Pakistan Institute of Development Economics



On Education as a Commodity (The Distinguishedl Lecture)

Author: M. Ali Khan

I have no knowledge of either Sanskrit or Arabic. But I have done what I could to form a correct estimate of their value. I have never found one … who could deny that a single shelf of a good European library was worth the whole native literature of India and Arabia. i If truth is not to be found on the shelves of the British Museum, where, I asked myself, picking up a notebook and a pencil, is truth.2 Education is a weapon whose effect depends on who holds it in his hand and who is struck with it.Consider a shop, here and now, which stocks a finite but very large number of commodities, each of whose characteristics is known to both the shoppers and the shopkeeper, and each of whose prices is posted at the shopdoor. Let one of these cOinmodities be units of undergraduate education, measured in years. The following scenario, thought-experiment if one prefers, brings out how the shop functions. I send someone shopping. I give him a slip marked “five years of undergraduate education.” He takes the slip to the shopkeeper, who…….

M. Ali Khan

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