Like health, education is both an end and a means. It is one of the basic human rights and a developmental goal in its own right. But, education also contributes to the realisation of other important developmental goals (UNESCO, 2002c). The functions and tasks generally ascribed to education include the following:
1. Promotion of economic growth and development. Investment in the physical capital stock is not sufficient for economic development. Investment in ‘human capital’ is also required.
2. Modernisation of attitudes and mentalities in society.
3. Contribution to important developmental goals such as increased life expectancy, improved health and reduced fertility. Education of mothers, in particular, makes important contributions to better health of children and reductions in fertility. These are among the important noneconomic benefits of education. These relationships have been discussed in Chapters 5 and 6 on population and health.
4. Political socialisation, promotion of a sense of civic responsibility, contributing to national integration and national political consciousness in developing countries.
5. Reduction of social and gender inequality and increasing social mobility.
6. Contribution to personal growth, development and emancipation.
In the context of the framework of proximate, intermediate and ultimate causality, these relationships are summarised in Figure 7.1
Immediately after the Second World War, expectations concerning the role of education in development were high. Expansion and improvement of education were generally considered as essential to development. Governments in developing countries were prepared to invest heavily in education. Families saw education as the main way to improve their children’s chances in life. International organisations were eager to provide financial and technical support for the construction of new educational systems.