Assessment of Learning Outcomes: The Transnational Agenda, the READ Program and Ethiopian Priorities

Tuomas Takala


In the field of comparative education, there is a growing amount of research on how education policy agendas are formed at the transnational level and how these influence policy making in individual countries. This article focuses on learning outcome assessment that has gained prominence as a transnational agenda, constructed within a network of actors sharing a common belief in the necessity of measuring learning outcomes as a key precondition for improving education quality. This agenda is clearly guiding the activities of the READ program, funded by the Russian Government and implemented by the World Bank in eight developing countries during 2008-2013. The case of Ethiopia as one of the READ countries is analysed on the basis of the READ reports and the ESDP and GEQIP documents. The analysis shows both noticeable influences that can be traced back to the transnational agenda and some policy positions that reflect national prioritization. The discussion section raises the question how standardised measurement of learning outcomes – which is becoming a global imperative through the EFA process – may become a straitjacket to teaching and learning.

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