WHAT TOP THINKERS THINK ABOUT DEVELOPMENT

There remains a unshakeable assumption in the international policy community that development in one country can be switched on and off from central controls elsewhere in the global system. You see this logic with everything from Education for All to the MDGs. Whether it is cross-national tests of achievement or even the global rankings of universities, the kind of forces that drive change in schools and universities are largely enabled or inhibited by humans who inhabit these institutions.

The kinds of issues, moreover, that wreak havoc on societies and their systems of education are largely ignored in international policy scripts that privilege academic achievement in science, mathematics and literacy. This technicist and instrumentalist view of education has exposed developmental agendas to even greater threats, the unravelling of human relations that are so crucial to both people and performance across the world.

Prof. Jansen made these arguments real by presenting his research on race, intimacy and leadership at the University of the Free State in South Africa — and how many students made the transition from tolerance to embrace in segregated communities. According to prof. Jansen “Any analysis that begins and ends with condemnation, rather than pressing for an understanding of the underlying dilemmas of inequality, poverty, segregation and violence cannot begin to resolve the human challenges in specific territories without which development remains an elusive project.”

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