This paper is a part of a six-country study entitled 'Beyond the Basics: Education and Poverty. The Contribution of Post-Basic Education and Training (PBET) to Poverty Reduction: Evidence from South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa'.
There is a general presumption among many policy makers that secondary and higher education is not necessary for economic growth and development. On the other hand, it is literacy and primary education that is argued to be important. Estimates on internal rate of return also contributed to strengthening of such a presumption. Increased national and international concerns for Education For All, also led to overall neglect of secondary and higher education in many developing countries. The problem of resource scarcity added further to the problem. Accordingly, secondary and higher education do not figure on the poverty reduction agenda of many poor countries. Indian experience also testifies to all this. Secondary and more strikingly higher education has been subject to neglect by the government and the current situation with respect to not only elementary education, but also secondary and higher education is far from satisfactory.
Based on some of the recent research, and based on further research evidence on India presented here, it is attempted to show that the general presumption on the weak or negligible role of secondary and higher education in development is not valid and that post elementary education is important for reduction in poverty, in improving infant mortality and life expectancy, and for economic growth. Accordingly, it also pleads for sound and comprehensive education policies that recognise the importance of not just elementary education, but also of secondary and higher education and for integration of educational planning with development planning.
Centre of African Studies, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK, 70 pp.