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Globalization, Quality and Inequity in Education and Economic Growth – Lessons for India from China

Date 11th February 2015 @ 4:00 pm

The initial conditions in 1950 of the world’s two most populous economies, newly created People’s Republic of China and newly independent India were similar – low per capita income, high levels of poverty and low education.  China has attained a miracle of sustaining high growth rates close to 10 percent for more than past 35 years and in recent years, Shanghai-China has ranked top among the 74 of the OECD and 10 other countries in PISA tests in Science, Mathematics and Reading for the 15 year old school children.  Except for a brief spurt of high growth in the 1990’s and early 2000’s, India’s growth rates have been around 5 percent during rest of the period, and in PISA tests in 2009  India ranked next to the last, just above Kyrgyzstan, among  the 74 participating countries.  No countries in the world achieved the NIC status without a globally competitive educated labor force. Has India already fallen into the Middle Income Trap (i.e., an economy grows for a while and before reaching the high-income status, its growth rate significantly declines)? In today’s knowledge-based global economies, many economists attribute the cause of Middle Income Trap and low economic growth to poor educational attainment. The endogenous growth models explain the need for the pool of talented highly educated labor force for sustained high economic growth – the larger the pool of talented highly educated labor force, the higher is the rate of growth of useful knowledge and economic growth.

In this talk, I compare the education systems of China and India and examine what India can learn from the negative and positive experiences of China’s policy experiments with education during the Mao and the Post-Mao periods.  The main topics to be addressed:

1)      The broader educational strategies followed for primary, secondary, and vocational and higher education.

2)      The education delivery systems:  the kind of centralization-decentralization-privatization of education financing and curricular reform policies was followed, and how these policies affected the educational quality and disparities.

3)      Parents’ motivation to enroll their children in school and children’s motivation to learn – I will discuss in this context my work with Heckman, and other research that I have done in this area.

Analyses of PISA data found that teacher quality is the most central to student learning.  Furthermore, the school quality, school choice, school infrastructure, teacher recruiting, teacher training, and teacher accountability are also very important for providing quality education.   I will first point out what we learn statistically from the public domain dataset, India Human Development Survey of 2005, about the importance of these factors within India. I then draw from the techniques that Shanghai-China and a few other east Asian countries adopted to attain high performance in PISA (measured in average score with low disparity across social groups) to point out what positive lessons India can learn. I will also talk about the effectiveness of IT-technology, distant learning and educational quotas for SC/ST in closing the educational gap across caste, rural-urban location and income groups in India.


11th February 2015
4:00 pm
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IGIDR, Seanza Conference Hall
Mumbai, Maharashtra India


Dr. Lakshmi Raut, Social Security Administration (USA)