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 19: In search of human capital – identifying gifted children in poor areas of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Steve Humble


Evidence reveals that strong economic growth is required for countries to develop economically. In turn, economic growth is very much reliant on the cognitive skills of the population. The key to a nation’s success is its human capital. In Chapter 4 Snowdon stresses the value of human capital in economic development, quoting Nobel Laureate Gary Becker (2002), who says that the modern era is the ‘age of human capital’. As Hanushek and Woessmann (2012) state, ‘school policy can, if effective in raising cognitive skills, be an important force in economic development’ (p. 300). Mandelman et al. (2010) believe that the current state of education worldwide needs to be improved in order for countries to benefit from exceptional human capital, which could have ‘a direct economic impact on all’ (p. 73). It appears that it is not the ‘quantity’ of schooling but knowledge and cognitive skills that stimulate economic growth. Tooley and Dixon, along with their research teams, have tested tens of thousands of children in slums and shantytowns in Asia and Africa for more than a decade. In order to compare different school management types regarding student outcomes and performance, they have gathered a huge data set, not only on test scores and family background, but on innate ability, used as a control variable, not as a comparison (Tooley et al., 2010, 2011).

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