Plenary 5: Mobilizing Higher Education for Development Impact
August 24, 2011 — 10:15 a.m.
||Susy Ndaruhutse, CfBT Education Trust
||Gary Bittner, USAID/Office of Education
This session addressed Goal 2 of the Education Strategy and provided insight into current research on the role of higher education and leadership development. Gary Bittner from USAID’s Office of Education introduced the session by discussing the focus on outcomes in USAID’s new policy on human and institutional capacity development (HICD). He noted that assessments of higher education institutions are critical in order to show program impact.
Susy Ndaruhutse of the CfBT Education Trust introduced her research into the role that higher education plays in the development of leaders. To date, she has completed Phase One of a three-phase study, including a cross-country data analysis mapping the gross enrollment ratios (GER) of 164 countries against worldwide governance indicators like rule of law, stability, and government effectiveness. Her research team found that there is no one clear purpose for higher education, but rather three broad purposes: (1) to prepare the workforce for the global knowledge economy, (2) to relay the norms, values, and attitudes that are highly influential in the development of civil society, and (3) to help in the creation of elite leaders who are part of a broad middle class of socially engaged individuals.
The length of time for leadership impact to be evident is indicated by findings that the development of leaders through higher education can take over twenty years. By controlling for this time lag, the research team was able to infer causation, rather than just correlation. The findings also show a positive correlation between tertiary GER and indicators of good governance, though other factors are involved. Ndarahutse explained that higher education is a necessary, but insufficient condition for positive development outcomes, along with political, social, and economic conditions.
Ndaruhutse discussed ways that higher education has contributed to leadership for development, including creating a middle class that can hold leaders accountable and providing skills that allow individuals to become more responsible and adaptable. She noted that although the purpose of higher education institutions has evolved over time—from training the elite, to educating the masses, to providing universal higher education—most developing countries are still at the elite development stage. Donor support for higher education has also gone through cycles and the challenge now is to find the balance between support for basic education and support for higher education.
In Phases Two and Three, Ndaruhutse and her team will conduct further research on what forms of higher education are most influential in the development of leaders. This research will include case studies and lessons learned, and will be available on the CfBT website: www.dlprog.org.
Key take away points Though it can take a generation or more, higher education has a significant role to play in the creation of development leadership. Higher education is a contributing factor in democratic processes and improved governance.
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Ndaruhutse PPT (461 KB)