Looking for a way out: skills development and training and its impact on aid practices and their development outcomes, with particular reference to Indonesia and Timor-Leste

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Fairman, Brian Francis (2017) Looking for a way out: skills development and training and its impact on aid practices and their development outcomes, with particular reference to Indonesia and Timor-Leste. PhD thesis, Victoria University.


This thesis focuses on the emerging problem of education and training interventions in the overseas aid context, and focuses particularly on the current effectiveness of development assistance from the perspective of aid recipients. In particular, whilst significant efforts to measure and evaluate these training interventions have occurred in Indonesia and Timor-Leste, they have met with mixed success, and this is causing some concern in that local needs appear to be overlooked. In this investigation, a careful evaluation of existing training approaches, methodologies and evaluation frameworks has been made, through the eyes of respondents who are intimately concerned with overseas aid programs, in an attempt to suggest explicit improvements that could have significant impacts on training interventions in terms of sustainable skills development in recipient countries, and for improved donor engagement and benefit. Perspectives on vocational education and training, together with insights regarding the engagement of international agencies and advisors on systems development, have been accessed. To assist this work, an interpretivist approach was used in order to examine the cultural nuances at play, and to uncover the ‘stories’ around this engagement as told by the seventeen Indonesian and seventeen Timor-Leste respondents, who largely consisted of senior managers, trainers and administrators of development programs. The respondents were between the ages of 25-70, with a reasonable balance of women (1/3) and men (2/3). By taking a semiotic approach to the examination of the elements of development assistance, it was possible to take the stance of asking ‘its not what is included but what is not included’, which, it is asserted, has revealed more about the interventions and approaches than through more conventional evaluation approaches. The intent of this study was to more clearly inform practitioners of a range of meaningful approaches and policy directions for training program design and for monitoring and evaluation techniques, and in this respect the results have indicated that encouraging recipient country ownership ensures engagement and this can be achieved through piloting training interventions which have ‘shared ownership models’ of delivery. Providing information on, and sharing information around, evaluation practice and conducting evaluations based upon designed intent would improve development practice. In addition, the study has designed and presented a ‘model of meaningful intervention practice’, intended to guide future practice, which includes suggestions and approaches to give voice to the recipients of aid, and to avoid the growing charge of ‘outsider’ perceptions which are proving to be of questionable. The findings of this study would provide valuable insights for policy makers, administrators, and trainers in both donor and recipient countries.

Item type Thesis (PhD thesis)
URI https://vuir.vu.edu.au/id/eprint/36780
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 1303 Specialist Studies in Education
Historical > FOR Classification > 1605 Policy and Administration
Current > Division/Research > College of Arts and Education
Keywords overseas aid, aid recipients, training interventions, training program design, Indonesia, Timor-Leste, development evaluations, donor programs, ownership
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