Universalization of Primary Education in the Historical and Developmental Perspective

Interim Report

Edited by YONEMURA Akio
Published in March 2007
Part I Universal Primary Education: Historical and Theoretical Perspectives
Chapter 1
This chapter deals with the worldwide historical evolution of modern primary education. The current international state of affairs is also discussed based upon the historical analyses. The foundation and the development of modern formal education systems were conducted as state enterprises but financed mainly by the community or families for a long time. The universalization of primary education in accordance with the idea of education as a human right was delayed. Sufficient governmental subsidies to support it were realized in the 20th century in the processes of forming the welfare states. However, recently, the images of the welfare states and the conventional forms of formal primary education as being led by the state have begun to change. In the meantime, developing countries implemented the systems that evolved in developed countries, thus, their primary education systems had, from the beginning, a tendency towards being spearheaded by the state, including the financial aspects. However, this total dependency upon the state found itself in serious straits in 1980s when the international economic recession, which shrank the governments’ budgets in general, and particularly in educational items, began. Recently, the skepticism and reconsideration about having the state lead the education system, which have appeared in the developed countries, have been influencing educational policies in developing countries. This has been bringing about confusion and complicated factors with respect to the enterprise of the universalization of primary education because the universalization of primary education inherently has orientation towards universality which requires the government to take the necessary proper role in its evolution.
Chapter 2
Japan’s experiences with the development of primary education are generalized and described as a “developmental task model”. The universalization processes are divided into four stages, and tasks to be performed by the government corresponding to each stage are pointed out. In the “initial expansion” stage, school systems should be established and schools constructed; in the “autonomous demand expansion” stage, school supply expansions, improvement of quantity allocations are needed; in the “shift towards niversalization orientation” stage, enrollment of the entire school-aged population, alleviation of the advancement criteria and systematization of the enrolment reminders should be pursued; and in the “achievement of universalization” stage improvement of educational conditions, contents and quality, prolongation of the obligatory educational terms should be implemented.

The development task model schematically expresses the internal contextual structures of the development of primary education in a development stage framework, focusing upon the role of the government. This stage framework approach differs from the context-ignoring approach of the EFA movement.
Chapter 3
This chapter covers the experiences of England, Japan and Mexico. The stage framework put forward in Chapter 2 is employed but in a modified manner. In England, the role of the social class struggle, as Marx and Engels’ the Manifest of the Communist Party (Marx and Engels, 1959) noted, was important in the development of primary education as well. In the meantime, in Japan, the government was pushing forward with the tasks of modernization and basically took the initiative, but people’s reactions were also essential. Despite this difference, the cases of these countries had common historical and social backgrounds and showed commonness in the processes of setting and achieving tasks. The motives for the completion of universalization were derived, on the one hand, from the demands of the society which asked for the welfare of children and, on the other, the interests of statism which were related to imperialism and militarism.

In Mexico, the federal government has been a promoter in the enterprise of primary education development. In the 1950s the expansion period began. The government actively constructed schools. In the 1970’s, the expansion was accelerated with construction of new types of schools in the remote and isolated areas as well as the indigenous areas and the huge volume of schools in poor urban areas. In the 1990s, Mexico entered the completion stage of the universalization process, but quality problems remained in the form of a massive number of repeaters and were illustrated by the low ranks achieved by Mexican students in the international achievement tests. The developmental task model, founded upon the basis of Japan’s experiences, can be named the “task-solution process articulated model”. In contrast to this model, the author summarizes Mexico’s experiences as the “task-solution process prolonged and multi-layered model”.
Part II Case Studies in Latin America
Chapter 4
The present tasks to be performed for primary education in this area are analyzed focusing on the quality of education with the help of plentiful data. The author also explores causes which generate the problematic conditions. The net enrolment ratio in this area was 96.6% in 2000; the mean completion ratio of 18 countries was 88.1% around the same year, and its projection for 2015 was 93.7%. The targets of the EFA movement are going to be attained in many countries in this area. However, the quantitative expansion brought about deterioration in the quality of education: about 40% of all pupils in primary schools were “overage” in 1995, suggesting existence of a massive number of repeaters. The low ratios of the correct answers to the reading achievement examination, which was conducted in 7 countries around 2000, revealed that almost half of the children in those countries can not grasp the meaning of the text. When this is combined with the completion data, the conclusion is that about 90% of children complete primary schools but half of them have unsatisfactory academic achievement. This is caused by the tendency towards giving priority to macro level targets; setting strategies and implementing them with insufficient consideration about their feasibility at the teachers’ experience level; speculative policy decisions not based on objective scientific research results or systematic evaluation of past experiences; adoption of policies differing from the advice of world experts; attachment of importance to the operative and administrative aspects of program evaluations rather than their actual contribution to improvement of educational quality. The author emphasizes the needs for more conscious pursuit of education quality in the target decision processes; pedagogical considerations which take teachers’ experience and reality into account in policy making; adoption of objectively and scientifically confirmed models and practices; and more serious consideration to expert opinion.
Chapter 5

Educational Effects of the Compensatory Programs in Mexico (174KB) / Carlos MUÑOZ-IZQUIERDO and Guadalupe VILLARREAL-GUEVARA

The results of Mexico’s programs for basic education improvement are analyzed in detail. This country has attained almost 100% enrolment at the national level, but there are poor areas where many children are found out of school. There are a lot of repeaters in schools, the majority of whom failed in the promotion examination. There are two types of programs: scholarship programs which aim at promoting enrolment and advancement of poor children in schools and school improvement programs which are designed to reduce failing scores in promotion examinations through improvement of the quality of education. They are expected to contribute to an increase in the number of children who complete primary and lower secondary education. Since 1991 the programs have been expanded through loans from the World Bank and American Development Bank. The authors scrutinize and synthesize the programs’ effects with various data and previous studies on the theme and conclude that the programs have contributed to an increase in the number of students in school and improved attendance ratios and promotion ratios, but improvement in the quality of education can not be confirmed. They also found that indigenous schools were behind rural ordinary schools in terms of children’s academic achievement, and that the disparity was growing.
Chapter 6
The voucher system, which was introduced into the Chilean primary education system by the military government in 1980, is examined. The author also carries out historical analyses with reference to the developmental task model in Chapter 2. It is revealed that subsidies to educational activities in the private sector can be retrospective to 1876 when subsidies were conferred to the non-fee private schools that were patronized by churches. In 1951, the per-student amount of such subsidies was increased to half of the cost per student of a public school. Such measures went along with “liberty of education”, the traditional idea asserted by the Chilean conservative forces. The introduction of the voucher system was conducted in the completion stage of the universalization of primary education. The author carries out detailed analyses about educational finances, school choices by children and families and education quality under the voucher system. Based upon the results of her analysis, she argues that when educational opportunities for poor families are concerned, the voucher system contributed to the quantitative enlargement of the opportunities but deepened the qualitative disparities among social classes and placed the poor sector in a more disadvantageous situation, contrary to the assertions of its supporters. The developmental task model showed that it is essential to complete diffusion of educational opportunities to the whole nation and reduce quality disparities at the same time. However, the voucher had adverse effects in terms of improving the quality of education.

The voucher system was retained after the political power transfer to the civil government in 1990. However, the government’s educational budget rose drastically. The disparities between areas and between social classes were inclined to decrease. The “finance sharing” system was introduced in 1993, which could increase the disparities. The Technical Committee Report in 1994 proposed the attainment of equity and quality improvement through better utilization of the voucher system. Since then, reforms have been carried out based upon this report. Presently, there are plans to give poor children vouchers with increased value.
Part III Case Studies in Southeast Asia
Chapter 7
The history of the development of primary education in the country and the present tasks to be achieved are described focusing upon the policy aspects. Under the military governments during the period including 1957 to 1973, the educational administration was transferred to the hands of militaries. Along with the increase in the number of students, the number of teachers also increased, but their salaries and working conditions were deteriorated. After the 1974 student revolution took place, the civil government was established and the educational administration returned to the competence of the Ministry of Education. The curriculum reform in 1978 brought about the change of the duration of the primary level from 7 years to 6 years. The 1980 National Primary Education Act provided that all villages should be equipped with schools. The development of primary education entered the completion stage of universalization in the 1990s. Since then, policy decisions and their implementations have been carried out in accordance with the EFA (Education For All) plans. The gross enrolment ratio in 1998 was almost 100% and since then over 100%. In 1996 the net enrolment ratio was about 90%; repetition ratios were higher in lower grades (8% in the first grade and less than 1% in the sixth grade); and the survival ratio was 95.5%. Regarding the quality of education, differences between areas and between social classes (private schools and public schools) are found. Its absolute level is low as the 1995 TIMSS (Third International Mathematics and Science Study) results show: of the 26 participant countries, 22nd in mathematics and 24th in sciences. According to the educational evaluation conducted from 2003 to 2005, about 40% of the sixth grade children performed rather poorly in Thai language, sciences, mathematics and English. Improvement of the instruction methods, betterment of teachers’ working conditions, decentralization of educational administration, and abolishment of small size schools are designed to improve the less than ideal situation. The decentralization plan is facing strong objection by teachers’ organizations and is in stagnation while reduction in the number of small schools has been progressing slowly.
Chapter 8
The development of primary education in Malaysia is described as dynamic processes in which Malay, Chinese and Indian peoples were integrated into the national education system employing the framework of the developmental task model in Chapter 3. Before World War II, during the “initial system introduction” stage, Malay people went to Malay medium schools established by the British colonial government. The enrolment grew. In the meantime, Chinese and Indian peoples founded their own primary and secondary schools. The “first intermediate system-expansion” stage continued to the 1953 Independence. During it the subsidized schools, which employed the Malay language as the medium of instruction, also offered opportunities for learning English, thus they came to connect to the upper level schools in which English was the medium of instruction and, thus, required. English, as a suzerain language, had value in the labor market. It was also expected to serve as the national common language after the coming national independence. In 1957 when independence was achieved, Malay medium schools were created; they received governmental subsidies as “standard schools”. At the same time English medium schools, Chinese medium schools and Indian medium schools were founded as “standard-type schools”, which enjoyed no subsidies. The “second intermediate system-expansion” stage began in 1971 when the Education Act was promulgated. It provided the change of “standard schools” to “national schools” and that of “standard-type schools” to “national-type schools”. Along with theses changes, all schools were awarded subsidies and fees were abolished. In 1965, the system of auto-promotion to the secondary schools was adopted. At the same time, Malay medium secondary schools and English medium secondary schools, which had received subsidies, became non-fee schools. The racial conflicts between Malay and Chinese peoples culminated in a riot at the end of the 1960s. This led the government to the adoption of the Bumiputera (Malayanization) policy. Thus, in the “third intermediate system-expansion” stage, which corresponded to the 1970s, a phase-out of English medium schools was seen: in 1975 for primary level and in 1983 for secondary level. The “final system completion” stage began in 1980s. Enrolment in 2000 was 96.8%. The government intended to strengthen Bumiputera policies through curriculum control and selective budget distribution to Malay schools. Recently, however, monotonous Malayanization is not the case. New dynamics of the confronting relations among ethnic groups are generated in the globalization of the economy.
Chapter 9
The current status of the development of primary education in Vietnam and the tasks to be performed are discussed. It follows a detailed analysis of the financial structure of primary education in order to make clear what problems exist in the task performing processes.

The enrolment ratio was 109% in gross terms and 95% in net terms by 1980. This situation where almost all children go to school has been retained to the present. However, according to statistics in 2002, the 5th grade survival ratio is 88.5%. This confirms that the country has reached the completion stage of the universalization of primary education. Difficulties in sending teachers to remote areas and the problem of instruction languages in ethnic minority group areas are related to the problems of those children who do not complete primary education. In order to improve the education quality, the government is making earnest efforts to change schools from the double-shift system to the full-day operation system. Presently, the schools in the double-shift system account for over 90% of all schools. The “socialization of education” policy means to financially support this transition.

60% of the total expenditure of primary education is accounted for by public education expenditures; the rest by household expenditures. Generally speaking, the donations from families and communities go to capital expenditure items such as school construction and rehabilitation. In rich areas they also go to current expenditure items such as school equipment, instruction materials and pay for additional classes. The transition to the full-day operation system requires construction of new class rooms and increases in teacher salary. Financing for such items falls on families because the budget for it has not been prepared by the government. There exist large financial disparities within prefectures although the government has contrived to reduce disparities among prefectures through its budget distribution. The “socialization of education” policy spearheaded by the government is a project to implement the community’s financial ability into educational services. Thus, the government’s implemental methodology – of starting the transition to the full-day operation system with those communities which are ready – necessarily enlarges the disparities within prefectures. There are policy instruments to alleviate disparities within prefectures such as donation exemptions for poor families, pooling donations at the prefecture level, subsidies from prefectures for that purpose, free textbook distribution for poor areas, and promotion of activities for the poor by enterprises and popular organizations. The author argues that these measures will become more important hereafter.
Chapter 10
Vietnam’s “socialization of education” policy is focused upon. It takes a role of raising educational resources from ommunities. The measures are not limited to the monetary aspect. Various resources are to be mobilized and raised through the popular organizations whose active role in the social and political life is characteristic of the socialist system.

The author describes two types of “socialization of education” activities: the inhabitant participating type and the enterprise participating type. In the former, the School Encouragement Association, a local consortium for educational promotion, organizes the popular organizations and representatives of the enterprises in the locality. Many popular organizations support education development. For example, the Women’s Union promotes enrolment of children in schools, donations for school construction and support for poor children, and opening charity courses for non-formal education for women. In the second type, enterprises cooperate financially to construct schools. They also contribute to training students, thus, preparing them as productive workers and offering them employment in the future. Labor unions also participate in school construction, collection of donations for subsidies to children from poor families or the areas with difficulties in going to school. The author points out the contradictory situation in that the implementation of the policy brings about an increase of parents’ and communities’ financial burden and an enlargement of disparities among communities while EFA (Education For All) preaches non-fee education. He also notes problems of local financial ability and sustainability of popular organizations’ activities: many poor areas have difficulty in raising funds because they do not have enough educational resources to carry out “socialization of education” to begin with; it is probable, in the social changes which the country undergoes, to decrease the mobilization capability of the popular organizations by reducing influences of the socialist ideology and increasing members’ work hours.