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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
Education Without the State by James Tooley.