The Politics of Education in Developing Countries: From Schooling to Learning

Published on 1 April 2019

Why have many developing countries that have succeeded in expanding access to education made such limited progress on improving learning outcomes? There is a growing recognition that the learning crisis constitutes a significant dimension of global inequality and also that educational outcomes in developing countries are shaped by political as well as socio-economic and other factors.

This book focuses on how politics shapes the capacity and commitment of elites to tackle the learning crisis in six developing countries: Bangladesh, Cambodia, Ghana, Rwanda, South Africa, and Uganda.

The problem of education quality is serious across the Global South. The Politics of Education in Developing Countries: From Schooling to Learning deploys a new conceptual framework-the domains of power approach-to show how the type of political settlement shapes the level of elite commitment and state capacity to improving learning outcomes.

The domain of education is prone to being highly politicized, as it offers an important source of both rents and legitimacy to political elites, and can be central to paradigmatic elite ideas around nation-building and modernity. Of particular importance is the relative strength of coalitions pushing for access as against those focused on issues of higher quality education. This book concludes with a discussion of entry points and strategies for thinking and working politically in relation to education quality reforms and critical commentaries.

Table of contents

  1. The Problem of Education Quality in Developing Countries
    Naomi Hossain and Sam Hickey
  2. Researching the Politics of Education Quality in Developing Countries: Towards a New Conceptual and Methodological Approach
    Sam Hickey and Naomi Hossain
  3. Decentralization and Teacher Accountability: The Political Settlement and Sub-national-level Governance in the Education Sector in Ghana
    Edward Ampratwum, Mohammed Awal, and Franklin Oduro
  4. The Politics of Learning Reforms in Bangladesh
    Naomi Hossain, Mirza Hassan, Md Ashikur Rahman, Khondoker Shakhawat Ali, and M. Sajidul Islam
  5. The Downsides of Dominance: Education Quality Reforms and Rwanda’s Political Settlement
    Timothy P. Williams
  6. Political Transformation and Education Sector Performance in South Africa
    Brian Levy, Robert Cameron, Ursula Hoadley, and Vinothan Naidoo
  7. The Political Economy of Primary Education Reform in Cambodia
    Tim Kelsall, Sothy Khieng, Chuong Chantha, and Tieng Tek Muy
  8. The Political Economy of Education Quality Initiatives in Uganda
    Anne Mette Kjær and Nansozi K. Muwanga
  9. Identifying the Political Drivers of Quality Education: A Comparative Analysis
    Sam Hickey, Naomi Hossain, and David Jackman
  10. Understanding the Politics of the Learning Crisis: Steps Ahead on a Long Road
    Lant Pritchett
  11. Similarities and Differences in Policy Reform Destinies: What do Political Settlements and Domain Politics Explain?
    Merilee S. Grindle

How to read

This book is open access and can be read at Oxford University Press. A print copy is also available to buy.


Image of Naomi Hossain
Naomi Hossain

Research Fellow

Sam Hickey

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Publication details

978 0 19883 568 4


About this publication

Research themes
Inequalities and Poverty

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