While the terminology may be new, the fact of technical assistance has been with us for decades-- perhaps, in a way, for centuries. Practically all of the types of activity now included under the term had been used long before, both domestically and internationally. Even though we may not think of them as technical assistance in the modern sense, such activities as extension services, the health work of The Rockefeller Foundation in many parts of the world, the agricultural and medical work of religious missions and of individual missionaries, especially when accompanied by education, and technical advisers provided by the United States Government to Latin American countries and by colonial offices of various countries-- all were and are real technical assistance.
Since World War II there has been such an expansion in technical assistance, in number and size of schemes, that the whole matter of development has taken on new aspects. And there is increasing awareness that we know far too little about social dynamics-- the process of social, particularly economic, development. We even are far from agreement on what constitutes development, so it is not surprising that we lack criteria for evaluating development projects.
But development must go on, and nations and other agencies are committed to assistance. Projects and programs must be devised, financed, and operated; people must be sent into the field. The public is asked to support assistance programs-- in aiding countries by taxpaying and other financial contributions, in recipient countries by cooperation and relinquishment of parts of their old cultures.
Most of the problems arising in connection with this surge of development activity fall under one of the following headings: (1) how to develop sound policies for agencies participating in development programs, (2) how to train people to participate in them, and (3) how to inform the interested public about the programs.
Since 1951 Haverford College has been concerned with the training of young people, at the graduate level, for participation in development projects. But there was such difficulty in securing appropriate teaching materials on assistance programs themselves that, with the aid of a grant from The Rockefeller Foundation, the College undertook the preparation of a series of case studies in the field of technical assistance -leading eventually to this volume. As the case-study project evolved, it became evident that the studies could be of use to the general public, in study groups and by individuals. It is hoped that they may also contribute somewhat to the thinking of policy makers and of students who are working on the theory of development.