University of Sussex
Moriarty, Kathleen.pdf (3.06 MB)

Developing a transformative vision of global education? Unpacking education quality and learning in the policy formulation and content of Sustainable Development Goal 4

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posted on 2023-06-09, 18:38 authored by Kathleen Moriarty
This thesis examines the development of Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG4). It specifically explores the dynamics and assumptions that informed its formulation and the final text. In particular, this research unpacks the discursive construction of education quality and learning in the formulation and content of SDG4 and considers its potential for developing a transformative vision of global education. The research draws on interviews with ‘policy elites’ and analysis of key documents that informed SDG4’s formulation, tracing the key moments of SDG4’s development. The main question it addresses is: what influences and discourses shaped the formulation of SDG4 and do they support a transformative vision of global education? In this policy trajectory, key processes are examined, as well as how specific understandings of education shaped the final text. In deconstructing SDG4 this research shows how the consensus reflected in the overarching goal is weakened at the level of the targets. It points to the narrowing of the concept of quality education and learning, pointing to how they are reduced in instrumental ways. This research contributes to the understandings of the processes by which global policy frameworks are discursively constituted by elites within specific historic, social, economic and political spaces. It also adds to an understanding of how what is considered ‘relevant’ in SDG4 restricts the ambition of the goal to the wider 2030 agenda. It highlights the intertextual nature of policy, revealing how meaning is reshaped even are texts are finalised, and it contributes to an understanding of how power dynamics shaped construction of the SDG4, of which very little literature exists. It recommends policy advocacy to defend the holistic vision of SDG4 as a universal agenda that is implemented at the national level. Additionally, it recommends future research focused on policy makers and other key stakeholders in the global south to better understand how their voice can inform global education policy-making.


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