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Oxfam and the rise of development education in England from 1959 to 1979

By Donald Geoffrey Harrison


Abstract\ud During the 1960s and 1970s, non-government organisations (NGOs) in England\ud influenced public understanding of Third World development, through lobbying,\ud information and educational programmes. The largest NGO involved in the\ud schools' dimension of this movement for 'development education' was Oxfam.\ud Oxfam's Education Department made a contribution to theory and practice for\ud learning about Third World development, in a wider context of international\ud understanding.\ud Historical studies of changing educational policy during these two decades have\ud mainly focused on interactions between government and the teaching\ud profession, relating to official reports on the changing nature of schools, to\ud Schools Council curriculum development projects, and to Black Paper\ud emphases on standards. This thesis is innovative in its focus on the role of the\ud civic sector, as represented here by Oxfam and a network of organisations\ud which were seeking to improve learning in a specific area of knowledge, skills\ud and values.\ud The methods used to bring Oxfam's educational activity and influence to the\ud light of the present include analyses of NGO and government sources and of\ud interviews with practitioners. The findings show complex interactions within both\ud NGO and government fields and between the two fields. Oxfam's educational\ud visionaries were constrained by internal pressures like fundraising. Government\ud officials had varying views between education and overseas development\ud ministries on appropriate levels of support for development education. The\ud conclusion is that this lack of a co-ordinated understanding of development\ud education limited its entry to state education in England during the 1960s and\ud 1970s, even though Oxfam had a substantial role in the growth of the\ud movement

Year: 2008
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