Defying Definition: Rethinking Education Aid Relationships in Solomon Islands
The discourse of aid—its language, structures and practice—powerfully ascribes roles and attributes to those involved in aid relationships such as developed/developing, partner, recipient/donor etcetera. This discourse is driven by a complex system of diverse and often competing ideas, values, actors and relationships, within which individuals must make sense of their role and agency at both professional and personal levels. While recent years has seen much focus on improving relationships by reordering some of these categories, little research has investigated how individuals themselves make sense of all this, and how it then influences their practice. The research presented in this article investigated the professional subjectivities of a small group of public servants working for the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development in Solomon Islands. The primary aim of the research was to explore the ways in which professional subjectivity is influenced by, and influences, aid relationships in Solomon Islands. The research findings demonstrate the complexity and multiplicity of professional subjectivities within the education sector in Solomon Islands and provide insight into how this impacts on aid relationships and aid effectiveness. The research findings highlight the need to move beyond reified binaries of ‘self’ and ‘other’ and resist the appeal of bounded categorisations of aid actors. Embracing the dissonance inherent in aid relationships and continually reflecting on the dynamic interaction between discourse, professional subjectivities and individual agency are offered as potential means for strengthening education aid relationships across Oceania and beyond.
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