Sound Familiar?

Unaccountable groups taking key decisions, such as whether or not to kill the alien.

"Unaccountable groups taking key decisions", such as whether or not to kill the alien.

The Guardian is carrying a great front page piece on an independent inquiry into the state of the UK’s education system. It quotes a section from the report that immediately transported me back to the world of aid. Substitute the word ‘educational’ below:

The report notes the questionable evidence on which some key educational policies have been based; the disenfranchising of local voice; the rise of unelected and unaccountable groups taking key decisions behind closed doors; the ’empty rituals’ of consultations; the authoritarian mindset, and the use of myth and derision to underwrite exaggerated accounts of progress and discredit alternative views.

You’ll have to excuse me now, as I must attend a consultation meeting in which pre-formed opinions will be strengthened, doublespeak will be spoken,  myths of astounding success will be perpetuated and we from the Ministry of Finance will be listened to politely, with no real effect on policy design.

4 thoughts on “Sound Familiar?

  1. Sam Gardner

    October 16, 2009 at 6:56pm

    Something like the whole Paris Agenda, still based on the now disgraced Burnside & Dollar Study. And with every round of consultations reinforced, and evaluated not on the effect on the poor, but on adherence to the indicators of the Agenda.

  2. admin

    October 16, 2009 at 9:09pm

    Sam – I’ll weigh in before Ranil does. How does the Paris Agenda relate to the Burnside and Dollars study?

    I think the whole point of the Paris Agenda is that home-grown solutions are the ones most likely to improve the lives of the poor, rather than carbon-copied initiatives. I don’t know many people who think that letting recipient governments take more control of the development agenda is a bad thing (except perhaps those that support huge single-prescription solutions, like the Earth Institute).

  3. Phil H

    October 18, 2009 at 10:47pm

    Sadly in the UK we have a great recent tradition of producing outstanding studies into our education system that are then roundly ignored by the Government, because they don’t focus enough on measuring the children.

    Also, you forgot to say that positive noises of agreement will be made, and some extra words added to a report.

  4. Ranil Dissanayake

    October 19, 2009 at 6:32am

    Sam – Matt’s points are very close to my own feelings. As an aid effectiveness person, I like the Paris (and Accra) agendas. I think they’re flawed and could have been better than they are, and in particular, sharper than they are, but the basic concept works for me.

    It might be a little counterintuitive to have a centralised system for increasing local voices in development policy and the use of aid, but it’s necessary as my experience in a few different places tells me the biggest barriers to this are not the donor country offices, but the central policy set at donor hq’s.

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