Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 June 2012
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, 2002). Functions and tasks generally ascribed to education include the following:
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.
Modernisation of attitudes and mentalities in society.
Contributing 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 non-economic benefits of education. These relationships have been discussed in the chapters on population and health (Chapters 5 and 6).
Political socialisation, promotion of a sense of civic responsibility, contributing to national integration and national political consciousness in developing countries.
Reducing social and gender inequality and increasing social mobility.
Contributing to personal growth, development and emancipation.
Immediately after World War II, 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.