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Religion, Education, and Secularism in International Agencies

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Comparative Education Review Volume 55, Number 1, ISSN 0010-4086


During the interwar years of the early twentieth century, and through at least the 1980s, education was seen by scholars, state leaders, and international agency representatives alike as a way to modernize and secularize underdeveloped communities. Arguments about the modernizing power of education did not erase or discount the presence of religious belief but relegated religion to the private sphere, separate from the realm of public policy, politics, economics, and science. Such views of secular education as the driving force of progressive and modern social change were integral to the rise of post-World War II international agencies and organizations that today provide the core of development aid internationally. In contrast, some scholars, government officials, and international agency staff view religion and faith-based organizations as key to promoting development. A group of experts were invited to participate in a special moderated discussion on religion, education, and secularism. To help create a basis for common discussion, participants were asked to consult and read several background documents. Participants responded independently before reading and commenting on one another's work. The entire exchange was then edited and shortened. This article presents the exchange by invited participants in two rounds. (Contains 6 footnotes.)


Stambach, A., Marshall, K., Nelson, M.J., Andreescu, L., Kwayu, A.C., Wexler, P., Hotam, Y., Fischer, S. & El Bilawi, H. (2011). Religion, Education, and Secularism in International Agencies. Comparative Education Review, 55(1), 111-142. Retrieved June 10, 2023 from .

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