Instigator / Pro

THBT Education Should NOT be Compulsory in Third World Countries


The debate is finished. The distribution of the voting points and the winner are presented below.

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After 2 votes and with 8 points ahead, the winner is...

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Contender / Con

Pro: Education should be voluntary in developing countries

Con: Education should be compulsory in developing countries (required by law)

"Compulsory education refers to a period of education that is required of all people and is imposed by the government. " -- Wikipedia

Third world countries:

"The term Third World was originally coined in times of the Cold War to distinguish those nations that are neither aligned with the West (NATO) nor with the East, the Communist bloc. Today the term is often used to describe the developing countries of Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Australia/Oceania.

Many poorer nations adopted the term to describe themselves.

Over the years, the meaning of the term has become an elastic word. On this page, the term Third World is used to identify the countries with substandard, underdeveloped, or underperforming conditions in certain fields, which are in great need of development." --,America%2C%20and%20Australia%2FOceania.

Burden of proof is shared.

Round 1
While compulsory has many known benefits, the actual implementation makes it near impossible to fulfill in developed countries. My framework is that if any country can achieve compulsory education, then it is by definition, not developed. And if a country is developed, it cannot afford compulsory education. In other words, the premise tries to fit two impossible ideas together, which is paradoxical. 

My argument will derive mostly from an Economic Issue journal from IMF talking of education in third world countries. [1] As the resource first explains, the problem in most of the countries is lack of financial resources or political will. In addition, the parents paying for education is also nearly impossible. With difficulty to access food, clothing and shelter, it's easy to see why education would also be lacking behind. In a more specific statement, the author notes, "The government may not have the resources to provide a free education for all, either because there is a large, untaxed shadow economy and the tax base is small, or because tax administration and collection are ineffective. " Already, things are looking tough. In addition, even if education is free, the pay for textbooks, pencils, potential uniforms, add up to the school fee and either put extra burden on parents or the government. 

The actual results don't look promising either. The completion rate of primary school was noted to be 50% around 1999, and further more their learning is subpar. "Surveys in a number of low-income countries document that many adults who have received some schooling (five­ six years or less) are functionally illiterate and innumerate." Thus, the investment in the universal education would not only be costly but also cause little to no true change in the children. This is problematic as we could fix basic access to necessities for survival first, to establish the basis for education. It's better to worry about your studies if you aren't starving or getting sick, nearing death. 

There is further explanation for why education fails. The economic theory of supply and demand is at play here, in that poor families must meet these basic survival requirements. Connecting to my previous points, the cost of tuition, books, supplies, transportation, etc. make it unlikely that poor people would have access to credit. Not only so, children can show more concrete impact with working in jobs or helping in household chores. Thus, it's harder to convince poor people to force their children to attend education, not to mention that the parent feels like they lost a crucial helping hand. Combine this with homework projects, lesser time can be used to attend to the house condition. The parents are then trapped in a lose lose situation that the government has no right to force. Heaping upon an additional problem is informed consent. It's near impossible to give enough information to know about potential returns. They believe that many jobs in the local economy may not require academic skills,  or lack of understanding opportunities. The author also warns that in countries like Mexico, the cultural barriers and prejudices must be lifted until both girls and boys have good chance in their future careers. 

Finally, the corrupt governments make it unlikely that education will be high quality. The elites will likely shift the budget into their own interests. Even "foreign donors... seem to favor capital spending over recurring school expenses". The inherent flaws within the legislation adds to the difficulty of enforcing education that will actually improve the student's future. The article concludes with a plausible solution about user payments, however, warns against forcing compulsory attendance. The detriments culminate because  "a required user payment is a regressive tax—that is, the burden of paying the tax is greatest for the households with the lowest incomes." Since the corrupt government may be reluctant to enforce the education, I argue that the user payment can help enforce the education. Despite the dilemma presented, a forced regressive tax is clearly worse than some select parents excluding their children from education. Parents have the right to make that decision, rather than lack of informed consent and difficulty to keep poorer households intact. Different families have different circumstances. Following this reason, Voluntary Education seems like the lesser of the two evils. As families become more well informed, and governments more well developed, we may eventually enforce compulsory education. But by then, the country will fulfill its goal of being developed, contradicting the Contender's stance.

Now onto Con.

Since Pro did not elect to define "education" I will do so here.

Education is the process of facilitating learning, or the acquisition of knowledge, skills, values, morals, beliefs, and habits. [1]
Pro does not differentiate between different types of schooling, so I only have to argue that any form of government-approved education being compulsory is beneficial.

While compulsory has many known benefits, the actual implementation makes it near impossible to fulfill in developed countries. My framework is that if any country can achieve compulsory education, then it is by definition, not developed. And if a country is developed, it cannot afford compulsory education. In other words, the premise tries to fit two impossible ideas together, which is paradoxical. 
I believe that Pro meant to say "developing" in place of "developed" in this paragraph, as he conflates the phrase "developed country" with third world countries, while the opposite is the case.

I also disagree with Pro's definition of compulsory education in the description.

Compulsory education refers to a period of education that is required of all people and is imposed by the government. 
In implementation, this definition is not strictly correct. For instance, the state of Israel enforces compulsory military service for all citizens when they turn 18. However, the word compulsory doesn't mean that there are no exceptions. One can be exempted from compulsory for religious and psychological reasons, as well as by the Defense Minister's discretion, among other reasons. 
Pro's main contentions against compulsory education are in short, as I see it:
1. Implementation is difficult/impossible in developing countries as they lack the infrastructure/resources/motivation to support it.
2. The benefits of compulsory education are not as high as you would expect (a few relevant statistics are cited.)
3. Other necessities should be worked towards first, such as access to clean water and basic health amenities.
4. Impoverished families lose access to help around the home or in basic labor such as farm chores, especially since "with homework projects, lesser time can be used to attend to the house condition" (presumably costing even more time without even the benefit of free food during the hours spent on said projects).
5. "cultural barriers and prejudices must be lifted until both girls and boys have a good chance in their future careers. "
6. Corrupt government means that any attempts at implementing government-funded education will fail.

The form of education need not be as expensive as the United States system, which is bloated by years of bureaucracy and corpulent with the excess of a well-established nation.
I find it hard to believe that no education is better than some education, so unless Pro provides some form of proof that this is the case, compulsory education is preferable to voluntary IMO.
This is not an argument against compulsory education, only one towards less expensive options.
Homework projects are definitely unnecessary. There are options, such as supporting said families with utilities or groceries (similar to Food Stamps programs in America)
A1: Cheaper Forms of Education

Pro implies that compulsory education in developing countries would necessarily take the form of the kind of public, general education in a formal setting that is common in the United States, etc. This is a false dichotomy to me as there are many possible permutations of how education could take place, even practices that don't exist today. I will posit a few that would likely serve better and cost less below:

Informal neighborhood education: This would consist of a few educated individuals in a community working to teach valuable skills such as reading, writing, and basic math, and the basics to a few trades preparing children for higher-paying job opportunities, rather than being limited to the same basic job that their parents are doing. This wouldn't need to be as highly regulated (and therefore expensive) as the US public education system is, which is grossly unsuited for an infrastructure-poor society. This system would ideally cost little more than teacher wages and building upkeep. This is a first step towards higher educations rates in the developing country. Counters points 1 & 2.

Homeschool: Many impoverished families would find it difficult to put substantial amounts of time towards directly educating their children and many would lack the requisite knowledge, as they never received an education themselves, if even a small amount of reading could be enforced in every home, it would improve the average literacy rates. This is a somewhat weaker option, but some form of homeschool should be on the table, especially in later years as children become old enough to teach themselves through books (which could be donated through charities). Counters 1 and 6, so long as some basic literacy and study ethics are instilled first.

5k?! Frustrating
Round 2
Con opens up with a seemingly good counter to my framing of standardized education, argues that some education is better than none, offering counter plans of informal education and homeschooling. But each of these have dangerous flaws. 

Firstly, let's address the issues of informal education/homeschooling. The glaring problem I see here is that the government would be forcing a lot of educated people to work for free. This restriction of liberty is already jarring to our ideals of freedom -- just because some service produces beneficial results does not mean the persons have to provide said services. In addition, non-formal education also has similar problems in development, with an expert listing "the narrowness of the concept of education; fragmentation of organization and program; resource problems; problems of knowledge, techniques, and capabilities; and the responsibilities of international agencies". [1] So just as the formal education costs resources, the non formal education would also be problematic, as it would be up to the community to buy the textbooks, the material, and share the food resources. The cycle goes around and causes non-unique harms compared to formal education plans.

Enforcing the attendance adds on more difficulty. Wouldn't the government rather they have a known school rather than having to go neighborhood to neighborhood? Just thinking about the "compulsory local non-formal school" seems near impossible to execute. Not to mention that the homeschooling would be even more difficult to establish baseline standards. Unlike the US which is able to have plenty of personnel to make sure the homeschooling is doing its job, the "compulsory education but allows homeschooling" seems arbitrary and still up for the government to enforce. Not to mention con's logic prevent governments from trying to enforce trained professionals and improving the country. The lack of standard to choose non-formal or formal makes his plan ambiguous and falls apart upon scrutiny. 

Next, let's counter the idea that *any* education is better than no education. Con ignores the lack of literacy and actual results produced from education. This wasted time proves that the education did not do any good for the children. Next, I would argue that half knowledge is worse than ignorance. If you would take a look at the COVID 19 misinformation, this clear example highlights that telling people wrong ideas can lead to their unhealthy masking behavior and promoting erroneous practices. [2] As such, it's far more reasonable to continue the government involvement within education.

One expert paper follows the famous quote from Aristotle that gov's role in education is obvious ["regulated by law and should be an affair of the state"], with the idea "gov.-mandated curriculum documents spell out standards for the work of schools, teachers, and students" [4]. While standardization can be a bit strict in first world, the basis is absolutely necessary to begin with. The author adds, "with a standardized curriculum it is much easier to assess student performance and, supposedly,measure teacher accountability".  While the article's main purpose is not to support the standardized curriculum, the result nevertheless proves that compulsory education should be put off hold. The crux solution is "freedom of expression protected, civility affirmed, appreciation and understanding ofindividual differences ... [and] a caring community in which the wellbeing of eachperson is important." Therefore, the requirement for quality education --especially compulsory-- is clearly an already developed country.

The bigger problem is that ignorance merely means you answer "I don't know" to a topic, while the misinformation can lead to an endless loop. Confident "educators" will continue to spread lies and false information, without any one to correct them. In order to stop the misinformation, you'd have to establish a stronger standard in the first place -- leading back to formal education. The problem with non-formal education is that they had to have good education in the first place, but Con has not shown any of origin of good education to begin with. We know that the Dunning Kruger effect causes over confidence if the person knows just enough to *think* they know a lot, but in reality know nearly nothing. [3] Similarly, the homeschooling allowance furthers this problem, combined with the informed consent issue that I mentioned in round 1. Not only would they be reluctant to send their children to others unless they trusted them immensely -- ("I'm know what's best for my child!") -- they could also perpetuate the current lack of education. 

Recall: Parents don't have information about potential returns. They believe that jobs in the local economy may not require academic skills. In Mexico, the cultural barriers and prejudices must be lifted until both girls and boys have good chance in their future careers. 

Round 3
Alright, let's wrap this up. Through this debate I showed that compulsory education would be detrimental to students and even parents. Either we would have the homeschooling/ non formal educators with lower standards and difficulty to enforce the actual results. Or we would end up with formal education, which is also difficult due to forcing parents to pay money for education they may or may not actually want. Not to mention that governments have other things to prioritize that would arguably be easier to resolve than focusing on education. I valued informed consent and the idea that parents should have the right to decidedly exclude their children from education if they don't think they can afford it, and avoid the forced regression tax that would further hamper equality. Even though there is some benefits lost, there would be much better benefits gained from my first source's voluntary commitment idea. When we enforce a higher natural demand for education, we can enforce the quality. If it is forced, then government can charge more for subpar quality education, making the idea contradictory.