The construction of SDG4: Reconciling democratic imperatives and technocratic expertise in the making of global education data?

Clara Fontdevila, Sotiria Grek

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

Abstract

One of the most recent and ambitious exercises in global education monitoring is the construction of the Education 2030 agenda, or Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG4). The making of SDG4 represents the single biggest attempt to reach a consensus on a number of universal education indicators, as well as on the appropriate methodologies and data sources. It is a country-led process, steered by UNESCO but with the input of all major international organizations (IOs). Given its collaborative nature, it confronts its participants with technical but also political challenges.

Through an in-depth analysis of texts and interviews, this chapter enquires into the tension between technocratic legitimacy and political legitimation, by grappling with the question of how expertise and trust in objectivity can be maintained in political processes that aspire to greater inclusion. Particular attention is paid to UNESCO as the custodian agency of SDG4 with a double accountability obligation to participating countries: first, the robust and objective monitoring of progress towards SDG4; and secondly, the participatory and democratic character of such a process. As the chapter shows, this double responsibility does not happen without friction – it has indeed caused tension between and within the participating IOs, as well as between IOs and other stakeholders.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWorld Yearbook of Education 2021
Subtitle of host publicationAccountability and Datafication in the Governance of Education
EditorsSotiria Grek, Christian Maroy, Antoni Verger
PublisherRoutledge
Chapter2
Number of pages16
Edition1
ISBN (Electronic)9781003014164
ISBN (Print)9780367856502
Publication statusPublished - 26 Dec 2020

Publication series

NameWorld Yearbook of Education
PublisherRoutledge

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