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Education for all is central to Higher Education Reforms in Developing Countries

Mamoon, Dawood (2005): Education for all is central to Higher Education Reforms in Developing Countries. Published in: A Changing Landscape - making support to higher education and research in developing countries more effective No. ISBN-9054640391

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A successful higher education reform in the South is not limited to improvement in quality and access to higher education but it should directly and indirectly cater to the millennium development goals by ensuring pro poor pro growth outcomes. Once we link higher education reforms with a development agenda or strictly speaking millennium development goals, the reform process in higher education becomes much more than a mere pro growth strategy. The purpose of this paper is to identify ways in which the reform process in higher education is aligned with the larger development agenda of the South. To this effect, we discuss the issue that lie in the peripheries of higher education reform debate- which is to directly link up higher education policy to overall education policy formulation in the South. In the paper, we highlight that generally governments in the South promote higher education at the cost of primary education, and thus indirectly undermine the effectiveness of their development strategies. We have empirically analyzed the effects of higher education focus on economic welfare. As per decomposition, poverty can be either affected by economic growth or unequal distribution of income. In order to investigate whether higher education, as it prevails in the South, is good for the poor, we see the relationship of average years of higher schooling at age of 25 with economic growth and inequality. The paper undertakes regression analysis by utilizing 5 different proxies of economic growth/ economic development and 4 proxies for income inequality as basis for 14 separate IV regression models. Average years of higher schooling have been used as the common regressor. Our results do suggest that higher education is a significant determinant of economic development. However, our inequality regression models suggest that education policies in general and higher education policies in specific do not cater for the lowest income groups in the South and if anything higher education favors the more affluent. The study recommends that higher education policies should not be implemented in isolation with over all education policy frameworks. As a first step to this effect the paper calls for more coordination between higher education commissions and education ministries in the South.

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