75 years  

Education for Developing Countries 1973-1985

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Dr Linda Ankrah Dove :  lecturer 1976-1985

Linda recalls in particular how students and colleagues grappled with applying theories of education and development to the realities faced in many countries across the world. She discusses how this has influenced her work since her time as a lecturer:

"I remember my years in the EDC department in the 1970s and 1980s with much appreciation. My students and colleagues taught me so much about the complexity of developing education systems and deepened my passion to see the world a better place. I particularly remember our small-group seminars when we grappled with how to marry lofty intellectual theories of academics and the, often sobering, real-life experiences of those who had worked in the schools and communities of Africa, Asia and Latin America. Without the personal foundation that the Institute enabled me to build, I would never have had the inspiration and temerity to move on later to work on a practical level in the developing world as a World Bank official. All over the world I have had the privilege and joy to meet again with former students, many of whom are still working in education. They invariably show a sincerity and leadership as true professionals and I count some of my closest friends among them.

In the early 1990s, seeing things from the global perspective of the international financial institutions, I began to fear that development was an ever-receding goal. But since the late-1990s, I am more optimistic. The World Bank has made a radical cultural shift in recent years. Especially important has been the policy to forgive the debt of countries that were previously spending all their GDP on repaying the loan interest. The resources now being freed up can be used for education and other social development. The donors' new approach to poverty reduction is also a major step forward since it means that countries can take charge of their poverty-reduction agenda rather than being dictated to by the international donors. The trend towards partnership among donors and developing countries should prevent competition between donors for the "business" of poor countries. There is real progress here though the job is still far from finished. Since September 11, it is even more critical that the war on poverty in developing countries should remain at the top of the agenda of the developed countries and educational institutions with an international mission such as the EID group. One major challenge, in my view is to equalize opportunities for trade and reduce protectionism though I am still hard-pressed to be optimistic about this. I do, however, see cause for optimism in progress in Africa where NEPAD, the New Partnership for African Development, has been set up by African leaders themselves, and the African Union has replaced the OAU to achieve economic union and strengthen trade in the global economy. Nevertheless, African leaders will only succeed if ordinary folk are literate and healthy enough to rally behind them in improving the quality of life for their communities. So! We come back to the importance of institutions like the Institute and the EID group in continuing to push for education to be at the top of the global agenda and in advancing knowledge of how to achieve education for all through sincere intellectual debate and useful research.

On a personal note, I am now also very much involved in the public health and healing field, both traditional and complementary areas. I am convinced that global development and the reduction of poverty and conflict ultimately rests in the right actions for individuals who are physically, emotionally and spiritually whole. Anyone looking for a challenging Ph.D. thesis?

I very much cherish my long and varied association with the Institute of Education, and send all in the EID Group every good wish for a distinguished future."

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Compiled and edited by Clare Bentall and Angela Little. First issued Spring 2005.