International Development

Countries and their education systems are situated in a globalised world. CIER’s contribution to understandings of education and development lie in the area of the internationalisation of higher education and in leadership accountability as well as in Education For All at school level. The concept of ‘fragility’ has received attention in two major studies, on the role of education in fragility and on capacity development in education in fragile contexts. CIER takes a particular angle on school ‘quality’ which, in contrast to conventional analyses based on achievement and standards, focusses on cooperation and rights rather than competition and fear. The impact of global trends such as decentralisation has been examined in contexts such as Malawi, South Arica and Namibia. Extensive and sustained work on comparative education has enabled a broad understanding of research needs, and CIER has advised on research strategy for DFID. 

Outputs in this area include:

Quality Education in Ethiopia, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe (2010).

Quality in EducationResearch has recently taken place on the Quality Education Project (QEP) of Save The Children Norway, which is active in four African countries. The study found that overall the QEP was a successful project and that the significant strength and achievement of the QEP model is its success on focussing on the quality of teaching and learning  relationships and not just in quality in terms of physical resource inputs. It is also innovative in its use of action research to change teacher identity and classroom practice. QEP involves partnerships across the education system and between countries; it appeals and generates enthusiasm amongst educationalists in varying contexts and it has succeeded in capacity building via participatory, cooperative and non-imposed methods of operating. QEP provides an important and useful case study of how quality might be improved in schools in developing countries. See 2010 From Shouters To Supporters : The Quality Education Project (Oslo: Save The Children) – with David Stephens.

Rethinking the Needs of International Students: a critique of university internationalisation.

This seminar series brought together academics, policy-makers and students to explore how universities internationalise and what this should and does mean for international

Options for Education Research under DFID’s New Research Strategy (2009).

Commissioned by the Department for International Development, this report scoped research in the field of education and development, analysed DFID’s current contributions, and recommended ways forward.

Capacity Development for Education Systems in Fragile Contexts (2009).

This briefing paper was commissioned by GTZ/ETF and examines the particular needs for capacity development within education which would support state building. On-line at:$File/NOTE7UVHDR.pdf 

Understanding Education’s Role in Fragility (2010)

This report, commissioned by INEE, is a synthesis of four situational analyses of education and fragility, in Afghanistan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Cambodia and Liberia. On-line at

Academies in England and dysfunctional schools in South Africa

Funded by the National Research Foundation of South Africa, this project is investigating the possibilities of implementing an academy type school in South Africa to address the problem of underperforming schools. Tom Bischoff presented a paper at the 2010 BERA conference on this topic. More information on the Academies in England and dysfunctional schools in South Africa project.

Decentralisation of Education in Chiradzulu, Malawi (2000-2003).

This DFID funded study, conducted over 3 years, followed the progress of a decentralisation policy as it affected the operation of a district education office in rural Malawi. It raised some uncomfortable findings about how people understand and use new initiatives. Clive Harber & Lynn Davies (2003) 'Educational Decentralisation in Malawi: a study of process' Compare 33,1

Education for All (EFA) in Lebanon and Palestine.

This Middle East evaluation of EFA for UNESCO/EfC was based on fieldwork in Lebanon and Palestine, Including interviews with ministers, education officials and UN staff.

Major Books

Christine Corcoran and S Cooke (eds) 2009) Education Research, Education Researchers: Diverse Experiences and Perspectives

David Phillips and Michele Schweisfurth (2007) Comparative and International Education: an introduction to theory, method and practice. Continuum

Michael Crossley, Patricia Broadfoot and Michele Schweisfurth (2006) Forty Years of Comparative Education: changing contexts, issues and identities Routledge

Chris Williams (2006) Leadership Accountability in a Globalising World Palgrave Macmillan

Examples of papers

Schweisfurth, M (2010) Constructing the local and deconstructing the global in education. Comparative Education Vol 46, No 4

Bisschoff, T. & Mathye, A. 2009. The advocacy of an appraisal system for teachers: a case study. South African Journal of Education. 29: 393-404.

Schweisfurth, M and Gu, Q (2009): Exploring the Experiences of International Students in UK Higher Education: possibilities and limits of interculturality in university life. Intercultural Education, Vol 20, No 2.

Bisschoff, T. et al. The pedagogic principal and the pedagogic principle – stories of principals in South African schools. South African Journal of Education Leadership & Management (SAJELM), 1 (2), 133-145.

Bisschoff, T. 2009. Mandated change gone wrong? A case study of law-based school reform in South Africa. International Journal of Educational management. 23(4), 336-347.

Harber, C and Davies, L (2003) 'Educational Decentralisation in Malawi: a study of process' Compare 33,1

Williams , C (2003) ‘Global leadership, education and human survival’, World Futures, special issue, Survival research: proposal for a new discipline, 59: 299-311.

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David Phillips and Michele Schweisfurth (2007) Comparative and International Education: an introduction to theory, method and practice Continuum.