chapter  9
24 Pages


A central theme of this volume, and one well supported by the various con-

tributors, is that much of the educational research that is carried out in de-

veloping countries is quantitative in nature, and dominated by assumptions

characteristic of the positivist paradigm. Here it is also argued that much

of this work is, itself, applied in nature and increasingly policy oriented. To

a large extent this has been influenced by international development assis-

tance agencies, and efforts to monitor the impact of prestigious, and expen-

sive, educational development projects. As is the case elsewhere, evaluation

has thus become a major concern for many policy makers, planners and re-

searchers intent on ensuring the most cost-effective use of scarce resources

in times of financial austerity (Lewin, 1991). Indeed, in the history of many

developing country education systems it is not uncommon to see the evolu-

tion of ministry research and evaluation units from origins relating to spe-

cific project evaluation initiatives (see, for example, Guthrie and Martin,

Reflecting international trends and the economic priorities of lend-

ing agencies such as the World Bank (Jones, 1992), much of this work has

focused upon what Scriven (1967) long ago identified as summative project

evaluation. The language of both government and aid-agency documents

often reveals a preoccupation with inputs and outputs, with performance

indicators that can measure the extent to which project goals have been

met, and with improved statistical data. This is valuable and essential

work, and in many developing countries related efforts to establish effec-

tive Educational Management Information Systems are now a central com-

ponent of contemporary reforms. Burchfield, Easton and Holmes (1994),

for example, discuss such developments in Botswana, and recent years have

seen similar developments in Belize, building rapidly upon initial Planning

Unit efforts to collate reliable data for the now annual Education Statistical Digest (Belize, 1994).