Over a hundred billion dollars are spent on international aid each year. Most aid providers undergo periodic evaluations to assess their support. Have their policies worked? What priorities have guided aid? And what practices have been effective?

With such large sums of money circulating in the evaluation process, an aid evaluation industry has emerged. Formal evaluations are undertaken by “experts” who are hired by companies that bid on evaluation contracts. Sometimes universities themselves bid on the same contracts. And professors navigate the tricky terrain of research-for-hire. Many of FreshEd’s listeners have likely participated in an evaluation of an aid project. I know I have.

My guest today, Professor Joel Samoff, thinks it’s long overdue to “re-think evaluations, from conception through method to use.”

Joel Samoff is Adjunct Professor in the School of Humanities and Sciences at the Center for African Studies at Stanford University. He studies and teaches about development and underdevelopment, with a particular interest in education, and with a primary geographic focus on Africa. He has recently co-written a report for The Expert Group for Aid Studies entitled Capturing complexity and context: evaluating aid to education.

CORRECTIONS [January 31, 2017]: In the podcast, I state that there are “hundreds of billions of dollars” spent on aid each year. That number is likely exaggerated. A more accurate figure would be a hundred billion dollars (see here or here). Also, I misstated Joel Samoff’s title. Since Stanford University retired the title “Consulting Professor” in September 2016, his correct title should be “Adjunct Professor.” I’ve corrected the blog post accordingly and apologize for the mistakes in the podcast.

Citation: Samoff, Joel, interview with Will Brehm, FreshEd, 58, podcast audio, January 30, 2017. https://freshedpodcast.com/joelsamoff/

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Did you know that today there are more forcibly displaced people than at any time since World War II?

The total number comes out to roughly 65 million, including internally displaced peoples, asylum seekers, and refugees. That’s roughly 1 out of every 113 people on Earth.

Today I speak with three professors from Teachers College, Columbia University about their research project on urban refugees, which is being funded by the United States Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration.

At Teachers College, Mary Mendenhall is an Assistant Professor of Practice in International and Comparative Education; Garnett Russell is an Assistant Professor of International and Comparative Education; and Elizabeth Buckner is a Visiting Assistant Professor in International Comparative Education.

Below the fold, you can find some of their research photos showing urban refugee education around the world and a video presentation on the subject. Read more

The Global Partnership for Education is a powerful multi-stakeholder organization in educational development. It funnels millions of dollars to develop education systems in dozens of low-income countries. Yet the board of directors of the organization strategically avoids some of the most important and controversial topics in education today.

My guest today, Francine Menashy, has researched the Global Partnership for Education and the ways in which its board of directors avoids the topic of low-fee private schools, which is a heavily debated idea in both education policy and research.

Francine Menashy is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Leadership in Education at the University of Massachusetts Boston. She researches aid to education and non-state sector engagement, including the policies of international organizations, companies, and philanthropies.

Her research discussed in today’s show was funded through a fellowship with the National Academy of Education and the Spencer Foundation.

Citation:Menashy, Francine, interview with Will Brehm, FreshEd, 33, podcast audio, July 21, 2016. https://www.freshedpodcast.com/francinemenashy/

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Education For All is a global movement led by UNESCO. It began in 1990 when 155 countries adopted the World Declaration on Education For All. The movement was renewed in the year 2000 when countries agreed on the Dakar Framework for Action, which committed them to achieve education for all by the year 2015.

Education For All continues to be a common phrase in educational development. But it has changed over its 26-year existence. It linked into Goals 2 and 3 of the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals and was tied closely to the World Bank through the funding mechanism known as the Fast Track Initiative.

The movement has adapted and adopted new elements and has included additional actors, such as non-governmental organization, human rights activists, and philanthropic organizations and individuals.

My guest today, Leon Tikly, argues in a forthcoming article in Comparative Education Review that Education For All is best understood as a regime, borrowing an idea from international relations. He says there are “a set of implicit or explicit principles, norms, rules, and decision-making procedures around which actors’ expectations converge.” Of course there are tensions within the regime of education for all, and in this article he attempts to think through what these might be.

Leon Tikly is a professor in the Graduate School of Education at the University of Bristol. His work focuses on education in low income countries and in particular countries of Sub-Saharan Africa. He is known for his theoretical work on how to conceptualize education as an aspect of the postcolonial condition.

His forthcoming Comparative Education Review article is entitled ““The Future of Education for All as a Global Regime of Educational Governance.”