Praise for Elitism and Meritocracy in Developing Countries
An analysis of selection policies (including affirmative action) around the globe.
“The ambitious purpose of this ground-breaking book is to provide a research-based conceptual framework and guidelines for applying policy analysis to the classic dilemma facing all democratically inclined societies, namely, how to select, on the basis of merit, a sufficient cadre of leaders of all types required to move the society forward, without ending up with a self-serving and self-perpetuating elite that dominates and exploits the rest of society...
Before commenting on the substance of the book, I should like to pay tribute to Klitgaard’s unusual qualifications for undertaking such a complex study. Unlike many academic scholars, he is policy and action oriented and well versed in a number of relevant disciplines, particularly psychometrics, the economics of education, and policy analysis. As the result of his broad field experience, he also is keenly aware of the realistic problems and limitations that confront educational decision makers in developing countries...
The previous abbreviated description of Klitgaard’s analytical framework and a few of his conclusions scarcely scratches the surface of his rich discussion, but perhaps it will suffice to whet the appetite of readers of this review to explore the book itself. The book should be required reading for social scientists, both in universities and outside them, who are seriously interested in the important roles and impacts of education in developing countries.”
—Philip H. Coombs, Founder of the UNESCO International Institute for Educational Planning and Chair of the International Council for Economic Development, in The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science
“This is an important book and an interdisciplinary one, drawing on psychometrics, economics and public policy analysis. It will be of use to all those involved in higher education, especially those given the difficult task of allocating life chances. It should definitely be read by economists of education. From a psychologist’s point of view it is gratifying to find issues of individual human development and motivation taken on board alongside issues of economics and public policy.”
—Journal of Development Studies
“He not only provides evidence that, indeed, widening representation will lower standards, but also, and more importantly, he provides techniques to calculate the worsening. Put in another way, if it considered that social justice requires a greater participation by underrepresented groups, we now have methods with which to calculate its academic and financial costs… The statistical methods offered are probably the major contribution of the book…
These are all very important arguments, and it is unfortunate that the title of the book suggests that its concerns lie exclusively with ‘developing countries.’ On the contrary, they are of much more general application…”
“Klitgaard implicitly argues that higher education is selective and elitist in its very nature and that selection occurs in every country, regardless of ideology or economics system. His plea is that the process be rational and that those setting policy fully understand the implications of what they do. His book has many lessons not only for the Third World but for the debates about access to higher education, the process of testing, and related matters in all countries.”
“Whatever may be a reader’s alternative concerns, university officials and professors in several fields concerned with the Third World will enjoy and profit from the fresh clarity of this book. The technical topics and new methods have been presented in a most readable form. The charts, tables, and checklists are exceptionally clear and helpful demonstrations of selection analysis methods. The book’s proposals for the promotion of intellectual performance standards will find a response in the recent renewal of interest in the quality of academic institutions.”
—Journal of Higher Education
“Overall this book makes a valuable contribution to several types of literature. For comparative education, it presents a thoughtful combination of sophisticated statistical tools for what are seen as a common set of problems on the one hand and a sensitivity to both historical time and cultural difference that gives each of the societies under consideration a certain uniqueness on the other... As a contribution to the development literature, it deals with a problem which is without doubt of crucial political importance… The author’s practical experience in each of the Asian societies, except China, brings a quality of understanding to the analysis of policies in these societies that illustrates the many-faceted role of public policy beyond the technical questions for which advanced statistical techniques are proposed as solutions.”
—International Review of Education
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