“The Failure of DevEd” – Survey Results
In August 2010, a post on the Dóchas blog (https://dochasnetwork.wordpress.com) presented 4 theses, to provoke discussion in the Irish Development Education sector.
Comments and responses to the 4 theses are listed below.
1. DevEd has failed to engage with Development NGOs
Perhaps the most fundamental problem of the DevEd sector is that it has failed to win over itself, and its closest allies: the Development NGOs. The biggest problem facing the DevEd sector is not that Governments have cut funding, but that development NGOs themselves have cut funding for Development Education. As a result, not only are many DevEd programmes struggling to find matching funds for the co-financing required for IA funding, but DevEd practitioners have retreated in splendid isolation from many of the issues that Development NGOs are working on.
Comments received are listed in annex.
2. DevEd has failed to engage with the media
Survey after survey reveals that people in Western countries receive the bulk of their information, and opinions, from TV, with other media far behind. Apart from the work on the Dóchas Code of Conduct on Images & Messages (where DevEd practitioners might be tempted to lecture, not engage media representatives), there has been very little attempt by the DevEd sector to understand the world of the mass media, or to work constructively with it.
Comments received are listed in annex.
3. DevEd has failed to engage with humanitarian principles.
The lukewarm response by members of the public (and the media) to the 2010 Pakistan floods shows that some of the fundamental messages of humanitarian relief – that aid is given on the basis of need alone – have not been heard. Over the years, DevEd practitioners have tended to focus on “structural” causes of poverty, and ignored the important challenges and lessons from the humanitarian world (and the possible clashes of principles between humanitarianism and development thinking).
Comments received are listed in annex.
4. DevEd has failed to engage with politics.
As the recent cuts to the UK Government’s budget for DevEd show, the funding basis for much of the DevEd sector’s work is extremely fragile. While the DevEd sector has tried – and failed – to convince Irish Aid that campaigning is an essential part of any DevEd programme, it has also failed to understand the political environment in which it is working, and developed little or no education activity with politicians. By and large, DevEd’s political analysis has remained shallow and aloof, failing to engage with the challenges that are facing policy makers.
Comments received are listed in annex.
Q1 – Comments received
- Issues that NGOs are working on are not necessarily the same ones the deved sector is working on as those two sectors have different aims – sometimes complimentary but not always
- First of all, thanks to Dóchas for taking the initiative on this, a debate within Dóchas on the place of DE in its agenda is long overdue, I agree that the network has significantly underperformed in the area of development education and I hope this represents new energy and focus. Before answering the four questions posed, a number of preliminary observations: – DE has not failed to produce indicators of impact, a number of studies and reports have done so but the debate is all too often turned into one about developing certain types of indicators around inappropriate objectives such as generating public support for government aid programmes and policies or support for the fundraising and advocacy objectives of individual NGOs. – The Dóchas survey refers to a more ‘fundamental’ level of failure – that of failing to engage stakeholders – THIS IS NOT TRUE – DE has very successfully engaged a whole raft of stakeholders from student and teacher groups to subject associations, to colleges of education and universities; from individual youth groups to national youth organisations and structures; from individual trade unions to ICTU etc. I could mention church groups, VEC structures, community structures etc., etc. This ‘sleight of hand’ in referring to DE needs to be challenged. The challenge referred to in the Dóchas survey is the perception that DE has inadequately engaged some stakeholders and those referred to specifically are three of special importance to Dóchas – aid agencies, the media and politicians, so please, let’s be clear about the challenge! – How the questions are posed is important – one key assumption in the questions is that DE has failed to win over development NGOs and we can all spend time answering this question/challenge but if I pose the question differently – development NGOs have failed to recognise and support the key importance of DE in development and have significantly failed the Irish public as regards their entitlement to education for and in development, the question is slightly different. Dóchas has routinely failed in its stated mandate in DE; this does not simply represent a failure on the part of its DE group but much more significantly a failure on the part of its Executive Committee in not insisting its working group was more effective. The history of DE in Dóchas has always been fraught as regards DE. However, let me state clearly, it is my view that DE has significantly failed many of its key stakeholders and itself and these failings must be addressed but how we understand how such weaknesses and failings came about is an interesting topic in its own right. I my view DE has been spectacularly successful given the poor level of support and resourcing it has received over the years proportionately to the task it was asked to undertake. A cursory examination of the DE landscape 30 years ago reveals a desert pretty much – today’s landscape is altogether different. Perhaps the most significant success has been in replacing the NGOs as the leading sector in DE with a much broader and more representative range of structures and organisations and, in particular, the state. School, youth and adult education syllabi illustrate the change; college degrees and courses ditto; textbooks and newsletters also; study visits and placements etc. And most of this has been achieved on a shoestring with the active anti-educational messages and behaviours of many aid agencies and with significant difficulties in holding on to quality personnel attracted by the glamour and salaries and security of the aid sector itself. Much more could and needs to be said but on another day …. To the four questions posed by Dóchas.
- What do you mean by ‘it has failed to win over itself’? I don’t know many people in the DE sector that do not believe passionately in what they do. As for failing to win over Development NGOs, we engage with them all the time and it seems to me that it is they who are failing their education sections through cutting budgets, non-renewal of contracts and moving sections from fundraising to public awareness raising and back again. We work around issues of representation, human rights, HIV/AIDS, education and climate change that many Development NGOs are also working on. We carry out this work through collaboration. I resent your claim that we are working ‘splendid isolation’. I think that the DEG needs to do more to engage with Dóchas members, the secretariat and the executive – perhaps they could be invited to a meeting of the DEG (or vice versa) for a frank discussion about the issues raised. If Dóchas does not support its DEG, then it needs to say so.
- I think this question misses the point that development agencies largely established and funded the development education sector in the 1970s and 80’s. This situation changed in the 1990s with the greater corporatisation of the international development sector which led to more of a prioritisation on fundraising and overseas work. The challenge is to re-engage the agencies with deved and we could certainly be doing more to achieve that.
- I would question the way in which this challenge is posed by the blog. The assumption that the NGOs are the closest allies in support of DevEd is missing the point somehow. We all know that some NGOs don’t really see the value of Dev Ed at all or just pay lip-service in terms of their commitment to it. You could see this as a failure of the Dev Ed sector (which has failed to win them over) or as a failure of the NGOs but I wonder what would happen if we stopped blaming each other about this and start talking about why Dev Ed was once (when many NGOs started off) seen as an essential part of their development work. It might be a good point to start a discussion about the fundamental importance of educating people in the North about development issues AS a contribution to the development work we are all involved in. If you talk to development professionals, everybody agrees that we need structural chances and a change of mind in terms of the charity-model NGOs are often still promoting. I would maintain that Dev Ed has a lot to contribute to this discussion!
- Dochas and its members, especially the big NGOs has fail the Irish public. What is Dochas doing for its members to increase funding in the development education sector and stop lobbying the public on only spending on Aid and their salaries. The above statement is nonsense.
- I’m not aware of the communication between development NGOs and the DevEd sector enough to comment on this. I feel that myself and my colleagues are working on the issues that Development NGOs are working, but in a different way.
- I do not agree with the idea that DE is a means ‘winning over’ anyone. It is primarily an educational process and not a process of PR or propaganda for the work of development NGOs. Please back up your statements with evidence before you commence further with this debate.
- I don’t think the deved practitioners have retreated into isolation. I think that the aims of Development NGO’s and DevEd orgs are not identical. That the desperation of NGDO’s to get contributions for their overseas work means they have that agenda to push. If doing DevEd well, I don’t think it is acceptable to allow other groups to push their agenda, the role of DevEd is to be the one who asks critical questions. The withdrawal of funding by NGDO’s for DevEd activities is short sighted as those who give money to charities are increasingly demanding to know how it is spent and more importantly WHY it is needed. That is the role of DevEd. Without this critical education I believe that long term damage will be done to the NGDO sector.
- Interesting points touched upon but to only give an agree/disagree option is problematic. I dont think Dev Ed should really be winning over other people/sectors. Its role is to challenge/debate/explore/examine and act as a result of understanding and analysis. I dont think the Dev Ed sector should act in isolation to many other stakeholders but if it does (which I disagree with) Whose fault is it? Many Aid organisations dont see the value of Dev Ed or it could be argued tackling the root causes of many the challenges they address. The organisation I work in and with (Development Perspectives) has worked in partnership with Trocaire on Hunger and Climate Change as well as an advanced Dev Ed Practitioners programme. The blogger although causing positive debate is obviously in the dark in relation to the range of Dev Ed/NGO work that is going on.
- On the contrary, I try to keep up-to-date with the issues that NGOs are tackling. I also use many NGO-produced resources.
Q2 – Comments received
- Work is happening with the media but challenges for deved are much bigger – 1. deved has to struggle against preconceived notions of what the world is & what is fashionable 2. serious budget constraints 3. deved is often on the opposite spectrum of ‘the media’s’ agenda
- I agree; development agencies have hugely and disproportionately cut DE funding from the poor levels previously existing. As a result, I agree that co-financing is problematic, hugely so at a time when other possibilities for funding are also being slashed and where the danger is that the state becomes the predominant funder with all the inevitable consequences that follow. Why they have done this is a matter of considerable debate – ruthless competition between agencies for funds from the public, the glut of fundraising by an exploded ‘aid sector’; the growing domination of agencies by ‘professional’ fundraisers, administrators and lobbyists; the hiring in a PR agencies and spin merchants with little allegiance to the big development picture and the needs of the longer-term etc. As agencies became bloated in size, they were subjected to serial restructuring where DE usually became answerable to fundraisers, ‘communications’ experts and advocacy and policy personnel; job descriptions became emasculated and twisted and the amount of time allowed for DE became miniscule. However, I do agree that DE itself has also failed through poor quality work (backed by even poorer analysis), its failure over many years to firmly link DE with development and our many dalliances with other forms and shapes of political education (in short our failure to demonstrate in real ways our commitment to the human development agenda of the world’s poorest); our fascination with endless meetings without outcomes; our ‘preciousness’ over a whole range of issues and our failure to challenge the obvious flaws and weaknesses of many of our own agencies. DE has spectacularly failed to challenge the NGOs as evidenced by recent international reports on the DE landscape in Ireland today (the recent DE Watch Report is but one example). I strongly disagree that DE has failed to link with the issues many development NGOs are working on – I am aware of ongoing, consistent and engaged DE work on aid agendas, women’s rights, HIV and AIDS, climate change etc. – the list is endless. I agree, the work could be better (and better resourced) but to say we work in ‘splendid isolation’ is indulgent nonsense. 2. DE has indeed failed to effectively engage with the media but have you tried selling the education message in the face of the relentless, massively funded and resourced, PR agency designed and spun fundraising and marketing messages of the aid agencies? Ireland is locked into an ‘assistencialist’ perspective vis-a-vis development and doing media focused DE in this context is very, very problematic. It should also be noted that some of us have chosen not to engage with the media, not to appoint media personnel and not to issue press statements that further clog ‘communication’. I think the whole debate on the linkages between DE and the media needs considerably more discussion and clarification as to what precisely our agenda might be.
- What do you mean by ‘engage with the media’? Do you mean there isn’t enough coverage of DE in mainstream media? Agreed. But that’s not necessarily the fault of the sector. DE issues tend to be drowned out by calls from Development NGOs for funds to del with x, y or z crisis. Or do you mean that we don’t invite the media to engage in our activities as participants? We work in the youth sector; it’s hard enough to engage with a diversity of organisations there. Collectively I agree that in areas like the Code of Conduct, the DE sector needs to work constructively with media rather than lecturing them but the tone of your statement ‘DevEd practitioners might be tempted to lecture’ is unfair. We might be tempted to do a lot of things but let’s stick with the real world.
- The deved sector is constantly probing the media’s role in public education and enabling learners to develop the critical thinking skills and knowledge to analyse the mainstream media’s coverage of international development. Influencing the work of the media for a tiny sector like deved is a difficult proposition when arguably our strength and remit lies in working with educators and learners in understanding the media and its role in shaping opinions on development.
- I partly agree with this statement but think that the actual possibilities for DevEd to influence the media is a limited one. It is a big challenge for a small sector (under 1% of ODA goes to DEv Ed) to engage meaningful with the media and compete with well financed PR, fundraising and communications people. It is also difficult to “sell” the DevEd which is more complex than the simple messaging we often see about development issues in the media. I would hope that the DevEd sector takes up this challenge and develops ways of how we can engage with the media without reducing our messages to a level of simplicity and catchiness that defies the purpose. I also think it’s a bigger discussion for the whole professional development sector as some of the messaging to raise funds is actually counter-productive to what DevEd is trying to achieve (e.g. messages framed in a simple charity approach or that suggest that solving global problems is simple (let’s be honest about it: it’s not! I’d say that the public appreciates and deserves some honesty!)). Finally, I think one way of starting this process is for Dev Ed people and communications people to sit together and start talking to each other.
- All the interviews the dochas director and dochas has done to the media, did he mentioned about any thing on Deved, all is about Aid, poverty etc. Even for the code of conduct on images and messages thanks to the Africa Centre’s work on images and messages that is why most people who are not signatory organisations are aware of the code. Dochas and its members has to change their approach and let dochas engage it big NGO members to take the public seriously.
- Again – i don’t feel like I know the DevEd sectors engagements with the media well enough to comment – though this in itself may suggest that the sector does not engage effectively. I believe that it is possible to interact with and harness the power of the traditional media (which is still much more powerful than anything new) without compromising on the quality of the work you are doing and principles behind it – BUT it’s a delicate exercise that requires a lot of energy, strategy and creativity – people may be too wary to try it.
- Which media are you referring to? The old or new media (which is at everyone’s disposal to use as evidenced by this blog/survey Yes the media can be a very useful tool for PR or propaganda…is this the type of DE you are talking about!
- DevEd sector does not use the media the same way as the NGDO’s becasue we are not looking for the same thing. Also, we dont have the same money as the NGDO’s like Trocaire, Concern etc. to use TV as a medium for communication. It is an assumption that the DevEd sector is tempted to “lecture” the media. It is quite obvious that it is in the interest of some charities to overlook the code of conduct so that they can guilt people into donating money, instead of investing in DevEd to help people understand why the situation is the way it is.
- Development Perspectives has a board member who is a radio producer. We have been on five separate radio shows over the last tweleve months. We have had a slot on DCTV (I know its not BBC). We have also tried to host a workshop for local print Journalists, which will happen this autumn. I would say that the Dev Ed sector doesnt use the media enough as a tool but there are not reasons for this. It must be noted that the Dev Ed message is at times far too complex for much of todays media, which needs soundbites and slogans. Understanding comes more slowly…. Maybe we could work in unison with some of the NGO`s and share some points and views in relation to this.
- I would want to critique this question which seems to talk about several things at once. It speaks of ‘receiving information’ from TV – but DE isn’t about ‘receiving information’. Then it moves to the Code of Conduct on Images and Messages which isn’t TV; I don’t know what the comment on lecturing not engaging is based on, and finally it makes a general crtiticism of the DE sector’s lack of understanding of the world of mass media. What media are included here? I’m aware of many internet sites which contribute to DE, and also of several DVDs which have been produced in recent years. Are these not mass media?
Q3 – Comments received
- actually don’t completely disagree … problem as i see it has more to do with aid fatigue and a lack of understanding by the public regarding aid – which has been caused by an oversimplification of the issue as portrayed by aid agencies over the years – see VSO report on images
- I fail to understand the apparent link between the lukewarm FUNDRAISING response of the public to the recent Pakistan appeals from aid agencies and DE – were we supposed to swing into action and urge the public to give money to agencies? I also fail to get the leap from this Pakistan focus to humanitarian relief and DE and its fundamental values base. I was not aware that DE organisations primarily focused on the structural causes of poverty – I thought aid agencies such as Christian Aid, Trócaire, Oxfam etc. did this? If I examine any of the foundational documents and statements re DE, the mandate I find is the ‘education’ of Irish people in development issues, our duties in the world, our responsibilities to the poor etc. Resources such as 80:20 Development in an Unequal World (and its precursor 75:25) clearly engaged with humanitarian principles and more recent documents such as Debating Aid (and its accompanying advocacy resource) and 5:50:500 all explicitly engage with the humanitarian agenda. I am aware of many other resources from other organisations that do likewise but I will leave them to speak for themselves. However, I do agree that we need to do much, much more on the values base of our work and our agenda and I believe DE has not done its share of the heavy lifting in this regard. By the way does the huge response of the Irish public to the Asian tsunami not undermine your hypothesis? and Rwanda, and Ethiopia and on and on?
- ????????????????? Our DE work, and I believe it is the case with the majority in the sector, focuses first and foremost on exploring links between local and global justice issues in order to foster solidarity between people and communities leading to action for change. We don’t jump on each and every disaster urging the public to give to this or that charity (and, as an aside, why is it that the Development NGOs have failed to develop a clear – to the public – common fundraising strategy for fundraising fro emergencies along the lines of the DEC in the UK?) so blaming us for the lukewarm response to the Pakistan floods is misguided at best.
- Development education argues that only by understanding the structural causes of poverty can we engage the public in a deeper and meaningful understanding of how poverty can be eliminated. The Make Poverty History campaign with its shallow educational message and absence of deved managed to mobilise large numbers of people but did not sustain their engagement with the issues because the educational element was missing. There is no clash between developmental and humanitarian thinking, however development educators argue that humanitarianism alone will not eliminate poverty.
- I can’t say that I agree or disagree with this point, I simply don’t understand it. I would have thought that a lukewarm response to appeals would reflect on how well the fundraising is doing but I can’t see the connection with Dev Ed; unless the blog suggests that Dev Ed should be a support mechanism for fundraising which I hope it doesn’t. I would also argue that by concentrating on “structural causes of poverty” and global justice issues DevEd has worked intensively to engage with humanitarian principles. This challenge does reveal – in my view – a lack of understanding and knowledge about what DEvEd is doing and has been doing.
- Why should Deved follow the nonsense of the big NGOs preaching of their cure of poverty and hunger, whiles they do not care about the people they pretend they are working for.
- “The lukewarm response by members of the public (and the media) to the 2010 Pakistan floods” as described here is not something that the DevEd sector can be blamed for. Encouraging people to understand the structural causes of a problem should not be seen as a replacement for simpler messages of humanitarian relief – they complement one another. Understanding context – understanding injustice – this can only contribute towards a greater response from us in times of crisis – so long as DevEd is always action oriented. Is this a suggestion that we should be keeping people in the dark about structural causes?
- Again DE is an educational process which is aimed at the learner. I do not see a place in DE for PR work for fund raising for humanitarian relief. Other questions need to be asked in relation to a poor response to calls for humanitarian relief for humanitarian crises.
- The role of DevEd is not to become vocal at a time of disaster so as to raise funds for charities. The causes of poverty are man made, they are structural and it is the role of DevEd to highlight how humans are responsible for the poverty that exists in the world, surely this is a humanitarian approach.
- Within the Development sector in general, I believe there is a lack of systems thinking or more simply joined up thinking in relation to what we do and how we do it. From a knowledge point of view, I do think its important that the Dev Ed sector is more up to date on Development in general and vica versa. Does the broader Development community understand whats involved in Dev Ed? I think we all have work to do in this regard. Some organisations/sectors are obviously better than others but I do think its its reflects badly on the values you would imagine we all hold if we we misunderstand each other. Surely, our goal is the same but we are working differently to achieve it.
- Again, this seems to be muddled thinking to me. The response to the floods in Pakistan can’t be so easily assigned to a failure on the part of DE practitioners! Of course DE has focused on structural causes of poverty and injustice – otherwise we are back to expecting aid to solve global issues. The focus on these structural causes is itself a humanitarian response to injustice and inequity in the world, and part of the work I engage in in DE is constantly exploring the concepts of ‘development’, especially its entanglement with economic growth and the neo-liberal agenda. And just what ‘development thinking’ is referred to in the question?
Q4 – Comments received
- I am not sure how to reply to this challenge. Obviously the funding base of DE is fragile – we need to take responsibility for this ourselves and campaign to get the aid agencies engaged effectively along with a host of other potential funders including philanthropic organisations (many of them also do not value DE because of poor previous experiences!). DE organisations need to become more active in generating their own income – this is a must to develop and maintain independence from both government and aid agencies. The campaigning question is difficult – campaigns that have focused on particular issues have annoyed individual politicians and the more conservative media and aid agency leaders. I am not surprised the government does not fund such campaigns – I would be more surprised if they did! What DE needs to do more effectively is convince Irish Aid that campaigning is a legitimate and necessary part of development cooperation work. Campaigning will remain a difficult area into the future. As a DE organisation that has done education work with politicians in the Dail itself, I disagree with the Dóchas proposition but I find the statement ‘it has also failed to understand the political environment in which it is working’ arrogant and silly. I guess non-DE folk in Dóchas do then, eh? Stop being superior! As for being accused of being ‘shallow and aloof’, I have reached for my Dublin Dictionary and checked out my response – the second word is ‘off’.
- I don’t think anyone would disagree that the funding basis for the DE sector’s work is very fragile, with too much dependence on Irish Aid. From talking to colleagues in other European countries, I get a sense that they admire the DE work being done in Ireland, yet when you look at where EU funding for DE goes (including in youth work) it seems that Irish organisations aren’t applying or the applications aren’t up to the standards required. From a survey we carried out it seems that at least in youth work organisations talk themselves out of making applications because of the perceived difficulty of applying to the European Commission (rather than being based on experience of actual applications). We try to engage with politicians around our DE activities but while youth work favours organising events for young people at weekends so that it doesn’t interfere with their formal education, politicians don’t seem to want to engage at the weekend (though I am using a specific politician to make a general point). We have tried to engage the youth sections of political parties with limited success.
- This is to ignore the fact that the British and Irish governments now have strategic policy documents for development education and a policy commitment to this area where they had none of this twenty years ago. In the 1980s the argument was that deved was on the margins of policy-making and unprofessional. Now the argument is that it is too mainstream! The sector could do more in its advocacy with government but then so could the development agencies. Where does development education feature in the Act Now on 2015 Campaign?
- I am not going to respond to the point about the political analysis bit in the challenge, I am after all a polite person. From IDEAs point of view I suggest a look at the publications on our website, and articles submitted by IDEA to a variety of journals. Many of our member’s have also engaged in political analysis but I let them speak for themselves. I am not sure if “politics” also means policy here (or simply influencing politicians). In terms of policy there is definitely a challenge ahead for DevEd, namely to work on educational policies to help and enable educators to integrate DevEd more into their work.
- If you look at Colom Regan’s comment, I totally agreed with him. Dochas and it allies NGOs should know that the reason why there was no cut to their aid budget was the work of the Deved sector and the media lobbying the politicians. Maybe Dochas need to do its home work and look at the history of Deved, the public and the politicians in this country.
- Not sure. More education activity with politicians (and journalists) would be useful. On a separate point – I worry that DevEd can distract and dilute people’s politics by illuminating situations and issues where extreme injustice is apparent and then immediately afterwards failing to provide enough support for people to develop their own political and economic analysis and to take political action (of any kind..lobbying, direct action etc). Would funding for DevEd be even more fragile if it were more effective and challenges the status quo…?
- Irish Aid do not say that campaigning isn’t part of Dev Ed. However, they refuse to fund one-sided campaigns which do not present a range of perspectives. Campaigning and campaigning skills have always been acknowledged in balanced funding applications.
- When the politicians give you your money, do you bite the hand that feeds you? Sometimes YES should be the answer. Funding for DevEd is unstable, What role do dochas play in altering this situation? What more education activities have Dochas carried out with Politicians? Asking them to sign their name on a large piece of foam board is not education.
- Where to start? Dev Ed work is highly political at many levels. One example worth sharing – I`m aware of a local initiative we (Development Perspectives and Trocaire) are working on where politicians and only politicians will be invited to attend a workshop exploring views and theories of Development and budget lines in the hope of deepening understanding. Politicans have been spoken to and the ground work is well underway. I would argue our analysis is sharp and deeply engaged. I cant speak for others but I`d imagine many examples exist.
- The funding basis for Dev Ed is indeed fragile. Is that a failure on the part of the DE sector? I think not. (It seems to me that the closer DE gets to the bone of an issue, the less they will be encouraged by government authorities.) The DE sector and other related sectors have engaged with politicians on many issues, and have presented analyses which cut to the core but which politicians are of course free to ignore. Government as a whole has little interest in issues beyond the workings of the national economy and the levels of employment and of investment. How would the writer describe the political environment which s/he claims the DE sector has to understand, and what would s/he include in the challenges which it has failed to engage in?
I have provided key points to the Dochas survey but felt it is also important to add a few points to the original blog. Colm in his reply has already picked up some important points; I just wanted to add/re-iterate some:
If we want to talk about impact of Dev Ed we need to look at the stakeholders that many organizations working in Dev Ed have identified over the years, not the ones that others think we should have. If we look at the level of integration of key Dev Ed messages and methodologies in educational settings (schools, teacher training colleges, universities, etc.) as well as how global issues are dealt with in national curricula and courses across the country (not to mention the resources produced over the years) it has to be said that people working in Development Education have had a massive impact. I agree that we have to work harder on issues of quality but there is evidence of real impact of Dev Ed in Ireland over the last 20 years in the places that Dev Ed is targeting, ie schools, colleges, universities and youth work to name just a few.
I would also like to point out that it is important to recognize that we are talking about a sector that receives less than 1% of the overall ODA budget so we need to be realistic about what can be achieved and what can be expected. In the light of this it is, to say the least, ironic to blame the lack of public ownership of the development agenda entirely on Dev Ed. I wonder how far we would be in terms of public ownership if a considerable amount of the money that has been put into communications and public information (not to mention fundraising) had been allocated to interventions and activities that are genuinely Dev Ed for, let’s say, the last five years. My feeling is that we would be further ahead of the game by now….
I would also strongly disagree with the second reply (Brain Teaser). Dev Ed is not an ideology, the reply – in my view – reveals a lack of understanding what development education is about.
I terms of the four failure of Dev Ed listed in the blog I would add the following:
1. DevEd has failed to engage with Development NGOs
Heike and Colm in their reply have made valid points about questioning the way in which this challenge is posed by the blog. The assumption that the NGOs are the closest allies in support of DevEd is indeed missing the point somehow. We all know that some NGOs don’t really see the value of Dev Ed at all or just pay lip-service in terms of their commitment to it. You could see this as a failure of the Dev Ed sector (which has failed to win them over) or as a failure of the NGOs but I wonder what would happen if we stopped blaming each other about this and start talking about why Dev Ed was once (when many NGOs started off) seen as an essential part of their development work. It might be a good point to start a discussion about the fundamental importance of educating people in the North about development issues AS a contribution to the development work we are all involved in. If you talk to development professionals, everybody agrees that we need structural chances and a change of mind in terms of the charity-model NGOs are often still promoting. I would maintain that Dev Ed has a lot to contribute to this discussion!
2. DevEd has failed to engage with the media
I partly agree with this statement but also think Colm’s point about the actual possibilities for DevEd to influence the media is a valid one. It is a big challenge for a small sector to engage meaningful with the media and compete with well financed PR, fundraising and communications people. It is also difficult to “sell” the DevEd which is more complex than the simple messaging we often see about development issues in the media. I would hope that the DevEd sector takes up this challenge and develops ways of how we can engage with the media without reducing our messages to a level of simplicity and catchiness that defies the purpose. I also think it’s a bigger discussion for the whole professional development sector as some of the messaging to raise funds is actually counter-productive to what DevEd is trying to achieve (e.g. messages framed in a simple charity approach or that suggest that solving global problems is simple (let’s be honest about it: it’s not! I’d say that the public appreciates and deserves some honesty!)). Finally, I think one way of starting this process is for Dev Ed people and communications people to sit together and start talking to each other.
3. DevEd has failed to engage with humanitarian principles.
I can’t say that I agree or disagree with this point, I simply don’t understand it. I would have thought that a lukewarm response to appeals would reflect on how well the fundraising is doing but I can’t see the connection with Dev Ed; unless the blog suggests that Dev Ed should be a support mechanism for fundraising which I hope it doesn’t. I would also argue that by concentrating on “structural causes of poverty” and global justice issues DevEd has worked intensively to engage with humanitarian principles. This challenge does reveal – in my view – a lack of understanding and knowledge about what DEvEd is doing and has been doing.
4. DevEd has failed to engage with politics.
I am not going to respond to the point about the political analysis bit in the challenge, I am after all a polite person. From IDEAs point of view I suggest a look at the publications on our website, and articles submitted by IDEA to a variety of journals. Many of our member’s have also engaged in political analysis but I let them speak for themselves. I am not sure if “politics” also means policy here (or simply influencing politicians). In terms of policy there is definitely a challenge ahead for DevEd, namely to work on educational policies to help and enable educators to integrate DevEd more into their work.
Let the conversation continue, it’s an important one!
Great to see the contributions and debate to what are interesting points. I responded to the survey but would like to make a few points firstly in repose to the challenges outlined and secondly (more importantly to the possible underlying issues).
I work within an organisation (Development Perspectives) that tries to work in partnership with many other organisations and sectors. We work closely with Trocaire and other partners who I dont need to mention here but the point is simple. The Dev Ed sector is varied as is the broader Development sector in terms of desire for and levels of engagement across stakeholder groupings. In general terms I would argue closer co-operation and engagement would benefit all involved in what I hope are shared goals. It should be noted – Those efforts need to be mutual.
I do believe Dev Ed can and should use the media more as part of its work but an analysis of why this is not the case would make for interesting reading. A radio producer is on our board, we have had five interviews on three radio stations in the last few months and had a small 20 minute slot on DCTV. Not bad for an organisation with an entire budget, which some might spent on two prime time TV ads. If the blogger wants advice on how to use the media cleverly with little or no cash, just give us a call.
In relation to the Dev Ed sector and humanitarian principles – I do think greater knowledge of Development/Humanitarian work is necessary within the Dev Ed sector. I`d also argue greater knowledge of the Dev Ed sector is required by others (as evidenced by reading the blog and some of the responses). Surely, we can reach agreement that we may share similiar if not the same goals but work differently to contributing to their achievement. An interesting point to note would be to peruse the successfull (in terms of getting funding) projects funded by Irish Aid under the Higher Education Partnership measure. Which theory of Development does each successful project ascribe to? Do they know of other ways of describing understanding Development? Many practitioners in Development need to deepen their knowledge of Development. Maybe we could share our understanding/views/opinions of these issues. Who better to faciliate that much needed debateit than someone from Dev Ed?
In relation to politics – Dev Ed is political as but so is education. (unfortunately “Brainteaser” doesnt get this). An example of good Dev Ed practice in relation to this – DP and Trocaire are working on a workshop targeting Politicians in the Meath/Louth area. Ground work has been conducted and we are excited by the possibilities. Another example of work in this area is an advanced Dev Ed Practitioners programme which DP, Trocaire, Kimmage DSC and Development Education Network – Liberia are involved in. 10 pax from across Ireland as well as 12 from Liberia are doing workshops in Bong county, Liberia in September faciliated by amongst others Senator Franklin Siakor who happens to be a Presidential Candidate. Interestingly enough, DEN-L are broadcasting it nationwide on their radio programme.
This debate is important to have at any time but especially so at this fragile time (in terms of financial constraints). In my opinion, the blogger illustrates at times a lack of knowledge of “others” work and what it involves. We all could and should do more to inform ourselves of what others are up to/ why they do it/how they do it. A knowledge deficit exists internally in the Development sector and its doing none of us any favours. More co-operation across sectors/within sectors is needed and given the values many of us share, its interesting to note that conflicts/cracks could appear, which will distract all of us from far bigger challenges whilst we examine our navels. Let not our analysis lead to paralysis but if we think education is expensive or not worthwhile try ignorance….
Reading through the comments I detect the same crisis beleaguering DE, a system of knowledge and practice defined and understood in different ways by different people without a hint of what the assumed beneficiaries make of it.
Aside from his label of DE as an ideology I tend to agree with Brain teaser when he points out the shift in discourse from competencies that address structural changesin global injustices/inequality which is the underlying remit of DE.
I think the great effort to isolate advocacy which in my view is not all about campaiging as other dialogic approaches are currently making connections with policy makers in Australia (public tours to engage politicians).
DE has certainly broken boundaries in terms of pedagogic frontiers but at the expense of public focus/interest in the root causes of global inequality.. DE has strived to focus on reinventing itself as an academic descipline with great difficulty and contradictions. The failure it assumes today is a direct consiquence of this provisionalism it has embraced when it was repackaged in the UK around ODA agendas with Ireland following on that path.
There is need to review the competenciesDE seeks, re-evaluate its link with advocacy as the hardware that might provide the space and voice for the south and evolve more plural ways of learning and knowing beyond the school curricula and the framing of underdevelopment on charity aid. The NGOs seem poised to take this direction through their research work but need to strike a balance between marketing themselves and operating as sites for knowledge reproduction