illegal immigrants.
countries where appropriate post-secondary education and training for specific
professions does not exist, citizens migrate for educational purposes but then
seek to remain in the developed countries. In some instances their reluctance
to return to their home countries is due to the struggle they face in applying
their training acquired in the milieu of a developed society to their work in a
"developing" context or there is the urge to improve their economic status.
In all of these scenarios there are always a significant group of
persons who are teachers at the elementary and secondary level in the technical
fields and at the university level. With the loss of trained teachers and
others who can add to the knowledge and instruction base of the people, either
through direct instruction, modeling or by their input into the lives of the
people, these Third World countries are now faced with a dilemma of educating
their citizens for participation in an ever advancing world while they lose the
human resources which they need to carry out the task.
The second challenge relates to the decisions that Third
World countries must make in relation to the technological advances that are
taking place around the world.
Third World countries are impacted by
the concept of the global village. Mass communication brings nations together
in a matter of seconds. Mass communications facilitates the transmission of
both information and culture across the globe. These advancements in science
and technology in the developed societies send a clear message about the
placement of the developed countries and the developing countries in the world
order. How does the Third World participate in a scientific and technological
world? How does the Third World participate in the global village and maintain
those aspects of their national identity that are critical to their
self-definition? Can Third World countries choose how they will participate
Within the colonial structure of
education, instruction in science and technology was either non-existent or was
present at a very basic level. When there was instruction in Biology and
Chemistry the laboratories existed on the barest minimums as a significant
number of the tools and materials were imported. Post independence brought
about renewed efforts to include science and technology in the education of the
population in an effort to keep pace with other sections of the world
population The concept of colonialism has been removed as a descriptor of the
relationship between developed and developing nations but the relationship
between the two sets of nations continue to suggest a level of dependency from
one quarter and a level of governance in terms of 'dictating' the course of
events from another.
In the United States, the use of the computer and
computerized systems are a part the everyday experience of a significant
section of the population. Shopping in a supermarket no longer requires a clerk
to read labels and enter prices and it doesn't require the shopper to present
cash or a check to pay for purchases. Many of the ways of doing business are
changing from an old order to a new order. I use the example of the supermarket
as most people will be exposed to this experience and modeling is a significant
part of learning.
There are schools in the United States that provide
instruction in computers beginning at the kindergarten level. College students
are able to access, free of charge, the Internet and the World Wide Web. They
are able to receive and exchange information with students across the nation
They are able to access their teachers after the regular school hours to get
assistance with homework or to raise questions. In addition to newspapers and
magazines information is shared through electronic mail and fax machines. What
is the decision for third World countries in this technological milieu? Can
they keep up? Should they try to keep up? How far behind is an acceptable
Third World countries have sought to extract the wealth of
their land using indigenous technologies. We have witnessed the multinational
corporations introduce technologies that render the indigenous processes
obsolete, and remove from local population the ability to compete or keep
Third World countries cannot keep pace with the technological
developments of the developed world. What can these countries do to participate
in ways that they need to? It is useful for their own development to be able to
access tools and information. It is useful for their development to be able to
communicate and participate in the generation and dissemination of information
If Third World countries are ill-equipped to participate in the communication
pace, the information they disseminate can in certain situations become
obsolete before the information is even received. And so, as the countries
grapple with developing their economies they face a serious challenge of
deciding about their participation on this information highway. A further
challenge of this participation is that the information transmitted,
particularly through the television, is not censored and so can and does clash
with the promulgation of indigenous values and mores. So, often, there are sets
of behaviors and expectations, defining quality of life, that are transmitted
via the media to Third World populations that are not available in the
day-to-day experiences of the people, but they become familiar to the people
and are transformed into magnets of desire.
"A healthy, well-trained and educated population is pivotal
to development and growth .." (Miller, ed. p. 15)
Third World countries
make significant investment in education as education is regarded as the
mechanism through which the nation can forge goals for development.
Their vision is for the provision of early education to both urban and rural
communities. The greatest challenge is the provision to rural communities where
there is neither a wealth of human or material resources and where some areas
are not easily accessible.
Efforts continue in the provision of
secondary education to a greater proportion of the population. The schools
themselves seek to provide training in areas that related to national goals so
that opportunities for employment might be expanded As these educational goals
are pursued, the countries seek to provide health and nutritional services that
ensure the population's ability to participate fully and effectively in the
educational system. The possibility of realizing the visions of the Third
World relate not only to Third World aspirations but are deeply influenced by
the political and economic power of the developed world Among the visions would
Equitable access to the world's resources Freedom to
use one's resources for one's development Freedom to define one's path
Fair share of the world market
The vision for the
development of the Third World revolves around the concept of
self-determination. If the developed world believes that all nations and all
people are capable of development, the development posture would be one of
support, not for the further enhancement of the already developed sections of
the world but for the enhancement of the lives of the people who inhabit the
The ultimate hope is therefore that no country would
dominate another, that the wealth of small nations would be perceived as true
wealth by the larger nations. That money and services would be aspects of
wealth in addition, other resources, particularly those which exist within the
natural resources of Third World countries, would be included in the definition
of wealth. The well-being of all nations would be determined by the
interrelationship of political economic, social cultural and physical health
That small would not necessarily represent weaker.
As the 21st century
approaches and as the information age explodes, the educational principles of
Paulo Freire, a Third World educational philosopher assumes greater
significance for the self-determination of the people of the Third World.
Freire notes that education is not neutral whether it occurs in a classroom or
in a community setting People bring with them their cultural expectations,
their experiences of social discrimination and life pressures, and their
strengths in surviving. Education starts from the experiences of people, and
either reinforces or challenges the existing social forces that keep them
passive. (Wallerstein, p.33)
In Freire's terms, the purpose of
education should be human liberation, which takes place to the extent that
people reflect upon the relationship to the world in which they live. And...in
conscientizing themselves, they insert themselves in history as subjects
(Freer, 1971). This goal of education is based on Freire's view of the learner
and of knowledge: the learner is not an empty vessel to be filled by the
teacher, nor as an object of education. Learners enter into the process of
learning not by acquiring facts, but by constructing their reality in social
exchange with others. (Wallerstein, p. 34)
The possession and control
of economic wealth coupled with the possession of the infrastructure that
provides ready access to goods and services bestows power on the countries of
the developed world. Third World countries are therefore always at a
disadvantage if their development is to be measured by the identical
development principles and practices as the developed world. Third World
countries are faced with the reality of always having to work harder to achieve
what might be considered to be less, by the world's standards, but these
achievements must be measured in the context of their own political, economic
and cultural spheres and as related to their self-determined goals.
Though extremely challenged by the unavailability of resources to purchase
the necessary resources on the world market, Third World countries must
continue their unrelenting drive to educate their people based on the concepts
of self-reliance and self-determination, seeking to foster a more "liberating"
experience throughout the educational process.
Beeby, C.E. The Quality of Education in Developing Countries. Harvard
University Press, Cambridge, MA 1966. D'Aeth, Richard. Education and
Development in the Third World. Lexington Books 1975.
Vincent and Murray, Reginald, editors. Development and Disillusion in Third
World Education. With emphasis on Jamaica Ontario Institute for Studies in
Hanson John W. and Brembeck, Cole S. Education and
the Development of Nations. Holt, Rinehart and Winston 1966.
Marjorie "An Analysis of Teaching in Rural Primary Schools in Guyana" Doctoral
Thesis. Harvard University, Cambridge, MA., 1977.
editor. Education and Society in the Commonwealth Caribbean. Institute of
Social and Economic Research, University of the West Indies Jamaica, 1991.
Wallerstein, Nina "Problem-Posing Education Freire's Method of
Transformation" in Freire For The Classroom.
Watson, Keith editor.
Education in the Third World. Groom Helm, London and Canberra 1982. Return to the Journal of
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Spring 1997 Issue Main Page
Cornel West - Diversity Day Keynote Speech
Maxine Greene - Teaching as Possibility
Judith Beth Cohen - What Students Think is Funny
Carroy U. Ferguson - Learning for Urban Adults
Sheryl Boris-Schacter & Susan Merrifield - Diversity Initiative
Marjorie Jones - Education for What and for Whom
Merlin Langely - Ode to Black Men
Barbara Vacarr - Stories of the Holocaust
Sebastian Lockwood - Night Sun
Luis Lopez-Nieves - The Extremely Funny Gun Salesman
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A Professor of Education and Writing at Lesley, Dr. Marjorie Jones received her EdD from Harvard University. Dr. Jones has placed her academic focus on history and practice in education, and also teaches a course called "Understanding the Call," designed for seminarians and non-seminarians preparing to enter the ordained ministry.
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