The term development has never been more vague especially within education (in supposed ‘developed states’). In fact, due to its vagueness it ends up affecting not only the national economy, but also the global political economy.


Development, an incredibly vague term that is associated with wealth, prosperity and well, being developed. But what does it really mean to be developed? Is there a checklist that can help us understand this term? Or maybe its just one of those unspoken rules that everyone pretends to get but really don’t.

An easy way to be able to understand what it takes to be developed is to benchmark it against something that has been previously defined with it. Also, to narrow it down with a specific topic helps it become a little less vague. According to the United Nations (UN), as long as you are not part of any of these countries, you can safely say you are a developed state.

In the current situation of the global political economy, where everything is essentially market based and run on multilateral trade, being a developed or a developing country within this market is the driving force to success and of course, national stability. One way to ensure this continuous up-hill streak is to keep your Human Development Index (HDI) “very high” and specifically through education.

But its also important to note that a high HDI does not necessarily mean a uniform growth within the entire state, as internal disparities and inequalities are still possible. When it comes to the level of education, it is critical for it to be systemic and continuous throughout the country to ensure every individual gets the same quality of education.

Following the aftermath of ‘Brexit’, recent research has shown that education and it’s gaps within the state are not only threatening the state’s national economy but also the global political economy. The whole cycle is running on this unhealthy relationship of mistrust, “with the educated on one side and the less educated on another”.

Blue: voted to stay | Red: voted to leave


The areas of higher education (individuals with postgraduate qualifications) on one image are almost exactly correlated to the blues on the other image, where majority of the individuals voted to remain in the European Union (EU). While areas that correspond to lower levels of education (who left school with no qualifications) on one image, represent the reds on the other, where the collective vote was to leave the EU. This dramatically shows a distinct relationship between levels of education and their votes on the EU.

“The less educated fear they are being governed by intellectual snobs who know nothing of their lives and experiences. The educated fear their fate may be decided by know-nothings who are ignorant of how the world really works” –David Runciman

It is not necessarily important to highlight which side one picks when it comes to decisions such as these, but it is to understand the glaring issue of mistrust due to educational differences. The United Kingdom was ranked at 14th on the HDI report in “education achievements”, therefore ranking it under “very high”. However, how can one be called developed in terms of education when wide, prevalent educational gaps such as these exist? These differences are capable of ripping a national economy apart and with the world being more globalized, it will inevitably affect the neighboring countries just as much.blog2pic_2.gif

This vicious cycle of mistrust is only confirmed with new corresponding evidence of the recent US presidential elections, where once again the conservative party wins due to a large number of votes from ‘uneducated’ labeled states. Ironically, the US’s expenditure on education is the second most spent under military expenditure; it also ranked 8th on the HDI report in “education achievements”. It is due to these large divisions in educational systems that inspire this form of distrust where the educated worry about the decisions the less educated make, and vice versa.

However within the global political economy, there needs to be a form of trust because we all do need each other if we want to keep the market afloat. In situations such as these, it also does blur the lines of what it truly means to be developed. If a country was inspired to reach the same level of development as the UK or the US in terms of education, then clearly they might need to rethink their decisions on that.

Fadhila Al Asmawi | Dubai Campus


Glasbergen, R. (n.d.). Where the problem is located. [image] Available at: [Accessed 12 Dec. 2016].

Hunt, A. and Wheeler, B. (2016). Brexit: All you need to know about the UK leaving the EU – BBC News. [online] BBC News. Available at: [Accessed 4 Dec. 2016].

Kirk, A. and Dunford, D. (2016). EU referendum: How the results compare to the UK’s educated, old and immigrant populations. [online] The Telegraph. Available at: [Accessed 4 Dec. 2016]. (2016). The Condition of Education – Elementary and Secondary Education – Finance – Education Expenditures by Country – Indicator May (2016). [online] Available at: [Accessed 4 Dec. 2016].

O’Hara, P. (2006). Growth and development in the global political economy. 1st ed. London: Routledge, p.Chapter 5.

Runciman, D. (2016). How the education gap is tearing politics apart. [Blog] The long read. Available at: [Accessed 4 Dec. 2016].

The Economist. (2016). A country divided by counties. [online] Available at: [Accessed 4 Dec. 2016].

The Washington Post, (n.d.). This was the only school that wasn’t failing. [image] Available at: [Accessed 12 Dec. 2016].

United Nations. (2016). United Nations Committee for Development Policy Development Policy and Analysis Division Department of Economic and Social Affairs. [online] Available at: [Accessed 3 Dec. 2016].

United Nations Development Programme, (2015). Work for Human Development. Human Development Report. [online] 1 UN Plaza, New York, NY 10017, USA: United Nations Development Programme, p.242. Available at: [Accessed 3 Dec. 2016].


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