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Development Education: Policy, Planning, and Practice

Tue, April 16, 5:00 to 6:30pm, Hyatt Regency, Floor: Atrium (Level 2), Waterfront D


In the 1960s Adams served on the board of Comparative Education Review, shaping the development of our field, and publishing a groundbreaking journal article, “Development Education,” in the state-of- the-art issue of the Comparative Education Review commemorating the journal’s 20th anniversary (1977). No one had combined the terms development and education in this way until Adams did so, as early as1966. Over a 50-year period Adams’ worked to conceptualization, an integrative model of development (economic, political and social) with both objective and subjective underpinnings claiming that “there are at least three major implications of the globalization model for education policy, planning, and practice: (a) the increased centrality of education in national development policy planning; (b) the increased focus and priority on decentralization and localization with further empowerment of teachers and administrators; and (c) the trend toward an emphasis on, and assessment of, education quality at all levels” (Adams, Acedo & Popa, “In Search of Quality Education” 2012). Adams describes the changes in the role of government, purpose of policy and planning, role of strategic planning, and focus of administration. He acknowledges the important role of international development agencies in supporting efforts of national government to improve educational systems, but only to the extent that they go beyond conventional thinking to “reverse traditional patterns of centralized dominance of educational decisions; extend social participation and opportunity; and demonstrate good governance and institutional efficiencies” (ibid.). This highlights a characteristic of Don’s work: his scholarship was in the service of improving educational practice. His goal was always relevance to the context of the local needs. Although Adams was very critical of donor agencies’ work in development, he worked with all of them. The same with Ministries of Education: he knew they need to do planning and that they need to show results, but he always pushed them to look at processes. To that end, Don retained a positive outlook about the promise of educational planning for improving the quality of education, extending its reach to those most in need, for making life better in local contexts. The value of this for our field is the intellectual debates we are able to continue to have with Adams’ work about what we mean when we talk about ‘education quality’ and how it matters in the practical affairs of education.