1.2 Give an analysis of the various reasons for studying comparative education
Purpose of Studying Comparative Education
There are enough reasons why prospective teachers should study comparative education. These include:
1) For Intellectual Reasons
It is an intellectual activity that scholars can pursue to the highest level possible. An individual can do this in order to enhance his/her intellectual capacity concerning other systems of education with the purpose of enlightenment. This knowledge would help the individual to understand their education system better and that of others with the intention of improving and solving problem in their own system. Knowledge for its own sake is the sole ground upon which Comparative Education need to make a stand in order to merit inclusion among other academic fields.
Modern societies have come to appreciate the importance of planning. Various problems that are associated with over-population, under production, diseases, economic non-viability, industrialization and social ills can be tackled through planning. Planning requires careful formulation of objectives, establishment of priorities and the identification of the means to achieve those objectives. Since an educational policy affects millions of people, rational decisions need to be made so that the policy can achieve the desired results. This call for proper planning that Comparative Education can provide a helping hand.
Education operates in a practical age where it is now taken as any consumer good. The patterns of education that have no practical utility sent are being reformed. For instance, in United Kingdom the state supported primary schools whose objectives was to teach the masses how to read and write, so as to enable them work better in the industrial society. These systems have survived with modification and improvements. In the former USSR and China work experience was emphasized and was very much reflected in the curriculum. In United States of America, comprehensive schools on the principle of utility and practicability have replaced grammar schools. In Kenya the education system was reformed in 1985 with a view to make it more elitist and had no practical utility to the pupils involved. The problem of reforming an education system to make it more practical and of utility must be studied for solutions and this can be done better through the study of Comparative Education.
4) Humanitarian viewpoint
The current world is characterized by increasing problems that are affecting the human population in various ways. Most of the former stable regions of the world have been affected by wars. The problems experienced in these countries do affect their neighbours and other countries of the world in various ways. For instance, the gulf war of 1991 affected the world oil prices just as had happened in 1971 during the crisis in the Middle East. Since the Declaration of Human Rights by UN in 1948, there has been heightened aspiration for peace, freedom, equality, and a better life. As part of the human rights access to education has been increased. Many countries including Kenya provides Universal Primary Education. Therefore, the knowledge of each other education system is necessary and can better be acquired through Comparative Education.
5) Seeing Education in World Perspective
Most countries of the world have identical problems in their educational perspective. Therefore, it is possible for them to learn problems from each other on how they resolved a particular problem. For example, when Kenya was implementing FPE in 2003, Nigeria could have provided some of the clues of the problems, which were to be expected, and the solutions to them. Uganda a close neighbor to Kenya with practical solutions on how she managed to obtain total literacy while India has problems in achieving it. These countries can provide important lessons to Kenya during her implementation of FPE. Also, one would want to know how nations have struggled to establish media of instruction. The comparative approach would yield a deeper understanding of educational problems. In this era, the purpose of Comparative Education would be better understanding of the changed circumstances and to have better equipments to fulfill the new responsibilities. This will help in understanding of why some countries education systems are progressive while others are backward. The administrative system of the land influences the state of the educational system. For instance, the administrative machineries of Switzerland, Canada, USA, and Japan are combined with local autonomy and decentralized control. Consequently, in the educational system of these countries, we find a reflection of their political philosophy. Thus the political philosophy and administrative systems of various countries determine the administration and control of education.
6) Promotes Innovation in Education
There are many innovations, which are being introduced in education today. The development of technology has facilitated new methods of organizing learning. For instance, the use radio, Television and ICT to deliver knowledge, use of other aspects of the media, open university, African Virtual University (AVU) and computer assisted learning have been introduced to education. All these have facilitated education in a comparative context. The USA system has facilitated the spread of innovations in education in the world.
7) Economics of education
In the recent years, research has generated the realization that the spread of education is positively correlated with increasing productivity. For instance, the former USSR improved her economy by eradicating illiteracy. Also, all the developed countries have progressed by investing more in education. On the other hand most of the developing countries have generated the problem of educated unemployment or brain drain by improving their education systems.
8) Education for international understanding
This is a central purpose for studying comparative education. The two world wars made man to seek even more seriously the various ways of promoting international understanding. UNESCO has recognized that wars begin from the minds of men. Therefore in order to stop another war from occurring, international understanding is essential so that national pride can be curtailed in the people’s minds. This was the spirit of the League of Nations in 1921; International Bureau of education in 1925 and Commission of Intellectual Cooperation in 1926. To deal with labour problems and education, International Labour Organization (ILO) and UNESCO were established. The declaration of human rights in 1948 by the United Nations Organization (UNO) as a way of enhancing peace has contributed to international understanding. Unilateral and multilateral co-operation programmes have been developed to promote international understanding. Education is seen as the possible way to enhance international understanding. To understand other nations of the world, their philosophies of life, education, culture and sociology and to understand the forces, be they geographical, cultural, local and religious influencing their life, to know more about their customs, traditions and culture is absolutely essential. An understanding of how these cultures are affecting education systems is important for the development of clear concept of internationalism. Exchanging of students teachers and other social workers is intended to promote the international systems of education.
9) Relax national pride
This is necessary for those countries that feel to be more superior to other countries in case of technology, military prowess and economic prosperity. They need to understand that other countries are essential for their sustenance and therefore have to work for mutual benefit of each other. Comparative thinking and international perspective taking are essential for citizens to get along in diverse, global society. Comparison challenges students to suspend judgment of these foreign systems that they might base on their limited and localized perspectives. Through the development of comparative thinking skills, students should be able to undertake analyses of their home cultures and systems with a more nuanced understanding of various cultural factors at play.