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It is difficult to circumscribe the realm of education policy because opinions differ over the extent to which certain matters shouldbe taught or learned, and howthey should be taught or learned. Education policies themselves ‘project definitions of what counts as education’ (Ball, 1990: 3), with the religious, work-related, nationalistic and ideological content of education varying across countries. Despite these differences, in most countries it is possible to discern five broad educational forms corresponding (albeit roughly) to different stages of a learner’s life. First, in many developed nations, child and nursery care includes an educational element – what is described as pre-school education. This can be provided by the state or by voluntary and private providers, including groups of parents (playgroups) or individuals (childminders) (Hudson and Lidström, 2002b: 43). The provision of primaryand secondary educationis generally more uniform in different nations, being provided either publicly or privately, or through a mixture of modes of provision (although ‘home schooling’, whereby parents educate their own children, is also permitted in some nations). Tertiary educationincludes the provision of further and higher education, which is generally delivered either by public or private colleges and by universities.
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