How does political context shape education reforms and their success? Lessons from the Development Progress project

Research reports and studies
August 2016
Joseph Wales, Arran Magee and Susan Nicolai

Achieving Sustainable Development Goal 4 – ‘Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all’ – is one of the most important and challenging tasks in international development. In order to fulfil it, we require a better understanding of why progress and the impact of interventions varies so widely by context. One striking gap in our knowledge here is a lack of analysis as to how education systems interact with political contexts that they operate in.

This report addresses this gap by drawing on evidence from eight education-focused country case studies conducted by ODI’s Development Progress project and applying political settlements analysis to explore how political context can shape opportunities and barriers for achieving progress in education access and learning outcomes. It gives an introduction to political settlements theory and presents a basic model for applying it to education. It then classifies the case study countries into three broad groups (developmental, mixed hybrid and spoils-driven hybrid) and explores the common features and differences in their progress stories.