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From development comparatism to globalization comparativism: towards more normative international education statistics

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The comparability and quality of UNESCO's international education statistics have been questioned since the end of the 1980s, when other international agencies started producing their own indicators on education. This evolution coincides with the new strategic role given to education in national and international economic programmes, and marks the transition from the era of development to that of globalization. According to OECD or the World Bank, more emphasis should be placed on the comparability of education outputs than on the measurement of the development of mass education. Moreover, indicators should be used not only to compare the characteristics of national education systems but also to compare underlying political decisions. The latter would be evaluated based on performance criteria established by external assessments. This new kind of comparability, which was justified by the quest for data quality, is, in a sense, less robust from a statistical point of view, but more ambitious in terms of objectives and consequences. This comparability has also been accompanied by the reshaping of international decision-making.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium 2: UNESCO, France

Publication date: May 1, 2005

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