(4) Education for Economic Development:

One of the pre-occupations of ex-colonial territories is with the structure of their economies and the rate of their economic development. Under colonial rule the economic structure of a colony was in general geared mainly to meet the needs of the colonizing power. The one-crop economy was a feature of many colonial territories. In view of this there is now in these countries a great desire to re-structure their economies and put them on a much, sounder basis. The question is what could education do to help in this process?

One can usefully, if somewhat crudely classify all factors of production either as physical capital or labour. Total productivity depends very much on both these factors and developing countries with a shortage of physical capital are increasingly realizing the need to improve the quality of labour -largely through education and training -so that with the given quantity of physical capital it would be possible to improve productivity through a qualitative improvement of the labour inputs. Plans for economic development would not be realistic if they do not take into consideration both the supply of capital and skills. But the skills needed to bring about qualitative improvements in labour cannot become available by chance. Their supply has to be planned for in advance – sometimes very long in advance- because of the time it takes to acquire these skills. Hence the need arises for long term educational planning to ensure that the necessary supply of manpower is available at every stage of economic development. But most ex-colonial territories have not as yet reached this stage in planning for educational needs though they are beginning to realize the importance of -a somewhat clearer link between economic and educational planning.

In addition to the skills which are produced attention needs to be focussed on the contribution which education is making or can make to the development of attitudes which underpin and support the whole development process – an important dimension in development which has too often been ignored.

Another approach to educational planning which should be of special interest to the developing countries with labour intensive economies has been put forward by Harbison. Instead of plans for human resource development being derived from and subordinated to plans for economic development, Harbison advances the point of view that “it is often just as logical in national planning to start with a broad plan or strategy of development and utilization of human resources as to begin with a plan to maximize economic growth. In other words, we might consider whether· economic planning should be integrated in human ‘resource planning rather than vice versa … ” (16) This means that in drawing up development plans first consideration should be given to the maximum utilization of manpower in the society.

This approach would naturally place greater emphasis on the quality of the human resources available and would no doubt necessitate a re-examination of how in education and training can play a more effective part in improving qualitatively the manpower resources of the country. In short it would give education and training a more focal position in national development.


This paper sought to examine the question of what role education can play in the process of decolonization. After discussing the two different points of view as to whether education can make a contribution towards bringing about basic social and economic changes in society the view is advanced that most educationists would tend to support the argument that education can play a positive role in this direction. However, it was realized that any contribution that education might make towards the process of decolonization cannot be successful unless supported by changes in other institutions of the society. This is largely because of the fact that the colonial societies like most other societies represent a fairly integrated social system.

In addition there are many difficulties which face educational institutions if they are to contribute to the social and economic trans-formation of ex-colonial societies and among these are the conservatism of the educational system itself and the confusion that often exists between instrumental 1and terminal goals when the educational needs of the society are being discussed.

Certain pre-requisites were indicated for education to make a much more positive contribution to the decolonization process. These include a greater clarification of the’ social and economic objectives of the society, a clearer formulation of human resource policy and objectives on a long term basis aimed at developing to the maximum the contribution, which education was expected to make towards the achievement of these objectives, changes in the content of education, a re-definition of the role which is expected of teachers in these societies and a formulation of human resource policy and objectives on, a long term basis aimed at developing to the maximum the contribution which qualified and trained manpower can make towards the development of the society. These changes were regarded as some of the necessary first steps which have to be taken if the educational system is to contribute more effectively to the process of decolonization. In addition it should be re-emphasized that changes brought about by education cannot be lasting and will be dysfunctional to the social system or even disruptive to the social order unless it is supported by changes in the economic, political, legal and other institutions of the society.

(o) This paper was originally delivered at Staff Seminar on “Decolonization” held by the Institute of Social and Economic Research, U.W.I. I would like to thank my colleagues for the criticism and suggestions which they made some of which have been taken into account in preparing the final papers. However, the conclusions arrived at are entirely my own.

(1) J.S. Coleman (ed) Education and Political Development, Princeton University Press Princeton N.J. 196S.

(2) Note because of this the phrase “Developing Societies” is at times used in this paper to include colonial and ex colonial societies.

(3) R. Maunier The Sociology of Colonies ed. & trans. by E. 0. Lorimer pub. by Routledge and Kegan Paul, London 1949.

(4) K. Marx, Manifesto of the Communist Party In Marx Engels Selected Works Vol. I Foreign Language Publishing House, Moscow.

(5) J. Dewey, “Educators and the Class Struggle” from the social frontier, May 1936; Reproduced in Intelligence in the Modern World “John Dewey’s Philosophy” by J. Ratner, the Modern Library, New York 1939.

(6) F. Harbison and C. Myers, Education, Manpower and Economic Growth. McGraw Hill Book Company. New York.

(7) R. Maunier, op. cit.

(8) A. Curle. “Education, Politics and Development,” Comparative Education Review, 8:33. February 1964

(9) C. E. Booby, The Quality of Education in Developing Countries. published by Harvard University Press 1966.

(10) A. Curle, op cit.

(11) A Century of West Indian Education: A Source Book. Shirley Gordon, published by Longmans. 1961

(12) L, E. Brathwaite: The School Curriculum and the Emergent needs of Society in Report of Conference on  Teacher Education in the Easter” Caribbean, U.W.I. Institute of Education 1967, p. 18

(13) R. K. Morton, Bureaucratic Structure and Personality in Readings in Bureau Cracy. Ed. By R.K. Morton.

(14) Ministry of Education, Jamaica. The New Deal for Education

(15) Quoted by J. S. Coleman on Education and Political Development op cit.

(16) F. Hamon, Educational Planning and Human Resource Development UNESCO. 1967


Kassim Bacchus is a Lecturer in Education at the University of the West Indies, Mona.