The case of Beninese education reform in the 1990s is important for three reasons. First, the reform was initiated at the same time as—and has been an intrinsic part of—a historic political transition. In 1990 Benin moved overnight from a seventeen-year Marxist dictatorship to a multiparty democracy. This unexpected development both defined efforts to improve education and profoundly conditioned the implementation of these efforts.
Second, funding agencies promoted—and the government adopted—an approach to education reform that encompassed everything from pedagogy, to planning, to financial and personnel management. Funding agencies, particularly the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), conceived of the education sector as a system of interlocking components; reforms would only be sustainable, they believed, if these interlocking systems were addressed as a whole. Thus Benin presents a case of the implementation of a systemic reform effort.
Finally, the several-year absence of other active funding agencies and USAID's use of budgetary support (nonproject assistance, or NPA) as a policy instrument led to continuous and intensive negotiations between the Ministry of Education and USAID throughout the reform process. As a consequence, the education reform in Benin provides a unique case of policy dialogue between one donor and one government.
The story of education reform in Benin begins in 1990 with the development of a broad consensus around a dismal assessment: Benin's education system was in shambles. Primary education gross enrollment rates (GERs) had dropped from a modest high of 60 percent in the mid-1980s to a
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Publication information: Book title: Education Reforms in Sub-Saharan Africa: Paradigm Lost?. Contributors: Jeanne Moulton - Author, Karen Mundy - Author, Michel Walmond - Author, James Williams - Author. Publisher: Greenwood Press. Place of publication: Westport, CT. Publication year: 2002. Page number: 87.
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