The Delusion of Knowledge Transfer: The impact of foreign aid experts on policy-making in South Africa and Tanzania
With the rise of the ‘knowledge for development’ paradigm, expert advice has become a prime instrument of foreign aid. At the same time, it has been object of repeated criticism: the chronic failure of ‘technical assistance’ – a notion under which advice is commonly subsumed – has been documented in a host of studies. Nonetheless, international organisations continue to send advisors, promising to increase the ‘effectiveness’ of expert support if their technocratic recommendations are taken up.
This book reveals fundamental problems of expert advice in the context of aid that concern issues of power and legitimacy rather than merely flaws of implementation. Based on empirical evidence from South Africa and Tanzania, the authors show that aid-related advisory processes are inevitably obstructed by colliding interests, political pressures and hierarchical relations that impede knowledge transfer and mutual learning. As a result, recipient governments find themselves caught in a perpetual cycle of dependency, continuously advised by experts who convey the shifting paradigms and agendas of their respective donor governments.
For young democracies, the persistent presence of external actors is hazardous: ultimately, it poses a threat to the legitimacy of their governments if their policy-making becomes more responsive to foreign demands than to the preferences and needs of their citizens.
The Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) college environment is marked by increasingly stark juxtapositions between what needs to be achieved in the post-school education sector and the increasing difficulty of current conditions. The ‘triple challenge’ of poverty, inequality and unemployment weighs heavily on the social, political and economic fabric of the country and expectations are high that the TVET colleges can make a pivotal contribution to counter these challenges. Despite laudable increases in TVET enrolment, the education system needs to work harder to accommodate the weight of demand for post school further education and training (FET) band qualifications from young people not in education, employment or training. At the same time, it is vital to secure adequate quality in TVET programmes which depend so much on the competence and commitment of college lecturers. This collection offers a set of research papers that provide new analytic and empirical material on:
• The political economy of TVET types in different countries which, by comparison, illuminate the South African case; • A periodisation of government interventions in the TVET sector over the last three decades;
• The unsettled state and status of TVET lecturers in relation to their job requirements and conditions of service;
• The halting evolution of collegial relationships between college lecturers towards higher collegiality;
• Employer expectations of college graduates and how colleges are responding; and
• An analysis of the outcomes of a college improvement intervention in Limpopo and the Eastern Cape.
This book will offer valuable information and insights for decision-makers as well as analysts of institutional change concerning links between education and economic growth, with particular regard to TVET graduates’ employment rates.
Election Management Bodies in West Africa: A comparative study of the contribution of electoral commissions to the strengthening of democracy
This report is an in-depth study of electoral commissions in six countries of West Africa – Benin, Cape Verde, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal and Sierra Leone – assessing their contribution in strengthening political participation in the region. As institutions that apply the rules governing elections, electoral management bodies (EMBs) have occupied, over the last two decades, the heart of discussion and practice on the critical question of effective citizen participation in the public affairs of their countries. The way in which they are established and the effectiveness of their operations have continued to preoccupy those who advocate for competitive elections, while reforms to the EMBs have taken centre stage in more general political reforms. Election Management Bodies in West Africa thus responds to the evident need for more knowledge about an institution that occupies a more and more important place in the political process in West Africa. Based on documentary research and detailed interviews in each country, the study provides a comparative analysis which highlights the similarities and differences in the structure and operations of each body, and attempts to establish the reasons for their comparative successes and failures.
Various forms of academic co-operation criss-cross the modern university system in a bewildering number of ways, from the open exchange of ideas and knowledge, to the sharing of research results, and frank discussions about research challenges. Embedded in these scholarly networks is the question of whether a ‘global template’ for the management of both higher education and national research organisations is necessary, and if so, must institutions slavishly follow the high-flown language of the global ‘knowledge society’ or risk falling behind in the ubiquitous university ranking system?Or are there alternatives that can achieve a better, ‘more ethically inclined, world’?
Basing their observations on their own experiences, an interesting mix of seasoned scholars and new voices from southern Africa and the Nordic region offer critical perspectives on issues of inter- and cross-regional academic co-operation. Several of the chapters also touch on the evolution of the higher education sector in the two regions.
An absorbing and intelligent study, this book will be invaluable for anyone interested in the strategies scholars are using to adapt to the interconnectedness of the modern world. It offers fresh insights into how academics are attempting to protect the spaces in which they can freely and openly debate the challenges they face, while aiming to transform higher education, and foster scholarly collaboration.