New findings on education and developmental leadership in the Philippines
New research from DLP and the University of Glasgow explores the role of higher education in the emergence of leaders who promote development in the Philippines. The findings nuance the perennial emphasis on formal teaching and learning, and on human capital as an outcome of higher education. They highlight the importance of extra-curricular activities and the formation of social capital – particularly networks with people from diverse backgrounds.
The study drew on interviews with more than 40 leaders involved in three developmental reforms or movements in the Philippines. It was led by Michele Schweisfurth (right), Professor of Comparative and International Education and co-director of the Robert Owen Centre for Educational Change at the University of Glasgow, and involved colleagues from the universities of Birmingham, Malaya and Nagoya. Prof Schweisfurth discusses the research team’s findings in a FreshEd podcast.
The study found that educational experiences alone were not sufficient to pave the way to a leadership role: navigating the Philippines’ elitist system requires a mixture of talent, determination and opportunity. However, interviewees all saw their own education as having played a significant role in their trajectory to becoming a leader, albeit sometimes in unexpected ways.
Extra-curricular activities and political activism were far more significant than the formal curriculum and pedagogy. They provided valuable political leadership skills, and enabled future leaders to share and discuss different conceptions of development and reform.
The networks that leaders formed during higher education, particularly with people from diverse backgrounds, enabled individuals to draw on connections across many sectors to gain broad support for complex reforms.
A research paper (pdf) and policy brief (pdf) set out more detailed findings and implications. They include discussion of the need for a broader view of the functions of higher education, equitable admissions and tuition fee policies, quality throughout the higher education system, and the encouragement of independent critical thinking.
Images: a student activist in the Philippines (Victor Villanueva/Flickr); Michele Schweisfurth.