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The Tools of Transition: Education and Development in Modern Southeast Asian History


  • Tim Harper


Although great importance is attached to the role of education in national development in Southeast Asia, its role has been ambivalent. In the colonial period, education was a central way in which societies mobilised to challenge and resist European rulers. Yet education has also been the central vehicle through which colonial and post-colonial states have sought to impose their own visions and discipline their subjects. Southeast Asia’s history has been marked by a cultural willingness to borrow and adapt ideas, practices and institutions from outside. Yet this has also been a source of anxiety and conflict. The ‘indigenous’ is often a product of an immediate post-colonial history, rather than the expression of a longer cultural experience. Historians can try to provide a useful narrative of regional thinking about education and development in Southeast Asia, particularly during its key ‘periods of transition’, and thus help to set educational developments within in a wider context. Providing a historical perspective, this paper attempts to map some of the region’s capacities and capabilities, and to examine how adequately they have been exploited by the formal educational sector.

Suggested Citation

  • Tim Harper, 2009. "The Tools of Transition: Education and Development in Modern Southeast Asian History," Brooks World Poverty Institute Working Paper Series 9209, BWPI, The University of Manchester.
  • Handle: RePEc:bwp:bwppap:9209

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    1. Stijn Claessens, 2006. "Access to Financial Services: A Review of the Issues and Public Policy Objectives," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 21(2), pages 207-240.
    2. Carla Henry & Manohar Sharma & Cecile Lapenu & Manfred Zeller, 2003. "Microfinance Poverty Assessment Tool," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 15065.
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