Education and Neocolonialism: A Note Author(s): Philip G. Altbach Reviewed work(s): Source: Comparative Education Review, Vol. 15, No.

2, Colonialism and Education (Jun., 1971), pp. 237-239 Published by: The University of Chicago Press on behalf of the Comparative and International Education Society Stable URL: . Accessed: 27/06/2012 01:06
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MAY BE DEFINED as the direct political, economic and educational control of one nation over another. These brief notes seek to go beyond the data presented in this issue and to suggest that, in many countries, some aspects of colonialism still exist, although the means of external influence or control is no longer direct. Analysts and policy makers must be sensitive to the still powerful role of advanced nations in their former colonies or in other developing countries. For lack of a better term, we shall use "neocolonialism" to designate the continued post-colonial impact of advanced industrial countries on the educational systems and policies as well as the intellectual life of developing areas. Modern neocolonialism does not involve direct political control and leaves substantial leeway to the developing country. However, some aspects of domination by the advanced nation over the developing country remain. Neocolonialism is partly a planned policy of advanced nations to maintain their influence in developing countries, but it is also simply a continuation of past practices. This essay points to some of the important aspects of this situation and raises questions for further analysis. The following list of areas of influence is mainly to suggest the scope of this issue. 1. The educational systems of most developing countries, on almost all levels, remain rooted in the administrative structures of the former colonial rulers. The colonial power may not be the direct cause of this situation, but the fact that the structure and organization of the schools reflect a foreign model necessarily has an impact on the nature of the education provided. 2. The curriculum of the schools and colleges often reflects orientations of the former colonial rulers or of other advanced countries which provide assistance or are for some other reason powerful in the affairs of the given developing country. Textbooks are imported from advanced countries, and occasionally expatriate teachers can be found in the schools and particularly in the universities. Curriculum and other qualitative aspects of education have sometimes been severely neglected in developing countries because efforts lhave been concentrated on quantitative expansion. 3. The language of the former colonial power remains the medium of instruction in education in some developing countries. This is important for the nature of the etduicationalsystem, the values inculcated, the availability of ehducaandl tion to wide sections of the population. 4. Foreign aid and technical assistance such as help in designing curriculum, COLONIALISM

1 Many of these points are elaborated in Philip G. Altbach, "Education and Neocolonialism", The Record (May, 1971), in press.

Comparative Education Review



provision of physical facilities and other educational materials have all had an impact on educational systems in developing countries. A variety of research strategies and orientations can be used to investigate the relationship of neocolonialism and education. The following list is not intended to present an exhaustive enumeration of possible research topics, but is rather intended to be suggestive. 1. Studies concerning the history of colonial educational policies are of relatively recent origin, and more work needs to be done in this area. It is especially important for scholars to focus on the reactions of the colonized peoples themselves to foreign educational policies, and to examine the motivations of both the colonizers and the colonized during the period of foreign rule. Such studies will expand the framework for research and understanding of post-colonial educational problems. 2. Much of the impact of former colonial countries on education in developing areas stems from the voluntary acceptance of colonial models and concepts by indigenous elites and policy makers. Research is needed concerning the nature of this acceptance and the motivations of elites in this area. For example, are other models of educational development available for developing countries? The work of Paulo Freire and other indicates that there may be alternatives to Western-style education which could contribute effectively to modernization.2 Recent educational programs in China, Cuba, Burma and several other countries may shed light in this area. 3. The educational policies of the advanced nations, and particularly of the super powers-the United States and the Soviet Union-are quite important. Research concerning the policy making process, the underlying orientations and goals, and other factors related to educational planning for developing countries by the super powers should be undertaken. 4. The impact of specific educational aid projects is of primary importance, not only as case study data but also as a means of evaluating advanced programs and policymaking for future efforts. Such research should include a wide-ranging analysis of the societal impact of the project as well as a more narrow consideration of the project itself. 5. The influence of advanced nations on the intellectual life of developing countries must also be considered, What for example is the impact of the dissemination of foreign periodicals, such as Time or various scholarly journals, on developing countries? 6. What are the policy considerations and uses made of educational aid from the viewpoint of the developing countries? Why are aid projects often accepted with little scrutiny, and what aims do the developing countries themselves have

Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed (New York: Herder and Herder, 1970).


June 1971


for the foreign educational aid which is provided? How much impact do the recipients have on the aid process? It is hoped that these notes and the articles in this issue will provide an impetus for further research concerning the current impact of advanced nations on developing countries.

Comparative Education Review