Determinants of Social Demand for Education - Excellence
Apart from the three considerations identified by Prof. Musgrave for public investments in education and discussed above (viz. equity, economies of scale and externalities), there is an important perspective from which state investments, especially in the field of higher education and research become imperative and that is ‘excellence’. In fact, concern for pursuit of excellence in higher education and national development prompted the United States to set up a commission on higher education with Mr Bell, Secretary of State for Education, as its Chairman in 1981.
The Commission submitted its report entitled ‘A Nation at Risk’ in 1983 wherein it identified the declining standards in higher education. A large number of articles on excellence in education appeared in several leading educational journals following the publication of this report. Excellence in national life in the fields of science and technology, defence, industrial production, agriculture, trade and business cannot be achieved in a vacuum. It is a subtle and complex process that should begin at lower levels of life with education and later run through the whole of formal and non formal systems of learning.
Research and dissemination of knowledge is integral to this effort. Private enterprise will definitely spend on research and development. But this will be on such programmes which are of direct relevance to the stepping up of the quality/profits of their products. They may hardly display interest, with some honourable exceptions, for research in ‘Pure Sciences’. Hence, pursuit of excellence and creativity is another factor which goes to determine public investments in education.