NEPC Review: Beyond the Mirage: How Pragmatic Stewardship Could Transform Learning Outcomes in International Education Systems (June 2019)
A report, Beyond the Mirage: How Pragmatic Stewardship Could Transform Learning Outcomes in International Education Systems, prescribes a shift in the leadership role of education ministers – from providers and guarantors of education to pragmatic stewards of education systems. Focusing on the organization of education sectors in the Global South, the report contends that this shift will address the need for higher quality education, rather than simply providing access to education. The “pragmatic stewardship” advocated in the report involves strategies that increasingly incorporate private actors. Accordingly, the report draws on four case studies of different types of private-sector involvement in education as examples of a broader shift by education ministers. However, each case contains limitations – some discussed, others not – that undermine their suitability as successful examples of divesting public education systems of their primary role as guarantors and providers of education. While the report claims to be “non-ideological” and “beyond the mirage” of the education privatization debate, the funders of the report (no publisher is listed) have a material stake in a main program cited as evidence, raising concerns about conflicts of interest. The use of questionable evidence and the conflicts of interest combine to render the report’s recommendations unsubstantiated.