Handbook of International Development and Education
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Handbook of International Development and Education

Edited by Pauline Dixon, Steve Humble and Chris Counihan

This Handbook considers the myths and untruths that currently exist in international development and education. Using historic and contemporary evidence, this compendium redefines the international development narrative through a new understanding of 'what works', drawn from pragmatic ideas and approaches.
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Chapter 2: The economic impact of educational quality

Eric A. Hanushek and Ludger Woessmann


Building upon several decades of thought about human capital – and centuries of general attention to education in the more advanced countries – it is natural to believe that a productive development strategy would be to raise the schooling levels of the population. And, indeed, this is exactly the approach of the Education for All initiative and a central element of the Millennium Development Goals. But there are also some nagging uncertainties that exist with this strategy. First, developed and developing countries differ in a myriad of ways other than schooling levels. Second, a number of countries – both on their own and with the assistance of others – have expanded schooling opportunities without seeing any dramatic catch-up with developed countries in terms of economic well-being. Third, countries that do not function well in general might not be more able to mount effective education programs than they are to pursue other societal goals. Fourth, even when schooling policy is made a focal point, many of the approaches undertaken do not seem very effective and do not lead to the anticipated student outcomes. In sum, is it obvious that education is the driving force, or merely one of several factors that are correlated with more fundamental development forces? Our perspective is more focused. An overwhelmingly important problem, as we show below, is the appropriate measurement of human capital. Specifically, much of the existing literature has focused on quantity of schooling and has ignored the quality dimension of education.

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