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New free eBook: The Politics and Governance of Basic Education


The Politics and Governance of Basic Education

A new eBook by Brian Levy, Robert Cameron, Ursula Hoadley, and Vinothan Naidoo is taking a look into the puzzle of politics and governance of Basic Education in the context of South Africa.


Many of us who are interested in changing and reforming education systems often wonder where to start and how to structure the many different aspects, all of which are of some relevance. In the end, we want all children to learn in schools. But how does a system look like that allows children to flourish, teachers to creatively engage in classrooms, and resources and teachers to come together every day to facilitate learning in thousands of schools?



These are some of the questions that keep many of us awake and that often make us wonder how to start and what to do. This book is of immense insight for all those who are wondering about exactly these questions.

The Politics and Governance of Basic Education explores the balance between hierarchical and horizontal institutional arrangements for the public provision of basic education. Using the vivid example of South Africa, a country that had ambitious goals at the outset of its transition from apartheid to democracy, it explores how the interaction of politics and institutions affects educational outcomes. By examining lessons learned from how South Africa failed to achieve many of its goals, it constructs an innovative alternative strategy for making process, combining practical steps to achieve incremental gains to re-orient the system towards learning.

Source: Description


What is amazing about this book is that it comes with both, extremely useful concepts and structures about how to think about complex education systems, while also providing in-depth, historical accounts of how things played out in the political economies of two provinces. Looking into bureaucratic norms, New Public Management (NPM) doctrince in the real world, and power struggles by different stakeholders, it provides a rare insight into how education systems get shaped and how different interest groups endorse or oppose reform efforts. At the same time, the book does not fall short of building on existing literature which provides further insights into various aspects around education systems, bureaucracy, administration, and politics (among others).


Uses cutting edge and multidisciplinary approaches to analyse the politics of service provision and serves as a model for how similar research can be conducted in other countries and sectors

Source: Overview


We welcome the approach taken in the book and indeed think that it can be a useful basis for approaching other education systems, like the one in Bihar, in a similar multidisciplinary manner.


Everyone interested in deep systemic reforms of education systems should read this book. It is available under Open Access under the terms of a CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 licence. It is amazing that the Oxford University Press is providing it under Open Access as this allows students in middle and low income countries to get hands on cutting edge research. You can download it from here.


We suggest to also have a look at Building State Capability: Evidence, Analysis, Action by Matt Andrews, Lant Pritchett and Michael Woolcock which is also available for free.

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