Recontextualising inclusion and equity in education

Lead Research Organisation: University of Exeter
Department Name: Sch of Education and Lifelong Learning


IIEP declarations made by the UN and its affiliate agencies are largely based on political ideologies established in the industrialised north. Despite the failure of IIEP to acknowledge policy dilemmas evident in the north, it has been 'parachuted' in to Southern contexts by international organisations as a response to issues of social justice. In India for example, the adoption of IIEP into national policy was a 'dutiful response' to membership of international initiatives rather than 'programmatic reality'.

Many examples of IIEP failure in the global South are due to a dichotomy of socio-political values between global and local contexts; for instance, the discourse of universal human rights and democratic political values imbued within IIEP. Yet, viewing the local and global as binary overlooks an opaque supranational system of governance generated by multilateral agencies involved in international education policy development. In an increasingly mobilized world, it is difficult to determine whether IIEP is an example of 'coerced adjustment', subordinating local policy needs in favour of globalized standards - a risk that arguably increases in the economically disadvantaged South. This is pertinent to the endorsement of inclusive education by the World Bank and the IMF.

Marginalizing local influence in policy choice risks system failure and prevents exploring new context-relevant alternatives. The diluted power of nation-states and the upsurge of multilateral organisations in developing IIEP create 'spaces ripe for critical interrogation'.

This presents three primary questions:
1. How has IIEP been constructed and to what extent does it change and develop as it travels to different national contexts?
2. How do multilateral organisations facilitate IIEP mobility?
3. What global mechanisms have been used to influence national policies regarding inclusive education?

This project will consist of three stages, combining elements of Peck and Theodore's (2015) 'fast policy' research and Ball's (2016) 'following policy' network ethnography. Namibia will be a 'policy site' due to the prevalence of multilateral organisations in education programme delivery, ratification and adoption of key international inclusive education documents into national policy (Ministry of Education, 2013), and network access.

Stage one will adapt Arksey and O'Malley's (2005) scoping study framework and combine policy documentary analysis with preliminary interviews. Policy documents will include those produced by the
UN and affiliate agencies who have significant influence in education development programmes worldwide, and Namibia's Ministry of Education. Preliminary interviews with policy actors in this context
will help refine themes and aid mapping of key policy actors and organisations.

Stage two and three will draw on Peck and Theodore's (2012) Distended Case Approach and entail a policy network analysis, alongside in-depth interviews with 'general elite' policy actors. The intention is to extend outward from micro-processes to macro-forces to understand the function of multilateral organisations in policy mobility and the global mechanisms that influence national policy-making processes. Analysis will utilise aspects of Dale's (1999) typology of policy mechanisms.

Stage two and three require overseas fieldwork.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
ES/P000630/1 01/10/2017 30/09/2027
2267219 Studentship ES/P000630/1 01/10/2019 30/09/2022 Kristi-Anne Dingwall