Optimistic assumptions about the contribution of formal education to the building of modern nations are questionable. Formal education in Africa and Asia in its present form tends to impede economic growth and promote political instability; in short, education in Africa and Asia today is an obstacle to development – and this has been known for a long time: ‘that people’s languages are not used either for literacy or for primary education’ has been seen as one major reason for ‘illiteracy’ (Hanf et al. 1975: 68).