EDUCATION & CHANGE: EDUCATION AND DECOLONIZATION

(3) Confusion over Instrumental and Terminal Goals

In addition to the problem posed by the conservatism of educational institutions the way educationists set about defining educational needs in ex-colonial territories has also militated against the educational system making a greater impact on changing the old social order. As a heritage of the colonial past these territories have been left certain educational institutions such as schools and colleges of all types – primary, secondary, grammar, senior and comprehensive schools, teachers’ colleges, colleges of science and technology, technical institutes and even universities. But the legacy includes in addition, a whole set of attitudes, values and beliefs about these institutions and their role in society and this makes it difficult for a fresh start to be made in thinking about educational needs of the society outside of these established institutions.

In fact, there is the tendency to define the educational needs of the society in institutional rather than in real terms with the result that we hear about the need for junior secondary schools, comprehensive schools, teachers’ training colleges, etc. Further, once these needs have been stated in institutional terms – using educational institutions from the more developed countries as the frame of reference – there is the concurrent attempt to define the role of these institutions by setting out to copy the educations programme of similarly named institutions is the more developed countries. As soon as these new educational institutions are set up local teachers and educationists are sent overseas to see how similarly named institutions operate in their home environment.

Almost before it is realized the country has adopted the foreign institutional model along with its programme and purpose and this becomes a reference point when they come to assess the effectiveness of the local but similarly named institution. In fact, the adoption of a name carries with it the tendency to copy an institution which might be irrelevant or even dysfunctional in terms of local educational needs. This practice further reveals the persistence of the colonial influence on its subjects who are still dependent for new ideas on the metropolitan country. One metropole might be replaced by another, but the attitude to change is the same and reflects what-was previously referred to as the personality syndrome of dependence among ex-colonial peoples.

The result of this practise of defining educational needs in institutional rather than in real terms is that the means become ends in themselves. The real goals are displaced and in Merton’s terms an instrumental value becomes a terminal value. (13) A recent but unfair example of this is the New Deal for Education which has been put forward by Jamaica (14) – a bold measure which to some extent lacks clarity of purpose but more important reveals a confusion between terminal and instrumental goals. The White Paper begins by stating that “the new philosophy is that opportunity for the best education that the country can afford must be open to every child” – a laudable objective in itself though the question of what is the best education for children in Jamaica bas not really been posed. In fact, one gets the feeling that implicit in the document is a universal concept of “best education” for all societies and that this ideal model exists somewhere – possibly within the educational framework of one of the more developed countries. The failure to attempt to define what is the “best education” for Jamaican children not only in philosophical but also in operational terms is characteristic of most colonial territories-a hangover of attitude from the days when everything “good” was imported especially from the metropolitan country.

Let us ignore for the moment this aspect of the problem and examine how this goal stated in the “New Deal”’-giving children the best education which the country can afford will be achieved. To do this. the Government will be pending, at least in the first phase of the programme, eight million pounds ( £8 m. ) of which seven million ( £7 m. ) will be to build Junior Secondary Schools, expand physical facilities for teacher training and vocational education and one million ( £1 m. ) will be for building primary schools and teachers’ cottages.

In fact, one can, without much exaggeration, equate the New Deal in Education with a massive building programme in which most of the money is to be spent on putting new physical structures for an educational institution called the Junior Secondary School. It is true that the New Deal mentions other supporting educational activities but budget-wise these are not an intrinsic part of the programme.

This practice of defining educational needs in terms of institutions has further led to the tendency to equate educational institutions with physical structures. The result is that too much emphasis is put on the erection of new structures when educational plans are being drawn up. It is this way of thinking about education which can partly explain why a massive new educational programme in Jamaica consists largely of expenditure on physical structures. Here again, this attitude is partly a hangover from the colonial past. When the metropolitan country wanted to give evidence of its benevolence to its colonial peoples it saw the provision of some visible symbol as one of the best ways to do this. In education this usually meant the erection of physical structures such as school buildings. This was quite obvious from the way in which Colonial Development and Welfare funds were allocated in education-nearly all of it was for the erection of such physical structures and unfortunately this way of thinking seems to have been carried over in other bilateral external aid programmes in education.