International assistance to educational development of Kazakhstan: Donor -recipient interactions
With the decreased government funding for the educational restructuring in Kazakhstan since its Independence in 1991, international assistance became instrumental in supporting the educational reform in the country. As a result, interactions between donor agencies and the nationals of Kazakhstan in the aid process became central to the success of the educational reform.
The study explores the balance of power between the donors and the recipients in the identification, design, and implementation of aid-funded projects in Kazakhstan. This study is qualitative, and is based on a phenomenological approach. It is guided by the principles of a grounded theory process (Glaser & Strauss, 1967), in which theory emerges from the data.
In this study, I use qualitative methods such as interviews and document analysis to examine policies and practices of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Soros-Foundation-Kazakhstan (SFK). Through the conceptual framework of Argyris and Schon (1974), I examine espoused theories (policies) and theories-in-use (practices) of both donors and recipients in the context of development cooperation.
The literature review suggests that the development process generates a power asymmetry and dependency of the recipients on the West due to the “power of the purse” and “expert” status of international assistance agencies. Recipient countries accept donor interventions which may not be compatible with the country's needs and priorities, and remain secondary in the decision-making with respect to the deployment of aid in their countries.
In the analysis of the data, the theoretical framework of Mintzberg (1993) emerged as appropriate for assessing symmetry in the decision making process of aid-funded projects. The findings of the study suggest that structural parameters of development agencies and resultant distribution of decision making authority affect the balance of power between donors and recipients. While ADB's decision-making process is highly centralized and formalized, SFK's structure is decentralized. Centralized decision making in the context of aid has several shortcomings: highly hierarchical structures respond slowly to local initiative due to formalized communication patterns; a top-down approach stifles motivation and initiative, decreases room to maneuver, and diminishes necessary cooperation from recipients; highly centralized project arrangements run counter to the democratic ideals development agencies espouse.
Among conclusions of the study is a recommendation that more emphasis is put on enhancing recipient capacities to “develop, manage, research, and evaluate their own educational systems” (Jones, 1993, p. 149).
0277: School finance
0616: International law
0616: International relations