Shanghai's outstanding performance in reading, mathematics, and science on PISA has drawn much attention to its schooling system. Shanghai is a top performer within China, and a leader in terms of educational reforms, which is providing a basis for policy learning in other parts of the country - Shanghai is an internal reference system.
It is the only region of mainland China that participated publicly in PISA with its results published as part of the international data set. A research interviewee explained that China was "using PISA as a lever for improvement in other provinces, for the western provinces for example" and "[t]hey are going to ensure that they get things right before going fully into it.
I think the plan is that more and more Chinese provinces come in as and when the infrastructure is there" interview, OECD policy officer, On PISA , Shanghai out-performed all other participating nation countries, scoring in the reading assessment Finland , Australia , United States , England , average , in mathematics Finland , Australia , average , England , United States , and in science Finland , Australia , England , United States , average Additionally, This suggests that not only Shanghai's students were the top performers on the reading assessment, Shanghai's schools were also comparatively successful at enabling students to overcome disadvantageous socio-economic backgrounds.
Shanghai was successful in terms of both performance quality and equity. A research interviewee observed that "people who know Shanghai were not surprised by those outcomes, but for people who don't know Shanghai's education system it was sort of a wakeup call" interview, OECD policy officer, Many are very skeptical of the equity measure, given the exclusion of the poorest internal migrants from government schools and thus from the PISA sample.
He supported state governors in the development of the common core curriculum. Race to the top demanded states test in relation to the common core and introduced particular reform agendas. This remained the case despite comparatively poor performance on the test. Shanghai's outstanding performance on PISA changed this. Following the release of the PISA results, there was a huge amount of media coverage. Finn Jr. Arne Duncan, then secretary of Education, said, "We have to see this as a wake-up call.
He argued that with the stellar performance of Shanghai, America was facing another Sputnik moment. In his State of the Union Address on January 25, , the president observed, "We know what it takes to compete for the jobs and industries of our time. In this media coverage and in the political responses to it, we see a PISA shock.
Importantly, Duncan suggested that the United States nowadays had to look outwards to other national systems as a way to move American schooling forward. The findings of this research were published in the book, Surpassing Shanghai: an agenda for American education built on the world's leading systems , edited by Marc Tucker The point to make about this case is that the PISA shock was used for externalized purposes. There has been little evidence of policy learning.
Under the New Labor government , England's self-perception was as a leader rather than follower of international testing trends. The New Labor government was confident about the quality of national test data and its usefulness for policy-making. That government expressed some skepticism about the usefulness of international comparative data like PISA for policy purposes. In a research interview, a policy maker noted, "up until now we've been very focused on our national data, we are probably ahead of other countries in terms of data" and "for the actual conduct of the [PISA] studies.
I don't think we get anything new because we are so far ahead in terms of data collection than most countries" interview, policy maker, The Coalition government conservatives and liberal democrats utilized these data to articulate a narrative of declining standards. This narrative in turn was used to legitimize the new government's agenda for yet more school reform. This is an exemplary case of externalization. The Coalition and subsequent Conservative government from increased the usage of international performance data. The coalition released the white paper The importance of teaching in , which emphasize comparative performance on international tests as a justification for reform.
The white paper states, "What really matters is how we are doing compared with our international competitors. England's performance on PISA was utilized to frame the policy positions set out in the document, with the "Far East" and Scandinavia identified as having top performing systems from which England must learn. A research interviewee noted, "The focus on international evidence sharpened hugely" interview, policy maker, , while under the Coalition, "That has all changed. Ministers are absolutely clear that every policy that is developed, they want to see underlying evidence not just from the national side, also the international level" interview, policy maker, However, this shift since has not only occurred in terms of the political use of PISA, but has also been reflected in the systemic and policy usage of PISA data.
There were other reference societies in addition to China-Shanghai used by Gove. For example, policy learning taken for the United States was manifested in free schools along the lines of the Swedish model and the creation of more academies, which like Charter Schools, are publicly funded, but privately managed.
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In the education policy work of the Coalition and subsequent Conservative governments, one witnesses the political and legitimatized usages of PISA performance and the political rhetoric surrounding Shanghai's PISA performance. The reforms implemented by these governments actually entrenched further a neo-liberal educational reform agenda, rather than policies based on practices in Shanghai. Interesting fact here is that the policy learning in respect of free schools and academies came from the ideological alignment with Swedish and American reforms, while Shanghai was used largely as externalizing legitimizations.
A new narrative of declining performance, however, was set in process following the public release of PISA Australia is heavily dependent economically on the strength of the Chinese economy, and regards its economic future as dependent on Asia. A lot of media coverage of two reports, based inter alia on PISA results, produced by consultancy firm, the Nous Group, and by think-tank, the Grattan Institute, helped shape current Australian education policy.
The Nous Group's Schooling challenges and opportunities: a report for the review of funding for schooling panel was framed in terms of Australia's comparative performance globally. The report opens with an analysis of PISA performance, focusing on Australia's declining reading, and mathematics performance. The then federal Labor government's White Paper on Australia in the Asian century used this argument to press for school reform in response to Australia's declining comparative PISA performance. Catching up: learning from the best school systems in East Asia report Jensen et al.
The influence of spending and cultural factors - "Confucianism, rote learning or Tiger Mothers" Jensen et al. Instead, education reform agendas and policies in countries such as Shanghai, Hong Kong and Singapore are stressed.
The report was derived from a roundtable, titled Learning from the best. Indeed, Julia Gillard, then prime minister, entered the debate. She did not want Australian students to become "workers in an economy where we are kind of the runt of the litter in our region and we've slipped behind the standards and the high-skill, high wage jobs are elsewhere in our region" WE RISK LOSING Australia's perceived economic future and specific geopolitical location were important factors in Australia's PISA shock. Shanghai's performance was used as an externalizing legitimization for subsequent school reform, which has been framed by political party ideology in Australia, rather than by policy learning from Shanghai or elsewhere in Asia.
The Conservative governments in Australia from have continued to use Australia's comparative PISA performance more generally as an externalizing legitimating device. Second, there have been strengthening of socio-economic correlations with performance on PISA and also a decline in the number of "resilient students," that is, those from the bottom quartile of socio-economic background, who perform in the top two categories on PISA measures. The policy legitimization use of PISA, particularly by Conservative governments in Australia from , only ever mentions the decline in quality and totally ignores the declining equity performance.
The OECD's attempt to pass on the message that national media and policy makers take up has also been outlined. The paper has also been shown, through three cases, how national systems of schooling often use comparative performance on PISA and changes over time as external justifications for reforms of their systems, framed largely by internal political imperatives and ideologies, rather than so much by policy learning from top performing national systems.
It was also shown how important the media is in constituting national representations of PISA performance and also in framing national policy responses. It is interesting to think about the relationships between nations' various rationales for participation in PISA, given that participation is expensive, and the ways in which PISA data are used or not for policy-making within nations. Rationales for participation in large-scale international assessments. Global education policy and international development: new agendas, issues and policies.
London: Bloomsbury, The policy impact of PISA: an exploration of the normative effects of international benchmarking in school system performance. The OECD: a study of organizational adaptation. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education , v. CHAN, P. Governing knowledge: comparison, knowledge-based technologies and expertise in the regulation of education. Egalitarianism and educational excellence: compatible goals for affluent societies? Educational Researcher , v.
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DOI: The importance of teaching: the schools white paper Norwich: HMSO, GREK, S. Journal of Education Policy , v. The OECD, globalization and education policy.
Financial contributions are the result of negotiations. In Japan the JICA Japan International Cooperation Agency Partnership Program is a technical co-operation program with the objective to contribute to the social and economic development of developing countries at the grass-roots level in collaboration with partners in Japan, such as NGOs, universities, local governments and public interest corporations. The objective is to use the knowledge and experience of various partners in Japan for international cooperation activities and to strengthen collaboration between communities of both developed and developing countries.
The program is based on the proposals submitted by the partners in Japan but the approval of the recipient government is necessary prior to implementation of the program or individual projects. Peer reviews and CSOs identify several challenges related to funding mechanisms that impact on effectiveness. Challenges include unpredictable finance, lack of funds for management and programme oversight, one-off project funding, unclear guidelines and inconsistent processes, and complex and overly detailed requirements.
It is important to have a diversity of funding approaches which evolve with context, with the purpose of support and partner capacity. Donor support models also need to be flexible given the broad range of objectives they pursue as well as organisations with which they partner. WHY: Donors should have a mix of formal funding mechanisms which can be tailored to suit CSO partners, strengthen ownership and match policy objectives. Using an appropriate funding mechanism will contribute to more effective partnerships, maximise impact and value for money and give greater flexibility to adapt to changing situations and needs.
Having a mix of funding mechanisms should allow a range of actors of different sizes, capabilities and interests to access funding which contributes to supporting a diverse civil society. The purpose of funding to or through CSOs should reflect the priorities set out in the civil society policy see lesson 1 : this ensures clarity on both sides and a better match between mechanisms, tools and expected results.
HOW: DAC member funding mechanisms should have transparent rules, regulations and procedures and provide clear instructions to applicants as well as criteria for decision making. DAC members should design instruments for funding that provide incentives for CSOs in donor countries to meaningfully partner with organisations in developing countries and be responsive to their needs and priorities.
They should also consider providing information or training sessions for CSOs on funding procedures. Donors should consider the effectiveness of their funding mechanisms in relation to the objectives they want to achieve as well as the capacity of CSOs. For example: Lesson 7: Match funding mechanisms with the purpose Multi-year agreements contribute to strengthening civil society, may give greater financial stability as well as job security for staff.
Ideally, DAC members should expect international CSO partners to transfer the flexibility and predictability of multi-annual funding to the organisations they support in developing countries. In determining whether and how to provide core funding, DAC members should define clear eligibility criteria and assess the strategic, organisational and professional capacity of CSOs.
DAC members use project and programme funding to support CSOs which have specific comparative advantages in a sector or close links with beneficiary communities but which may not qualify for core funding. Earmarked funding can contribute to strengthening CSO capacity learning by doing. When supporting innovative and pilot projects DAC members should focus on the strategic impact of the projects, ensure that reporting and monitoring requirements are adapted to the inherent risk of such projects and learn from experiences.
In Sweden, for example, funding is allocated within the framework of partnership agreements and the CSOs are not considered to be acting on behalf of the official sector. There is scope Better reporting will improve transparency and the comparability of data. DAC members can make calls for proposals effective and efficient by targeting specific objectives and organisations that can deliver; having clear guidelines and publishing them; giving sufficient time to CSOs to prepare and submit proposals; and allowing for joint proposals by CSOs. Calls for proposals can incur high transaction costs for donors in terms of processing the project proposals, decision making and responding to candidates.
Co-financing helps ensure CSO independence, indicates ownership, encourages CSOs to diversify their sources of finance and help avoid subsidy dependence while also leveraging ODA. This can help to reduce transaction costs and the administrative burden of identifying and managing small grants to many CSOs. Pooled funding can be in the form of multi-donor basket funds supporting multiple CSOs, or multiple donors pooling support to one CSO.
Denmark requires Danish NGOs to have mandates and programme objectives that are relevant to its objectives. The Netherlands has issued specific calls for proposals around gender equality issues. Sweden funded nine Ethiopian organisations which in turn provided grants to community-based CSOs. This approach enabled Sweden to support hundreds of programmes and projects that reached underserviced groups while directly managing only nine agreements. Most DAC members have different, complex and detailed sets of procedures and requirements for the CSOs they fund, including for proposals, reporting and auditing.
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Applying and processing these various procedures consumes a great amount of time and resources for both DAC members and CSOs. To optimise this time reporting and accounting should remain focused on achieving development results. WHY: Reducing transaction costs for DAC members and CSOs would free up valuable resources for programme implementation, knowledge gathering and sharing, seeking synergies and policy dialogue. With a stronger emphasis on programme quality, development results, and value for money partnerships will be more effective.
Donors should develop more strategic, standardised and streamlined approaches to working with CSOs so they fit the purpose of co-operation and the nature of the partnerships. While there are advantages for CSOs in having access to diverse sources of donor financing, and donors and CSOs gain from direct and regular contact e.
Donors need to assess the requirements of their various procedures to make them more strategic, streamlined and flexible. Identify alternative mechanisms to direct funding for smaller CSOs which may not qualify for programme funding, for example, creating and outsourcing the management of a small-grants mechanism. Lesson 8: Minimise transaction costs DAC member experiences The joint donor fund for support to the international processes on civil society and aid and development effectiveness is an example of pooled funding that helps reduce transaction costs for CSOs.
Since a number of donors harmonise funding at the headquarters level to support the Better Aid Platform and the Open Forum on Development Effectiveness and Enabling Environment. The donors, co-ordinated by Austria, Sweden and the United Kingdom, have put in place a common Memorandum of Understanding.
Eleven donors Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States jointly launched an initiative directed at harmonising their conditions and requirements for CSO funding in the framework of multi-year agreements, with a view to lessen the administrative burden on CSOs, in particular in the partner countries.
So far the donor requirements have been mapped in relation to the programme management cycle, legal issues and financial administration and control. In a second phase some of those donors prioritised which conditions and requirements to harmonise based on potential positive impact for CSOs and on feasibility for donors. Currently, a Code of Practice to be agreed upon is being developed by a smaller group of donors, and the next step will be to elaborate this Code into operational statements that can be harmonised among donors. Require CSOs to complete regular financial audits internally or externally and use these instead of requesting donor-specific ones.
The Good Humanitarian Donorship GHD Principles call on DAC members — who are all GHD members — to support and promote the roles of the various members of the humanitarian community GHD Principle 10 , to strive to achieve predictability and flexibility in funding GHD Principle 12 , to work towards reducing earmarking and introducing longer-term funding arrangements GHD Principle 13 and to contribute to the various appeals and support the common humanitarian action plans developed by the humanitarian community GHD Principle DAC members now need to streamline procedures, align funding streams and reduce the administration burden for NGO partners.
In addition, the benefits of multi-annual funding partnerships are uncontested, particularly their capacity to deliver flexible and holistic responses in protracted crises, and yet few members are taking up this option for funding NGOs. Most DAC members are also wary of entering into direct partnerships with NGOs and other local organisations in affected countries, although many do encourage their international partners to work in close co-operation with local organisations. WHY: DAC member staff cut-backs, coupled with a shift away from technical specialists and declining budget resources, reinforce the need to move towards a more strategic approach to humanitarian partnerships.
Many DAC members are increasingly choosing to rely on their partners to design, deliver, monitor and inform their humanitarian programming, a move that supports humanitarian principles such as neutrality and independence GHD Principle 1 and affirms the primary position of civilian organisations in implementing humanitarian action GHD Principle NGO partners need the flexibility and space to do this properly. Sweden, Luxembourg, Spain, Norway, Australia and Denmark are increasingly using multi-annual partnership agreements, allowing all parties to reduce their administrative burden and shifting the focus from individual projects towards shared strategic goals — although most of these are for multilateral partners, not NGOs.
Lesson 9: Build strong partnerships with humanitarian NGOs Box 9. In Poland, NGOs participated actively in the preparation of the humanitarian assistance chapter in the Development Cooperation Program for , through a special meeting organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and further exchanges by internet.
Also, the Development Cooperation Act enables NGOs to be granted ministerial funds with a new procedure that accelerates and facilitates the allocation of funds, and reduces the administrative burden both for the MFA and for NGOs. At the same time, as development actors, CSOs share the responsibility to demonstrate results, particularly to their own constituencies.
Care needs to be taken to ensure that the reporting required from CSOs by DAC members focuses on development results rather than inputs and learning. While CSOs feel burdened by donor reporting requirements, it is often the case that donors do not have the time to read and process all the detailed reports they request from CSOs.
Monitoring requirements should mirror the rationale of the partnership and the development objectives to be achieved. Systems and mechanisms for sharing and applying learning are also necessary. Reporting must also be relevant to the type of partnership or funding agreement being used contract for service, project or programme, framework agreement, core funding. CSOs have other accountability requirements: to their beneficiaries, their governing boards, their members. Reporting should be seen as an opportunity for learning that can feed into strategic decision-making on programme design and implementation, rather than simply a compliance tool.
The format for reporting by CSOs should be directly related to objectives and allow the CSO to make explicit, in the most effective and efficient way, what the activities implemented have achieved and the link to the desired results. DAC members should have reasonable expectations about the timeframe needed to achieve development results and they should look for quality, relevant information that meets accountability and learning needs.
Lesson Focus reporting on results and learning Planning for results over several years should not hamper CSO flexibility to adapt to changing contexts in developing countries. Unrealistic expectations of results can put CSOs under pressure to invent artificial results, focus on delivering outputs that are easily measurable, and hide challenges, especially if they risk seeing funding cut-off. Such an approach also distracts from learning objectives.
Reports can produce useful information for programme design and management when there are systems and tools for sharing and applying the learning. LESSON 10 DAC members agree that effective humanitarian action must be based on strong, equal and principled partnerships with NGOs, and most now recognise and support the interdependence of the humanitarian and development communities.
The NGO submits annual reports in their own chosen format, but the reports need to be analytical, contextualised and provide relevant information on progress including difficulties and challenges faced. Among other things, this allowed for an agreement on streamlined reporting with one single document to all donors and feedback on the reports coordinated by the donors in the management group to enable one response to comments.
Ireland, Irish Aid strengthens CSO capacity by funding programme quality costs with the aim of promoting the managing for development results approach among partner CSOs. Programme quality costs include strengthening organisational monitoring and evaluation systems, and increasing the capacity of organisations to better manage the Irish Aid Programme grant. DAC members, CSOs, and other key stakeholders should be concerned about value for money and must be accountable for results, including to the beneficiaries of programmes, their donors and members.
WHY: Public confidence in government spending on development co-operation can wane if funding is perceived as being opaque or badly managed. Accountability is not a one way street: both DAC members and CSOs must become more transparent about the money they spend on development and humanitarian assistance. To enhance accountability there should be transparency about policies, budget allocations, recipients, conditions, progress and results.
This would make for more comprehensive information on aid channelled to and through CSOs with headquarters in donor countries, international CSOs and CSOs in developing countries. Lesson Increase transparency and accountability Adopt a differentiated risk-based approach that requests more accountability from high-risk organisations for example new organisations.
Box In order to receive multi-annual and programmatic funding, organisations are expected to have developed standards of accountability, appropriate management systems and a level of programme quality. WHY: DAC members should commission evaluations in response to clearly identified learning or accountability needs. It is important for DAC members to have a flexible approach to evaluation that adapts the type of evaluation to needs, the setting and the programmes at hand. By taking this approach, evaluations will be more useful, including for learning.
The evaluations of civil society programmes should also be tailored to suit the types of organisations, programme approach, activities and objectives identified. HOW: In line with the DAC Quality Standards for Development Evaluation, the specific focus and approach should be selected based on what is best suited to meeting learning and accountability needs. DAC members should collaborate closely with CSOs in selecting evaluation topics and setting an evaluation agenda to identify needs that may be addressed through evaluation, refraining from routine evaluations.
DAC members usually specify evaluation requirements as part of funding agreements, sometimes requesting evaluations for all projects above a certain amount. Some donors have commissioned an evaluation of their overall support to CSOs, often in the context of a sector or thematic evaluation, or of a particular support mechanism. CSOs can be evaluated as organisations, or specific activities might be evaluated. CSOs can also work with DAC members in conducting evaluations to build the evidence base to inform policy decisions, programme management and learning.
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