What is International and Comparative Education?

Comparative Education is to do with looking at education in countries other than one's own. It became a recognised foundations of education discipline at university level around 1930, largely due to the efforts at the University of London Institute of Education and Teachers College, Columbia University, New York. Because of these beginnings, comparative education came to focus largely on national systems of education in Europe, North America and other similar societies such as Australia and New Zealand. After the second world war, with the setting up of the World Bank and national ministries of overseas development, a parallel set of scholars developed what we call 'International Educational Development'. So now we recognise the field as International and Comparative Education, as there is a great deal of interdependence between nations. Regional bodies have also come into being such as the European Union, ASEAN and regional offices of UNESCO so that we now have global, regional and national scales of reference. The main purposes of the field are: a) to gain a perspective of one's own educational experience; b) to engender co-operation between nations, regional bodies and global institutions in the interests of mutual understanding, co-operation and sustainable development. There are now about 40 Comparative Education Societies that together form the World Congress of Comparative Education which meet once every three years. The field of International and Comparative Education in terms of specialist scholars and programmes in universities is still small in size, but it is growing, as others in the field of education see the necessity for an international perspective without which we cannot even understand the quality of our own system. Neither can we co-operate in meeting the increasing challenges to education in fostering survival and sustainable development into the twenty-first century. Research is a vital component, which is why the development of centres like CRICE is significant.