Case Study of Developmental Leadership in the Philippines: Educational Experiences, Institutions and Networks

Case Study of Developmental Leadership in the Philippines: Educational Experiences, Institutions and Networks

This year-long research project, commissioned   by the aid branch of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade through the Developmental Leadership Programme ( is led by Professor Michele Schweisfurth; Dr Oscar Valiente is a co-investigator and the team also includes partners from the Universities of Birmingham, Oxford and Malaya. 


What kinds of education have leaders from lower-income countries experienced, and how has this shaped individuals and coalitions who have the power to facilitate development?  This question is at the heart of the project.  There are two important contexts for this research programme.  One is a growing understanding in development studies of the importance of leadership for sustainable development.  Economic growth, for example, depends on an educated population, but it also depends on leaders who are developmental rather than predatory.  Another important part of the context for this research is the recent emphasis on primary education provision by aid agencies and national governments, encouraged by global Education for All and Millennium Development Goals (MDG).  The question in the air is whether this emphasis has gone too far and whether the disinvestment in higher education and therefore in the elites it creates may ultimately be counterproductive in terms of development.  If state funding is directed to primary education, and quality is minimal and uneven, how will the right kind of leaders be educated, gain legitimacy, and join forces? 

As part of DLP's research in these areas, a case study of the Philippines has been commissioned, building on work done in Ghana by researchers from CfBT.   The research will explore many aspects of education, including the roles of pedagogy, the curriculum, institutional selectivity, school ethos, values and the hidden curriculum, mobility, extracurricular activities, and student (dis)empowerment.  The project will focus on the importance of particular institutions, coalitions and educational experiences to individuals, and how, through them, education may contribute to political and social change.  One of the key issues for exploration is how far the benefits of education and of development are distributed fairly in the Philippines, in keeping with the spirit of the Robert Owen Centre's priorities.   

The methodology consists of historical analysis, interviews with leaders of key social and political movements, and network analysis.  Historical analysis will identify key movements which brought about positive change, and also identify people who were central to the movement as individuals or coalitions.  Fieldwork will mainly involve interviewing as many of these individuals as possible, to explore their educational histories.  We will aim to understand the roles of these institutions and while their influence may have been historical, where relevant we will visit them.   Social network analysis will be used to illuminate the links between people within and across movements and institutions.  While education including higher education may well have had an important role to play, whether that role has been consistently positive is an open question.

The research will inform the ongoing debate regarding priorities for education in the post-MDG era, and the interdisciplinary nature of the research across education, development studies and politics will facilitate this.