Global basic education as a missing cause priority

post by lucy.ea8 · 2019-08-08T01:19:43.624Z · score: 0 (3 votes) · EA · GW · 13 comments

This is a question post.

Contents

  Answers
    6 saulius
None
No comments

Why is basic education for everyone in the world (12 years/high school equivalent in usa) not a cause priority for EA?

One of the pillars that EA community works on is "Global Health and Development" while there are multiple definitions of development I read it as "Global Health and Economic Development" this is reflected in Give Wells recommendations with roughly 90% going to health interventions and 10% going to Give Directly (poverty alleviation/economic development).

Why is Global basic education not a cause priority? Both for its own sake and for its positive effects on health and wealth.

Answers

answer by saulius · 2019-08-08T06:35:18.364Z · score: 6 (4 votes) · EA · GW

GiveWell wrote about education in developing countries here. Also, Giving What We Can wrote about education in a more accessible manner here. However, Giving What We Can's report is from 2013 and may be outdated.

comment by JoanGass · 2019-08-14T03:29:53.132Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

You may be interested in this 80,000 Hours podcast: https://80000hours.org/podcast/episodes/rachel-glennerster-best-buys-in-international-development/

comment by lucy.ea8 · 2019-08-18T07:37:22.336Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

I heard the podcast before, but it helped to go through it again. I learnt about LAYS (Learning Adjusted Years of Schooling) and went through the links for articles, interesting stuff. Thanks.

comment by lucy.ea8 · 2019-08-09T01:46:22.109Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Hello, thanks for the links, I read through them. Giving What We Can depends strongly on Give Well. Both of them conclude or assume that education has no intrinsic value Give Well says "We do not place much intrinsic value on increasing time in school" and Giving What We Can says "...suggests that years in education does not itself increase happiness"

This is really puzzling since EA community is highly educated (from elite universities?) Education is what I value most in my life.

Why does the EA community think "Global health and (economic?) development" is more important that Global Education or atleast equal in importance?

Also see [EA · GW]

comment by saulius · 2019-08-09T15:22:10.423Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Thinking that education has intrinsic value is might be more rare than you expect. Spencer Greenberg tried to "make a fully comprehensive list of intrinsic values that people report having" here and none of 112 items mention education, although few are related (e.g. "humanity continues to makes progress discovering things that weren't previously known", "people all around the world believe the truth rather than false things"). Are you sure that you value education intrinsically? That is, do you really value education for itself, not merely for its consequences? Would you continue to value it even if it were to cause nothing else? See more on what that means here.

comment by lucy.ea8 · 2019-08-10T02:01:43.932Z · score: -1 (2 votes) · EA · GW

I see education as oxygen or water, those are not mentioned in the list either. That is a very western, developed world list. In the poor parts of the world I assume they might say lack of hunger, malaria, ill-treatment etc..

Are you sure that you value education intrinsically?

I see basic education (high school equivalent) as an intrinsic value. (I watched the video)

It is also interesting that the video says that money does not have intrinsic value, but Global (economic) development is a headline priority for EA.

comment by saulius · 2019-08-10T10:08:10.319Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · EA · GW

We value oxygen because of its consequences (help us stay alive), not intrinsically. If, for example, we would modify ourselves to survive without oxygen, we wouldn't care about it, hence it's not an intrinsic value. We care about global development because of its consequences too. E.g., we want fewer people to suffer from poverty and its consequences (hunger, easily preventable diseases, etc.). The core intrinsic value here is minimizing suffering.

comment by lucy.ea8 · 2019-08-11T08:13:54.241Z · score: -1 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks saulius. Another way of thinking about oxygen is that is fundamentally important for our life. Likewise I see basic education as necessary to participate in daily life in this global world. Caring about global development is one thing, but EA community gives it headline space in one of its 3 main causes/focus areas (Global health and development, X-risk, Animal welfare). I believe education should be added for its intrinsic value.

If we care about Global development for its consequences, I feel that it is getting too much headline space.Education allows individuals to avoid preventable diseases, hunger (via better participation in the industrial economy). Therefore "Global Health, Education and Development" makes sense and dropping it seems to be a mistake.

Also Human Development Index consists of three parts "life expectancy, education, and per capita income" if the most widely used index for thinking about human welfare uses education as one of its three components, why does EA retain two of them and drop education without a solid explanation?

comment by michaelchen · 2019-08-19T01:08:55.410Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

It seems to me that you don't value education intrinsically so much as valuing it as a tool to increase ability to contribute economically, ability to contribute intelligently to public discourse, and ability satisfy basic needs like food and health. Twelve years of public schooling like what is currently taught might not be the best way of improving those things.

comment by lucy.ea8 · 2019-08-19T04:49:44.848Z · score: -1 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Education has intrinsic value.

It changes outlook towards life, how people participate in everyday society, what hopes and dreams they have. What choices they make in their lives.

Illiterate women in agricultural societies gain autonomy via education. It allows them to (partially) resist patriarchy, to choose to have small families, any yes to participate in public discourse, and industrial economy.

Women's suffragette movement picked steam after women became literate/educated

Civil rights movement happened after African American's became literate/educated

All the independence leaders of colonial countries were literate/educated.

Every single society that became rich, first became literate / educated. And countries that did not educate themselves stayed agricultural/poor. Argentina is a good example of this, a hundred years ago it was on par with UK in terms of money, but was behind in terms of education. It consistently did not prioritize education and can now be compared to china instead of UK.

comment by Larks · 2019-08-21T19:46:16.764Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · EA · GW

If education is good because it promotes autonomy, that is an instrumental value, not an intrinsic one. It would be intrinsically valuable if people said "I care about education even though it doesn't promote autonomy or health or anything else valuable."

You might like to read this SEP article about the difference.

comment by lucy.ea8 · 2019-08-23T01:15:06.204Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Education has instrumental value, it more importantly has intrinsic value.

From Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy article

One of the most comprehensive lists of intrinsic goods that anyone has suggested is that given by William Frankena ....consciousness,.... truth; knowledge and true opinions of various kinds, understanding, wisdom;

All of which in various forms are based on the foundation of basic education. I have consciousness of the world and universe because of my education, without which I would have less consciousness.

intrinsic value has been characterized above in terms of the value that something has “in itself,” or “for its own sake,” or “as such,” or “in its own right.”

For me education is valuable “in itself”, “for its own sake”, “as such”, “in its own right.”

I notice that I used the language of intrinsic value, the question uses "for its own sake" before I was aware of the SEP article.

Also "development" has no intrinsic value, why is it headlining EA efforts? I would prefer EA to emphasize "Global Education and Health" over "Global Health and Development"

comment by lucy.ea8 · 2019-08-12T06:36:25.687Z · score: -1 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Here is an example where straight relationship between money and health does not hold

Country---> Philippines South Africa
Gross National Income per capita (ppp) $ 4,002 $9,812
Life expectancy (years) 72.3 52
Mean years of schooling 8.7 8.2

Source Sen’s Capability Approach

13 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.