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In 1983 there was an impressive amount of education news in the media. The western papers and especially the American ones carried numerous articles on the strengths of educational programmes in various countries. There were often articles about strident, high-pressure schooling in Japan; and one read about the Soviet's extreme emphasis on science and, mathematics education. It was the start of the run-up year to elections in the United States and suddenly there was a deluge of campaign rhetoric about education. Both the Democrats and the Republicans deplored the sorry state of American education vis-à-vis the educational strength of America's chief economic rival, Japan, and her chief ideological rival, the Soviet Union. Educational strength is an important national issue, more than just a matter of political hot air. Even without comment on the relative strengths and weaknesses of education in the USSR, USA, and Japan, it is safe to say that the salience of these nations in world affairs today is in many ways due to the general access to high quality education that the citizens of these countries have. These governments wishing to maintain that international salience are eager thus to maintain and improve their educational systems. They realize that the education of their common people continues to open up a tremendous pool of talent; and that talent has brought great changes, especially economic ones. Brookings Institution economist Edward Denison attributes to increased schooling twenty percent of American productivity gains between 1948 and 1973. I t was less than forty years ago that a defeated Imperial Japan lay in chaos and ruins yet today her economic strength is rivaled only by the United States. Of course there are many factors contributing to this rise but a primary one has to be a strong emphasis on literacy and modern science and technology education. Beyond economics a free and pluralistic society is maintained not just by constitutional guaranties, but by an educated populace that not only demands its rights but is able to utilize them. Thomas Jefferson put it very well, “the surest safeguard of a democracy is an enlightened citizenry.”


SLCSP Paper # 94A

Published Citation

Cobern, William W., and Mohammad I. Junaid. "educational Developmentalism in Nigeria; Education for the Masses or just Mass-Education?" Faculty of Education University of Sokoto Seminar Series. November 1983.