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One Size Does not Fit All – Post-2015 Development Agendas in Small and Micro States and Small Island Developing States

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Abstract:

Both proponents and critics often treat international development agendas like the Education for All (EFA) framework as universal concepts that are / can / ought to be uniformly applied to even the most diverse countries across the world. Despite its wide acceptance, this view does not do justice to the complexity of educational realities in different countries, though. A particularly interesting case – and a growing field of interest in comparative and international education – is educational research on small and micro states and Small Island Developing States (SIDS). Many of these states do not fit into “orthodox” cookie-cutter-models of global development targets, benchmarks, and agendas, such as EFA. Against this background, several authors have called for the reconceptualization of the ways in which we problematize smallness (Brock & Crossley, 2013; Crossley & Sprague, 2012; Jules, 2012). More specifically, some authors have proposed to move away from conceptualizing smallness through a “vulnerability paradigm” (Briguglio, 1995) that views small states largely from the perspective of economic, geographic, climatic, and other “weaknesses.”

The paper advances that small and micro states and SIDS should be treated with much more discretion. Educational research on small and micro states and SIDS – based on purely formal criteria like population size, geography, and ecology – often indiscriminately lumps together rather diverse states. We suggest that small and micro states and SIDS are often on the periphery of global education agendas, e.g. because they have already made international mandates their primary focus for years, or because international targets are too reductionist and unspecific to match their particular situation. We therefore discuss important theoretical and methodological implications of widening the notion of smallness in the post-2015 era, as this may help agents both in national and international spheres to better understand the situation of individual small and micro states and SIDS regarding e.g. the EFA process and, on that basis, to formulate more effective development frameworks in the future. While small states have traditionally often been viewed as passive recipients (Brock & Crossley, 2013; Crossley, 2008), this paper follows Jules’s (2012) call for an “anamorphic perspective” on educational fragilities and strengths in small and micro states and SIDS. We suggest that drawing on alternative definitions of small and micro states and SIDS, i.e. definitions that also include “soft” criteria like collective self-perceptions, external attributions etc., will significantly expand our grasp. For example, employing conceptual frameworks developed in “small political jurisdictions” (Baldacchino, 2012; Mayo, 2010) for research on small and micro states and SIDS, taking a distinctly “institutional perspective” (Brent, 2012), or categorizing phenomena like “Favelas or Shanty Towns” (Straubarra, 2012) as small states, are good starting points to revisit the raison d’être of small states research as well as the ways in which we conduct this research. With the focus on the Post-2015 agenda pivoting towards a focus on sustainability, the distinctive features and the role and function of smallness need to be questioned more than ever. From a theoretical perspective, moreover, the paper also proposes that more systematic, theory-driven comparisons are needed not only between but also within individual small and micro states and SIDS as well as between small and micro states and SIDS and “big” states.

Overall, this approach might benefit not only comparative educational research on small and micro states and SIDS but also EFA-related research at large. Also, the paper is of significance to the field of comparative and international education in that it amplifies (a) the challenges that are characteristic of small and micro states and SIDS and what “big” states can learn from small states in post-2015 period. (b) It shows necessary political, economic, and bureaucratic mechanisms that are already in place to deal with these challenges.
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Association:
Name: Comparative and International Education Society Annual Conference
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http://www.cies.us


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URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p717587_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Jules, Tavis. and Ressler, Patrick. "One Size Does not Fit All – Post-2015 Development Agendas in Small and Micro States and Small Island Developing States" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Comparative and International Education Society Annual Conference, Sheraton Centre Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Mar 10, 2014 <Not Available>. 2014-12-10 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p717587_index.html>

APA Citation:

Jules, T. D. and Ressler, P. , 2014-03-10 "One Size Does not Fit All – Post-2015 Development Agendas in Small and Micro States and Small Island Developing States" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Comparative and International Education Society Annual Conference, Sheraton Centre Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada <Not Available>. 2014-12-10 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p717587_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: Both proponents and critics often treat international development agendas like the Education for All (EFA) framework as universal concepts that are / can / ought to be uniformly applied to even the most diverse countries across the world. Despite its wide acceptance, this view does not do justice to the complexity of educational realities in different countries, though. A particularly interesting case – and a growing field of interest in comparative and international education – is educational research on small and micro states and Small Island Developing States (SIDS). Many of these states do not fit into “orthodox” cookie-cutter-models of global development targets, benchmarks, and agendas, such as EFA. Against this background, several authors have called for the reconceptualization of the ways in which we problematize smallness (Brock & Crossley, 2013; Crossley & Sprague, 2012; Jules, 2012). More specifically, some authors have proposed to move away from conceptualizing smallness through a “vulnerability paradigm” (Briguglio, 1995) that views small states largely from the perspective of economic, geographic, climatic, and other “weaknesses.”

The paper advances that small and micro states and SIDS should be treated with much more discretion. Educational research on small and micro states and SIDS – based on purely formal criteria like population size, geography, and ecology – often indiscriminately lumps together rather diverse states. We suggest that small and micro states and SIDS are often on the periphery of global education agendas, e.g. because they have already made international mandates their primary focus for years, or because international targets are too reductionist and unspecific to match their particular situation. We therefore discuss important theoretical and methodological implications of widening the notion of smallness in the post-2015 era, as this may help agents both in national and international spheres to better understand the situation of individual small and micro states and SIDS regarding e.g. the EFA process and, on that basis, to formulate more effective development frameworks in the future. While small states have traditionally often been viewed as passive recipients (Brock & Crossley, 2013; Crossley, 2008), this paper follows Jules’s (2012) call for an “anamorphic perspective” on educational fragilities and strengths in small and micro states and SIDS. We suggest that drawing on alternative definitions of small and micro states and SIDS, i.e. definitions that also include “soft” criteria like collective self-perceptions, external attributions etc., will significantly expand our grasp. For example, employing conceptual frameworks developed in “small political jurisdictions” (Baldacchino, 2012; Mayo, 2010) for research on small and micro states and SIDS, taking a distinctly “institutional perspective” (Brent, 2012), or categorizing phenomena like “Favelas or Shanty Towns” (Straubarra, 2012) as small states, are good starting points to revisit the raison d’être of small states research as well as the ways in which we conduct this research. With the focus on the Post-2015 agenda pivoting towards a focus on sustainability, the distinctive features and the role and function of smallness need to be questioned more than ever. From a theoretical perspective, moreover, the paper also proposes that more systematic, theory-driven comparisons are needed not only between but also within individual small and micro states and SIDS as well as between small and micro states and SIDS and “big” states.

Overall, this approach might benefit not only comparative educational research on small and micro states and SIDS but also EFA-related research at large. Also, the paper is of significance to the field of comparative and international education in that it amplifies (a) the challenges that are characteristic of small and micro states and SIDS and what “big” states can learn from small states in post-2015 period. (b) It shows necessary political, economic, and bureaucratic mechanisms that are already in place to deal with these challenges.


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