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Narek Manukyan, 6 The Reform of the General Education System in Armenia: Education Policy Borrowing in a State of Democratization and Transitional Institutional Capacity in:

Wolfram Hilz, Shushanik Minasyan (Ed.)

Armenian Developments, page 77 - 100

Perspectives of Democratization and the Role of the Civil Society

1. Edition 2019, ISBN print: 978-3-8288-4287-8, ISBN online: 978-3-8288-7197-7, https://doi.org/10.5771/9783828871977-77

Series: Bonner Studien zum globalen Wandel, vol. 24

Tectum, Baden-Baden
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77 6 The Reform of the General Education System in Armenia: Education Policy Borrowing in a State of Democratization and Transitional Institutional Capacity Narek Manukyan 1 Introduction: The Notion of Policy Borrowing Policy borrowing is usually perceived as one of the most powerful means of driving education reforms globally although comparative education studies often voice concern about the applicability of borrowing and different education systems becoming more and more similar. Nonetheless, via global educational reform agendas and inclination for alignment to international best practice, multiple international organizations spur policy borrowing especially in various developing parts of the globe. While the notion of policy borrowing has been extensively covered in academic literature, there is few research on the rational for and the specific role of policy borrowing in transitional democratizing countries which typically have limited institutional capacity for development of autonomous policies. Armenia, having been extensively engaged in utilization of international consultancy and policy borrowing since its independence in 1991, presents an interesting case for such analysis. This analysis adds to the academic literature of studies of policy borrowing by providing case-based insights into the rational and role of policy borrowing in a transition society with weak institutional capacity for locally-developed policies. 78 anything of practical value from the study of 1 In more than a century after the British historian and educationalist Sir Michael Sadler posed this, to some extent, eternal question of comparative education studies, the volume and role of education policy borrowing across the world have largely increased. Various concepts (such as bandwagoning, convergence, diffusion, policy learning, social learning, learning from elsewhere, emulation, lesson drawing, policy traveling) have emerged to define the notion of policy borrowing in a broader scope.2 The notion itself can be defined, paraphrasing Dolowitz and March, as a process by which knowledge about how policies, administrative arrangements, institutions and ideas in one setting (past, present or future) is used in either the development or abandonment of policies, administrative arrangements, institutions and ideas in another setting.3 question there currently is a huge amount of media content and available international comparative research that calls for adopting or abandoning this or that education policy, there are global rank- 1 Bereday, George: Sir Michael Sadler's "Study of Foreign Systems of Educat Comparative Education Review, Vol. 7, No. 3, 1964, p. 307. 2 See Ikenberry, John: The International Spread of Privatization Policies: Inducements, Learning, and Policy Bandwagoning, in: Suleiman, Ezra & Waterbury, John (eds.): The Political Economy of Public Sector Reform and Privatization, Boulder, 1990, pp. 88-110; Bennet, Colin: What is Policy Convergence and What Causes It?, in: British Journal of Political Science, Vol. 21, No. 2, 1991, pp. 215-233; Majone, Giandomenico: Cross-National Sources of Regulatory Policymaking in Europe and the United States, in: Journal of Public Policy, Vol. 11, No. 1, 1991, pp. 79-106; May, Peter: Policy Learning and Failure, in: Journal of Public Policy, Vol. 12, No. 4, 1992, pp. 331-354; Hall, Peter: Policy Paradigms, Social Learning and the State: The Case of Economic Policymaking in Britain, in: Comparative Politics, Vol. 25, No. 3, 1993, pp. 275-296; Philips, David: Learning from Elsewhere in Education: Some Perennial Problems Revisited with Reference to British Interest in Germany, in: Comparative Education, Vol. 36, No. 3, 2000, pp. 297-307; Howlett, Michael: Beyond Legalism? Policy Ideas, Implementation Styles and Emulation-Based Convergence in Canadian and U.S. Environmental Policy, in: Journal of Public Policy, Vol. 20, No. 3, 2000, pp. 305- 329; Rose, Richard: Learning from Comparative Public Policy: A Practical Guide, London, 2004; Silova, Iveta: Traveling Policies: Hijacked in Central Asia, in: European Educational Research Journal, Vol. 4, No. 1, 2005, pp. 50-59. 3 See Dolowitz, David & Marsh, David: Learning from Abroad: The Role of Policy Transfer in Contemporary Policy-Making, in: An International Journal of Policy and Administration, Vol. 13, No. 1, 2000, pp. 5-24. 79 ings of countries based on the level of education they provide and a certain amount of alignment in between the education systems of various countries. The rise of Western hegemonic dominance over the rest, as Niall Ferguson calls it, has created an environment of norm-setting where, by means of voluminous large-scale comparative educational research, lavishly funded by international organizations, certain ideologies, practices and policies are identified as international best standards and practices applicable across the world.4 The World Bank alone, for instance, has produced around 4.000 papers, books and reports in just 7 years in the period of 1998-2005. The review opment economists from international top universities, showed that some outstanding work has been done, sometimes with huge impact on shaping ideas for development globally.5 The PISA for Development (OECD), Education for All movement and Education 2030 framework (UNESCO/World Bank), PIRLS and TIMSS (International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement) are just a few examples of platforms, established by international organizations that spur policy borrowing through formulation and promotion of global education agendas, norms and standard practices across the world. However, it is worth to note that this growth has been witnessed in the context of Sadler and the academic literature questioning the applicability of borrowing and warning against the possibility of adverse effects. Alignment to international standards through policy borrowing, thus, has quickly turned into both a policy itself and a policy catchphrase commonly used by policy-makers around the globe for various purposes. Policy borrowing has been utilized not only to denote participation in the world society or to signal modernity but also to leverage public support for local policies loosely related to refer- -referential discur- .6 As a policy itself, policy borrowing has played and 4 See Ferguson, Niall: Civilization: The West and the Rest, London, 2012. 5 See Banerjee, Abhijit et al.: An Evaluation of World Bank Research, 1998- 2005. Review Report, Washington, D.C., 2006. 6 See Steiner-Khamsi, Gita (ed.): The Global Politics of Educational Borrowing and Lending, New York, 2004; Schriewer, Jürgen & Brian Holmes (eds.): Theories and Methods in Comparative Education, Pieterlen, 1988. 80 continues playing a key role in the context of transitional developing societies which more and more act in the ethos of alignment to the standards and practices of western dominant players in education. Academic literature of the field, however, is not rich with studies of the rational and niche role that policy borrowing plays in these environments. Policy-making in transition societies which typically have weak institutional capacity posits an interesting case for analysis in terms of the rational and the long-term impact on the system, content and role of education. Armenia is one such state in transition. Having been part of the Soviet Union, the country had little freedom to develop its own education policies and its education professionals could gain only limited experience in education policy-making. Thus upon independence from the Soviet Union Armenia was challenged with limited institutional capacity for education policymaking and has been subject to significant policy-level influences from various international organizations. This environment provides ample opportunity to examine the rational and role of policy borrowing (both short-term and long-term). 2 Background of Policy Borrowing and Rational for Current Analysis Armenia gained its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 in a context of euphoria around independence and democratization (a turnout of 95% of voters with 99.5% voting in favor of independence and a turnout of 70% of voters during the first presidential elections)7 on one side and national emergency on the other.8 Dissolution of the Soviet Union left Armenia, after almost 70 years of soviet rule, on the threshold of expectations for democratization and transition to market economy with all the impact these would have on reconceptualization of the content, role and system of education in large and general education, as a state prerogative, specifically. National emergency reduced the expenditure on education from 7 See Nohlen, Dieter, Florian Grotz & Christoph Hartmann: Elections in Asia and the Pacific: The Middle East, Central Asia and South Asia, Oxford, 2011. 8 See ibid; World Bank: Armenia-Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper and Joint World Bank-IMF Staff Assessment, Strategy Paper, Washington, D.C., 2003. 81 7.2% of GDP (11.2% of total government expenditure (TGE)) in 1992 to 4.9% (6% of TGE) in 1993, 2.0% (4.5% of TGE) in 1994 keeping a trajectory of 2% until 1999.9 Decline in public funding of education led to decline of a total 20% enrollment across all levels of education, decline in per-student expenditure for general education (from US$ 600 in 1985 to US$ 30 in 1997), decline in teacher salaries and the number of teachers, and forced parents to meet certain costs of education through informal charges though around 31% of the population, by World Bank poverty estimates, could not survive these expanses (World Bank, 2003).10 In addition to all the above-mentioned challenges Armenia inherited a large Soviet infrastructural legacy (i.e. large network of school buildings) with more than half of the technical school equipment in use being at least 20 years old.11 Following its independence in 1991 Armenia engaged into a process of educational transition from the Soviet totalitarian system in search for a new model. Transition of general education in Armenia started with adoption, by the Ministry Board of National Education, of a policy document titled About the National Unified Primary- Secondary School in 1990, still under de jure Soviet rule, which aimed at reforming the system and content of general education.12 The euphoria around independence and democratization triggered reforms largely related to the content of education. These reforms included depoliticizing the content of education through circulation of transitional programs and textbooks; nationalizing education through institutionalization of the Armenian language as the main language of instruction and closing Russian-language schools; redefining the content and principles especially for teaching Armenian language and literature, Armenian history and geography; redefining the content and scope of humanities education in alienation 9 See World Bank: Armenia-Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper and Joint World Bank-IMF Staff Assessment, Strategy Paper, Washington, D.C., 2003, pp. 73-75. 10 See World Bank: Armenia-Education Financing and Management Reform Project (formerly called Health and Education Development Project), Staff Appraisal Report, Washington, D.C., 1997, p. 2. 11 See Armenian National Commission for UNESCO. Republic of Armenia: Educational Policy Making During a Situation of National Emergency, Evaluation Report, Geneva, 1994, p. 5-7. 12 See ibid, p. 25. 82 from the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects dubbed as parts of technocratic Soviet education.13 From the sociological perspective of structure and agency, the field of general education in Armenia represented a sector probably equipped with lowest level of institutional capacity to meet the new challenges of the larger reform agenda for democratization and transition. The Soviet law on education of 1974 and the Soviet constitution of 1977 largely limited the capacity of member states to develop autonomous education policies. The World Bank funded Education Financing and Management Reform Appraisal Report of 1997 noted: “Armenian education professionals had limited experience in functions that were formerly carried out in Moscow and have been isolated from international debate and exposure to current practice in their field.”14 In addition to weak institutional capacity Armenia also maintained an unstable institutional governance of the field of education during the first five years after independence. The country maintained two separate ministries of education responsible for general and higher education including science; during that time each ministry had three ministers.15 The period of transition lasted for around 9 years until the adoption of the Law on Education in 1999 which defined the principles and structure of the new system of education (including general education) and served as a foundation for future policies. Since the year of 1993-94 Armenia started receiving significant international technical and financial assistance to formulate new policies aimed at development of general education. These policies introduced various notions and strategies in the context of the reconceptualization of the system of general education to adjust to the processes of democratization and transition. Adoption of the Law on Education 13 See ibid., p. 16. 14 World Bank: Armenia-Education Financing and Management Reform Project (formerly called Health and Education Development Project), Staff Appraisal Report, Washington, D.C., 1997, p. 6. 15 See Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Armenia: Website of the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Armenia, available at: http://www.gov.am/en/structure/9/ (19 April 2018). 83 (hence Law) in 1999 was preceded by three key policy-level developments in the field of general education that have made significant impact on reconceptualization of the new system of general education introduced by the Law. The key three policy-level developments included: a) introduction of the first comprehensive education policy evaluation report (hence Report) in 1994 by both ministries with significant financial and technical assistance from UNESCO, b) introduction of a government strategy (hence Strategy) for general education reforms in 1997, and c) provision of the first international loan for general education reforms in 1998 by the World Bank. This article analyses the rational for policy-borrowing and role (both short and long-term) that it has played in reconceptualization ucation system in the period of postindependence transition (1991-1999). The study analyzes the above-mentioned key policy-level developments within the methodological perspective of policy as a discourse as conceptualized by Ball drawing on a number of documents related to the highlighted policy-level developments.16 It uses the classifications of the type and content of policy borrowing suggested by Phillips and Ochs as a framework for analysis.17 The article adds to the academic literature of studies of education policy borrowing by providing case-based insights into the rational and role of policy borrowing in a transition society with weak institutional capacity for locally-developed policies. 3 The ‘six foci’ of Attraction: the Role and Rational of Policy Borrowing Inquiry into the content of policy borrowing from the perspective of the discourse that the borrowed content helps to explore the actual role that policy borrowing has played. Philips & Ochs suggest that the content of policy borrowing or transfer can be categorized using a framework based on six content areas or focus areas (i.e. foci) of 16 See Ball, Stephen: Politics and Policy Making in Education: Explanations in Policy Sociology, London, 1990. 17 See Phillips, David & Ochs, Kimberly: Processes of Policy Borrowing in Education: Some Explanatory and Analytical Devices, in: Comparative Education, Vol. 39, No. 4, 2003, pp. 451-461. 84 borrowing: 1) guiding philosophy or ideology, 2) ambitions and goals, 3) strategies, 4) enabling structures, 5) processes, 6) techniques.18 Two core and three complementing documents related to the three key policy level developments of the transition period have been chosen as sources for discourse analysis. The two core documents include the report by the Armenian National Commission for UNESCO in 1994 titled Armenia-Education Financing and Management Reform Project 19 and the strategy for general education reforms titled Strategy for Reform of the General Education System of the Republic of Armenia 20 in 1997. The complementing three documents relate to the first World Bank loan which, as indicated later, acts as a discursive link between the report and the strategy. These documents include: a) the letter of Development Policy between Armenia and the World Bank of 1994-95 that sets volvement in Armenia in large, b) the World Bank Country Assistance Strategy of 1997, c) the Staff Appraisal Report of 1997 related to the first loan (Education Financing and Management Reform) in general education. Summary analysis of the above-mentioned documents is presented below. 4 The Influx of Neoliberalism Being the first comprehensive education policy document developed with extensive financial and intellectual support of an international agency (UNESCO), the Report acts as a first natural choice for discourse analysis within the context of policy borrowing. Preparation of the Report started in 1993 with the establishment of a local working group of six high-level experts/policy-makers. The group consisted of the director of the Research Institute for Pedagogic Sciences and the head of the Scientific Group for Primary- Secondary Education Management both under the Ministry of General Education, the senior officer of the Research Center for Higher Education Problems under the Ministry of Higher Education, secre- 18 See ibid., pp. 453-454. 19 See Armenian National Commission for UNESCO. Republic of Armenia: Educational Policy Making During a Situation of National Emergency, Evaluation Report, Geneva, 1994. 20 See World Bank: Armenia-Education Financing and Management Reform Project (formerly called Health and Education Development Project), Staff Appraisal Report, Washington, D.C., 1997. 85 taries of the Armenian National Commission for UNESCO and the deputy minister of general education. The process of report drafting included gathering of opinions from local expert community, utilization of public opinion polls regarding the more problematic issues and involvement of significant consultancy provided by UNESCO in developing the analysis of the state of education and relevant recommendations for its improvement. The Report consists of three sections a) description of the state of education and peculiarities of the reform context, b) main principles of the new education system and reform directions, c) immediate reform policies already in preparation at the time of writing the Report. On a discourse level these three sections outline the general perceptions of the authors about the state of education (its positive and negative aspects) and about the means of policy-making to make improvements. Being a comprehensive and inclusive document, the Report largely reflects the general thinking prevalent at the time at least among the key policy-makers. Analysis of the Report reveals that perceptions about the state of education and means for improvement largely hinge on two broad contextual notions which are often utilized to either justify or present an argument. These are the notions of democratization and transition to market economy later found intertwined in all other documents analyzed. These notions function as axes that policy borrowing evolves around and creates a discourse of novel reform-thinking. The notion of democratization evolves from vagueness to specificity in a spectrum of almost immediate change. The use of democratization, in the first paragraphs of the Report related to the description of the context, fulfills two roles. Democratization first acts as an undefined post-independence euphoric ambition to be reached. Labeled simply as a new reality, the Report posits that democratization requires policy-makers to redefine and restructure the system of general education providing no indication as of what that restructuring should imply. Secondly, democratization is treated as a means for national progress which gives the nation a chance for freedom and ownership of the state which, prior to independence, belonged to multiple nations with very limited rights for each. Within this context, general education is specifically viewed as a means for establishment of a national statehood via upbringing of 86 patriots largely in a nation-state perspective with no indication of the civic aspect. The vagueness of the notion, however, quickly disappears in subsequent sections of the Report that outline the principles and means for policy-making to improve the state of education in the country. Democratization becomes first specified surprisingly within the context of analysis of the Soviet system of education. Evaluation of the Soviet system acts as a point of departure to build the discourse of what the new system should look like taken into account the need for democratization and transition-oriented restructuring. Several paragraphs are first devoted to the positive educational achievements of the Soviet system with one paragraph (p. 11, the Report) social, cultural and economic development. However, subsequent paragraphs breach from the positive account by introducing new notions into the discourse. A statement of broad generalization is made that the S development needs in full and three paragraphs are devoted to the causes of the problem without sufficient justification or proof of statements. Among the deficiencies of the Soviet state of education, the Report primarily emphasizes centralization of the system of education management, lack of autonomy of educational institutions, lack of flexibility in structure and contents, existence of a state monopoly over education and lack of alternatives. Thus, the authors make use of largely manipulative arguments to introduce new notions into the discourse of restructuration of the system of education and future reform-thinking. Building upon the above-mentioned notions and the point of departure on one side and on the ambition of post-independence democratization on the other, the Report then re-introduces democratization in a new connotation. The notion turns into a state guarantee for a new education system defined as a set of core principles any future policy-making aimed at restructuring of education should hinge on. These principles include democratic administration of education; guarantee of multiple levels and forms of education; flexibility of structure and contents of education; redefinition of the role of the ministry; governance and norm-setting; standardization and performance monitoring; delegation of responsibilities to regional, local and institutional levels. The Report specifies the notion of 87 education management is inadequate during the transition period and later years. 21 While the notion of democratization evolves through the discourse, the notion of transition is presented in its very economic context right from the beginning. Multiple references are made to the transisual characteristics of the current transition period were sharply “[…] the current budget deficit and the lack of resources for the implementation of social development programmes have all had a negative impact on education and science.”22 Referencing to above-mentioned statements and actual decline in state funding of education, the Report articulates a discourse of policy-making that views education largely within the ethos of transition to market economy. Stylistic analysis of the sections that outline the principles of future education policy-making in relation to transition develop a discourse that makes extensive use of market language with introduction of complementary notions of competition, free choice, market-fit, supply and demand, as well as individual responsibility. Education is presented as a state burden void of competition and requiring increasing levels of public spending without relevant incentives on the demand side. The latter is further exemplified by the suggestion to decrease the number of years of free compulsory education from 10 to 8 years (the Report notes that around 63% of teachers favored the shift to compulsory schooling of 8 years) and provide additional 2 years of free upper secondary education only to those who win the competition of testing upon completion of basic education.23 The role of the state in education is viewed as a monopoly which limits the rights of people for private education. The notion of free choice of schools is articulated within this context. The 21 Armenian National Commission for UNESCO. Republic of Armenia: Educational Policy Making During a Situation of National Emergency, Evaluation Report, Geneva, 1994, p. 22. 22 Ibid., p. 13. 23 See ibid., p. 14. 88 notion of market-fit is presented in the context of both the systemlevel flexibility to meet the needs of the market as well as contentlevel alignment of supply to employee demands. Lastly, individual responsibility is introduced by arguing that schools should be able to fundraise for themselves beyond relying on the state funding, that parental fees (parents incurred high costs of tutoring as a result of the quality decline in education presented above) should be formalized to fill in the school budgets, that schools should gain autonomy to decide on their budgets and salary levels of personnel as well as to engage in entrepreneurial activities. The notion of transition thus adds new notions to those added by democratization creating an entirely new discourse of system restructuration that can meet the larger agenda of democratization and transition reforms in the country. This inclination is vividly exemplified by the Report stating that progressive development of the system of education comparable to that of economy (meaning reforms aimed at transition into a market economy) needs to be secured.24 It is worth to note, however, that democratization of the content of education in the context of transition still remains a largely unchartered territory within the Report. Furthermore, a connotation of indoctrination can be observed probably stemming from the nation-state patriot-driven perception of democratization. The Report states that the “[…] content should be upgraded to match the scientific and technical development, national and cultural demands in the process of teaching and learning should be met and a comparatively firm body of knowledge should be given to students.”25 Thus, the utilization of the contextual factors of democratization and transition, as outlined earlier, leads towards development of a system restructuration discourse that follows a subtle logic of problem and solution. The underlying logic of problems that urge to utilize specific principles stated in the Report for system restructuration matches almost ideally with the logic of challenges expressed in the Report on Governability of Democracies to the 24 See ibid., p. 16. 25 Ibid., p. 17. 89 Trilateral Commission about the crisis of democracy.26 The challenges of democracies becoming ungovernable because of the inability to handle the growing complexity of demands from large number of partcipants and growing dissatisfaction of citizens from the scrutiny of policy-making that results in alientation civic apathy often dubbed as civic irresponsibility by the same policy-makers thus echoes perfectly to the scarce arguments in the Report about the need to change the system of education to increase individual responsibility. Similar to the trilateral report which created a discourse for classical liberal theories to reinvigorate in the 1980s, the scarce arguments in the Report help create a largely neoliberal discourse of principles and strategies as potential solutions. The notions of decentralization, privatization, standardization, performance monitoring, competition, free choice, individual responsibility and school engagement in entrepreneurial activites are presented as key priciples for effective reforms in the field of education in large and general education specifically. These notions resonate deeply in the doctrine of neoliberalism and its application in education reforms.27 Phillips and Ochs describe five types of policy transfer from the perspective of the relationship between the borrower and the lender: (1) imposed policy transfer (in autocratic environments), (2) policy transfer required under constraint (in defeated/occupied countries or under hegemonic influence), (3) policy transfer negotiated under constraint (required by bilateral/multilateral agreements), (4) purposeful transfer or borrowing (international copying of poli- 26 See Crozier, Michel, Samuel Huntington & Joji Watanuki: The Crisis of Democracy Report on Governability of Democracies to the Trilateral Commission, Commission Report, New York, 1975, pp. 1-9. 27 For further reference see: Ball, Stephen: Neoliberal Education? Confronting the Slouching Beast, in: Policy Futures in Education, Vol. 14, No. 8, 2016, pp. 1046-1059; Bronwyn, Davies & Peter Bansel: Neoliberalism and Education, in: International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, Vol. 20, No. 3, 2007, pp. 247-259; Klees, Stephen: Neoliberalism and Education Revisited, in: Globalisation, Societies and Education, Vol. 6, No. 4, 2008, pp. 409-414; Lakes, Richard & Carter, Patricia: Neoliberalism and Education: An Introduction, in: Education Studies A Journal of the American Educational Studies Association, Vol. 47, No. 2, 2011, pp. 107-110; Ross, Ebyew: Neoliberalism and Education Reform, New York, 2007. 90 cy/practice observed elsewhere), or (5) voluntary policy transfer (introduced through general influence).28 Being developed in the context of the global rise of neoliberalism in education, the Report plays the key role of introducing neoliberalism and its strategies as core principles for future reforms aimed at restructuration of the system of education in large and general education specifically. Analysed against the framework of relational categorization of policy borrowing indicated above it is safe to note that an implicit introduction of a new ideology into the policy-making discourse is witnessed. The thinking of authors implicitly turns, from the vagueness of the ambition of democratization (from a nation-state context) and transition to market economy, into a neoliberal mindset utilizing the very notions of democratization and transition. Policy borrowing in this case occurs quite implicitly by building a new discourse upon the lack of knowledge, vagueness of perceptions and urgent needs that seem unaddressable by the current system. The publication of the Report in 1994 marks not only the implicit introduction of neoliberalism as core ideology for reconceptualization of the system of education. It is also the first case of explicit statement of the need for policy borrowing. The argument for the latter is implicitly developed referencing to democratization and transition to market economy treated as new realities that require qualitative structural adjustments in line with international practices. The Report makes several claims about the former education system not meeting the ongoing changes in the country, about qualitatvely new approach in education being required to enable development of modern sectors of industry and insurance of adaption of population to new processes. Building the contextual background the Report then links the need for structural adjustment to the notion of acquiring information or 29. The Report, more than once, states the fact of Armenian policymakers and expert community being in a certain information vacuum referring to the lack of information about structural 28 See Ochs, Kimberly & David Phillips.: Towards a Structural Typology of Cross-national Attraction in Education, Lisbon, 2002. 29 Ibid., p. 297. 91 changes, successses and failures in other countries of the former Soviet Union. Furthermore, the necessity to acquire such information is regarded as a top-level priority and international assistance is welcomed specifically within this context. Referring to the preparation work done to draft the Report, the authors state that “[…] time was needed to re-evaluate our experiences of the past 70 years to think of ways and possibilities to adopt suitable methods and patterns from them (other countries).”30 Thus, while it seems that the rational for policy borrowing is the necessity or goal for structural adjustmenents, this does not function as the core rational for actual policy borrowing. The need for adjustment although falls into a branch of academic studies of policy borrowing that view adjustment as a means for policymakers to denote participation in the world society or to signal modernity.31 Nonetheless, the numerous statements about the lack of stance, labeled as significant intellectual support in drafting recommendations and anticipation of international comment to improve the decisions indirectly point to the gaps in knowledge and institutional capacity. The Report also institutionalises policy borrowing as a means of compensating for the institutional capacity on the longer term. Effective utilisation of international experience is defined as one of the four core objectives of educational reforms while no reference is made to development of local policy-making capacity.32 A vivid example of treatment of policy borrowing as a compensation for institutional capacity was the statement of anticipation by the Report for UNESCO to help develop in full detail the 10-year strategic pro- Program for Development of the Pri- 30 Armenian National Commission for UNESCO. Republic of Armenia: Educational Policy Making During a Situation of National Emergency, Evaluation Report, Geneva, 1994, p. 15. 31 See Spreen, Carol Anne: Appropriating Borrowed Policies: Outcomes-based Education in South Africa, in: Steiner-Khamsi, Gita (ed.): The Global Politics of Educational Borrowing and Lending, New York, 2004, pp.101-114, p. 105. 32 See Armenian National Commission for UNESCO. Republic of Armenia: Educational Policy Making During a Situation of National Emergency, Evaluation Report, Geneva, 1994. 92 mary- Developed with significant technical assistance and strong willingness to borrow policy, the Report turned into the first sector-wide case of voluntary borrowing as specified by Phillips and Ochs in the rational of compensating for institutional capacity.33 5 The Institutionalization of Neoliberalism While the Report implicitly establishes the neoliberal ground of policies aimed at reconceptualization of the system of general education by introducing ambitions, notions and strategies, the Strategy of 1997 advances and institutionalizes the neoliberal discourse of democratization and transition to a governmental level. To fully explore the content-specific nature of policy borrowing inquiry into the context and discourse analysis of related documents is required. The Strategy was introduced in 1997 and circulated officially with the World Bank in advance of signing the first contract on credit financing education reforms in 1998. Starting in 1994 Armenia and the World Bank engaged in a dialogue which culminated in a set of three core documents: a) Letter on Development Policy (hence LDP) in 1994, b) Staff Appraisal Report regarding the first loan in education management and finance in 1997, c) Country Assistance Strategy in 1997. 34 LDP presents the agreed agenda for reforms as a conditionality for the B It articulates a highly neoliberal discourse of reforms utilizing the notions and strategies of privati- . 35 In line with the terminology and ethos of the Washington Consensus (Williamson, 1990) the LDP introduces the notion of development of human capital for increase 33 See Ochs, Kimberly & Phillips, David: Towards a Structural Typology of Cross-national Attraction in Education, Lisbon, 2002. 34 See World Bank: Report and Recommendation of the President of the International Development Association to the Executive Directors on a Proposed Second Structural Adjustment Credit in an Amount Equivalent to SDR 43.1 Million to Republic of Armenia, Washington, D.C., 1997. 35 Ibid., Annex 2. 93 of productive capacity.36 On a discourse level the LDP and the Report are fully compatible both implicitly viewing neoliberalism as a core ideology for reforms. In contrast to the Report, the LDP advances the notion of efficiency which the Report bypasses by introducing the notions and strategies of privatization, exclusion of state monopoly, expansion of entrepreneurial rights of schools and budget autonomy. The LDP, however, highlights that efficiency should be achieved in key fiscal areas such as the sector of education by a mechanism of revenue generation and budget constraints should be employed. In relation to budget constraint it further states that “[…] enterprise budget constraints will need to be hardened in order to generate a supply response to new market conditions and to mitigate the risk that loss-making enterprises will undermine fiscal adjustment through pressure for subsidies.”37 Thus the LDP not only introduces the notion and strategy of efficiency but also emphasizes the need for relevant policies the background of which is fully prepared by the notions and strategies articulated in the Report. In addition to the LDP, the World Bank carried out a Staff Appraisal Report in 1997 based on findings acquired over a 2-year period in advance of finalizing the first loan. The Appraisal Report continues enhancing the neoliberal discourse of formalizing the costs incurred by parents as a result of state incapability in the face of contributions to schools and formal charges for textbooks; pre-school education; consolidation of schools and rationalization of staffing for matters of efficiency; budget autonomy; decentralization and reform of system management. In contrast to the LDP the report also touches the issue of education quality teaching. It treats both within the market-fit perspective noting: “Armenian system needs to move from what still is predominantly a knowledge-based methodology to one that will encour- 36 See Williamson, John: What Washington Means by Policy Reform, in: Williamson, John (ed.): American Adjustment: How Much Has Happened?, Washington, D.C., 1990, pp. 7-20. 37 World Bank: Report on a Proposed Second Structural Adjustment Credit to Armenia, Annex 2, Washington, D.C., 1997. 94 age the development of adaptive skills, practical problem solving and individual initiative.”38 The report also emphasizes the substantially low level of teacher salaries and decline in number of teachers as a result, still, being driven by the notion of competition and efficiency it does not provide any systemtially improved salaries and incentives will be essential to retain and attract high quality teachers. 39 The Staff Appraisal Report also makes references to the Country Assistance Strategy (hence CAS) indicating that the rational for the B tion for human capital and decrease of poverty. To conclude, the three documents preceding (the LDP) or concurrent (Staff Appraisal Report, Country Assistance Strategy) to development of the Strategy create a highly neoliberal discourse significantly advancing the notions and strategies presented by the Report to a level of a commonly shared understanding in between Armenia and the future significant lender of education reforms in the country, the World Bank. It is also worth to note, that prior to development of the government strategy the World Bank provided Armenia with a grant to develop a loanable project. Within the scope of the grant a working group had been established to draft the policy reforms that would be required for successful implementation of the loan-funded policies. Comparative discourse analysis of the LDP, the Staff Appraisal Report and the Strategy presents striking similarities both in terms of stylistics and the actual discourse. Diversification of education financing through formalization of private charges, privatization of educational institutions, decentralization of financial management and governance, increase of autonomy of educational institutions, standardization and performance monitoring constitute core notions, goals and strategies of the discourse. In neoliberal ethos and style resembling the mentioned documents, the Strategy states that “[…] the state is not the only performer responsible for education. Citizens also have their own responsibility for education and its expenses. Development of private financing will improve 38 World Bank: Armenia-Education Financing and Management Reform Project, Washington, D.C., 2003, p. 5. 39 Ibid., p. 4. 95 the situation, remove some of the burden from government shoulders, create competitiveness in the sphere.”40 This sentence alone echoes the discourse of education as a burden and state as a monopolist created by the Report. In addition to largely copying the notions and strategies presented by earlier documents, the Strategy introduces, in broad terms, certain enabling structures. Transformation of schools from budgetary to legal entities with the right to engage in entrepreneurial activities and manage budgets as well as financing per number of students, are suggested as structural adjustments that will ensure decentralization of education governance. If the Report highlights the need for transition of the role of the ministry, the Strategy advances the notion through structural adjustments for standardization and performance monitoring. The Strategy points out that the ministry will standardize the curriculum and teaching/learning methodologies also stating that decentralization will enable schools to innovate in teaching and the non-core curriculum thus improving the quality of education measured through student achievement. The Strategy, thus, consolidates and institutionalizes, through a government decree, the doctrine of neoliberalism as a core reform ideology with its complementary principles of deregulation, decentralization, liberalization, public spending efficiency, competition and transition of the role of the state in education. In comparison to the implicit influx of neoliberalism into the Report in the context of voluntary policy borrowing, the Strategy presents a case of explicit and government-initiated policy borrowing in anticipation of financial and non-financial gains. National emergency, frequent turnover of ministers and respectively their policies created an environment where the state of education would continue remaining in poor conditions, a large number of challenges required to be met and dissatisfaction with the authorities would continuously grow. World Bank concluded a social assessment which revealed that 50% of respondents placed education as the number one problem facing the country and 80% placed it in the top three.41 The core issue of discontent was the leasing of text- 40 Ibid., Annex 3. 41 See ibid., p. 8. 96 books which incurred high costs for parents for genuinely poorquality material. The government of Armenia, approached the World Bank for assistance in the context of a highly charged politi and received a grant for technical assistance to develop a loanable project.42 The project development included around two years of discussions in the period of 1995-1997. On the one hand Armenia had many issues to solve in the field of general education with the issue of textbooks being the most urgent one politically, and on the other hand it had signed an LDP which would prioritize structural adjustments. In 1996 World Bank conducted a poverty assessment study and recommended the importance of efficiency of public expenditure in education as a prerequisite for good quality education that could facilitate development of the human capital. After around two years of negotiations Armenia and the World Bank signed the first credit agreement of education reform in 1998 worth US$ 14,6 million in the face of Education Financing and Management Reform project. The credit provided a win-win situation for both parties as it enabled Armenia to solve the issue of textbooks at publically acceptable manner for around 4 years, as well as executed the conditionality of LDP in the face of structural adjustments guaranteed by the strategy. Furthermore, the Appraisal Report stated that the rational beyond involvement of the Bank was not only to assist in the immediate issues but also to “[…] establish the necessary institutional framework for the management of education reform and for future large-scale investment in the sector … ”.43 While Phillips and Ochs point that policy transfer under constraint takes place in the context of bilateral agreements which function more as negative constraints, the Strategy presents a case of mutually beneficial positive constraint. It exemplifies how the lack of institutional capacity for a policy to establish a functioning textbook development mechanism, domestic political pressure resulting from government incapability, governmental aim of power preservation match with the reform agenda of a strong global player resulting in 42 See World Bank: Armenia-Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper and Joint World Bank-IMF Staff Assessment. Strategy Paper, Washington, D.C., 2003. 43 World Bank: Armenia-Education Financing and Management Reform Project, Washington, D.C., 2003, p. 9. 97 a mutually beneficial environment of policy and finance borrowing for reforms. 6 Concluding Remarks: The Long-term Impact of Policy Borrowing Steiner-Khamsi and Stolpe state that “[…] policy borrowers probably should not be viewed as helpless victims but active agents in what they selectively borrow and how they modify what they have borrowed … ”.44 While this may generally hold true, the analysis of educational policy borrowing in Armenia, a transitional democratizing country with limited institutional capacity, suggests a few important observations. Policy borrowing did not start as a result of a local vision for reforms and an institutional needs assessment of what and where to borrow. It started as a result of a vague policy-level inclination to meet hegemonic western expectations and readjust the system of education in line with the democratization and transition reform agenda. The notion of adjustment spurred a voluntary search for knowledge about reforms in foreign systems of education with the purpose of identification and alignment to the successful international experience. Policy borrowing started implicitly through building of a new discourse under foreign consultancy and upon the lack of institutional capacity, vagueness of perceptions and urgent needs that seemed unaddressable by the current system. Policy borrowing acted as a compensation for limited institutional capacity to address the ambitious reforms agenda. Armenia made extensive voluntary (even if it later signed agreements with the World Bank) use of foreign consultancy introducing neoliberal notions and strategies into the general discourse of education reforms almost without any obstacles. Analysis of the locally developed documents is quite indicative of a largely passive discourse where new notions are presented as principles and strategies for effective reform without relevant argumentation. The lack of capacity, never 44 Stolpe, Ines & Steiner-Khamsi, Gita: Educational Import: Local Encounters with Global Forces in Mongolia, New York, 2006. 98 directly stated by Armenian policy-makers, was often confused with lack of information about the experience of foreign systems. Never being an issue of fundamental importance, limited institutional capacity created an environment where policy borrowing, as exemplified later, would remain as an efficient tool for education reforms. Policy borrowing progressed in the context of limited institutional capacity and government incentives to avoid domestic political pressure and preserve power. The lack of institutional capacity did not enable a democratizing transitional state to fully meet the challenges of restructuration and created growing public discontent with the state of education and policy-making. To deal with the highly volatile political environment Armenia opted for support from international organizations ending up with policy borrowing under constraint of conditionality. Nonetheless, having already adopted the discourse of neoliberalism earlier, policy borrowing turned to be mutually beneficial both for the borrower who managed to address the issues of public discontent without the need for long-term resource-intensive capacity building and to the lender who managed to implement its conditionality. Thus, whether victims or not, policy borrowing quickly turned into a beneficial policy arm of future governments involving external funds, supporting the structural reforms in the short-to-medium term horizon, relatively sustaining public discontent and compensating for long-term investment on institutional capacity-building. Institutionalization of the practice of policy borrowing in the second half of the post-independence decade led to a final act of borrowing in the face of almost totally copying the most fundamental document of the field of education the Law on Education. Comparative discourse analysis, even on the surface level, of the Law against the Law on Education of the Russian federation of 1992 reveals striking similarities in both content and structure. The Armenian Law on Education lifted the level of institutionalisation of neoliberalism to its highest level within the and 99 establishing of the ruling for qualification of school leaders and l bodies Ministry of Education and its inspection unit. In line with further decentralisation on regional, community and school level, the law provided for establishment of boards of trustees, transformation of schools from budgetary to legal entities with their charters and rights. Decentralisation was matched with standardization of the content of education through introduction of state standards as normative acts and performance management through mechanisms of licensing, attestation, qualification management and inspection. It is worth to note, that the Russian law was itself developed in the environment of neoliberal influences and state policy for modernization.45 While the country started stabilizing in late 1990s the practice of policy borrowing in a mutually beneficial agreement with international organizations deepened turning specifically the World Bank into the chief driver and sponsor of education reforms. From a total portfolio of US$ 2.3 billion all-sector credit assistance provided by the World Bank to Armenia since 1994, the field of education received three large credits for the period of 1998-2015 in total a sum of US$ 59 million.46 By the year of 2015 core of the reforms specifically in general education were implemented directly by the World Bank funding. These reforms included revision of textbooks and establishment of a textbook revolving fund with concurrent technical assistance, development and introduction of a national curriculum framework and state standards for general education, establishing the national assessment and testing center, provision of teacher trainings to implement the new standards, introduction of education management reforms and rationalization of the system, implementation of the 12-year general education system and the high-school reform, organization of teacher in service training and 45 See Bray, Mark & Borevskaya, Nina: Financing Education in Transitional Societies: Lessons from Russia and China, in: Comparative Education, Vol. 37, No. 3, 2001, pp. 345-365; Collier, Stephen J.: Post-Soviet Social: Neoliberalism, Social Modernity, Biopolitics, Princeton, 2011. 46 See World Bank: Projects and Operations. Armenia, available at: http://projects.worldbank.org/search?lang=en&searchTerm=&countrycode_ exact=AM (19 April 2018). 100 professional development, all these accompanied with various types of technical assistance.47 To conclude, policy borrowing played a niche role within the context of a democratizing transitional state by compensating for institutional capacity, turning into a government-led beneficial policy arm that would and does continuously generate external funds, provide structural adjustments and ensure a maintainable level of public discontent. The lack of capacity enabled a voluntary introduction of neoliberalism, a highly contested ideology for education reforms. It is worth to note, that in the course of hearings in the Parliament in 2009 the Minister of Education, presenting the achievements under the first phase of funding from the World Bank noted that the first phase enabled Armenia to -scale reforms, institutionalize a new system of education and make another big move 48 47 See ibid. 48 National Assembly: Extraordinary Session of the Fourth Convocation of the National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia (No. N134), 10 July 2009.

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Abstract

The development of societies during and after periods of authoritarian or totalitarian rule is among the most interesting research topics in social sciences. On the one hand, the analysis is directed at why, when and how societies resist tyrannies and what ultimately leads to the downfall of seemingly invincible regimes. On the other hand, once such authoritarian regimes unravel, it is important to comprehend how societal groups organize themselves and how they try to influence political processes. In the case of the former Soviet republics, this transition was a complex and incalculable development that led to very heterogeneous political and societal situations. Due to the territorial situation of Armenia – wedged between the predominantly hostile neighbors Turkey and Azerbaijan, in the shadow of hegemonial Russia and Iran – the domestic Armenian development options seemed limited for decades. However, the transformation of the civil society in the Republic of Armenia finally paved its way slowly but constantly in recent years. The aim of this volume is to shed light on the ongoing discussion on civil society in Armenia in the context of democratization and to examine its potential for democratic consolidation. The perspectives recount diverse facets of the Armenian civic landscape, as well as the recent processes of democratization. The contributions from predominantly Armenian experts focus on the necessary structures and important actors for an understanding and characterization of the current situation of the Armenian civil society.