Why do countries join international literacy assessments? an actor-network theory analysis with case studies from Lao PDR and Mongolia.

Addey, Camilla (2014) Why do countries join international literacy assessments? an actor-network theory analysis with case studies from Lao PDR and Mongolia. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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International assessments are a growing educational phenomenon around the world, increasingly picking up in lower and middle income countries and entering the space of global educational governance (Fenwick et al. 2014). Following the success of the OECD’s first international assessments, the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) set out in 2003 to develop the Literacy Assessment and Monitoring Programme (LAMP) to measure adult literacy levels across lower and middle income countries in a context-sensitive way. As international organizations rationalize international assessments as essential tools for policy (Rizvi and Lingard 2010) target lower and middle income countries, researching the rationales behind these countries’ participation becomes an urgent area of investigation.
In this thesis I enquire into what drives lower-middle income countries to join international assessment programmes through case studies of LAMP in the Lao PDR and Mongolia. Setting my research in the emerging field I define as International Assessment Studies, I argue that Lao PDR and Mongolia join international assessments for reasons that go beyond the need to inform policy (as stated by the UIS and the OECD) and to access foreign aid (Lockheed 2013). Different, and often contradictory interests are being played out through heterogeneous alliances (Latour 1996) which include human and non-human actors (including standardized testing instruments). Through the application of Actor-Network Theory, the data generated in my fieldwork suggests countries are joining the recent phenomenon of international assessments as a global ritual of belonging, comparing the gap with reference societies, and ‘scandalizing’ and ‘glorifying’ (i.e. statistically eliminating problems) with international data.
The thesis suggests that understandings of governmentality need to be revised in light of the international and comparative character of educational governance. My findings have implications for understanding the politics of reception of international assessments, but also for the upcoming Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) for Development which the OECD is in the process of developing – in a similar manner to LAMP – for lower and middle income countries.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Social Sciences > School of Education and Lifelong Learning
Depositing User: Users 2593 not found.
Date Deposited: 05 Feb 2015 09:29
Last Modified: 05 Feb 2015 09:29
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/52185

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