[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

govt repsonsibility

It was said that education is a govt responsibility and any one who
suggests totally private education is advocating abdication of that
responsibility.  I do not think it is a govt responsibility in the same
sense as national defence, police, and courts are.  Unlike DPC (defence,
police, and courts), education is not a necessary function of govt.

The govt role in education that even liberals like Adam Smith and
Friedman advocate is based largely on public good/externality argument.
Though it would be nice to go back and check what exactly are the
grounds given by them.  Barun rejects the argument.  But surprisingly he
doesn't provide any rationale for the rejection.

The externality argument applies mostly to primary education, and
certainly not to college education.  The argument simply says that
individuals' private decisions about how much education to acquire would
not be socially optimal.  Therefore there is a case for nudging
individuals to demand/acquire more education than they otherwise would.
In other words, individuals should get primary education instead of none
or less than primary education.  It is usually assumed that this nudging
will be done by the govt by either producing or subsidizing education.
But it doesn't have to be the govt; it could be any extra-individual
entity.  Any community group, religious association, or a charity could
do the nudging.  The question then is which of the two broad groups--the
state and its agencies or the civil society associations--will do the
nudging most effectively and efficiently.  Historical experience and
public choice theory argues against relying on the state.  On the other
hand, history suggests that education has been an active domain of
community and religious groups and of charity.  Most of the top US
colleges were built by private endowments.    In short, the externality
argument by itself doesn't lead to the conclusion that education, even
primary edu, should be govt's responsibility.  It suggests that some
extra-individual entity should balance the privately and socially
optimal education.

The rationale for govt involvement seems more to be sociological and
psychological.  The usual question:  Who will take of those who can't
take care of themselves?  We seem to want some certainty that even when
_we_ are not looking, someone will be there to provide for those who
can't provide for themselves.   For some reason, we have more faith in
govt being there as the provider than in any other social institution.
But is govt that different from "we?"  When we are not looking, why
would the govt be looking?  What's the track record of the govt??

The same socio/psycho forces demand govt role in education.  Again,
what's the govt's record? Why would it be suddenly different now than
what it has been for last fifty years?


This is a posting to India_Policy Discussion list:  debate@indiapolicy.org
Rules, Procedures, Archives:            ../debate/