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How Can Bottom-Up Approaches Break through Bureaucracy?

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How Can Bottom-Up Approaches Break Through Bureaucracy?

South African Education Reform as a Case of Governance and Inclusive Development

Book Talk & Discussion


How can advocates of participatory, inclusive development break through bureaucratic hurdles and implement meaningful reforms at scale that translate into improve quality of life for citizens?
How exactly do politics and governance issues affect the quality of basic service delivery?And what can a politically-sensitive systems approach to governance reform look like in local and sector-level applications? 


Join us for reflections on these integral questions for international development practitioners from Brian Levy, during this lunchtime book talk and discussion.


Lunch provided.

With messy democracies appearing to be more resistant to system-wide institutional reforms, advocates of participatory approaches to development increasingly are focusing on opportunities for institutional-strengthening at more local/micro and sectoral levels.

One natural arena to explore the intersection of politics/governance and service delivery is education - a sector with major continuing controversies about how to balance between more bureaucratic vs. participatory, citizen-led approaches to providing quality education in different contexts.

In this new book, The Politics and Governance of Basic Education: A tale of Two South African Provinces (Oxford U Press, 2018) Brian Levy and colleagues explore these controversies using a multi-level (national, provincial and school-level) and multi-disciplinary research approach. As Brian will highlight in this discussion, the research identifies limitations of top-down approaches to provision. It also identifies how participatory approaches can add value - both incrementally as a complement to hierarchy, and more broadly, via transformational “all for education” initiatives to re-orient the system towards learning.

This event is part of an ongoing series of conversations convened by the Open Gov Hub that focus on two of our strategic themes: adaptive learning/doing development differently, and on localizing open governance reforms. A few members of Open Gov Hub who focus on these issues will briefly respond to the remarks. Key concepts from the book will be delivered through three brief rounds of presentation, each followed by small group discussion on their practical application.


About the presenter:

Brian Levy joined the faculty at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in 2012, following a 23-year career at the World Bank, where he was at the forefront of sustained efforts to integrate governance concerns into the theory and practice of economic development. His work has explored how context matters in governance and development, and his new book offers insights on breaking through bureaucracy to achieve an inclusive, participatory approach to development. He is also currently Academic Director at the Nelson Mandela School of Public Governance, University of Cape Town.

Between 2007 and 2010 he was head of the secretariat responsible for the design and implementation of the World Bank Group's governance and anti-corruption strategy. He worked in the Bank's Africa Vice Presidency from 1991 to 2003, where his role included leadership of a major effort to transform and scale-up the organization’s engagement on governance reform. He has worked in over a dozen countries, spanning four continents. He has published numerous books and articles on the institutional underpinnings of regulation, on capacity development in Africa, on industrial policy, and on the political economy of development strategy. He received his PhD in economics from Harvard University in 1983.