North-South educational partnership, a critical analysis: an Ireland, Uganda, Lesotho and Zambia case study
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The term ‘partnership’ has emerged to dominate development aid discourse. It is a term which suggests movement towards effective development relations based on powerfully appealing yet contested ideas of symmetry and equity. In this Irish context, Irish Aid’s recent funding of partnerships involving higher education and research institutions across their programme African countries and Ireland have sought to effectively contribute towards poverty reduction goals and support equitable development relations. The extent to which these partnerships transform exisiting disempowering aid relations and enhance aid effectiveness is both deeply contested and crucially important in ensuring their success. This doctoral study was concerned with critiquing the nature and implications of such partnerships, asking the question: ‘To what extent, if any, do partnerships between Irish, Ugandan, Lesothan and Zambian teacher education institutions demonstrate equitable development relations and attain teacher education development goals? I argue that this study was timely, relevant and generative in addressing both the under-theorisation and lack of indepth empirical case study examinations of teacher education-focused development aid funded partnerships. In doing so, I adopted a complex adaptive system’s analytical framework, as a means of addressing the relative dearth of theoretical and conceptual analysis. A case study methodology was employed , incorporating two Irish Aid supported partnerships involving Irish, Zambian, Ugandan and Lesothan educational institutions. Qualitative methods including semi-structured interviews conducted with 52 respondents and an extensive analysis of documentary data were adopted. Findings support an understanding of partnerships as complex and adaptive social systems whereby asymmetrical structures emerge from the interdependent relationships of adaptive actors, acting in accordance with their own incentives and capacities and holding varying positions of power and influence. This requires a clear identification of agendas and outcomes for all partners, an understanding of power relations as fluid and shifting and a multi-centred framework of collaborative governance.
Development aid partnership