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From the party/state to multiethnic democracy: Education and social cohesion in Europe and Central Asia

Stephen P. Heyneman (2000)

Key facts

Journal/Publisher
Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis
Type of publication
Journal article
Elements of social cohesion
Intergroup relations
Other (Education)
Geographical focus
Europe and Central Asia
Main thematic areas
Political institutions & governance
Concept & measurement

Summary

Can educational mechanisms lower social tension and help achieve social cohesion ? If so, how are these mechanisms defined and measured? What is the experience to date with the social utility of education mechanisms? How can one differentiate between an education system that is doing a good job of rein- forcing social cohesion and one that is doing a poor job? In this paper, I attempt to respond to these questions by (a) briefly reviewing some concepts of institutional and organizational economics so that the economic implications of education's social cohesion functions can be more clear, (b) reviewing the origins of public schooling so that the reader may place today's educational challenges in historical context, (c) reviewing the anecdotal and field experience to date in the European and Central Asian (ECA ) region in meeting the challenges of social cohesion, and (d) drawing some comparisons between the social cohesion performance of education systems in the ECA region and that of the U.S. In sum, I argue that social cohesion has significant economic benefits; that since its invention in the 17th century, public education has been one of the main contributions to social cohesion in the west; but that countries of the ECA region are having a difficult time replicating the western education experience. In fact, when compared to other parts of the world, the U.S. school system seems to perform rather well with respect to its social cohesion functions.

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