The Politics of Education Reform in Middle-Income Countries

A growing scholarly consensus views high quality education as essential for sustained and equitable development. Yet lasting reforms to improve education quality in developing countries are rare because political opposition and government turnover regularly stall, dilute, or subsequently undo reforms. We know much more about what kinds of reform improve quality than about the politics through which they are achieved, largely due to the lack of research on education politics. My contribution to filling this gap draws on theories that stress, respectively, the power of social classes, business preferences, policy networks, civil society, and the institutional veto points in the political systems where these groups contend. Empirically, my ongoing field research assesses these theories in comparative cases of reform successes and failures, focusing on Chile, Peru, Brazil, Mexico, Turkey, South Africa, and other middle income countries. This fellowship at STIAS would allow me to consolidate a half decade of research into a broadly comparative and theoretical book on education politics in developing countries

Project leader(s):
  • Ben Ross Schneider (Department of Political Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

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