The Education of Nations: How the Political Organization of the Poor, Not Democracy, Led Governments to Invest in Mass Education

By Stephen Kosack | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 3
Building the Education System

Goals are only half the story. If governments were omnipotent, knowing their goals for education would be enough. But government power is limited. Furthermore, these limits vary: governments differ not just in their educational goals, but in the resources they can devote to education and the success with which they can translate resources into education. Thus when a framework like the one in the previous chapter confines itself to goals, its accuracy is difficult to assess. A true picture of a government’s intent for education comes from observing what the government does with the resources and tools it has: its relative investment in universities, secondary schools, and primary schools; where it builds schools; how well or poorly it trains, pays, and supervises the teachers in these schools; the fees schools charge and the scholarships and financial aid they offer; and the degree to which the government allows, regulates, and subsidizes education in the private sector.

This chapter analyzes these limits and uses them to develop specific predictions about how the government will use its resources and tools; these predictions allow testing of the framework in Ghana, Taiwan, and Brazil. The chapter’s objective is to consider, myopically, how a government would shape every particular aspect of the education system if its only goal was to serve its vital constituency.1 Then in later chapters I examine how closely actual governments in Taiwan, Ghana, and Brazil came to adjusting each aspect of their education systems as they would have if their singular purpose was to serve their vital constituencies.

The goals of education policy are in Table 3.1, which reproduces Table 2.4. They deal with the availability and price of various levels and types of education. In the previous chapter I argued that citizens in the vital constituency are happiest when the level and type of education most valuable to them is available to them, and only them, at minimum cost. To create a system that tries to meet that demand, the government has a wide range of tools at its disposal. A typical education system includes schools, teachers, access restrictions (such as exams), financial aid, tracking, and some degree of outsourcing to the private sector. These things have the primary purpose of educating. But they are also “tools” through which

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The Education of Nations: How the Political Organization of the Poor, Not Democracy, Led Governments to Invest in Mass Education
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Table of Contents v
  • Preface- Mass Education That Should Not Be vii
  • Chapter 1 - The Two Roots of Mass Education 3
  • Part I - The Framework 21
  • Chapter 2 - The Governments Educational Goals 23
  • Chapter 3 - Building the Education System 49
  • Part II - Evidence 91
  • Chapter 4 - Taiwan 97
  • Chapter 5 - Ghana 159
  • Chapter 6 - Brazil 222
  • Chapter 7 - Conclusion 297
  • Appendix A - Selection of Taiwan, Ghana, and Brazil 305
  • Appendix B - List of Interviews 309
  • Notes 315
  • References 341
  • Index 353
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