This paper focuses on the need for education to be embedded in a wider environment of a particular kind - for its expected social and economic impacts to be most evident. It explores, as a case study of this relationship, the extraordinarily long life of one of the most well-known policy claims in the whole sphere of international education and training - that four years of education increase agricultural productivity (cf. Lockheed, Jamison and Lau, 1980). But it also looks more generally at the role of the enabling environment for education and skills development to reach their full potential.
The original policy attractiveness of this case study research was doubtless because it claimed a connection between education and increased farmer productivity. This was particularly attractive in the World Bank at the time as the Bank wanted to make the case that investment in education was not simply a consumption good or a human right, but that it also translated into economic growth. The same research is now used, far beyond the Bank, to demonstrate the impact basic education has potentially on poverty reduction.
The paper re-examines these particular connections, noting the way that this particular research finding has been translated into policy documents over the last 25 years, but its authors are also interested in a second, and much more general parallel of this early research which has been little analysed - the crucial link between basic education and its surrounding or enabling environment. This concept of the environment includes both, within the education sector, the whole post-basic education and training system, but also the wider non-education environment (for example, macro-economic growth, job creation, good governance, and the availability of credit and agricultural inputs).
The paper first explores what we term, the 'farmer education fallacy in development planning', by looking at the origin of the famous farmer education claims just mentioned and seeing how these claims have been used since then in agency and academic policy. It then explores this issue of the need for education to be embedded within a wider environment more generally. This discussion examines the need for a sector-wide 'postbasic education and training environment' - beyond primary schooling, on the one hand, and the importance of the wider 'non-educational environment' on the other. It also discusses some of the links between the existence of a post-basic education system and this wider enabling environment.
Centre of African Studies, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK, 67 pp.