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Comparative Education

Programs and courses in comparative education are offered in many universities in Canada and the United States. Studies are often published in scholarly journals such as the International Review of Education, the Mediterranean Journal of Educational Studies, and the Comparative Education Review.¹

Comparative education has four purposes: first, it should describe educational systems, processes, or outcomes. Next, it needs to assist in the development of educational institutions and practices. Comparative education should highlight the relationships between education and society. Finally, it needs to establish generalized statements about education that are valid in more than one country.¹

Comparative education is not just comparing educational institutions from different countries; it is also the comparison of schools in a single country over time. Critics of comparative education often refer to it as policy borrowing.¹

As an example of how comparative education works, take the United States as an example. In the United States, there is no centralized system for secondary school diplomas; instead, each state sets their own regulations for secondary schools. Comparative education would look at countries like Japan and France to determine the advantages and disadvantages of a centralized certification system.¹




1. Harold J. Noah and Max A. Eckstein. Secondary School Examinations: International Perspectives on Policies and Practice (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1993). 

Image sources: College of Education, University of Florida

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