23 SES 06 A, Education Governance
This presentation focuses on the role of philanthropy in the education governance. We present an ongoing study on the action of two collective actors that were recently born in Portugal by the initiative of philanthropic foundations, closely linked to the business world: EDULOG, a self-titled think tank created in 2015, and EPIS - Entrepreneurs for Social Inclusion -, an association created in 2016. Both collective actors assumed the mission of identifying problems, proposing solutions and, thus, influencing educational policies in order to improve the Portuguese education system. Cases will be use to analyse in a European social-cultural context the expression of the worldwide reconfiguration of philanthropic foundations.
Historically, philanthropy has been seen as an activity of palliative charity, a social virtue and an ethical principle. However, this form of private action has been clad in different "clothes" (Levy, 2016, p. 19). Throughout the 20th century, philanthropy was integrating the idea of "charity for development" (Ball & Olmedo, 2011), through which, in addition to funding, philanthropic action include aid to professional skills development and knowledge production (Reckhow & Snyder, 2014). However, today, philanthropy has been expanding and reconfiguring in what some authors call "new philanthropy" (Ball, 2012), which can be characterized, at least, by three features.
First, new philanthropy has a renewed concern with the clear and measurable impacts of its action, becoming more aligned with business strategies. Concerns about profit and aggressive return on investment have been intensified and the language used to describe philanthropic action now includes "risk" and "social return on investment", signalling its orientation to market rules (Scott, 2009). Some authors already draw attention to the proximity of this new philanthropy with the emergence and affirmation of a Global Education Industry (Verger, Lubienski & Steiner -Khamsi, 2016), particularly in USA, where new and old philanthropists formed a coalition of advocates for market-based educational reforms (Robertson & Verger, 2012).
Second, this new philanthropy adds to traditional financial support (as loans and grants) new instruments, such as consulting, coaching, mentoring and services to help design performance measurement devices. In education, this can include support to pedagogical experiences, teacher training, expertise services and the provision of data and knowledge to support more informed decisions (Lindquist, 2006, Ball, 2008, Savage, 2016, Bonal & Verger, 2016). It is interesting to note a certain isomorphism of this option with growing use by the State of new knowledge-based instruments, such as good practices, benchmarking and evaluation (Maroy, 2012; Barroso, 2013).
Third, new philanthropy emphasizes networking as a form of action. New philanthropists assume themselves as connectors and facilitators of new projects and financiers, allowing privileged access to information and expertise (Ball, 2008). As a consequence, new philanthropists create networks, institutionalized or not, between philanthropic foundations and other actors relevant to the definition of policies. Moreover, there are also the emergence of what appear to be confederations of philanthropic foundations; Network of Foundations for Development, created in 2012 by the OECD, seems a good example as it introduce itself as a global network of foundations "committed to optimizing the impact of development philanthropy" (netFWD, 2019).
In this presentation, EDULOG and EPIS will be presented as examples of the emergence and affirmation of this new philanthropy dedicated to education in Portugal. More precisely, we will explore their cognitive approach to the educational system, what instruments they use and the networks they activate and participate in.
EDULOG and EPIS are particularly interesting cases to study the emergence of new philanthropy and educational governance. They are both fairly recent in the Portuguese educational landscape and both have acquired a growing and important visibility on the media, partly thanks to activities they promote and to the individual actors involved in their composition (from political decision-makers, business executives and philanthropists). EDULOG was ‘born’ within a Belmiro de Azevedo Foundation, a philanthropic foundation created by one of the richest businessman in Portugal, Belmiro de Azevedo (1938-2017). EDULOG presents itself as a think tank specifically devoted to education with a public ambition to influence the education policy agenda. EPIS- Entrepreneurs for Social Inclusion is an association created in 2016 by 100 entrepreneurs. Even if it is not a philanthropic foundation, EPIS includes in its governing bodies representatives of philanthropic foundations that have intervened, more or less directly, in the education system and in schools. Although there are some works that, directly or indirectly, mention them [e.g., Dias et al (2016), Barroso (2014), Antunes (2016), Viseu e Carvalho (2018)], we aim to better know their attempts to influence education governance. The empirical work, which is still in progress, is inspired by network ethnography (Hogan, 2016), by mapping actors and events promoted by these two structures, using internet searches (website documents, flyers, Facebook publications, press clipping, call for application for research projects, conferences, seminars, etc.). We conducted a semi-structured interview with EDULOG's Secretary-General, and we intend to interview EPIS Diretor. This procedure will be used mainly to characterize what they advocate for the educational system and which instruments are put in to action to get it done. Using network analysis (Scott, 2000), we plan to map EDULOG’ and EPIS’ actors connections to several social worlds, as business, academy and educational administration. This analysis will be used to capture philanthropic foundations networking.
The study identify, describes and analyses EDULOG’ and EPIS’ characteristics concerning three central dimensions of “new philanthropy”, namely: 1) the concerns with return on investment; 2) the development of new instruments, beyond the traditional funding provision; 3) the networking as a form of action. Data collection and analysis are still ongoing. Still, it is already possible to point out two trends: (a) The development of new instruments to achieve their purposes in spreading solutions for the education system: conferences, teacher training, calls for research funding, and free digital platforms (including data on school and students performances); (b) Both EDULOG’ and EPIS’ can be described as policy-networks as they bring together diverse social worlds involved, by interests or causes, with the education sector, namely, policy, philanthropy, business and academy. Results will be discussed in the context of the worldwide expansion and reconfiguration of philanthropic foundations (Stone & Moran, 2016), through which philanthropy has played an increasingly important role in the orientation and influence of education policies (Kotthoff & Klerides, 2015).
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