There are many differences between the education systems in developed countries and developing countries. In general, the differences are clear; developing countries often lack the equipment and skills to allow their education systems to excel, whereas richer countries have had more years of ‘getting it right’ and have developed to a higher standard. However, much of the differences come down to perspectives and priorities. Unlike in many rich countries, people living in developing countries often have a perspective that values gathering food more highly than it values attending school.
In the majority of developing countries, governments do not allocate very much money towards primary schools. According to the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (2011), “developing countries spend an average of 4.4 per cent of their national income on education. The United States and countries in western Europe invest 5.5 per cent on average, some countries even invest more than 8 per cent on education. In the period between 1999 and 2006, 40 countries reduced their education expenditure – and that figure does not even include many countries that did not supply statistics” (Education, 2011).
The thing that all of these countries have in common is that they, arguably, should be investing more into their primary education systems. The population, in almost all countries around the world, is increasing. If the system is to keep up with this increase then governments, both in developing and developed countries, will have to consider allocating more money. For the richer countries, most do not have such funds available to invest. The Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development puts this down to, “bad governance, high staff turnover, inefficient use of funding, corruption and lack of management and organisational skills” (Education, 2011). For developing countries, such as many in Africa, the problems range from corruption in government to the simple matter of a lack of available funds.
In many developing countries, there is a real lack of primary schools in the places where they are needed. This is a particular problem in rural areas where many children have two walk for several hours each morning to attend school. In developed countries, such as the UK and the US, this is far less of a problem. Generally speaking, primary schools in such countries are readily available, and not many children live a long distance from their nearest one.
Many schools in poor countries lack even the most basic equipment. Supplies that developed countries take for granted, such as pencils and exercise books, are considered luxuries in schools in many parts of the developing world. are poorly equipped (Glewwe & Kremer). In many schools, it is the parents that are expected to supply items such as pencils, paper and textbooks. Many children of primary school age have lost one or both parents, often to the AIDS epidemic, and many more parents are subsistence farmers and do not have money to buy such equipment. Moreover, in African countries, it is not uncommon for textbooks to contain factual errors, which makes learning even more a difficult process for the children. Conversely, in most developed countries, basic supplies are provided for primary school children, and in some secondary schools.
In many African countries, the working conditions for school teachers are very poor. A large amount of teachers are not well trained and are, by no fault of their own, incapable of teaching to a satisfactory standard. Moreover, there are obstacles such as no chairs, books or even chalk for the teachers to use in classes. Teachers are sometimes paid very badly in developing countries, and have to handle a large class of children who, in turn, do not have the basic equipment to allow them to learn effectively (Education). In richer countries, most teachers are aware of what the profession entails and what will be expected of them. This is arguably the major difference; even though conditions are so poor in some developing countries, if the teachers knew what to expect then the situation may be different.
In developing countries, there are many families which rely on their children to either earn a wage or to assist in the shores such as farming for food every day. When this is the case, it is easy to understand why such children are not helped, or encouraged, to attend school by their parents. According to the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development, estimates show that “some 166 million children between the ages of 5 and 14 years have to work – often up to 16 hours a day. One in four children in sub-Saharan Africa and one in five children in Asia have to work” (Education).
Widespread discussion on the shortfalls of the education systems within developing countries are more than speculation. The illiteracy rates around the world support the notion that the education systems in developing countries need some review. According to SIL International (2011), “98 per cent of all non-literates live in developing countries” and “in the least developed countries, the overall illiteracy rate is 49 per cent” (International). This shows a correlation between the state of the education systems of developing countries has a direct effect on the literacy rates of their peoples.
In addition to academic study, vocational training is a valid element of education around the world. If sustainable development is to happen in pooper countries, it is vital that there are specialists, qualified in the field, in order to teach individuals wishing to learn. However, this is a real problem in many poorer countries. As the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development, “Many countries only have a rudimentary vocational training system, or one that is not integrated into the education and employment system. The courses are usually too theoretical and not geared to the needs of the labour market” (Education).
The most obvious difference between education in developing countries and education in developed countries is the amount of money being channelled into them. Although, on first glance, the percentages do not seem that different, it is important to remember that they are just that: percentages. The total sum available to be put into the whole country is likely vary significantly from one country to the next, especially where one country is drastically richer than the other. As a result of poor funding, schools in developing countries lack qualified teachers, equipment, and even food and water for their students, whereas school sin richer countries are much more fortunate in these areas. Despite this, however, the difference in education also can be amounted to the priorities of the people of a particular country. In Cameroon, for example, many children have to spend several hours each evening collecting water and food for the family; if they do not, no one will eat or drink that evening. When these types of factors are considered, it is unsurprising that children, and their parents, do not view education as a priority in their lives.
Education in Developing Countries. Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and
Development. 2011. Web. 13 June 2011.
Glewwe, P and Michael Kremer. Schools, Teachers, and Education Outcomes in Developing
Countries. Givewell. 2005. Web. 13 June 2011.
International Literacy Day. SIL International. 2011. Web. 13 June 2011.