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An investigation of possibilities and limitations of 'education borrowing' in Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago

This doctoral research investigates possibilities and limitations of 'education borrowing' in Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago in the midst of competing objectives of improving quality in secondary education, encouragement of 'sharing' by the international community and the impulses towards the 'centre'. Two types of 'borrowing' are identified. The first involves 'horizontal borrowing', in which countries borrow from each other in the manner suggested by UNESCO and Commonwealth Secretariat policy documents. The second involves 'vertical borrowing' in which states are influenced by policies from the 'centre', usually countries of powerful significance due to relationships with the metropole or in the bid to raise achievement. The thesis analyzes literature on both types of 'education borrowing' and identifies policies encouraging 'horizontal borrowing' by the international community. Fieldwork was undertaken to identify pulses of foreign influence and innovation for policies in Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago. 50 interviews and 87 hours of observation for the purpose of triangulation took place between January - November 2007. Respondents include teachers, heads of departments, senior school managers, policymakers, local academics and members of regional and international institutions. Mathematics curricula and teaching were selected as the focus for examining policy. Drawing on the policy review and fieldwork data, patterns of policy 'borrowing' in the Caribbean are uncovered and considerations for policymakers are noted. There are two main findings: 1) Despite encouragement by UNESCO and Commonwealth Secretariat policy documents, there was no evidence of 'horizontal borrowing' between Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago and 2) Possibilities for cross-national attraction were limited due to the overriding attention paid to the global 'centre' for 'vertical borrowing' rather than concern for regional growth and cohesion. There appear to be three tenets of limitations to 'horizontal borrowing': 1) Island policymakers look internationally for innovation, thereby rejecting policies advocating 'borrowing' from each other; 2) Sharing is not part of the island histories and cultures; and 3) Forces of tradition bind existing teaching and education values. Although some of the implications of this thesis may be valuable in other contexts, the findings cannot be extrapolated to the whole of the Caribbean, to other small states or to developing countries in general. As states are often treated similarly in policies advocating 'horizontal borrowing', more analysis is needed to unpack patterns of influence, dynamics of change and the needs of under-researched countries.
Date January 2009
CreatorsLam, Elaine Kayuet
PublisherBath Spa University
Source SetsEthos UK
Detected LanguageEnglish
TypeElectronic Thesis or Dissertation

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