This chapter shows how educational developments are always firmly rooted in sociocultural specifics, and needs be aware of these contextual factors in order to interpret what is happening and why it is happening. Broader social values, economic conditions and political priorities form complex amalgams that not only shape educational phenomena but also help understand them. As long ago as 1983, Inkeles and Sirowy analysed patterns of change across a large number of education systems and concluded that tendencies towards educational similarity were 'pervasive and deep. It is manifested at all levels of the educational system, and affects virtually every major aspect of that system'. Economically advanced states thus exert their influence on poorer countries at the 'periphery' who are manipulated by the core players into acting and thinking 'their way' about what is important in education and other spheres of life.