Working paper 86
Why has Bangladesh failed to raise quality in basic education when it successfully expanded school provision? This paper explores this problem through analysis of the influence of the political settlement on the design and delivery of the third Primary Education Development Programme (PEDP3), an US$8bn education reform plan. From document review, key informant interviews and comparative case study analysis of teacher motivations and performance, it concludes that the elite consensus on the need for basic mass education runs out when it comes to raising education standards: teachers are politically important, so reforms are more carrot than stick – in the form of training, increments, new entitlements. The centralised administration and its weak incentives to enforce unpopular reforms ensure discretion at the frontline/school level, so teacher performance depends ultimately on their inherent motivations. But the past generation has seen these motivations decline with the changing sociology of the teaching profession: teachers are less respected, relatively less well-paid and more often women (who have lower social status and more demands on their time), while the average public school pupil is ‘harder to reach and harder to teach’. Education quality is improving, but incrementally, in line with a political economy that has generated positive incentives for teachers, without holding them more accountable for their performance.
Working paper 85
The Ugandan state presents an interesting puzzle for the advocates of public sector reforms (PSRs). Whereas it has been subjected to several waves of reforms over the last three decades, these changed form but have generally not translated into significant changes in the functionality of central government. This research argues that answers to this conundrum are rooted in the country’s political settlement. Drawing on ESID’s expanded political settlement framework, the study finds that the last 15 years have seen Uganda’s ruling elite exposed to unprecedented internal and external competition leading to a shift in the balance of power from dominant to vulnerable dominant political settlement. Although the president still wields significant power, this has been used to influence government agencies to meet the short-term needs for regime maintenance, as opposed to supporting the goals of PSR implementation. Almost all PSRs are donor driven and the government accepts them not so much as a development necessity, but mainly because they are accompanied by unearned resources that are easily diverted into oiling patronage networks that maintain the elite in government.
Working paper 84
Brian Levy and Lawule Shumane
This paper explores governance dynamics in four case study schools in low-income communities in South Africa’s Eastern Cape province. A main aim is to identify empirically the causal mechanisms through which horizontal, school-level governance might function as an ‘institutional substitute’ for weaknesses in the province’s education bureaucracy. The case studies uncovered both vicious circles of capture, and virtuous spirals – with the latter characterised by shared developmental commitment among school leaders, teachers, parents and the community, strong enough to counter efforts at predation. The findings offer encouragement that non-hierarchical entry points for improving educational outcomes indeed have some potential to achieve gains.
Working paper 80
Marja Hinfelaar and Jessica Achberger
Moving beyond the mantra that ‘politics matters’, a range of conceptual approaches have recently emerged within international development thinking that seek to capture the specific ways in which politics shapes development. This paper critically assesses whether these approaches, including work on ‘limited access orders’ and ‘political settlements’, can underpin research into how developmental forms of state capacity and elite commitment emerge and can be sustained. It suggests that these new approaches offer powerful insights into certain elements of this puzzle, particularly through a focus on the relational basis of elite behaviour and institutional performance. However, these approaches are also subject to serious limitations, and insights from broader and (in particular) more critical forms of political theory are also required in order to investigate how the politics of development is shaped by ideas as well as incentives, popular as well as elite forms of agency, transnational as well as national factors, and in dynamic as well as more structural ways. The paper proposes an initial conceptual framework that can be operationalised and tested within a programme of primary research to be established by the Effective States and Inclusive Development Research Centre.
Working paper 83
Zukiswa Kota, Monica Hendricks, Eric Matambo and Vinothan Naidoo
The Eastern Cape province experienced extensive governmental re-organisation following South Africa’s 1994 democratic transition. This entailed significant structural consolidation in the provincial government, and the integration of a disparate set of political and administrative actors under the stewardship of the African National Congress (ANC). This process has had a profound effect on the province’s capacity to shape and implement policy, especially in institutionally fragmented sectors such as basic education. Employing the political settlements framework to characterise the province’s governance transformation, we describe how historical patterns of clientelism were transplanted into a post-apartheid political and administrative settlement, resulting in considerable intra-party cleavages amongst the political elite and impeding the growth of a rule-compliant, insulated and performance-driven bureaucracy. This has been particularly acute in the education sector, which has seen chronic leadership instability, politicisation and financial mismanagement, and which has compromised the cohesion and integrity of provincial school oversight and policy management.
Working paper 82
Daniel Appiah and Abdul-Gafaru Abdulai
Although Ghana has implemented several donor-sponsored public sector reforms (PSRs) in an attempt to improve core areas of state functionality, the impact of such reforms remains generally disappointing. In this paper, we show that the nature of the political settlement in Ghana, described as one of ‘competitive clientelism’, is central to understanding the country’s limited success in improving the effectiveness of public institutions. Faced with a credible threat of losing power to excluded factions in competitive elections, reform initiatives tend to be driven largely by the logic of the maintenance of ruling governments, rather than by their potential to enhance the effectiveness of state institutions. This has often resulted in decisions that undermine reform efforts, ranging from needless and costly institutional duplications to the politicisation of the bureaucracy through patronage-based appointments, and the wholesale removal of public servants perceived to be associated with previous regimes. In this political environment, policy discontinuities across ruling coalitions are a norm, undermining the impact of reform initiatives that require a longer-time horizon to bear fruit.
This briefing paper examines why and how political processes in Bangladesh have performed so well when the main theories of governance and development would predict economic and social stagnation. Using the lens of ‘political settlements’ ‘… the balance or distribution of power between contending social groups and social classes, on which any state is based’ ESID’s work has analysed the country’s recent experience in education, health, women’s empowerment and economic growth.
Working paper 76
In Bangladesh there is a paradox when it comes to securing gender-inclusive development outcomes. Since 1991, women have occupied the highest political office and women’s presence is increasing, due to the existence of gender quotas. Women’s movement actors have a long history of mobilisation for women’s rights and securing progressive changes. However, this overlooks the complex ways in which power and politics operate in Bangladesh, including the difficulties of mobilising women as a political force in a patriarchal, informalised, clientelist context. Women, as a political group, have little to offer the ruling elites in Bangladesh: they do not vote as a block; gender equity concerns have little currency in mainstream politics; and women’s organisations are weak actors in the formal political arena. This paper investigates two successful policy cases – the Domestic Violence Act 2010, and the expansion of access to primary education for girls – to investigate what led the state to address gender equity concerns successfully in some policy areas in a competitive clientelist context? What role, if any, did women and their allies play to make these changes happen? Why do some failures in implementation persist?
Findings indicate that the alignment between each policy reform and the dominant interests and ideas of the ruling coalition influenced the capacity and commitment accorded to each agenda. Progress on passing the Domestic Violence Act was made through the high degree of personal, historical and informal relations with supportive people in government. Opportunity was created by a key moment of state formation which opened up an absence of partisan politicking and a supportive advocate at the centre of government. Expansion of girls’ access to primary education was carried along by a wave of political support for the expansion agenda, which fitted closely with powerful political logics concerning ideas, patronage, distribution, legitimacy and international support. In both cases, transnational actors, events and discourses are able to tip the balance in favour of women’s rights, and South-South exchanges can play a vital role in promoting women’s rights. Both cases reveal how the political settlement has shaped the promotion of gender equity in Bangladesh, and the value of moving beyond the usual focus on the impact of gender quotas and the effectiveness of state gender machinery, to the deeper forms of politics and power relations that shape progress on this front.
Working paper 61
Ursula Hoadley, Brian Levy, Lawule Shumane and Shelly Wilburn
This paper explores some micro-level governance and political economy
determinants of performance over time in four schools in low-income areas in the
Cape Town metropolitan area. The findings are consistent with a pattern evident in
many parts of the world – the reality of dysfunction beneath the surface of seemingly
well-organised bureaucratic processes. They are also consistent with broader
research, which points to the weakness – in the specific Western Cape demographic
profile, which is the focus – of constructive input from school governing bodies,
communities or other non-governmental actors. As a way forward, the paper
proposes pragmatism and incrementalism – relatively modest tweaks capable of
achieving seemingly small (but potentially far-reaching in their consequences)
improvements in the functioning at school level of both hierarchical and horizontal
systems of governance.