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Original: English
Education for All
Collective consultation of NGOs (CCNGO/EFA)
‘Changing the rules of the game’:
Building capacity for policy engagement and Asian-South
Pacific CSOs in education
A discussion paper
Asian South Pacific Bureau for Adult Education
‘Changing the rules of the game’:
Building capacity for policy engagement
and Asian-South Pacific CSOs in education
A discussion paper
Prepared for the International Seminar on Capacity-Building on Civil Society Involvement in
EFA Policy Process organised by the UNESCO Collective Consultation of NGOs on EFA
Beirut, Lebanon, 7-8 December 2004
Ma. Persevera T. Razon
Table of contents
Table of contents / 2
List of acronyms / 3
List of boxes, tables, and figures / 3
1. Introduction / 4
2. The capacity conundrum / 6
3. Civil society in a changing world: The challenge of governance / 11
Policy partnership as governance / 14
Socialising-Civil Society / 19
Aggregating-Political Society / 19
Executive-Government / 20
Managerial-Bureaucracy / 21
Adjudicatory-Judicial system / 22
Double challenge / 22
4. Changing the rules of the game: CSOs and the civil-political continuum / 23
Shifting the frame: From state-market to civil-political society / 23
Politics and deep structures / 27
CSOs and the civil-political continuum / 31
5. Concluding notes / 33
Bibliography / 35
Changing the rules of the game *
Asian Development Bank
Asian South Pacific Bureau of Adult Education
Collective Consultation of NGOs on EFA
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women
Fifth International Conference on Adult Education
civil society organisation
Development Assistance Committee
electronic discussion
Education Network
Education for All
International Forum on Capacity-Building
information technology
Millennium Development Goals
non-government organisation
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
Papua New Guinea
Real World Strategies Programme
Society for the Advancement of Education
United Nations
United Nations Development Programme
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation
World Bank
Box 1.
Contemporary views on governance / 13
Table 1.
Table 2.
Table 3.
Table 4.
The functional dimensions of governance and their institutional arenas / 15
Real World Strategies Programme: Current CSO capacities and capacities for
development / 16
Capacity-Building to Track Progress on Commitments to Girls and Women’s Literacy
and Education: Current CSO capacities and capacities for development / 17
ASPBAE’S Pacific Education Advocacy Programme: Current CSO capacities and
capacities for development / 18
Figure 1.
Figure 2.
Figure 3.
State and market-centred development models / 24
Civil society-centred model of development / 25
Four generations of CSO strategy / 27
Changing the rules of the game *
1. Introduction
This paper explores notions of capacity by Asian-South Pacific CSOs in education within the
context of the challenge posed by the Dakar conference—that CSOs not only participate in
education as service providers, innovators, critics and advocates, but as partners in policy1.
CSO conceptions about what constitutes capacity for policy engagement on EFA are drawn
from planning documents, workshop proceedings and activity reports related to three on-going
capacity-building programmes of Asian-South Pacific CSOs. These are the Real World
Strategies Programme2, the Programme for Capacity-Building to Track Progress on Policy
Commitments to Girls and Women’s Literacy and Education3, and the Pacific Education
Advocacy Programme4. CSO participants to these programmes come from 12 countries in
South Asia, Southeast Asia, and the South Pacific5.
The study reveals that CSOs’s conception of what constitutes policy partnership is much
broader than the functional definitions of policy-making and administration. CSO efforts to
build capacity for policy engagement also encompass developing capabilities for the various
dimensions and institutional arenas of governance. Thus, for Asian-South Pacific CSOs policy
partnership means governance.
This suggests that notions of capacity cannot be de-linked from the very concepts and agendas
for which capacity is developed, and from the socio-historical and institutional contexts in
which definitions of capacity emerge. This point is argued in Section Two, beginning with a
brief survey of the on-going mainstream debates and re-thinking on the nature of capacity and
the strategies employed by mainstream developers to enhance capacity in the developing
The improvements made on this version of the paper would not have been possible without the substantive and editorial
comments and inputs of Maria Lourdes Almazan-Khan. The author also acknowledges the inputs sent by ASPBAE members
during the e-discussion on CSO capacity-building for EFA policy engagement held between 15 to 30 November. These inputs
can be found at the UNESCO web forum at
Global Campaign for Education(GCE) partnered with the African Network Campaign on Education for All (ANCEFA) and the
Asia Pacific Bureau on Adult Education (ASPBAE) to conduct a capacity-building initiative titled ‘the Real World Strategies’
programme. This is a partnership between the three regional and international networks for education advocacy and 20 of their
member countries to assist civil society groups to design, agree, implement and monitor a well-informed, targeted and timelimited strategy for achieving specific and measurable changes in national education policy and financing. Its premise is that
better-focused advocacy work will have a greater impact on government actions, which in turn will help to accelerate progress
towards the Education for All goals. This is supported by the Dutch government.
The ASPBAE Programme for Capacity-Building to Track Progress on Policy Commitments to Girls and Women’s Literacy and
Education is directed at building local capacities among national coalitions, women’s groups, support organizations. The focus of
the programme is to enable CSOs to employ simple analytical and participatory frameworks and tools to bolster
effective policy advocacy strategies to lobby local governments for education policy reform with enhanced sensitivity to gender
issues, e.g., snapshot surveys for evaluating gender-sensitivity of curricula and classroom pedagogy, quality parameters for
women's literacy etc. The aim of this programme is to ensure that concrete reform/interventions (e.g. distribution of free
textbooks, building toilets in schools and women's literacy centres, recruitment of more female teachers, enforcement of a
national law for education for girls/ women, etc.) are achieved in the local context through the strategic process of enabling
CSO to engage with their governments with the support of verifiable data. This programme is supported by the Institute for
International Cooperation of the German Adult Education Association (IIZ/DVV), Sir Dorabhji Tata Trust in India, the UNESCO
Institute for Education and UNESCO Paris.
The CSO Capacity Building programme for Education Advocacy in the South Pacific covering Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu and
Samoa is supported by New Zealand Aid.
These countries are Bangladesh, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, The
Philippines, Tonga, and Vanuatu.
Changing the rules of the game *
Section Three examines the various conceptions on capacity articulated by CSOs in the abovementioned programmes. Both existing capacities and those identified by CSOs for
development are analysed within a schema deconstructed into the five functional dimensions
and institutional arenas of governance. The investigation shows that capacity-building efforts
of CSOs are not only directed at developing capabilities to participate in formulating and
administering policy, which addresses the question, ‘who gets what, when and how’, but more
importantly, about ‘changing the rules of the game’—that is, defining ‘who makes the rules,
when and how’.
Section Four explores some of the key capacities that CSOs will need to enhance to effectively
participate in governance. These include capability to shift the framing of development and to
transform and build strong political and deep structural linkages between society and state. It
argues that CSO capacity for policy engagement involves not only the strengthening of civil
society organisations, but also the core institutions in political society. Consquently, a crucial
capacity for CSOs is the ability to negotiate through and sufficiently coordinate citizen action
across the civil-political continuum.
Section Five contains the concluding notes, which summarise the main points surveyed in the
paper and their implications on capacity-building programmes for CSOs.
Changing the rules of the game *
2. The capacity conundrum
Capacity, or the lack of it, has been a conundrum for many developers. Billions of dollars have
been poured into technical cooperation programmes aimed at developing capacity for
development of developing countries. Yet ‘capacity development has remained an elusive
goal’, as pointed out by Mark Malloch Brown, administrator of the United Nations
Development Programme, the lead UN agency for the thematic area of capacity-development
To illustrate: Spending for technical cooperation programmes in 1999 alone amounted to US$
14 billion, according to the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the Organisation for
Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The figure could go as high as US$ 24
billion if personnel and training costs are factored into the accounting (Fukuda-Parr et al
In Asia, technical assistance grants to developing member countries by the Asian Development
Bank grew from US$ 59 million in 1988 to US$ 163 million in 1998 (ADB 1999). Total
technical cooperation in Far East Asia, according to the DAC, was some US$ 2 billion in
1990; it rose to about US$ 2.3 billion in 1995, and decreased to US$ 2.1 billion in 1999. In
South and Central Asia, for the same period, total technical cooperation had been steady at
around US$ 1.3 billion (Fukuda-Parr et al 2001a).
From 1989 to 1999, the percentage of technical cooperation funding in official development
assistance for least developed countries was steady at 21-22 percent; for lower middle-income
countries it was 25-26 percent (ibid.)7.
No such disaggregation of funds for the civil society sector, however, could be accessed as of
this writing. But if we are to take a broad view of aid funding to civil society and nongovernment organisations as a form of capacity resource, the amount would be some US$ 2
billion annually (OECD 2003, cited in WB 2004).
Yet, as Fukuda-Parr et al note, these amounts have only generated, by far, ‘positive microimprovements, but not the kind of macro-impacts that build and sustain national capacity for
development’ (2001a).
The almost ubiquitous presence of the term ‘capacity-building’8 in the institutional literature of
development agencies and organisations, and the frequency in which it is invoked, often in a
variety of senses and sometimes with nary or very little qualification, must have earned it a
These last two sentences may suggest that perhaps part of the conundrum lies in the paucity of terms or new metaphors in the
language of development itself, but that is not the subject of this essay.
While total aid to developing countries has declined following the end of the Cold War, the combined commitments made by
donors at the Conference on Financing for Development in Monterrey, Mexico in March 2002 are expected to reverse the
downward trend and raise aid levels by up to 25 percent (Malloch Brown 2002; Browne 2002).
The UNDP and the OECD use the term, capacity-development; the World Bank, capacity-enhancement. The International
Forum on Capacity-Building (IFCB) points out that the term ‘building’ might have assumed ‘a distorted connotation, implying that
something from scratch has to be initiated’. In this paper all three terms are used interchangeably, and all carry the
sense—augmenting existing capacities—as clarified by Rajesh Tandon and Kaustuv Kanti Bandyopadhyay for IFCB in Capacity
Building of Southern NGOs: Lessons from International Forum on Capacity Building (n.d.) published by IFCB, New Delhi.
Changing the rules of the game *
place by now among those distinguished terms in the development lexicon (e.g., participation,
empowerment, sustainability), otherwise known as development buzzwords. Although it might
also be said that ‘fuzzy’ could be substituted for ‘buzz’, owing to the ambiguous nature and the
variety of meanings these words in vogue could be ascribed with. ‘Amoeba-like’ was how
Gustavo Esteva, for example, described the term ‘development’ (1992). Gilbert Rist, likewise,
argues that it is the ambiguity of the term ‘sustainable development’ to which its ‘success’ can
be owed (1997).
But as with words, and active vocabularies, in general, the meanings and the senses in which
they are used change as their contexts shift, as demonstrated by the British literary theorist and
cultural critic, Raymond Williams, in his socio-historical study of ‘keywords’—those central
concepts we use to describe, interpret, and understand the contemporary world (1983)9.
Williams also points out that, apart from context, the meanings of keywords vary according to
their interconnections and interactions with other words. They exhibit pliancy in the form of a
range of ‘variations’, ‘extensions’ and ‘transfers’ as they move through ‘networks of usage’, or
as they interact with other words. ‘The problems of [a keyword’s] meanings’, Williams
observes, ‘are inextricably bound up with the problems it was being used to discuss’ (ibid.).
In the case of the term ‘capacity’, which can be defined simply as the ability to do a particular
thing10, it can be said that the relational character of the term is intrinsic to it, where basic
references (i.e., whose ability, and ability to do what) must be established, at the very least, if
the concept is to begin to have any meaning or value. And, following Williams, it is when the
relationships and ‘interactions’ between key concepts, ‘capacity’ and ‘development’, for
example, are scrutinised that some solutions to the conundrum begin to emerge.
In UNDP’s project to rethink its capacity-development strategies11, the failure of most
capacity-building efforts in the South is now being understood as a result of a flawed
conception of development, wherein the latter is seen as ‘displacement’ rather than as
‘transformation’ (Fukuda-Parr et al 2001a).
‘(T)he assumption that developing countries with weak capacities should simply be able to start
again from someone else’s blueprint flies in the face of history. For these countries too, the
most natural process is development as transformation. This means fostering home-grown
processes, building on the wealth of local knowledge and capacities, and expanding these to
achieve whatever goals and aspirations the country sets itself’ (ibid.).
Non-industrial societies too, the authors write, have highly developed and complex skills but
may have less of the formal institutions that characterise modern post-industrial societies.
Capacity, in the new thinking, involves the integration of two parallel knowledge and
production systems—‘indigenous’ and ‘modern’—that are deemed to exist in developing
Raymond Williams explored 155 such words (e.g., bureaucracy, community, culture, democracy, educated, jargon, ordinary,
reform, society) in his book, Keywords: A vocabulary of culture and society (1983), revised edition, published by Oxford
University Press, New York.
In Cambridge Dictionary of International English (1995) published by Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
The research project is called ‘Reforming Technical Cooperation for Capacity Development’, and is supported by the
Government of the Netherlands. The project’s outputs are contained in three volumes authored by the following: Fukuda-Parr,
Lopes and Malik, 2001b; Browne, 2002b; and, Lopes and Theisohn, 2003 (full references can be found in the bibliography). See
the UNDP webpage,
Changing the rules of the game *
countries. Furthermore, past (and current) capacity-building efforts are now seen as having
focussed on the individual and institutional realms, neglecting the societal dimension and the
importance of building social capacity, wherein social capital—the ‘institutions and networks
that hold societies together and set the terms of [their] relationships’—is regarded as a core
element12. Finally, it has also been recognised that the ‘asymmetric relationship’ between
donors and recipients, where donors ‘ultimately control’ the capacity-building process even
while paying lip-service to ‘equal partnership’, is the other major obstacle to building
sustainable capacities in the South (ibid.).
The thinking is not new. Alternative conceptions of development and critiques of the dominant
model, especially concerning the latter’s ethnocentrism and elision of the issue of unequal
relations of power, have been posited by a number of Southern voices and social scientists
ever since ‘development of the Third World’ emerged as a central agenda of the international
community following the Second World War13.
But the shift in the discourse is significant for, at least, two reasons, especially when viewed
from a Southern and civil society perspective.
For one, the shift helps clear up the conceptual field of the accumulated debris of myths that
have accompanied a unilinear and Western-centric view of history and social transformation,
debarring ways towards a wider understanding of the variety of social change processes
occurring in different societies as these are shaped by distinct socio-cultural contexts and
histories. Many of these myths (e.g., primacy of economic growth, trade liberalisation,
privatisation)14 have often been uncritically embraced by Southern governments and their
ruling elites, and continue to inform their visions and strategies for national development, with
not a few producing disastrous social outcomes. Dislodging the authority of this universalist
discourse allows competing and marginalised discourses to engage the former in a level
playing field, so to speak, and frees up ‘official development’ spaces, where genuine dialogue
between discourses can take place and broader, historically-grounded visions of development
can emerge.
The popular conception of social capital is often attributed to the work of Robert D. Putnam, who refers to it as ‘social networks
and the associated norms of reciprocity’ (2000). See also Putnam, 1993. John Harriss (2001), among others, however, has
criticised Putnam’s analysis for eliding the crucial role of the state in the ‘rise and fall’ of ‘stocks of social capital’ in societies, and
for failing to show how trust in social networks become aggregated at the societal level. Social capital, for Harriss, are those
‘resources which are inherent in certain social relationships’. What these ‘resources’ are could be gleaned from the definition
offered by Norman Uphoff (2000), cited in Mani (n.d.), ‘an accumulation of various types of social, psychological, cultural,
cognitive, institutional, and related assets that increase the amount or probability of mutually beneficial cooperative behaviour’.
The first known use of the term (1916) was associated with ideas of ‘good will, fellowship, sympathy, and social intercourse
among the individuals and families who make up a social unit’ (Putnam 2000).
Some of the critiques and alternative notions are captured in post-colonial and social science literature. See, among others,
Dudley Seers, 1963, for a critique on the universal claim to validity of dominant economics; Frantz Fanon, 1967 and 1986, on
liberating third world and black consciousness from colonial thinking; Polly Hill, 1986, for a critique of development economics; R.
Guha and G.C. Spivak, 1988, for subaltern perspectives; Tariq Banuri, 1990, for a critique of development theories from a
cultural perspective; N. Long and A. Long, 1992, for an actor-oriented perspective of development; John Friedmann, 1992, on
alternative development; Mark Hobart, 1993, for a critique of dominant forms of knowledge in development; Arturo Escobar,
1995, on the mainstream development discourse and how it ‘created’ the Third World; K. Gardner and D. Lewis, 1996, on the
post-modern challenge to development thought and practice; Gilbert Rist, 1997, on a history of development thought; A. Arce and
N. Long, 2000, on ‘multiple/alternative modernities’. Full references are listed in the bibliography.
‘Myth’ is used here in the sense of ‘false belief or account’ (Williams 1983), particularly, of Western-based models as sure
formulas to ‘development’.
Changing the rules of the game *
For another, the foregrounding of the ‘social’ expands developers’ perspectives on how to
identify, analyse and understand a society’s problems, which, consequently, can widen the
social imaginary from whence solutions can be created, sought and found15. And while it is
true that mainstream approaches to development have progressively incorporated the social
dimension into their perspectives in the last three decades (i.e., from pure growth models to
basic needs to poverty reduction to sustainable human and a rights-based approach to
development), it is also true that old habits die hard.
Alan Rew, in his survey of social development practice in the 1980s, for example, argues that
economistic and engineering perspectives continue to dominate the field (1997).
Institutionalisation and use of critical social reflection proved to be difficult, and social
analyses often end up as mere annexes to project documents. Although he admits that it is far
easier to integrate social planning methods in the decade of the 1990s, he also points out that
‘reforms in favour of social action and “participation” should not be overstated’ since the
changes are happening at the level of methods and techniques rather than at a more
fundamental level of critical examination of key approaches and strategies (ibid.)
Lyla Mehta arrives at a similar assessment in her analysis of the World Bank, particularly, its
shift in focus from transfer of capital to ‘knowledge for development’, and its thrust to
transform itself into a ‘knowledge bank’ (2001)16. According to her, while social science
perspectives have become institutionalised at the level of projects and policies, ‘no general
social policy defining goals such as equity and social justice exists’ (ibid., citing Francis and
Jacobs). Social analysis in projects or sector work is not formally mandated except when these
involve indigenous peoples or forced displacement, leading her to conclude that ‘no systematic
institutionalisation of [social] issues’ has occurred in the Bank, and that its conception of
knowledge is still predominantly informed by the economics perspective (ibid.).
While indeed the UNDP study gives cause for optimism for the impetus it could bring towards
the production of official yet more inclusionary spaces, where genuine dialogue can take place
between Southern governments and their citizens, and between the North and the South,
studies such as those of Rew and Mehta also suggest the importance of continued vigilance.
Fukuda-Parr et al themselves warn that perhaps the ‘biggest obstacle… lies in the human mind
itself, which can be imprisoned in old assumptions and practices’17.
Breaking out of this ‘interpretive grid’ that has become embedded in many development
institutions requires the continuous interrogation of the knowledge being produced about the
developing world by development agents—from within and between the North and South,
The idea of the social imaginary can be described as a kind of social vision within which a people understand their world and
their place in it, and within which they find meaning to act and create goals to transform their world as collective agents. The idea
was elaborated by Cornelius Castoriadis in his book, The imaginary institution of society (1987), published by MIT Press,
Cambridge, MA. Building from Castoriadis’s notion, the Center for Transcultural Studies, a Chicago-based non-profit research
network, is engaged in developing the concept of ‘new imaginaries’, taking into account the world-changing events that have
occurred in the last two decades. See Gaonkar, 2002.
The idea of a knowledge bank was launched in October 1996 during the World Bank’s annual meeting. See World Bank, 1998,
for a description of the Bank’s knowledge agenda.
One indication of the enormity of the challenge in transforming the current orthodoxies in development thought and practice is
the way the World Bank, for example, is translating the new thinking on capacity by ‘unbundling it within a framework of demandand supply-side factors'. See Govinda G.Nair, ‘Nurturing capacity in developing countries: From consensus to practice’, Capacity
Enhancement Briefs (2003), November, World Bank Institute.
Changing the rules of the game *
mainstream and non-mainstream alike. And such scrutiny must encompass the sites of
knowledge production themselves, whether these are institutional or ad hoc in nature,
deliberative or consultative, individual or collective. For, as argued above, notions of capacity
cannot be de-linked from the related concepts and agendas for change for which capacity is
being built as well as from the socio-historical and institutional contexts in which readings and
conceptions of capacity emerge. Furthermore, the overwhelming social evidence—that
dominant knowledge-based policies and strategies for development have worked only for a
few, and often at the expense of a large swathe of humanity and the natural
environment—while can no longer be ignored, continues to be framed within technicalised and
often, de-historicised and de-politicised discourses that are attached with ‘warmlypersuasive’18 slogans such as ‘participation’, ‘empowerment’, ‘sustainable development’,
‘citizenship’, and, indeed, ‘capacity-development’. Facts, as Raymond Apthorpe has argued,
‘never speak for themselves, they are bespoken and spoken for’ (1986, emphasis in the
Thus, it is important to create new environments, where critical interrogations of the ‘old’ yet
still dominant assumptions can take place and flourish. And this means, at least, three things:
Sustained engagement by donors and official developers with contending visions; creation of
new spaces and opening up the old ones to these engagements20; and, active support for the
independent articulation, systematisation, and elaboration of these alternative social visions by
those with whom these have been traditionally associated with and who have long carried
these visions—civil society and social movements.
It is within this matrix of on-going shifts in the discourses of capacity-building—at the
interface of the emergent, dominant, and residual concepts-in-formation and in-tension—that
this discussion must be located, that is, if civil society organisations (CSOs) are to be
significant interlocutors in this crucial debate. An awareness of such positioning is important
for, at least, two reasons. One, the policy terrain for which CSOs are striving to build
capabilities to engage in is itself fraught with the ‘old’ assumptions. Understanding CSO
notions of capacity for policy partnership must necessarily involve the interrogation of what
‘policy partnership’ means and what it constitutes in specific contexts. Two, civil society
organisations themselves are not immune from the influence of dominant development
thinking. CSOs, therefore, must not only build their capability to navigate and advance their
perspectives through this complex matrix of shifting and contending discursive formations, but
also enhance their reflexivity, that is, the capacity to constantly put themselves into the frame
and reflect upon their own actions.
Raymond Williams, 1983
Arturo Escobar (1995) proceeds from this argument of how the ‘Third World’ is a regime of representation created by the
Western discourse of development, backed by the ‘authority’ of Western knowledge and by powerful Western-based
development institutions. See also, among others, Robert Chambers, 1997; Emma Crewe and Elizabeth Harrison, 1998;
Jonathan Crush, 1995; James Ferguson, 1994; Naila Kabeer, 1994; Michael G. Marmot, 2004; Stacy Leigh Pigg, 1992; R.D.
Grillo and R.L. Stirrat, 1997; Wolfgang Sachs, 1992.
It can be said that the International Forum on Capacity-Building is one such space. It was formed in 1998 and is supported by
Northern NGOs, bilateral and multilateral development agencies. The IFCB describes itself as ‘a multistakeholder forum in which
Southern NGOs engage Northern NGOs and donors in debate and innovation, which shape conceptual approaches, policies and
practices for future capacity-building interventions’ (Tandon and Bandyopadhyay n.d.)
Changing the rules of the game * 10
3. Civil society in a changing world: The challenge of governance
The 2000 World Education Forum held in Dakar, Senegal has put forward the challenge of an
educational policy process that substantially involves civil society organisations as partners in
policy (UNESCO 2000; Matsuura 2001). CSOs have actively taken up the challenge with ‘an
increasing number of organizations [shifting] their focus from service provision to advocate
and policy partner’ (Schnuttgen and Khan 2004). This international official acknowledgement
of CSOs’s important role in education policy can be attributed not only to the growing
recognition of the wide-ranging contributions of civil society organisations to Education for
All (EFA) in the Jomtien decade of the 1990s (CCNGO/EFA 2000), but also to the major
shifts in the discourses of development and how development is to be governed in the South.
Governance is not just about government. This was one of the realisations reached by the
United Nations (UN) system in the 1990s as the ‘associational revolution’21 erupted in the
global public sphere and began to encroach into the economic and social policy realms, spaces
that were once the exclusive preserve of governments (Emmerij et al 2001). The growth of
non-government and civil society organisations from the 1980s was rapid and widespread; the
activities and objectives they pursue wide-ranging—from grassroots self-help socio-economic
projects to promotion of human rights and social justice; from protesting environmental
degradation in their localities to lobbying multilateral development agencies in global forums
and summits; from establishing local alternative trading systems to building transnational
solidarity and networks that could mobilise hundreds of thousands to block the implementation
of inequitable international trade agreements; and, so on22. As Isagani Serrano writes, citizens,
acting collectively, ‘can do more than just help themselves: they can also resist and bring their
power to bear on the state and even bring down unaccountable governments’ (1994).
The central role played by citizens in the shaping, making, and unmaking of states has partly
influenced the inter-governmental system of the UN to adopt a wider definition of governance
in the 1990s23. Where, in the 1950s and 1960s, the concept was associated with nation- and
state-building and national development, as former colonies gained independence and the new
nationals began to take on the reins of government, a shift in thinking occurred in the 1970s
and 1980s. Good governance began to be conceived in opposition to state-dominated
economic and social development.
The impetus for the shift came from several fronts. First, there was growing a reaction to the
excesses of the ‘overly powerful, centralized, and rent-seeking states’ that ruled many of the
Third World nations during that period. Second, the neoliberal paradigm of international
development, also known as the Washington Consensus, was introduced and became widely
adopted in the 1980s. The new consensus promoted a swing from state-led to market-oriented
From Lester M. Salamon, ‘The global associational revolution: The rise of third sector on the world scene’ (1993), Occasional
Paper 15, Institute for Policy Studies, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD.
Various accounts of the phenomenal rise of CSOs and NGOs can be found in a growing body of literature on civil society. See,
for example, David Korten, 1990; Lester Salamon, 1993; Gerard Clarke, 1998; CIVICUS, 1994; John Clark, 1991.
The historical evolution of the governance concept described in this section is mainly drawn from the work of Louis Emmerij,
Richard Jolly and Thomas G. Weiss, Ahead of the curve? UN ideas and global challenges (2001), published by Indiana
University Press, Bloomington and Indianapolis.
Changing the rules of the game * 11
policies, and emphasised trade liberalisation, economic deregulation, and privatisation. Third,
a new political landscape emerged after the end of the Cold War following the wave of
democratisation that swept a number of Third World nations and the former Soviet Union.
Fourth, the phenomenal growth of non-state actors and their public actions have had a
significant impact on the framing of public policy debates at the local, national and global
‘Good governance’, in the 1980s, was largely associated with the idea of the ‘roll back of the
state’, and a bias for market-led development and procedural democracy. But the concept took
on a broader perspective in the 1990s when the UN reinvigorated its campaign for a rightsbased approach to development, and emphasised the need for state legitimacy instead of state
retreat. Thus, good governance is no longer understood today as ‘less government’ but as
‘appropriate government’.
Most contemporary views of governance suggest that the state is no longer regarded as the sole
agent exercising authority over a country’s development (see Box 1). Instead, emphasis is
placed on the ‘relational’ and ‘processual’ nature of the concept, where the exercise of
authority is seen as necessarily involving ‘interactions’ between government and civil society,
and that this relationship should assume certain features or characteristics such as
transparency, accountability, and participation.
While the broadening of the concept does seem to recognise the reality of the new
interdependencies between various political actors brought forth by a changing world, many of
the definitions remain ambiguous as to what exactly constitutes governance, and how and
when one can say it is happening or has been achieved. When, for example, Asian-Pacific
education CSOs participate in country EFA processes, as they try to do, in fulfilment of their
role as ‘partners’ in education policy development, yet, are confined to the narrow and token
spaces of technical and consultative committee work (Razon 2003), does this constitute
‘governance’? Or take the case of the Philippines, for instance, where the accountability
system through regular elections is in place, and citizens perform their duty by casting their
votes, but are nevertheless limited in their options on who to vote for because the system is
biased in favour of the oligarchy and the rich and famous, not the poor but meritorious; can it
be said then that ‘governance’ is happening?24 A clarification of the concepts of governance
and policy-making is important if it is to guide practice.
For various articles on this issue, see the website, Fil-Global Fellows: Thoughts and debates on Philippine and global social
transformations, particularly, the webpages on the May 2004 elections (;
Changing the rules of the game * 12
Box 1. Contemporary views on governance
UNDP, 1997: ‘Governance is viewed as the exercise of economic, political and administrative
authority to manage a country’s affairs at all levels. It comprises mechanisms, processes and
institutions through which citizens and groups articulate their interests, exercise their legal rights,
meet their obligations and mediate their differences.
Kofi Annan, 2000: ‘Better governance means greater participation, coupled with accountability’.
World Bank, 1994: ‘Governance is defined as the manner in which power is exercised in the
management of a country’s economic and social resources. The Bank identifies three aspects of
governance: 1) the form of political regime; 2) the process by which authority is exercised in the
management of a country’s economic and social resources for development; and, 3) the capacity of
governments to design, formulate, and implement policies and discharge functions’.
OECD, 1995: ‘The concept of governance denotes the use of political authority and exercise of
control in a society in relation to the management of its resources for social and economic
development. This broad definition encompasses the role of public authorities in establishing the
environment in which economic operators function and in determining the distribution of benefits as
well as the nature of the relationship between the ruler and the ruled’.
Commission on Global Governance, 1995: ‘Governance is the sum of the many ways individuals
and institutions, public and private, manage their common affairs…. At the global level, governance
has been viewed primarily as intergovernmental relationships, but it must now be understood as
also involving non-governmental organizations (NGOs), citizens’ movements, multinational
corporations, and the global capital market’.
International Institute of Administrative Sciences, 1996: ‘Governance refers to the process
whereby elements in society wield power and authority, and influence and enact policies and
decisions concerning public life, and economic and social development. Governance is a broader
notion than government. Governance involves interaction between these formal institutions and
those of civil society’.
Institute of Development Studies, Civil Society and Governance Programme, 1999*:
‘Governance refers to the sum of interactions between civil society and government. Good
governance means a broad array of practices which maximize the common/public good. More
specifically, this term refers to the following things, within civil society and especially within
governments: transparency, effectiveness, openness, responsiveness, and accountability; the rule
of law, and the acceptance of diversity and pluralism’.
World Governance Survey, United Nations University, 2001**: ‘Governance refers to the
formation and stewardship of the formal and informal rules that regulate the public realm, the arena
in which state as well as economic and societal actors interact to make decisions’.
Source: Emmerij et al 2001
* From Manor et al 1999 ** From Hyden and Court 2001
Changing the rules of the game * 13
Hyden and Court (2001), for example, criticise the definitions of governance used by
international development agencies, i.e., UNDP and the World Bank, on two counts. First, by
being a ‘catch-all’ concept, it fails to make distinctions, specifically, between governance,
policy-making, and administration. In UNDP’s definition, governance encompasses all
aspects: economic, political, and administrative. Thus, for UNDP, governance encompasses all
sectors. Second, the definitions dilute the political character of governance failing, therefore, to
distinguish it from the economy, for example.25
Much of the problem in the current conceptions of governance lies in the conflation of the
‘constitutive’ and ‘distributive’ aspects of politics, according to Hyden and Court (2001).
Policy-making and administration are concerned with the allocation and management of a
society’s resources. Governance, on the other hand, is about the rules that govern the processes
and institutions of decision-making over these resources. And this means the set of rules that
guide the relationships and interactions between state, market, and civil society in making,
shaping and implementing public policy (see Box 1 for the World Governance Survey
definition, page 13). Hyden and Court make a useful analogy in this regard: Governance is to
policy-making and administration as a road is to a car. ‘The nature of riding in it depends on
the quality of the road on which it travels’ (ibid.).
For civil society organisations, sorting out these basic issues is important if CSOs are to
systematically locate the kinds of capacities they are developing and if they are to craft the
appropriate strategies to become potent policy agents.
Policy partnership as governance
Asian South Pacific education CSOs involved in the various capability-building programmes
mentioned in the introductory section have outlined a wide range of capacities they are striving
to enhance. Using the framework developed by Hyden and Court (2001) for the World
Governance Survey (see Table 1), the capacities identified by CSOs have been organised
according to the various dimensions of governance (Tables 2, 3, and 4). These dimensions
encompass the following: 1) socialising; 2) aggregating; 3) executive; 4) managerial; 5)
regulatory; 6) adjudicatory. It must be noted that the listing is not exhaustive, but it can be said
to be representative of the range of capacities Asian-South Pacific education CSOs possess and
are working to develop in their on-going capacity-building programmes26.
Even just a cursory examination of these range of capabilities already reveals that education
CSOs are not merely developing capacities for engagement in the terrain of policy, but in the
other dimensions of governance as well. This suggests that CSOs’s conception of what
constitutes policy partnership is much broader than the functional definitions of policy-making
and administration. For Asian-South Pacific CSOs policy partnership means governance.
Hyden and Court note that the official mandate of the World Bank prevents it from dealing with political issues, and that it often
takes ‘refuge in the concept of “governance” or “institutions” when referring to things political’ (2001).
Some of the notes in this and the succeeding sections draw upon the issues, concerns and insights shared by ASPBAE
members during the electronic discussion from 15 to 30 November 2004 at the UNESCO web forum. See forum, CSO capacitybuilding for policy engagement on EFA, at
Changing the rules of the game * 14
Table 1. The functional dimensions of governance and their institutional arenas
Functional dimension
Institutional arena
Civil society
The ways citizens raise, become aware of,
and interested in public issues; participate
in public affairs; and, become a voice in
policy deliberations
Political society
The ways issues are combined into policy
by political institutions. It refers to the ways
a political system is organised in order to
facilitate and control the making of public
policy. It deals with aggregation of ideas
and interests into specific policy proposals,
and with the tackling of public demands by
specific political institutions.
Policy-making and the ways policies are
made by government institutions.
Policy implementation and and how the
policy implementation machinery is
organised; the ways policies are
administered and implemented by public
Economic society
How state and market interact to promote
Judicial system
The setting for resolution of disputes and
Source: Hyden and Court 2001
Changing the rules of the game * 15
Table 2. Real World Strategies Programme*:
Current CSO capacities and capacities for development
Functional dimension
and institutional arena
Socialising—Civil society
Current capacities
Working Group for Global
Action Week 2004 (India,
Pakistan) * public awareness
National Coalition for
Education, Action for Ability
Development and Inclusion,
and India Alliance for Child
Rights (India) * CSO national
network for alternative
education (Indonesia) *
Coalition on Education
(Solomon Islands) * CSOs
well-organised along human
rights concerns (Nepal,
Indonesia) * Two education
networks in Indonesia
Commonwealth Education
Fund (India, Pakistan)
CSOs wide provision of
education services (Pakistan,
India) * decentralised
Capacities for development
Transform 1.8 million PGRI from
a professional organisation to
an independent union
(Indonesia) * strengthening local
partnerships and international
solidarity (Philippines) * Social
capital between and among
education and other CSOs
(Nepal, Pakistan)
Network and coalition with
teachers’ unions and other
education stakeholders (India,
Pakistan) * organisational
strengthening of coalition
(Solomon Islands) * Coalition of
CSOs (PNG, Pakistan) *
campaign planning and lobbying
(Sol. Is., PNG, Pakistan) *
Strengthen local capacity to
lobby local governments * CSO
participation in national policy
Policy formulation (see next
column) * national action plan
(Philippines) * strategic planning
(Pakistan) * social capital
(Nepal) * harmonising donor
strategies (Pakistan) * EFAMDG integration
Budget tracking and resource
use among national, state and
district-level organisations
(India) * EFA national action
plan implementation (Indonesia)
* policy research and planning *
data collection * policy tracking
and analysis * alternative
database on education and
financing gaps & education
department performance
monitoring (Philippines)
Negotiation and conflict
resolution (Nepal)
Thematic areas
EFA commitments * Illiteracy *
drop out of girls
Children missing out on
Literacy * access * gender
disparity * education quality *
education relevance * high drop
out rate * disproportionate
budget allocation * insufficient
priority and resources for
achieving significant reform/
education financing * corruption
* overseas aid dependency *
alternative learning systems *
regional disparities * early
childhood development *
migrant workers and IT
Literacy * access * gender
disparity * education quality *
high drop out rate *
disproportionate budget
* Asian-South Pacific countries with education CSOs participating: India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea,
Solomon Islands, The Philippines
Sources: ASPBAE 2004a; 2004b; 2004c; 2004d; 2004e; 2004f; 2004g; Razon 2004
Changing the rules of the game * 16
Table 3. Capacity-Building to Track Progress on Policy Commitments to Girls and Women’s Literacy and
Education*: Current CSO capacities and capacities for development
Functional dimension
and institutional arena
Current capacities
Capacities for development
Thematic areas
Socialising—Civil society
CSO training * information
dissemination * networking
Knowledge of EFA and Dakar
declaration * public education
on EFA
Education on EFA policy
Three networks for EFA
advocacy (Philippines) *
vibrant panchayats (India) *
strong national coalition
(Bangladesh) *
Coalition of education CSOs for
EFA (Indonesia, South Pacific,
India) * stronger links and
coordination between networks
within and across countries in
the region * linking education
with other movements *
localisation of advocacy
framework * stronger CSO
accountability process *
stronger social movements
Shadow reports for
CONFINTEA V review and
CEDAW (South Pacific) *
critique on currents trends in
Indian women’s literacy,
education and gender
concerns in education *
decentralised grants to NGOs
(India) * Education Watch
(Bangladesh) * co-chair of EFA
commission & member of
technical groups (Philippines) *
Nepal CSOs core members of
national action plan group *
Spaces for policy engagement
at local levels; access to
government grants to NGOs
(India, Bangladesh)
Funding for CSOs and local
government bodies * holistic
approach/integration of
CEDAW, EFA and MDG (South
Pacific) * de-virtualisation of
spaces for CSO participation in
education policy (South Pacific,
India) * reforming market-driven
and instrumentalist vision of
women’s education * issues of
trust and transparency, no clear
EFA policy, appointed
representatives, political
discrimination (Nepal) * policy
formulation * gender
sensitisation * clarifying
definitions and concepts, e.g.
literacy *
Link between gender and
literacy and continuing
education * impact of fiscal and
monetary policies on women
and men * curriculum quality *
teacher quality
Continuing education centres
at village to district levels
(India) * decentralised
Personnel * policy research and
planning * statistics and budget
analysis of education from a
gender lens * alternative
baseline data * micro-macro
integration * political economic
analysis * systematic monitoring
and review of government
compliance (Indonesia)
Link between gender and
literacy and continuing
education * impact of fiscal and
monetary policies on women
and men * curriculum quality *
teacher quality
* Asian-South Pacific countries with education CSOs participating: Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, Papua New
Guinea, The Philippines, Vanuatu
Sources: ASPBAE 2003; Libang 2003
Changing the rules of the game * 17
Table 4. ASPBAE’S Pacific Education Advocacy Programme*:
Current CSO capacities and capacities for development
Functional dimension
and institutional arena
Current capacities
Capacities for development
Thematic areas
Socialising—Civil society
Education of CSOs on various
policy issues * information
dissemination * critical literacy
awareness building * public
education and information on
issues through publications,
radio and various media
Various education policy issues
(see below)
Representation of CSO policy
positions to education officials,
donors, other education
Coalition of education CSOs *
CSO participation in national
policy- making
See below
Identification and analysis of
policy gaps and weaknesses in
various thematic areas *
formulation of broad
alternatives * dialogue and
consultation with EFA national
coordinators and education
officials *
Participatory policy formulation *
developing a civil society
critique of education policy and
clearer alternative * funding *
mechanisms for consultation
and dialogue with government
Relevant education for Pacific
Islanders that promotes village
life, values, and social cohesion
* access * literacy * adult
education * non-formal
education * education research
* education finance * foreign aid
conditionalities * unemployment
Identification of gaps and
weaknesses in implementation
and implementing strategies *
project officers in PNG,
Vanuatu and Samoa *
Policy research and planning on
specific issues * coordination *
Teacher training, recruitment
and accountability * curriculum
quality * relevant education for
push-outs * childhood education
* community-organised
education * Pacific-based
pedagogies *
* Countries with education CSOs participating: Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Vanuatu
Source: Lovegrove 2003
The regulatory dimension was not included in the above three tables only because no relevant
item was found in the programme documents from which the listing was drawn. Civil society
overlaps with economic society in various ways, as will be briefly described in the next
section, although no extensive discussion will be made on this aspect in the paper27. A deeper
investigation of CSO capacity in the regulatory dimension-economic society arena, along with
others, could constitute part of CSOs’s own research agenda for them to better understand their
distinct role in governance as a whole.
An explanation of the contents in the three tables is given below. However, where the item’s
listing is self-explanatory, no further clarification will be made.
Privatisation of education was identified by E-Net for Justice in Indonesia as a key factor in widening the gap between current
reality and the achievement of the country’s EFA targets (e-mail communication from Aquino W. Hayunta during the ASPBAE ediscussion on CSO capacity-building for policy engagement on EFA, 15-30 November 2004 posted at the UNESCO web forum at education/forum). The Consensus Centre in Mongolia also raised issues of social security, welfare and
employment conditions of NGO workers, which impact on their capacity (e-mail communication from Mrs. Enkhtuya posted at the
UNESCO web forum).
Changing the rules of the game * 18
Socialising-Civil Society
This, of course, is the natural functional dimension-institutional arena where CSOs operate.
Here, education CSOs have been performing various types of work such as public education
and information on EFA and other education policy issues using various media; education and
training of other CSOs on the same; and, forming associations, networks, and partnerships
between and among citizen organisations at different levels. The latter is the main resource of
civil society that allows them participate in public affairs through, for example, school boards,
education councils and committees, development projects, local and national consultative
bodies and forums, and so on.
In the Girls and Women’s Tracking Programme (Table 3), it was identified that some of the
CSOs lack familiarity with the EFA commitments and the Dakar declaration, something which
other CSOs are able to respond to. The other ‘capacity’ lack that needs to be met is public
awareness on EFA. This item has been placed under ‘capacities for development’ since the
citizenry is the base constituency of CSOs, and, therefore, low public consciousness on EFA
contracts this base. CSOs, including those in education, have been known for their innovative
capacity to develop new and different campaign forms to generate public support and get the
attention of governments. Such capacity must be sustained and enhanced. However, there are
other factors, which are more determinant, that transform ‘low-profile’ policy domains to
‘high-profiles’ ones (Magadia 2003). A discussion of these is made in the succeeding section.
The item on ‘social capital’ under the Real World Strategies Programme (Table 2) might need
some explaining. The concern of both Nepal and Pakistan CSOs is the formation of a national
coalition of CSOs for EFA advocacy. However, in the case of Nepal, trust and confidence
among the different civil society groups: teachers unions, child labour movements, human
rights activists and NGOs need to be built and nurtured since these are the organisations
interested in establishing an education coalition. There are differing political perspectives that
need to be bridged, varied approaches and emphasis in work (some are campaign/politicaloriented, others more involved in service delivery) that require negotiation in defining joint
and coordinated action.
In the case of Pakistan, there is very little history of collaboration among education CSOs on
policy advocacy. Among the reasons for these are the strong service-orientation of most CSOs
and the failure of past coalition-building efforts, which had been mainly donor-driven. There is
a need to develop a common agenda around which CSOs can come together, apart from
building trust and confidence and overcoming past experience at failed coalition-formation28.
Aggregating-Political Society
The existing CSO coalitions and networks are listed under ‘current capacities’ since these
constitute the institutional resources with which citizens aggregate citizen interests and
The RWS recce report on Pakistan (Razon 2004) identified other important factors (ethnic issues, historical development of
CSOs in Pakistan, nature of state-CSO relations, etc.) that play into the dynamics of CSO relations and their motivations for
forming a coalition. This require a separate discussion in itself and can only be noted here.
Changing the rules of the game * 19
translate them into policy for advocacy. The panchayats29 in India are also included here since
these are forums for citizens to articulate their interests, debate issues, and develop common
policy positions. The Pacific Education Advocacy Programme (Table 4) has documented some
of its efforts at representation of common CSO positions with government and international
agencies, as indicated in Table 4.
Directly related to the function of aggregation and representation is that of accountability,
which was one of the points raised during a workshop of the Girls and Women’s Programme
(Table 3), although in this case, the concern revolved around how the CSO representatives will
take the work of the workshop further. This item has been listed under ‘capacities for
development’, and calls for more reflection and elaboration on the part of CSOs, as they
assume greater responsibilities in representing the education interests of a wider section of the
citizenry and in carrying out tasks on their behalf.
Another important, if not fundamental, challenge to capacity-building for education CSOs was
also raised in discussions within the Girls and Women’s Programme—that is, linking
education with other social movements. Indeed, a crucial component of political capacity is the
breadth and depth of interests in society that CSOs are able to represent in policy spaces. Ongoing efforts are being pursued by Asian-South Pacific education CSOs on this aspect through
the Real World Strategies Programme. The current endeavours to build and strengthen
coalitions not only encompass CSOs within the education sector (e.g., education CSOs,
teachers’s unions, student and parent associations, etc.) at various levels but also human rights
organisations, women’s groups, and migrant workers.
The spaces for civil society participation in policy is also in this realm, particularly, those
dealing with the legislature30. CSOs in different countries have varying access to these spaces,
as the tables show.
It can be said that the Dakar challenge of bringing in CSOs as policy partners refers to their
having a greater presence in this dimension-arena. But while the executive-government realm
is the most visible site of policy-making and can be said to constitute its ‘hub’, it is precisely
the recognition that policy is shaped in myriad ways by various actors and factors31 operating
in the different realms of governance that conceptions of the latter have changed.
Grouped in this dimension-arena are those CSO capacities that directly relate to the following:
1) conception of the over-all development framework, and the accompanying goals and
strategies that inform the formulation of objectives and sectoral policies; 2) policy
formulation; 3) financing and resources; 4) spaces for civil society participation in policy.
In India, Panchayats are constitutionally mandated elected councils which function as bodies of local self-governance in a
three-tiered formation based on the sub-structure of a village council. According to the 73rd constitutional amendment one-third
of the elected posts in the different layers of the panchayat bodies will be reserved for women candidates thereby
automatically provisioning a million women in postions of local leadership.
In the Philippines, for instance, social sector-based parties are allotted a number of seats under the party-list system.
See, among others, A. Arce, M. Villareal and P. de Vries, 1994; K. Brock, A. Cornwall and J. Gaventa, 2001; Andrea Cornwall,
2002; T. Holmes and I. Scoones, 2000; E. Lipuma and S.K. Meltzoff, 1997; Norman Long, 1989; R. McGee and A. Norton, 2000;
M.P. Razon, 2003.
Changing the rules of the game * 20
Although uneven across the region and within countries, CSO capacities in this dimensionarena include the capability to critique mainstream frameworks and strategies, and formulate
broad and specific policy alternatives. CSOs too have varying access to official policy spaces
and to different forms of funding.
A commonly identified capacity for development by CSOs is the combined set of research,
technical, and financing resources required so that CSOs can elaborate their alternative vision
and strategies; this alongside the need to acquire adequate knowledge and information of
mainstream policies so that more comprehensive critiquing of the latter can be undertaken32.
To address these, sharing and exchange of information, experiences, and lessons between
CSOs in the region is happening but needs to be intensified and expanded. Documentation and
systematisation of the wealth of knowledge gained by CSOs from practice, which is one of
their principal resources, need more attention and support. Development of this systematised
body of knowledge from which CSOs can regularly draw (from different sites), reflect on
(through cross- and in-country workshops and seminars), and enhance (with better
documentation) is critical if CSOs are to enhance their capacity not only in the executivegovernment realm, but in the other dimensions as well. Strengthening current linkages
between Asian Pacific CSOs was identified as important in achieving this objective33.
The range of themes in which CSOs strive to build their capacity encompasses broad and
specific policy areas. Capacities exist in the region34 and within countries, but these have to be
fully harnessed, better organised and coordinated for CSOs to effectively meet the challenge of
policy-making and governance. Thus, strong national coalitions, a stronger regional network,
well-run secretariats and improved coordinating systems are important elements of capacity. It
must be emphasised that unlike governments, which have their bureaucracies and the
taxpayers’s money to draw from in order to perform their governance functions, CSOs mostly
depend on their combined efforts, resources, organisations.
Being the dimension-arena relating to the implementation of policy, this is the realm in which
CSOs are most in contact with and often engage the state, especially in the light of widespread
efforts at government decentralisation in the region. It is no wonder that many of the capacities
for development identified by CSOs fall within this realm—policy research, budget analysis,
budget tracking and resource use, data collection and alternative database, micro-macro
integration, gender analysis, monitoring and development of alternative indicators—that are
aimed at responding to specific gaps in policy implementation, e.g., curriculum quality,
teacher quality, relevant education for push-outs, pedagogies, and so on. But as pointed out
The issue of language was raised by the Indian Adult Education Association during the ASPBAE e-discussion. Most of the
policy documents are in the English language, which makes it difficult for regional CSOs to comprehend and comment on them.
There is a need to translate policy documents into regional languages for local CSOs to adequately participate in their critique
and enhancement (e-mail communication from Prof. SY Shah posted at the UNESCO web forum).
SAHE in Pakistan, citing its own experience, has pointed out the importance and mutual benefits of linkages between CSOs
and academic/research institutions in producing policy-relevant research that is both informed by ground perspectives and
academic rigour (e-mail communication by Abbas Rashid posted at the UNESCO web forum)
The ASPBAE network, for example, is wide and diverse, involving community groups, NGOs, universities, research centres
and institutes, women’s organisations, trade unions, indigenous peoples, government agencies, media and other civil society
Changing the rules of the game * 21
earlier, capacities exist among Asian-South Pacific CSOs. Many of them have had long
experiences in implementation of development and education projects and programmes. And
some CSOs have established their own research centres or units that have begun to
systematically analyse and synthesise their own experiences as well as their partners; these
apart from the universities that abound in the Asia-Pacific. The Education Watch initiative of
the Campaign of Popular Education (CAMPE) in Bangladesh is a prime example of this: it is a
joint research/policy tracking exercise of the main education NGOs in Bangladesh which
challenges official education statistics and their interpretation.
The challenge lies in how to better harness, organise, and coordinate these capacities so that
CSOs can tap them whenever needed.
Adjudicatory-Judicial system
Only Nepal identified the need to build capacity for negotiation and dispute resolution. This
area needs further study, and insights from the experiences at alternative dispute resolution in
Papua New Guinea and Melanesia might be useful.
Double challenge
This mapping of the range of capacities that exists and is being developed by Asian-South
Pacific CSOs participating in the three capacity-building programmes reveals that they are
performing and are striving to perform various governance functions, not just in the arena of
policy. The above survey also shows that civil society organisations are cognizant of the
double challenge they face: that for them to ably participate in the formal policy arena they
must likewise ensure that the rules that shape policy processes and their development
outcomes are in place and are set right. For, indeed, while civil society may have the capacity
to participate in the ‘new’ spaces for shaping education policy such as EFA forums, their
capacities remain circumscribed by the old rules that pervade these spaces35. Enhancing CSO
capacity for policy engagement, therefore, means not only developing capabilities to
participate in decisions about ‘who gets what, when, and how’36, but, more importantly, about
building capacity to transform prevailing structures of governance—that is, capacity to
‘change the rules of the game’37.
Ma. Persevera T. Razon, Civil society and spaces for participation in country EFA processes. Lessons from Asia and the South
Pacific (2003), published by the Asian South Pacific Bureau of Adult Education, Mumbai. India.
Attributed to Harold Laswell (Hyden and Court 2001).
Hyden and Court 2001
Changing the rules of the game * 22
4. Changing the rules of the game: CSOs and the civil-political continuum
It has been argued in the previous sections that dominant forms of knowledge have tended to
privilege state- and market-centred models, discourses which have yet to be disembedded from
mainstream development institutions and frameworks on which current development practice
is largely founded. A widespread re-framing of development, of the general understanding of
the process of transformation is therefore fundamental if the dominant structures of
governance are to be changed. A critical challenge for CSOs then is the elaboration of civil
society-centred models of development that comprehensively interrogate the ‘authority’ of
state- and market-centred models, and visibilise civil society’s own distinct and crucial role in
governance of development, in particular, and social change processes as a whole.
The human development framework being developed by the UN since the beginning of the
decade of the 1990s can be said to constitute a broad intellectual framework for a civil societybased model of development. For in this framework, the starting and end points is the human
being, who acts as a citizen or as a political being in conjunction with other citizens in order to
realise the goal of development they themselves define. Although a read-through of the
literature would seem to indicate instead the triadic model of state-market-civil society, the
implicit principle that coheres the scheme’s key elements, that is, development objective
(concept of development), process, theory and strategy, is often located at the nexus of the
social and political—the realm of civil society.
Additionally, when viewed from the perspective of the short history of international
development (i.e., from the 1950s to the present) and against the array of dominantly state- and
market-oriented models that have been adopted by mainstream developers to explain and guide
development practice and its outcomes in the last five decades, the above model is distinct
because of the significant role it assigns to civil society. It puts ‘citizen at the centre’, to
borrow from Tandon and Naidoo, or as ‘first among equals’ (1999).
Shifting the frame: From state-market to civil-political society
There is no dearth of alternative conceptions of development and critiques of dominant
models, especially coming from the South, the academe, and the non-mainstream development
community, as has been pointed out in Section Two. One of the few elaborated ones is John
Friedmann’s model of alternative development, which this paper draws on to illustrate how a
shift in the development frame might look like (Martinussen 1997). Figures 1 and 2 below
contain a graphic representation of the four overlapping domains of social practice: 1) the state
(seat of formal political authority); 2) civil society (the realm of voluntary association and
associational autonomy); 3) corporate economy (the sphere of commercialised production,
consumption and exchange); and, 4) political society (the realm of governance).
Each domain consists of a core of institutions that shape the behaviour within that particular
sphere38. In the case of the state, these are the government (including the bureaucracy and the
legislature), the military and judicial institutions. In the case of civil society, these are the
Unless noted otherwise, the description of Friedmann’s model is mainly drawn from John Martinussen, Society, state and
market: A guide to competing theories of development (1997), published by Zed, London and New York.
Changing the rules of the game * 23
autonomous associations voluntarily created by citizens to collectively address common
problems, pursue common interests and goals39. For the corporate economy it is the
corporation and the market; and, for political society it is autonomous political organisations
and social movements.
The vertical line is the axis that connects the state and corporate economy; the horizontal line
links civil society and political society. In state- and market-based models (figure 1), the
vertical line is strongly drawn to indicate that the core institutions in these domains dominate
and set the agenda and process of development in the developing world. The civil societybased model (figure 2), on the other hand, places strong emphasis on the horizontal axis too to
indicate that civil society assumes an equal, if not primary, position in setting the development
process and agenda—implying a fundamental shift in ‘who make the rules of the game’.
Figure 1. State- and market-centred development models
This is one of the modifications I have made on Friedmann’s model, which identifies the household as the core institution of
civil society. The above definition of what constitutes civil society is drawn from Tandon and Naidoo, 1999.
Changing the rules of the game * 24
Figure 2. Civil society-centred model of development
Another modification to Friedmann’s model made in this paper concerns the links between
state and civil society, and state and political community. In the original model (figure 1),
religious and other cultural institutions, for example, combine state and civil society; the
legislature, state and political society. In figure 2 the compass of linkages between state and
civil society is widened through the general label of ‘participation’ to take into account the
various spaces in which citizens relate with the state and vice-versa, including participation in
state development programmes, e.g. project committees, user-service groups, consultative
bodies, etc. For state and political society the linkage is simply labelled as ‘representation’ to
account for the other forms of representative bodies, apart from the legislature, that might exist
combining the state and the political community (the EFA forum, for example, could be one
such body). The modification is made based on some of the insights from development and
political science studies40, some of which are discussed below.
Among these are the following: Olle Tornquist, Popular development and democracy: Case studies with rural dimensions in the
Philippines Indonesia and Kerala (2002), published by UNRISD (United Nations Research Institute for Social Development);
Peter Evans, ‘Development as institutional change: The pitfalls of monocropping and the potentials of deliberation’, Studies in
Comparative International Development (2004); M. Moore and J. Putzel, ‘Thinking strategically about politics and poverty’, IDS
Working Paper 101 (1999), published by Institute of Development Studies, Brighton, Sussex; P. Houtzager and J. Pattenden,
‘Finding the shape of the mountain: When the “poor” set the national agenda’ (1999), paper prepared for the Workshop on
Political Systems and Poverty Alleviation, Castle Donnington, UK; P. Houtzager and M. Kurtz, ‘The institutional roots of popular
mobilization: State transformation and rural politics in Brazil and Chile, 1960-1995’, Comparative Studies of Society and History
(2000); and, Patrick Heller, ‘Moving the state: The politics of democratic decentralization in Kerala, South Africa, and Porto
Alegre’, Politics and Society (2001); Jose Magadia, State-society dynamics: Policy-making in a restored democracy (2003),
published by Ateneo de Manila University Press, Quezon City, Philippines; N. Hossain, R. Subrahmanian and Naila Kabeer, ‘The
politics of expansion in Bangladesh’, IDS Working Paper 167 (2002), published by the Institute of Development Studies,
University of Sussex, Brighton.
Changing the rules of the game * 25
As an attempt at a general description of the relationships and linkages of actors and
institutions between the different spheres, the model can be applied at different levels whether
village, city, nation, even globe. The ‘size and shape’ of each sphere, and the extent and nature
of the linkages between domains will expectedly vary, depending on the nature, history, and
behaviour of institutions, actors, processes operating within each sphere and in their spaces of
interface, as well as the set of formal and informal rules, institutions and frameworks that
govern their relationships and interactions. CSOs would have to conduct their own ‘mapping’
exercises to find out how the socio-political picture looks like, for example, in education
policy in their own areas.
Whether this alternative framework can be further elaborated and can attain wider explanatory
power, a good part of the task would have to be taken up by social researchers, theoreticians,
and civil society’s ‘organic intellectuals’41. But the challenge of ensuring that such civil
society-based models are systematically developed and continuously supported must be
assumed by CSOs themselves, that is, if CSOs are to cogently explain the transformations and
the new imperatives of interdependency, which they themselves have, to a significant extent,
Part of this challenge is forging stronger links with the actors operating in the political
realmsocial and political movementswhich have generated and continue to generate a
wealth of experience and alternative discourses grounded in direct political struggles. The
nature of this intellectual project, with the magnitude of its requirements and ramifications,
cannot but be shared and be a joint undertaking by CSOs and social movements precisely
because their struggles and the central domains of their social practice are closely interwoven.
The task is formidable and, to some, too ideal. But the empirical evidence is mounting42 and is
being analysed in different kinds of learning environments: from the sites of civil society and
social movements practice to sub-national and national offices, from CSO research units to
development studies centres and social science departments in universities, from independent
policy think-tanks to bilateral and multilateral development agencies research and planning
divisions. CSOs would have to take a more active and leading role in producing their own
synthesis of these studies.
CSOs in education, by their very location, are natural candidates to take lead roles in
spearheading and coordinating such task, and appear ready to do so. During the 2003 meeting
of the Collective Consultation of NGOs on EFA (CCNGOs/EFA), ‘discussions on radical
views around education and development, which challenge mainstream concepts and world
views’ took place (Schnuttgen and Khan 2004). An ‘avant-garde’ of groups and individuals
are ‘inspiring the emergence of a multicultural network on learning societies’ that ‘generate
From the Italian Marxist, Antonio Gramsci, who argued that critical to the reproduction, transformation, and functioning of
regimes of power (and, therefore, regimes of knowledge and representation) are certain conceptions of reality. Intellectuals play
a vital role in the dissemination and reproduction of particular conceptions of the world. For a rising class to establish hegemony
or counter-hegemony, it should be able to develop its own ‘organic’ intellectuals, or those intellectuals that are part of the process
of hegemony production. In Kate Crehan, Gramsci, Culture and Anthropology (2002), published by University of California Press,
Berkeley and Los Angeles.
The United Nations University’s World Governance Survey has arrived at the conclusion that civil society is the ‘driving force’
for improving governance. The survey covered 16 developing countries (including Pakistan, The Philippines, Indonesia and India)
and is the ‘first attempt at making sense of the governance concept in an empirical and “real world” context’ (Hyden, Court and
Mease 2003).
Changing the rules of the game * 26
alternative worldviews, lifestyles and discourse’ (ibid.). These efforts must be sustained and
the results widely-disseminated for other CSOs to review, debate on, critique, and enhance.
Similar efforts are being pursued in the Asia-Pacific. Participant CSOs of the Pacific
Education Advocacy Programme are looking to re-orient education that is aligned with
indigenous Pacific Islanders’s visions and unique histories (Lovegrove 2003). E-Net
Philippines has likewise been pushing for the recognition of alternative learning systems and a
new vision for curriculum reform (Schnuttgen and Khan 2004). A number of CSOs in Pakistan
have emphasised as well the imperative of theoretically-informed research that can help them
formulate broad visions around which education CSOs could coalesce (Razon 2004). The Real
World Strategies Programme could serve as a centre for coordinating and synthesising these
efforts at the country and regional levels.
Politics and deep structures
Political and deep structural linkages are some of the major pathways by which rules, agendas
and policies get changed or reformed. Understanding the peculiar state-society linkages (civil
and political) that exist at the local, sub-national and national levels is important in
determining the kinds of capacities CSOs will need in order to effectively engage in these
arenas, reform policies, transform agendas, and effect shifts in the terms of governance. Due to
space and time constraints the paper can only offer some insights from a number of the
political analyses of state-society (civil and political) relations on how crucial politics and deep
structures are in changing the rules of the game.
‘Politics, essentially, is about people coming together to decide on what should be held in
common by all citizens (not just by members of various associations) and how this could be
governed jointly’ (Tornquist 2000). The nature of the political system, therefore, directly bears
upon the kind and quality of policy spaces through which citizens are able to participate in
governance (Houtzager and Pattenden 1999).
In the modified model (figure 2), political linkages have been labelled as ‘representation’ and
constitute those institutions and arenas of interface between state and political society such as
legislature, party-system, lobby groups, and social movements.
Deep structural linkages refer to ‘the gamut of productive, social, and regulatory functions of
the state that help define the boundaries between public and private, including the systems of
labor relations, social welfare, and land tenure’ (Houtzager and Kurtz 2000). These deep
linkages are a source of resources to competing social actors, help shape their interests,
provide points of access to the state, and have significant politicising effect on issues (ibid.;
Houtzager and Pattenden 1999; Magadia 2003). In the modified model (figure 2), structural
linkages have been labelled as ‘participation’ and refer to those institutions (e.g., social
development programmes, projects and their accompanying bureaucracies or implementing
structures, local development committees, multi-sectoral councils and school boards) that
connect the state and civil society.
The Philippine experience in establishing an institutional framework for governance of EFA
offers some important insights on how the ‘shape of the mountain’ or political system, and the
Changing the rules of the game * 27
nature of political and deep linkages structure the political opportunities and constraints as
well as bear upon the capacity of civil society organisations to effect shifts in education policy
and governance (Houtzager and Pattenden 1999).
The incorporation of the Jomtien Declaration of Education for All into the Philippine Plan of
Action under then-president Corazon Aquino in June 1991 must be seen in the context of a
poorly-institutionalised state whose authority was being violently contested by a rebellious
faction in the Philippine military, by communist insurgents, and Muslim separatist groups. A
multi-party system had been established following the ‘people power revolution’ in 1986 that
ousted the dictatorial regime of Ferdinand Marcos. But the system remained fragmented,
weakly institutionalised, personalistic and clientelistic. It therefore had very little mobilising
capacity that could be relied upon by Aquino to help stem the direct political-military threats
plaguing her presidency; this, apart from the fact that leading members of certain political
parties were known to support the military rebels. In contrast, the Philippine NGO sector was
highly organised. It constituted a core of the broad anti-dictatorship movement on which
Aquino rode to power. Thus, the decision to establish the National Committee for EFA
(NCEFA) to serve as the ‘grand alliance’ of all stakeholders in the education sector, with
CSOs playing leading roles (Raya and Mabunga 2003), could be seen in the context of
Aquino’s need to expand its base of power for its own political survival43. Constituting the
NCEFA established a new structural linkage between state and civil society on the area of
education; it also created a potential political linkage, that is, if the grand alliance of all
stakeholders could indeed be realised44.
The Aquino government’s initiative to institutionalise a broad partnership on EFA proved to
be short-lived, however, when the NCEFA was not convened again after 1993 under the
presidency of Fidel Ramos, former defense secretary of Aquino45. Instead the Social
Development Committee (SDC) under the country’s economic and development planning
authority was designated as the national EFA planning and monitoring body. The education
department was tasked to convene four technical working groups on EFA concerns through
which civil society participation in the EFA planning process could be channelled. The
scrapping of the national EFA committee closed a potential avenue for shared governance of
EFA by civil society organisations and other non-state stakeholders.
The structural linkage between state and society on the area of education afforded by NCEFA
had been tenuous from its inception because of a combination of several factors.
This is not to suggest that the Aquino government’s move to constitute a broad partnership on EFA occurred on purely
Machiavellian terms. Socially-oriented and reform-minded elements had been recruited by Aquino into its cabinet, although some
of these have been pushed out or marginalised in the later years of her presidency owing to the various kinds of pressure exerted
by the more numerous but conservative elements in her administration. Furthermore, education has always been highly valued in
Philippine society. The point here is to show that the specific nature of the political system and the particular configuration of key
political actors during that period were critical in creating and structuring the opportunities and constraints, including the
capacities to seize or to overcome them, for effecting certain kind of transformations in the realm of education governance
(Houtzager and Pattenden 1999).
Ideally, the scope of encompassment of EFA should include all sectors and all social groups since educationfrom early
childhood to adult and lifelong learningaffects all social groups and classes and, therefore, should be of interest to political
parties and organisations competing for their votes, support, and patronage.
In Razon (2003), adapted from Raya and Mabunga (2003).
Changing the rules of the game * 28
One, the structural linkage had been created to largely serve narrow political purposes, i.e., the
survival of a section of the elite, the Aquino regime. The relatively peaceful and ‘democratic’
transfer of power following the election of Fidel Ramos, a former general, had effectively
neutralised the immediate political threat from military rebels46. Thus, the original impetus for
expanding state constituency in the broader society in as many fronts as possible, including
education, no longer existed. Ramos, during his term, also succeeded in relatively stabilising
and strengthening segments of the Philippine state (Houtzager and Pattenden 1999).
Second, EFA remained a ‘low-profile policy domain’ (Magadia 2003)47. A policy domain can
either become high-profile or low-profile depending on how threatening the issues raised by
the actors in the domain are to the dominant power structure (ibid.). EFA’s lack of political
significance among key policy actors partly explains the ease by which the Ramos
administration dismissed NCEFA and confined the management of EFA within the
government’s economic planning body.
Third, there was really no cohesive coalition or movement for EFA that could sensitise the
public and policy-makers on the issue and keep it in the national policy agenda. While many
Philippine NGOs are highly organised and skilled, their capacity to be effective policy actors
significantly depends on their links with mass organisations and social movements. Without a
direct, politically-conscious and mobilisable constituency for EFA, the civil society
organisations and NGOs that participated in the NCEFA project remained marginal political
actors. In comparison, the NGO-brokered coalition around agrarian reform, the Congress for
People’s Agrarian Reform or CPAR, was hugely successful in exercising a sensitising and
procedural influence on agrarian reform policy (Houtzager and Pattenden 1999) precisely
because of the existence of strong peasant organisations, networks and federations48.
Fourth, the lack of cohesive constituency and strong movement to back a broad partnership on
EFA made EFA less attractive (and less threatening) to politicians; again, unlike the agrarian
reform issue. This could partly explain EFA’s inability to draw in sufficient allies (or
oppositors) and enough political interest from the elite or from other non-state but influential
actors (e.g., the Catholic Church) outside of the NGO sector.
In comparison, the structural linkage around agrarian reform established by the Marcos
regime, combined with the historically-specific mix of other determinant factors during the
democratic transition in the mid-1980s (e.g., a poorly institutionalised and highly contested
state, a weak multi-party system, and a strong NGO-civil society sector) had been crucial in
Ramos also begun peace talks with communist rebels and forged a peace agreement with the Moro National Liberation Front,
the dominant organisation within the Philippine Muslim separatist movement.
Magadia, citing Dyuvendak and Kriese et al, defines policy domains as policy or issue areas and their corresponding state
structures and processes (1999). Based on this definition policy domains can be said to be conceptually similar to the notion of
structural linkages described by Houtzager and Pattenden (1999) and Houtzager and Kurtz (2000).
A combination of other factors was also at work in the agrarian reform case, as pointed out in the study by Houtzager and
Pattenden (1999). The structural linkage around agrarian reform, i.e., the land reform programme and its corresponding
bureaucracy, had already been established during the Marcos government. Marcos himself kept the issue of land reform high on
the national agenda through his persistent reference to it as one of the showcases of democracy under his administration. This
structural linkage served as an important axis around which peasant groups mobilised to push for agrarian reform when Corazon
Aquino assumed power.
Changing the rules of the game * 29
keeping agrarian reform on top of the national agenda, reforming agrarian reform law49, and
paving the way for civil society’s recognition as a legitimate political actor, including limited
institutionalisation of CSO participation in agrarian reform implementation (Houtzager and
Pattenden 1999).
The criticality of political linkages is also highlighted in the Philippine agrarian reform case.
The weak institutionalisation of a multi-party system and the poor quality of political parties,
which are mainly personalistic and clientelistic, had a significant impact on the programmatic
content of agrarian reform policy. Inspite CSOs’s participation in legislative deliberations, the
largely conservative, landlord-dominated Congress passed a flawed agrarian reform law,
which contained many loopholes that could be used by landlord interests to reverse the law’s
redistributive and more positive provisions. As Moore and Putzel point out, the quality of
institutions in political society, e.g., political parties and social movements, are crucial to the
character and conduct of public policy (1999). The irony of the Philippine case is that the
programmatic change efforts of a strong civil society in tandem with the agrarian reform
movement, which has shown a capacity to function as an equivalent of political parties as
demonstrated in the agrarian reform case, can be stultified by fragmented party systems, or
what Olle Tornquist has referred to as ‘stalled popular potential’ (2002). Philippine CSOs’s
foray into electoral politics under the party-list system in recent years has yet to create a
qualitative impact on the over-all political system50.
The crucial role of political linkages is also demonstrated in the case of Bangladesh. While
similarly personalistic and clientelistic in nature, the country’s dominant political parties
strongly competed for control of the educational system within the context of contending
nation- and state-building agendas and differing historical interpretations of Bangladesh’s
national liberation struggle (Hossain et al 2002). This political competition has played a
significant role in the dramatic expansion of educational access in the country: from a gross
enrolment rate of 72 in 1990 to 107 in 1998 (2002). Hossain et al interestingly points out that
NGOs’s role in this competition had been through ‘threat of positive example’, that is, their
wide, grassroots reach in education partly served to push the state to expand its control over
the educational system51.
Similarly, in Peru, the women’s comedores movement had been able to significantly play a
role in national food policy because of the opportunities offered by structural linkages in the
form of food programmes and the movement’s ability to link with political parties (Houtzager
and Pattenden 1999).
What these examples suggest is the interdependent nature of civil and political linkages, and
the importance of transforming the political community. CSO capacity to engage in policy and
improve governance not only involves strengthening core institutions of civil society but those
Although it remains flawed, the agrarian reform law could have been considerably weaker without the engagement pursued by
civil society organisations under the broad coalition of the Congress for People’s Agrarian Reform (Houtzager and Pattenden
Tornquist suggests that the one of the principal weaknesses of CSO-based parties lies in weak ideological principles that
hamper the aggregation of broad interests (2002).
Although it must also be pointed out that the period of rapid educational expansion occurred when international aid funding for
primary education substantially grew (Hossain et al 2002).
Changing the rules of the game * 30
of political society as well since these institutions are crucial in defining the nature and quality
of the political and deep structural linkages between state and society, and, therefore, the major
pathways by which the structures and rules of governance can be transformed.
CSOs and the civil-political continuum
To locate the various types of CSOs within the scheme presented (figure 2), an attempt at an
illustration is made in figure 3. The typology of CSOs used here is from UNESCO (2001) and
David Korten (1990).
Figure 3. Four generations of CSO strategy
Third and fourth
generation CSOs; policy
advocates, partners
First, second , third,
and fourth
generation CSOs;
service providers ,
innovators, policy
advocates and
The UNESCO typology categorises education CSOs as service providers, innovators, policy
advocates, and policy partners. Similarly, Korten’s typology describes four generations of
strategy that NGOs (substituted with CSOs from hereon) have evolved and deploy in pursuit
of their objectives. The first generation strategy is oriented towards service delivery; the
second generation emphasises ‘small-scale, self-reliant local development’, that is, breaking
external dependency through empowerment of local communities to manage their own
development. The third generation strategy is concerned with ‘sustainable systems
development’, replicating CSO successes at the micro-level, increased cooperation with state
agencies, and a shift in CSO role from service provider to catalyst. The fourth generation
strategy is ‘still evolving’ but is essentially concerned with the ‘promotion of institutional and
structural reform through increasingly complex NGO/PO coalitions, both nationally and
internationally’ (Clarke 1998, citing Korten).
Changing the rules of the game * 31
Gerard Clarke, in his study of NGOs in the developing world, points out that for NGOs to be
political, that is, engage in the struggle to influence the process of decision-making in the
allocation of resources, they ‘must first participate in processes designed to create social
meaning and attempt to cohere as a group or groups around that social meaning’ (1998). It is
on the basis of the shared social meaning that NGOs participate in the distribution of resources
and in the struggle to influence that distribution.
Clarke identifies two levels of political engagements by NGOs. One level is to influence the
allocation of resources ‘within the context of a given social meaning (ideology)’, and the other
is to influence social meaning (e.g. development models, gender, ethnicity, education
orientation, rules and structures of governance, etc.), and help social groups to cohere (ibid.).
While many NGOs employ a mix of strategies, Clarke points out that those involved mainly in
the direct delivery of services to a client group or population (first generation strategy) and in
‘small scale self-reliant local development’ (second generation) can be considered to be
engaged largely in the first level. NGOs oriented towards ‘sustainable systems development’
(third generation) and ‘structural reform’ (fourth generation), on the other hand could be found
engaging in the second level (ibid.).
Figure 3 above shows that third and fourth generation CSOs have been positioned both in the
political and civil spheres. This merely reflects the point raised earlier concerning the highly
interdependent nature of political and deep linkages. Capacity for ‘(sufficient) co-ordination
between action in the civil, civil-political, and explicitly political society’ (Tornquist 2002)
must be built if these linkages are to simultaneously work in advancing civil society’s
programmatic agenda. This means not only strengthening institutions in the civil sphere but
also those in the political sphere. It is by strengthening the civil-political continuum, i.e., the
horizontal axis in figure 2, can an effective shift be made in ‘who makes the rules of the game,
when and how’.
Changing the rules of the game * 32
5. Concluding notes
This preliminary survey of notions of capacity by Asian-Pacific CSOs shows that education
CSOs in the region are not only developing capabilities for engagement in policy, but also for
the various dimensions and institutional arenas of governance. Conceptualisations of capacity
cannot be de-linked from the related notions and agendas for which capacity is being built as
well as from the socio-historical and institutional contexts in which readings and conceptions
of capacity emerge. In the case of Asian-South Pacific CSOs, the concept of policy partnership
is much broader than the functional definitions of policy formulation and administration. For
them, policy partnership means participation in governance.
This vision of policy partnership has broad implications for capacity-building. One, the
acknowledgement of civil society’s central role in governance implies fundamental reforms in
the prevailing structures of governance that privilege the domains of state and market.
Governance, indeed, is not just about formulating and administering policy, which addresses
the question, ‘who gets what, when and how’, but more importantly, about ‘changing the rules
of the game’—that is, defining ‘who makes the rules, when and how’. CSO capabilities must
thus include capacity to shift the framing of development, particularly, how governance of
development is currently viewed and practised. This means CSOs taking lead and active roles
in elaborating models that place equal, if not primary, emphasis on the crucial role of citizens
in governance. Such undertaking could only be comprehensively and successfully undertaken
through stronger links and collaboration between CSOs and social-political movements since
the development of such framework encompasses the key domains of their strugglesthe civil
and political realms.
Second, this broad vision of policy partnership as governance foregrounds the multidimensional and overlapping nature of policy processes, including its multiple connections to
wider social and political contexts, processes and influences. The paper has specifically
highlighted the roles of political and deep structural linkages between society and state as
important arenas of interface that can significantly consolidate or weaken CSO position in
governance. The highly-interdependent nature of these linkages suggests that CSO
engagements would have to encompass not only the civil realm but, increasingly, that of the
political sphere as well. This implies building the capacity to negotiate and sufficiently
coordinate citizen action across the civil-political continuum, that is, the ability to strategise,
relate, negotiate, and forge links with political organisations and social movements to advance
EFA. Additionally, the nature of and possibilities offered by existing political and structural
linkages impacting on education policy need further and specific investigations and better
understanding by CSOs if the potentials offered by these spaces of interface at the local and
national levels are to be fully realised in favour of Education for All.
Third, and as a consequence of the above, the nature and terms of support and funding to CSO
capacity-building programmes would likewise have to adapt to the above shifts and rise up to
the new challenges. International donor support and funding has been one of the major global
forces that has had varying effects on CSO capacity. On the one hand, it has fuelled the rise of
NGOs and CSOs in the developing world, enhanced legitimacy of CSOs as public actors, and
provided resources that helped widen CSO and NGO outreach. On the other, aid
conditionalities and the structure of aid funding continue to pose real constraints to CSOs, as
Changing the rules of the game * 33
pointed out by UNDP in its own re-thinking about capacity52. Alan Fowler (2000), for
example, identifies some of these constraining features: 1) the short-term nature of projectbased funding; 2) expectations that NGOs and CSOs apply particular methods insisted upon by
the funder even if these are inappropriate; 3) ‘locking’ of funds to donor priorities, which may
not necessarily correspond to those of CSOs and NGOs; and, 4) poor co-ordination among
Apart from these, donor governments send ‘mixed’ signals too (ibid.). Even as donor
governments and agencies fund anti-poverty and national capacity-building programmes, they
likewise support certain policies that reduce national capacity and increase poverty in Southern
nations, e.g., inequitable trade agreements through the World Trade Organisation, refusal to
undertake policy reforms in their own countries (such as the lifting or reduction of agricultural
subsidies) that could correct trade imbalances between the North and South.
The UNDP study on capacity has emphasised the need to establish ‘countervailing measures’
to begin to balance the ‘asymmetric relationship’ between donors and recipients (Browne
2002a). Whatever these measures are or will be, the processes for defining them must involve
civil society. At the minimum Fowler recommends the expansion of donor funding to civil
society organisations, not just NGOs, which receive bulk of non-governmental funding; and,
the creation of spaces for continuing dialogue between donors and CSOs towards improving
the quality of aid and the structure of the aid system to make these more flexible and
responsive to the diverse, evolving, and long-term nature of developing CSO capacity53. At the
maximum he suggests ‘changing the rules of the game’, that is, altering the structures, culture,
laws, strategies, conventions and practices to make the aid system function equitably and fairly
(Fowler 2000, emphasis added).
‘Put another way, in order for the aid system to spearhead and accelerate civic engagement in
social development it must first become credible. And this means consistent deeds across the
board, not words and double standards. Poor people and the societies in which they live must
see and be convinced that their interests count most for those purporting to act because of the
moral unacceptability of poverty and exclusion’ (ibid., emphasis in the original).
Finally, underpinning the propositions in this paper is the assumption that civil society is
essentially a political concept, and that building CSO capacity means developing political
capacity (Tandon and Naidoo 1999). The notion that some form of ‘division of labour’ exists
in the societal realm—state and parties for politics, corporations and market for economics,
and family and community for civicsonly de-politicises the social complex of actors,
histories, contexts, institutions and processes of the unequal relations of power that operate in
the real world. As one civil anthropologist has argued, ‘All human communities are held
together by shared values and ideals. This makes them all inherently political’ (Hann 1996).
An insistence on conceptual models that view civil society as outside the sphere of politics is
not only naïve but deliberately ignores the reality of the collective power that citizens have
been exercising throughout history, often quietly in the many little corners of the public
sphere, but sometimes spectacularly, as has been shown, in the wider world. #
A point raised as well by Abbas Rashid of SAHE in Pakistan during the ASPBAE e-discussion.
Taka Miyake of the Shanti Volunteer Organisation in Japan pointed out the need for more research on aid and aid modality to
enable CSOs based in donor countries to assist Southern ones in developing alternative and appropriate modes of funding. See
ASPBAE e-discussion on CSO capacity-building at the UNESCO web forum.
Changing the rules of the game * 34
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