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Going to Scale: Nurturing the Roots of Education Innovation in Africa

Resource Type: 
Teaching/Learning Materials
Author(s): 
Joel Samoff
Martial Dembele
E Molapi Sebatane
Publisher or Sponsoring Organization: 
Association for Developing Education in Africa
Date Published: 
January 1, 2011
Abstract (200 Character Limit) : 

There are few documented cases of pilot education reforms in Africa that have been effectively scaled up to become nation-wide programmes. Our review of efforts to enlarge the scale of education initiatives and reforms across diverse settings in Africa confirms the importance of (a) charismatic and effective local leadership dedicated to scaling up, (b) strong local demand for the innovation at each site, and (c) adequate (not necessarily high level) funding. Orchestrated replication, however, often fails. That is so for two major reasons. First, enlarging scale may undermine or destroy promising reforms rather than spread them. Like 'appropriate technology, appropriate scale' may be large, small, or somewhere in between. Second, the importance of the local roots of this process suggests that mechanically replicating the specific elements of a reform in new settings will only rarely lead to a viable and sustainable outcome. Rather than reproducing the specific elements of the reform, what must be scaled up are the conditions that permitted the initial reform to be successful and the local roots that can sustain it. That involves finding ways to generate locally rooted demand for the reform and to support an informed and inclusive local participation in specifying the reform's content and form. That also requires making political space for the reform and protecting it from vested interests who perceive it as a threat and a bureaucracy whose efforts to routinize change often smother it.

Topic: 
Scaling Up/Scalability
Policy and finance
Target Audience: 
Implementers
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