The Political Economy of Education Research (PEER) Network

The PEER Network is a three-year initiative led by four universities.

Introducing the Project

The PEER Network is a three-year initiative led by four universities (Ulster, Cape Town, Nazarbayev and Sussex) aimed at improving the quality of Political Economy Analysis of education in partnership with academics, policymakers and practitioners in conflict-affected countries.

The core objective of the PEER Network is to develop a critical and locally grounded approach to Political Economy Analysis (PEA) of education that will help national, regional and global level policymakers and practitioners make socially just decisions about investments in education that benefit children in contexts of conflict and crisis.

Education reform in the context of conflict or instability is complex, with different regions experiencing specific and distinct challenges. Provision of education is often highly politicised, with a range of internal power dynamics at play for control of resources and curriculum content. This can lead to decisions which negatively impact on social cohesion and inclusion, and ultimately result in unequal access to education and distribution of education resources.

Political Economy Analysis can play a critical role in helping to unpack the political and economic interests underpinning educational policies and interventions, and can ultimately help to inform decisions made by local, national and international actors who are responsible for delivering education and support the development of socially just societies.

The PEER Network recognises and aims to address problems with current approaches to Political Economy Analysis, such as the reliance on international consultants whose assessments of education provision lack sensitivity to local history, politics, culture and knowledge of power-relations. There is also a tendency to ignore the impact that international agencies have on national policies and practices, and the different political circumstances that operate in different parts of a country.

There is often a reluctance to raise critical questions about education provision because they are too sensitive or may challenge vested interests. These severely limit the potential of analysis to improve the planning and development of socially just education systems.

Introducing the Approach

The PEER Network seeks to democratise and redress the North/South imbalances in the current knowledge base and practices of Political Economy Analysis by:

  • Establishing two regional hubs of Political Economy Analysis (PEA) of education expertise across conflict affected countries in Central Asia and Africa.
  • Inviting policymakers, practitioners and academics to co-produce and develop PEA tools, knowledge and expertise.
  • Commissioning a number of research studies which will facilitate locally owned knowledge bases.
  • Making all the tools and resources freely available online to students, researchers and practitioners.
  • Supporting a new generation of researchers to undertake Political Economy Analysis of education systems in their own contexts.

Project enquiries

April Hope

Research Network Manager
Ulster University

Research Directors

Dr Kelsey Shanks

Ulster University

Professor Mario Novelli

University of Sussex

Professor Naureen Durrani

Nazarbayev University

Professor Azeem Badroodien

University of Cape Town