FreshEd #58 - Re-thinking Evaluations in Aid to Education (Joel Samoff)


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Hundreds of billions of dollars are spent on international aid each year. Most aid providers undergo periodic evaluations to assess their support. Have their policies worked? What priorities have guided aid? And what practices have been effective? With such large sums of money circulating in the evaluation process, an aid evaluation industry has emerged. Formal evaluations are undertaken by “experts” who are hired by companies that bid on evaluation contracts. Sometimes universities themselves bid on the same contracts. And professors navigate the tricky terrain of research-for-hire. Many of FreshEd’s listeners have likely participated in an evaluation of an aid project. I know I have. My guest today, Professor Joel Samoff, thinks it’s time to “re-think evaluations, from conception through method to use.” Joel Samoff is a Consulting Professor in African Studies at the School of Humanities and Sciences at Stanford University. He studies and teaches about development and underdevelopment, with a particular interest in education, and with a primary geographic focus on Africa. He has recently co-written a report for The Expert Group for Aid Studies entitled Capturing complexity and context: evaluating aid to education.

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