23 SES 10 C, Policy Transfer, Translation and Transferability: A Kazakhstani Case, a Global Phenomenon
The papers in this symposium present the findings of a one year study, ‘Internationalisation and Education Reform in Kazakhstan’, jointly conducted by the Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge, UK and the Centre for Education Policy, Nazarbayev University, Kazakhstan. The main objective of the study was to reconstruct an education policy narrative of the last two decades of education reform in Kazakhstan and to re-trace the steps and decisions in establishing two educational entities – Nazarbayev University (NU) and Nazarbayev Intellectual Schools (NIS) – which aspire to be “world class”. Both entities are modelled on ‘good practice’ and standards in other societies, and are products of ‘policy transfer’ or ‘borrowing’. Our study involved two field trips to Astana in August and September 2012 in which a series of interviews was conducted (26 in total) with the key decision-makers in the government and the newly-established NU and NIS. As part of the same study, discussions were held with two focus groups consisting of six teacher-trainers attending Centres of (Pedagogical) Excellence (CoE) courses and twelve head teachers from Astana comprehensive schools.
The three papers within this symposium are concerned with the different meanings and mechanisms of policy translation. Translation here is understood in the widest possible sense: as (i) the transfer of policy and practice from the ‘international’ to the national context, (ii) translation of ideas from the national policy centre to the periphery (iii) translation of policy ideas into classroom practice; and (iv) the translation of educational ideas from one language to another.
In the development of the papers we shall be engaging with and critically examining, what can be called, the three established ‘paradigms’ of policy analysis. These are the ‘developmental’ paradigm represented by the studies from the OECD, World Bank, educational consultancies and other agents of neo-liberal globalisation; the ‘policy sociology’ paradigm which warns us against the myopia of ‘neo-liberal imaginary’ (Ball 2012; Ball & Junemann 2012; Fimyar 2011); and a ‘policy borrowing’ paradigm (Phillips & Ochs 2004, Silova 2005; Steiner-Khamsi 2004) which alerts us to the complexities and ethics of comparison and policy transfer.
Building on the existing literature, our analyses are guided by the languages, meanings and concepts that already exist in the field. During our fieldwork we noted a plethora of references to policy ‘transmission’ (Rus. peredacha, Kz. zhetkizu ), but also ‘translation’, ‘dissemination’, ‘transfer’, ‘replication’, ‘cascading’ or as Ruby and McLaughlin (in this symposium) put it ‘bringing good practice to scale’ (Elmore 1996). Thus, taking a ‘translation theory’ as a theoretical point of departure, the papers consider the post-2010 educational initiatives in Kazakhstan making parallels with the reforms in the OECD countries. In particular, the parallels are drawn between the developments and models of reform in the UK, USA, Mongolia and the former Soviet Union. In terms of methodology, the papers presented in this symposium demonstrate the use of case studies, discourse, and critical policy analysis as well as Bakhtian conversation analysis.
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