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International assistance to educational development: a case study of the basic education section in Ghana

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posted on 2023-06-07, 15:35 authored by Yukiko Okugawa
Since the advent of international assistance, the aid paradigm has changed continually and the choice of mechanisms for providing assistance has evolved in order to try and pursue better approaches. Along with the traditional project approach, the sector-wide approach involving budgetary support has emerged as a new aid modality since the mid-1990s. While many donors – e.g. the UK Department for International Development (DFID), the World Bank and the European Union (EU) – have embraced the new modality, some donors have kept their distance from this trend, relying mostly on project assistance – e.g. United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). However, the extent to which aid resources are absorbed in the recipient government/sector under the different aid delivery mechanisms is not well known. This thesis provides insight into this question by exploring the process of absorbing foreign funds in the education sector. Employing a phenomenological research approach, the process is examined from the point of view of local actors and beneficiaries of aid aimed at improving education quality. The context chosen is basic education (primary and junior secondary) in Ghana after the introduction of the national basic education reform, which was announced as the Free Compulsory Universal Basic Education (FCUBE) programme in 1996. Two cases are chosen for comparison: the Whole School Development (WSD) programme financed by the DFID; and the Quality Improvements in Primary Schools (QUIPS) programme facilitated by USAID. The former constitutes a sector-wide type of assistance, which put Ghanaian officials in charge of DFID funds and the implementation of the programme; while the latter adopted a project type model, with implementation managed directly through a USAIDfunded project office. The major part of the data is derived from interviews conducted in 2006 with significant educational personnel at three different levels: Ministry of Education (MoE) headquarters, the District Education Office (DEO), and the schools). The analysis reveals a complex picture of aid absorption, which illuminates the pros and cons of the two approaches in relation to impact and sustainability. The study finds that the QUIPS project achieved tangible results in the pilot schools, while the WSD programme made little impact at the school level. The WSD programme, which used existing structures within the education system to deliver funds and resources to schools, showed evidence of high fungibility, but appears to have strengthened the Ministry?s administrative capacity. On the other hand, the QUIPS approach, which had low fungibility, has been severely criticised by Ghanaian officials, who questioned its sustainability and contribution to system-wide change. The thesis concludes by stating its specific contribution to the literature on international aid assistance to developing countries and making recommendations for the Ghanaian context.


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