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Inter-Disciplinary Training for Policy Dialogue in the Field of Education

Annual Call for Projects 2002


Undertaken within the framework of the Geneva International Academic Network's programme of activities, this project will focus on systems of secondary education and "policy dialogue" among those responsible for education policy in Africa, South-East Asia and Latin America. The project will take place in three phases, the last of which will be the forty-seventh session of the International Conference on Education (ICE), to be held in Geneva in 2005 on the theme of education/training for young people aged 12 to 18 years. The research results are intended for teams involved with national and international policy dialogue on education, as well as with discussions on "the transferability of educational models": ministers of education and their immediate colleagues, senior civil servants, directors of NGOs and high-level students in both the North and the South.

Structural changes linked to the advent of the information society and globalization have caused a crisis in the adaptation of educational policies. Numerous actors involved in defining educational policies are beginning to come to terms with the problems that the transfer of educational models from the North to the South present in relation to specific educational requirements and needs at the national and regional levels. These problems are particularly noticeable for educators who encourage the democratization of education/training while promoting the values of peace and social cohesion in the perspective of sustainable development.

In this complex and fluid context, how can States and those responsible for education systems simultaneously construct their own systems, with a vision and participatory working methods adapted to the needs of the population, and take advantage of numerous experiments - both good and less good - taking place elsewhere in the world? To face this challenge, many of those responsible for education policy are seeking new management skills and new knowledge.

One of the major trends in contemporary education is the interest in "policy dialogue" as a central element in the construction, management and development of educational policies. However, recent international research has shown that the strengthening of this dialogue is hampered by the absence and/or deficiency of several indispensable skills. The strengthening of skills linked to consultation/negotiation/communication, as well as those linked to the construction of a vision for education in each country and at the international level, is particularly critical.

For policy makers and all those concerned by education systems, to work together and "to construct a vision" is both an absolute necessity and a major source of problems. This is particularly true for secondary education. Even if it is considered more and more part of "basic education for all", secondary education presents unique problems that are especially pertinent in the South. The Delors Report (1996) has identified deficiencies in secondary education in the following areas: imbalanced and insufficient relationship with the outside world, lack of relevance in the subjects taught and shortcomings in that part reserved for the acquisition of attitudes and values.

It is a matter of constructing an entirely new vision of continually evolving education systems. Such a vision is particularly necessary in the countries of the South that have adopted secondary education models from the North, founded in entirely different historical, cultural and economic conditions. In many countries, we are faced with a vacuum and the need is frequently expressed to have available in this domain international support likely to contribute to reflection and the implementation of new educational policies. On several continents, but particularly in the North, a great deal of experience in developing educational policies has been acquired in recent decades. There is, therefore, once again the risk of seeing some countries of the South importing models without sufficient critical perspective of what will ultimately be inadequate given their context and cultural environment. It is for this reason that a historical perspective and a comparative analysis of the question represent key elements in training for policy dialogue. Such an approach is possible because there have been numerous historical and comparatives studies of secondary education; however the re-reading of these texts from the point of view of the "transfer of models" has yet to be undertaken.

The objective of this project is to develop new approaches, methodologies and synergies concerning "training for policy dialogue" and the development of an international discussion in the field of education/training, principally focused on youth education (12 to 18 years) in the twenty-first century. The project aims to:

• systematize interdisciplinary knowledge about the education/training of young people to contribute to the international debate on education/training at the secondary level and the question of the "transfer of models";

• prepare training modules to encourage and develop policy dialogue in the fields of consultation/negotiation/communication and the construction of an integrated vision of the historical and comparative dimensions of secondary education;

• undertake, in co-operation with various partners, innovative and interactive training sessions on policy dialogue using an interdisciplinary approach and training modules prepared within the context of the project;

• suggest interdisciplinary approaches and activities likely to broaden and renew "policy dialogue", as well as the international dialogue on educational policies, particularly at the forty-seventh session of the International Conference on Education (Geneva, 2005).

Inspired by action-oriented, the project will develop a pragmatic approach aimed at the construction of interdisciplinary knowledge "through action" and "for action". Conceived as a "toolbox" and not as a "kit", the training modules will be prepared, enhanced and validated during these same training sessions and will favour the empowerment of the participants. The activities foreseen will be subject to continuous evaluation by an international reference team.

The grant provided by the GIAN for this project totals SFr 187,040

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Project Team

Mr Alfred Fernandez , Principal Member, Summer University on Human Rights (SUHR) .

Research Output

Political Dialogue and Education: African and Portuguese Experiences, in: Perspectives
(available in French only)
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Political Dialogue and Education, in: Perspectives
(available in Spanish and French)
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The History of Education and the Contemporary Challenge of Providing a Quality Education for All
(available in Spanish only)
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Secondary Teaching on a Global Scale: Seminar's Acts
(available in French only)
> more