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Congratulations to ESID researcher Tim Williams, whose paper, ‘The political economy of primary education: Lessons from Rwanda’, has been published in the August issue of World Development.
The paper draws on Tim’s research for ESID, as captured in Working Paper 64 ‘Oriented towards action: The political economy of primary education in Rwanda‘.
Read the WD summary below, and find it in full here.
16 May 2017
Bureaucracies, we have learned, are embedded in politics. How, then, to strengthen public services in messy democracies? In settings where public hierarchies are weak, can participatory governance provide an alternative entry point? Recent results from an ESID research project I have been leading on the politics and governance of basic education in South Africa suggest an intriguing answer.
South Africa’s Eastern Cape province provides an ideal setting for exploring these questions. As the ESID approach underscores, two sets of variables that have a powerful influence on bureaucracies are: (i) the inherited institutional legacy, and (ii) how elites interact with one another. On both counts, as the ESID working paper, ‘The governance of basic education in the Eastern Cape‘, by Zukiswa Kota, Monica Hendricks, Eric Matambo and Vinothan Naidoo, details, the Eastern Cape scores badly. The province’s bureaucracy is a patchwork, built largely around two patronage-riven structures inherited from the apartheid era. Electorally, the ANC was dominant – but in practice it comprised an overall umbrella under which inter-elite conflict was endemic.
A day is a long time in politics and the first full day of election campaigning was dominated by suggestions that the Conservatives would row back on the commitment to spend 0.7% of GNI on aid. But, barely 24 hours later, Theresa May scotched these rumours, perhaps encouraged by a passionate plea from Bill Gates that lives will be lost if the UK reduces its aid.
But this does not mean that battles about the aid budget are over. They now shift to defining exactly what official development assistance (ODA or ‘aid’) can be used to achieve. The OECD controls this definition, enabling it to collect authoritative statistics on what each member country spends. Over the years it has had to produce a very precise definition, preventing countries from attempting to count any overseas spending as ODA. This has included commercial loans, subsidies to arms manufacturers, and export-credit guarantees for civil engineering companies to win contracts in Africa and Asia: all activities to achieve domestic benefits rather than promoting international development.
Professor Stephen Kosack (Evans School of Public Policy and Governance, University of Washington) joined us on 10 May 2017 to share a new framework based on the first systematic survey of mass movements of at least 1,000 citizens over a sustained period.
The research focuses on mass movements from 1900 to 2012 in the Middle East and North Africa, a region that has experienced numerous and increasing mobilisations, despite some of its governments being amongst the most politically repressive in the world.
This paradox puts the recent ‘Arab Spring’ mobilisations into historical context and calls for renewed attention to how, when and why states respond to collective voices seeking greater inclusion in their political order. Listen to the talk →
11 May 2017
ESID and IDS researcher Naomi Hossain on her passion for development research, linking climate change and development and moving house for the eigth time in 12 years…
1. What made you want to work in development research?
I was brought up in Bangladesh and the world of aid and development was always very familiar. Then at university I was very involved in feminist and queer politics and other social justice issues, so it was a quick and easy step into development when I left. My first job was at BRAC in Bangladesh, my second at the Institute of Development Studies at Sussex, my third at BRAC again and my fourth and current at IDS again. Continue Reading →