"Long in the game": Elite networks and the local-global nexus in consultative tertiary education policy making for a small state.

Year: 2007

Author: Polelo, Mino

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

In both developing and developed countries, education policies are shaped by socio-political and economic contexts in which they are constructed, and global discourses on education. Policy making is also a negotiated process that is highly political and contested. In Botswana, policy making is assumed to be an orderly process that is consensually driven. It is never problematised to dissect its politics. This paper, therefore seeks to examine the consultative tertiary education policy making process in Botswana, with a view to determine if it represents the interests of the participants in the consultation process or those of the state and other powerful social forces. The paper explores processes of consultative tertiary policy making and the power dynamics associated with it. Rooted within critical theory tradition, it draws from narratives of interview data, arguing that through inclusiveness and participation consultation hegemonises and legitimates policy in the interests of the state and elite networks. Consultation is also motivated by the desire to diffuse and contain threats to the policy process. Furthermore, pressures of globalisation are central to policy making in a Third World state, albeit anchored to the local context, principally symbolised by the state interests and the relatively autonomous bureaucratic-academic network.