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Takala, Tuomas / Piattoeva, Nelli

Conceptions of development assistance to education in post-Soviet international discourse

The fall of the socialist system, and of the Soviet Union as a political entity, created a situation where external assistance to the transformation of the ex-Soviet countries into market economies and multi-party democracies became a legitimate domain of "development assistance". For the donor organizations, this situation presented an opportunity to widen the scope of their activities and raise their profile. But while the attractiveness of the ex-Soviet countries to the providers of development assistance was obvious, it was less clear what the possible legitimization was for interventions in the education sector. Firstly, the Soviet Union had an education system that functioned relatively well. Moreover, the USSR had been a provider of educational assistance to developing countries, and inside the USSR Russia was a source of models and resources to the education systems of the other Soviet republics.

The overarching question posed in this paper is, how has development assistance to education in post-Soviet countries, in general and in its particular modalities, been justified in the international (=Western) discourse. Through analysis of the discourses found in policy and project documents  we attempt to trace the changes from (1) the Soviet era, where the Soviet Union was a provider of educational assistance to developing countries, and Russia was a source of models and resources to the other Soviet republics, to (2) the situation, where the ex-Soviet countries were regarded as recipients of assistance from Western multilateral and bilateral agencies to the reform of their education systems, and more recently to (3) the current configuration where Russia has re-emerged as a donor in the international arena of development assistance while the status of the poorer ex-Soviet countries remains one of recipients.

Thursday 29 Oct, 13.45-15.45 SESSION 2
Panel: The Politics of Pedagogy: the Role of Education in the Cold War