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Civil Society


In the fall of 2005, CIDA funded an eight-country desk study to help inform its efforts to support civil society participation in education sector-wide programs. The study was carried out by a research team lead by Professor Karen Mundy - Director of CIDEC at OISE/UT - and supported by a smaller team under Professor Richard Maclure at the University of Ottawa. Building on this initial desk research, field-based studies were then conducted in Burkina Faso, Kenya, Mali and Tanzania through the funding of CIDA and the IDRC. In this study, we were interested in providing a baseline assessment of those civil society organizations (CSOs) involved in education sector processes, with a focus on better understanding the nature and extent of CSO activities and capacities in the area of education governance. Consequently, the study offers insight and information which can be usefully applied to the development of specific mechanisms to enhance the participation of CSOs in basic education within the context of the new aid architecture.

Final Report on Basic Education, Civil Society Participation and the New Aid Architecture: Lessons from Burkina Faso, Kenya, Mali and Tanzania

Executive Summary

Country Desk Studies

A cross-case report was produced which offers a brief overview of the research study and highlights some of the initial findings from the desk studies. The review is preliminary and descriptive, with analysis and generalizable findings being the focus of our field studies of Burkina Faso, Kenya, Mali and Tanzania.

Civil Society Participation and the Governance of Educational Systems in the Context of Sector-Wide Approaches to Basic Education (.pdf)

Country Studies

Field Studies

Field-based studies were conducted in Burkina Faso, Kenya, Mali and Tanzania through the funding of CIDA and the IDRC. Two master theses also came out of this study.

Masters Theses

Cherry, S. (2007). The quality of civil society participation in national education sector policy processes: A case study of Mali. Masters thesis. University of Toronto.

Haggerty, M. (2007). Strategies and sucesses in influencing education policy change: A study of the Tanzanian education network (TEN/MET). Masters thesis. University of Toronto. 

Project Goals

  • To provide a baseline assessment of the current capacities of civil society organizations in case countries to engage effectively in governance of the education sector.
  • To provide insight into the quality and effectiveness of civil society participation in the planning and implementation of sector-wide reform initiatives that CIDA and its development partners are currently pursuing.
  • To propose specific mechanisms to enhance the participation of national civil society organizations in the development and implementation of national education sector plans.
  • To investigate possibilities for a longer-term collaborative program of support for Southern civil society organizations interested in joining with Southern and Northern research and policy institutions to become more effective education policy advocates and partners.

In addition, the study aimed to produce a state-of-the-art piece of comparative research that analyzes issues of governance, educational change and the role of civil society organizations across a series of case countries. Cross-case comparison was used to better understand the sources of variation in the character, capacity, and scope for civil society participation in education sector policy and governance activities. It also helped us identify best practices and model initiatives for civil society engagement in the education sector.For further project information, please see:
IDRC Project Brochure (.pdf)


Principal Investigator

Dr. Karen Mundy (OISE/UT)


Dr. Richard Maclure (University of Ottawa)

Research Team

Suzanne Cherry, MA (OISE/UT)

Megan Haggerty, MA (OISE/UT)

Caroline Manion, Ph.D. (OISE/UT)

Colette Mvoto Meyong (Ph.D. Candidate, University of Ottawa)

Natalie Poulson, MA (OISE/UT)

Malini Sivasubramaniam-Davis (Ph.D. Candidate, OISE/UT)


The Civil Society and Education Governance project has benefited from the funding and technical assistance provided by the following partners:

Additional Resources on Civil Society Organizations and Education

Driving the Bus: The Journey of National Education Coalitions (.pdf)

Evolving Partnerships: The Role of NGOs in Basic Education in Africa (.pdf)

Funding Change: Sustaining Civil Society Advocacy in Education (.pdf)

National Civil Society Education Funds: A Briefing Paper (.pdf)

Local Solutions to Global Challenges: Towards Effective Partnership in Basic Education: Final Report (.pdf)

2005 Global Mid-Term Review Report (.pdf) & Appendices (.pdf)

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