Meanings of development education have been constructed over time by a variety of agencies and actors, and these meanings have also varied from one place to another. This chapter explores the range of meanings attached to the concept of development education and arrives at a definition that is operationally useful for the discussion in this book. In particular, a clear distinction is made between development education as a general concept and the activity of teaching development education in schools. The complexity of the genesis of development education and its controversial nature will be shown through the discussion on its historical background and the investigation of definitions. The final section provides the definition for the term development education as used in this book.
The term development education appeared around the mid-1960s. Although that is now more than thirty years ago, there is still confusion about what development education is. A number of people have attempted to clarify its meaning and have reached a conclusion that there is no one established definition. 1 According to Robin Burns, the variety of definitions is due different interpretations of the two words, “development” and “education.” 2 Indeed, discussions about their meanings are still going on, as evidenced by the evolution of development theories and disputes over educational policies that occur every where in the world.
Despite this confusion, development education still exists as a type of education. Its historical background shows why and what kind of different interpretations of development education arose.