Government Failure: E. G. West on Education


Economic Theory

17th in the series of IEA Current Controversies Paper


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This selection of E.G. West’s papers contains a wealth of economic and philosophical ananlysis which can guide policymakers in the field of Education. They also show how state monopoly provision of education has led to a particular model of schooling which does not work for many of those who use the education system – parents and children.

Perhaps the most valuable contribution of these papers, though, is their historical analysis. The extent to which education systems developed in the UK and the USA before either compulsory schooling or dominant state finance emerged is remarkable. E.G. West also analyses the debate between those who believe that the state should control education in order to shape the thinking of the younger generation, and those who believe in a plurist system. He demonstrates how universal state provision of education is the model that is least likely to benefit the poor, although they could benefit substantially from programmes to help them fund their education.

In an era when there is increasing dissatisfaction with state education provision, but in which the state has ever greater control of the curriculum – including the teaching of ‘citizenship’ – and management of schools, the papers in Occasional Paper 130 have never been more relevant.

2003, Occasional Paper 130, ISBN 0 255 36552 7, 201pp, PB

Further reading:
Education Without the State by James Tooley.

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