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Comparative Education Collection


Comparative Education


168 m

Scope and content

The collection consists of books and pamphlets from all over the world, mainly from the period 1900-1980. (Later material has been added to the main Library collections and is on the open shelves). The emphasis is on educational theory and practice, but there is also supporting literature on social and economic conditions, history, etc.

Comparative education is an academic and interdisciplinary subject which applies historical, philosophical and social science theories and methods to classify and explain characteristics of different national education systems. It studies why educational systems and processes vary and how education relates to wider social factors and forces. Comparative education grew from international education, which analyses and fosters international orientation in knowledge and attitudes, and, brings together students, teachers and scholars from different nations to learn about and from each other.

Comparative education first appeared in the early 19th century alongside the rise of national education, though it did not develop as an academic subject until the 20th century. Its early development was hampered by the two World Wars, where it was used for ideological competition. One of the most important books of the inter-war period was Comparative Education (1933) by Isaac Kandel, who also edited the Educational Yearbook from 1924-1944. Other important yearbooks were published in this period, including the Yearbook of Education and the International Yearbook of Education. The first academic courses and programs were also developed at this time, including a course at the IOE.


This collection was originally two separate departmental libraries in the Institute: the Comparative Education Department Library and the Department of Education in Tropical Areas Library. The Comparative Education Department Library was set up by Sir Percy Nunn, second director of the IOE, in the early 1930s, and in 1935 it benefited from a generous grant given to the Institute by the Carnegie Corporation of New York. Professor Fred Clarke later made an extensive tour of the Dominions and started the collection of annual reports and other official material. The Department of Tropical Areas was founded in 1927 as the Africa Department; two years later it was renamed the Colonial Department, a name it retained until 1952 when its name was changed to the Department of Education in Tropical Areas. The American wife of Dr W. Bryant Mumford, the Head of the Department, established the May Esther Bedford Fund which enabled the Department's Library to be extensively developed.

The two libraries were amalgamated in 1969 when the Institute Library's moved to new premises in Ridgmount Street.


These materials are accessible on a reference basis within our libraries. To locate the Comparative Education Pamphlets Collection please search COMPEDPAMPHLETS on UCL Explore. The remainder of the collection can be discovered by searching COMPEDBOOKS in UCL Explore.