In the past few years, educational policy borrowing has become a norm in the current policy-making and there are certain reasons, such as globalisation, a rise in the spread of information and communication and the involvement of the external stakeholders. The reasons, results, and applications obtained from the implementation and adoption of the borrowed policies have resulted in a debate among educational stakeholders, as there are different perspectives across individuals and contexts (Eta and Vuban, 2018). According to Rizvi and Lingard (2010), any country’s national government’s authority is to develop national policies, including effective educational policies and globalisation policies, and ensure increased stakeholder involvement, especially in higher education. All the mentioned factors contribute to increasing interaction, access and exposure to procedures, ideas and movement of people. Here, Stone, Porto and Pal (2020) explained policy transfer as a practice in which administrative arrangements, policies, political systems and institutions are collectively used and transferred to form other policies and political procedures. This particular definition of policy transfer highlights two major contexts; one where the policies are generated or formulated, i.e., the lending countries and second where the policies are adopted or received, i.e., borrowing countries (Seleznyov et al., 2021). In other words, it can be said that policy transfer constitutes borrowing and lending. Therefore, the report’s major focus is on Cameroon’s police-receiving country, and the essay will only focus on the needs and ways of adopting educational policies. The essay focuses on exploring policy borrowing in Cameroon’s higher education system and sets a practical example of the Bologna Process. For a better explanation, the Bologna Process is a higher education initiative established by the European intergovernmental system to achieve great comparability and compatibility in the higher education system and to ensure international competitiveness in the higher education system (Bologna Declaration, 1999). Therefore, the case of Cameroon has been selected in terms of Bologna adoptions in higher education systems. The essay has two major objectives. The first objective is to examine the HE stakeholder’s perception of policy borrowing in Cameroon. The second objective is to evaluate the implementation and adoption of Bologna objectives in Cameroon, whether it was a success or failure.
Educational policy borrowing is one of the effective ways to achieve success in the education system. Still, there is a need for ownership of the value and ideas of contextualisation to accomplish the purpose. Policy borrowing is one of the most frequently discussed processes and has a long history in the education literature. It identified several benefits in learning the education system of others as necessary changes can be made based on the comparison between systems (Li and Pilz, 2019). There are benefits in mapping the nations’ ideas in the facilitation of the development of the policies and the implementation of the specific approaches to solving problems. In the current time, policy borrowing is linked with globalisation or “global learning society” and there is a wide range of terms which are used in the literature such as copying, transfer or importation to describe the processes in which new ideas and change are implemented based on another context by local agencies, nations and regions (Mohamed and Morris, 2021). The motivation required for this activity is different. Still, expressed desires are included for the improvement in the reforms and innovation in the systems and policies, and it is often driven by political motives, curiosity, and economic competition. There are several different ways in which transfer of policy takes place, such as imposition, negotiation under constraint, purposeful borrowing, and adoption because of the influence (Takayama, 2020).
There are chances of falling behind in the international market, and globalisation is regarded as one of the external forces for policy borrowing. To borrow research from the first generation, one of the vital interpretations is the choice of the “reference society”, which is the system from which procedures, ideas and policies were implemented. There are cultural, economic and political reasons encourage interest in borrowing in a particular system (Verger et al., 2018). There is an examination of the cross-national policy attraction from other countries as well as scholars towards the education system of Germany in the nineteenth century, and the range of the inspiration and motivation for one country to adopt the educational approach of the other country is diverse. It can be analysed that in the U.S, the political affinity between Thatcher and Reagan administration resulted in the attention towards the U.S neoliberal reforms based on the UK model in the 1990s (Crossley, 2019).
The international policymakers are also based on the competition in the current market. The research on policy borrowing is known as one of the well-established areas, and it has gained importance among global scholars on the aspect is the reforms in travel internationally and which reforms are homebound. It has been identified that borrowing reforms from other countries or “international standards” is defined as coalition building, and policy borrowing plays an important role in the mobilisation of financial resources when it is based on the political talk of when it is regarded as falling behind the best practices (Lewis, 2021). It is determined as one of the salient features for learning from other countries but based on the comparison, those practices and policies don’t need to be transferred, but the international policy borrowing is regarded as a rule, and there is no exception in it (Santos and Centeno, 2021).
It has been recognised in the literature that similar educational reforms are spread around the globe, and the analysis is whether there is an increase because of globalisation. It is analysed that globalisation is only one factor contributing to the flow of similar ideas and knowledge. Educational policy borrowing is not new as, based on the literature, educational policy borrowing can be traced back to the 1880s (Schulte, 2018). Early comparativists have developed a three-step borrowing process that is the first step is the study of the local problems and requirements of an educational system, the second step is to identify a similar system which has resolved identical issues and has faced a similar situation, and the last step is the recommendation of solutions for borrowing of policy from this educational system. In the same way, in their study related to the interest of the British in the German Educational System, they developed a four-stage policy borrowing model, which includes the decision stage, the cross-national attraction stage, the implementation stage and the internalisation stage (Zajda and Rust, 2021). Based on this model, the cross-national stage is related to the local need, which results in borrowing, and it is associated with finding a solution to a problem which is at the local level. The objective is the improvement of the educational provisions at home, which is the main reason behind the policy borrowing. Thus, it indicates that educational borrowing is viewed as rational proof in which alternatives are provided for a local problem, and the best options are selected.
Moreover, besides solving a local problem, there are economic and political reasons behind this practice. It is also linked with the international standard motive, which the global players actively use to implement best practices in the national government and monitor these developments at the national level (Mekonnen, 2020). There is the use of the international standard rationale for policy borrowing in different ways, such as “a catalyst of change” and “to generate reform pressure” for the betterment of the processes. On the other hand, the economic plan which results in the policy borrowing is known as “economic policy borrowing”, and it is most common in developing countries as borrowing occurs as an aid as national governments are forced to adopt it because of the funding which is linked with the adoption and the duration of these policies is based on the external financing. There are various examples, such as the role of donors in policy adoption in Africa, as the new projects in education depend on funding (Mehta and Peterson, 2019). Because of the immense increase in harmonisation tendencies, it has been observed that educational policies are adopted at regional and international levels by different countries. Concerning the Bologna Process, Cameroon aimed to harmonise its educational system, and the involvement of other stakeholders emphasises that policy borrowing must be a collective effort of the national government and regional and international agreements. Thus, these are some of the reasons why a country is focused on borrowing policy and the implementation of it in an effective manner.
According to Alemu (2019), the process was started in the late 1900s (i.e., 1998) with a collective effort of education ministers of different countries, including the UK, Germany, Italy and France. The signatory countries’ number under the Bologna declaration was increased from 4 to 29 after one year. Currently, 48 countries are signed under the Bologna Declaration, and all the European countries are obliged to implement bologna objectives in their educational systems, such as (1) initiating a system of comparable and readable degrees and (2) promoting employability and mobility. Although the Bologna declaration presented a solution to all the educational challenges faced by European countries, it highly influenced Africa and Cameroon. Therefore, the Cameroon case study has been prioritised for the essay’s conduction.
Cameroonian higher education system started implementing the Bologna objectives in the 2007 and 2008 academic years as a “Licence-Master-Doctorat” reform by following state objectives of the “Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (CEMAC)” (Eta, 2015). Libreville Declaration (2005), cited in the study of Eta and Vuban (2018), narrated the major objective of policy borrowing was (1) promoting staff and student mobility, (2) certificate and degree equivalences, (3) harmonising the degree programs, awards and qualifications (4) enhance education quality in sub-regions and (5) integration of graduates into the global market.
It has been observed in the earlier section that Cameroon started implementing the objectives of Bologna in its higher education system in different universities, including Francophone Universities and Anglo-Saxon Universities, under the title “LMD”. One of the major reasons for policy adoption and implementation in Cameroon was to ensure international degree acceptance and international standards. Notwithstanding the objectives behind adopting Bologna principles, the topic is still debatable whether the policy adoption was voluntary or imposed. There were three perspectives on policy borrowing. The first perspective regarding the policy borrowing was that either the policies were “imposed or at least influenced by France” (Zahavi and Friedman, 2019). This is related to the title “LMD”, under which the guidelines were introduced in Cameroon, and the same practice was done by France before the policy adoption; France experts visited Cameroon universities. The second perspective regarding the policy borrowing was that it was voluntary because Cameroon wanted to resolve emerging challenges in their higher education system, such as employee mobility, graduate employability, harmonising the Anglo-Saxon and dual French education system and much more (Alemu, 2019). The policy’s adoption was a political decision by the head of state without any involvement of educational personnel and was fully imposed on universities without asking for their consent.
One of the other reasons that policy borrowing is supported is because of its potential to be adopted by the local people. Still, the adaption is important concerning local reality as the country which is borrowing is not similar to the country which is lending. Governments around the globe have adopted this strategy but it is essential that when a country is borrowing a policy then it should be realistic in the national terms and aspects that it can fit in the country should be taken into consideration and the borrowing should not be made without making any amendments (Eta and Mngo, 2021). The higher education policies of Cameroon are mostly based on Europe and are implemented in the system and adjustments are made for a better response in the Cameroonian society. It has been argued that policies and reforms were adopted because university education is implemented from the western world and the government took actions for the adaptation of it in the local context and the teaching methodologies and learning techniques which are borrowed by the Cameroon system are based on the systems from the west and there is always a local touch (Woldegiorgis, 2018).
Cameroon is known as one of the 37 developing countries and is classified as HIPC (Heavily indebted poor country) and is eligible for World Bank and International Monetary Fund because of the poverty and debt. HIPC is a well-known initiative that aims to provide low-interest loans and debt relief, only to those countries that undergo educational reforms. In simple terms, Cameroon was obliged to undertake educational reforms that were designed and conceived by other countries to overcome the existing challenges (already discussed in the above sections), a mandatory term and condition to receive financial aid. Thus, poverty was observed as one of the key factors while policy borrowing in Cameroon (Zagami et al., 2018). After this statement, Cameroon’s status was analysed and it can be concluded that Cameroon does not have enough capital and the fiscal policies were very stringent and the tax base of Cameroon was also narrow. Therefore, the base of policy borrowing set by Cameroon was justifiable. In order to generate more income, Cameroon was bound to borrow foreign policies and donors. Furthermore, Policy borrowing is one of the conditions for Cameroon to receive aid and the perception is that “he who pays the piper dictates the tune” this is because the one who comes up with the policies is also associated with the money and this facilitates the implementation and adoption of western or borrowed ideas and policies in Cameroon and it is irrespective that whether these policies are in accordance with the realities and needs of the country (Pineda et al., 2019).
Moreover, it was observed that borrowing policies on base on financial instability from the multinational organisation and foreign countries will have a negative impact on Cameroon staff as they were already on low salaries. It has been observed that the staff of the University of Buea were the poorest paid and they were already on strike for a salary increase in the country and to get a Research Modernisation Grant which is paid for the duration of three months. In this regard, policy borrowing is perceived as detrimental as it has a negative impact on people and low salaries not only results in poor performance and working conditions for the lecturers in the university but also it is known as “bad academic condition” which is imposed by international countries for funding (Ball, 2012). Thus, this policy borrowing has consequences such as poor student and teacher relationships and low motivation levels for teachers and this leads to poor quality of education. Consequently, the staff asked for a salary increment but IMF was not funding money for staff salaries in Cameroon. It can be concluded as when any country is in the red zone and experiencing economic buoyancy then it is not a wise decision to take up their staff salaries.
One of the other factors that influence the policy borrowing in Cameroon is the quest for development it is one of the under-developed countries which is co-existing between developed countries and there is a need for implementation of some of the highest education reforms and policies from the developed countries as they aspire to reach at the same level in future as the development in the other countries and the investment in the education is appreciated in those countries and this vision of the country is achievable by the implementation of borrowing policies and practices from the countries which are developed and have the best education system and this will assist in the good foundation for the purpose of development (Beech, 2006). The level of development determines the need for learning and the foundation of the country is not stabilised yet and there is a need for borrowed ideas in order to develop a foundation. In international conferences such as meeting with the heads of state of Central Africa, the issues related to the reforms of universities are discussed (Sebihi and Schoelen, 2019). On another hand, there are also meetings with the ministers of education in Africa and in such meetings experts from UNESCO and other organisations are present and higher education is used as one of the key drivers of economic development (Eta et al., 2017). Thus, the ideas which were proven to be successful in other countries are borrowed and implemented in Cameroon and improve the economy of the country with the help of higher education.
One of the initiatives was the focus on the relevance of higher education to the labour market and society with the help of professionals in the courses of universities, extra-curricular activities, and programs. In the early 80s, the World Bank was against the development of policies for higher education as there was an argument that investment at the low level of schooling yields more returns on investment and dividends and the World Bank regretted this decision later on (Eta and Vuban, 2017). Therefore, such policies are regarded as some of the reasons for the slow development of the country. The bologna declaration was followed to bring improvement and development to the current situation of the Cameroon system. However, it was indicated in the research of ( ) that, there was a huge difference in implementing the credit systems and degree structure at French modelled and Anglo-Saxon universities. The research indicated the idea of policy borrowing did not bring any changes in the Cameroon universities because the master’s, bachelor’s, and PhD degrees have their basic conception since 1993. However, the policy borrowing was done to reinforce and glorify the level of degrees at Anglo-Saxon universities. Unfortunately, the French-inspired education system and the LMD degree structure did not replace the existing education system and practices. On the contrary, some of the critiques argued that there should be a focus on funding primary education for the improvement in literacy rates and it will involve lower costs as compared with higher education. These policies failed to consider that the development of the country is in the size and quality of the workforce and the development in higher education plays an important role in the research-based training, entrepreneurial, and professional skills and no nation can prosper based on only literary skills (Ochs, 2006).
The practice of policy borrowing is one of the models which inculcated foreign practices in the higher education system and with the historic affiliation of Cameroon with the ex-colonialist. There was a borrowing element from the colonial system and it was inevitable and it was known as the nation is young as well the universities and the higher education of the ex-colonialists is well developed and this is one of the models which can be replicated by Cameroon (Perry and Tor, 2009). Cameroon is a country which has the same policy structure as France and it is based on borrow and copying and pasting without analysing whether it is suitable for the country or not. In 1962, higher education started in the country and there was creation of a university centre which was later on transformed into a university. The university was based on the assistance which was provided by the French government and the model was designed based on French Tradition regarding the organisational structure and arrangements. The degree structure was based on the “Diplome Detudes Generales” (DEUG), Doctorat de troisieme cycle which was offered in France and in the year 1993, university reforms based on the Anglo-Saxon system were created. Thus, the creation of the Anglo-Saxon University and universities based on the French Model indicates the policy borrowing of Cameron from colonialist that is Britain and France. This is known as one of the strategies for the preservation of the dual culture in Cameroon and France and Britain will always have an influence on the higher education of the country. On the contrary, it is argued that the policy of borrowing has neglected the African cultural identity of the country and it is also argued for being one of the causes of unemployment in the country. Teaching France and English with other subjects is known as the basis for the classical training in the higher education of the country and undermines entrepreneurship and employability this leads to higher rates of unemployment and the inefficiency of the higher education system and there is a need to foster local practices rather than being focused on the colonial languages (Eta and Vuban, 2018).
Globalisation has immensely influenced the policy borrowing concept in Cameroon’s higher education system because Cameroon wanted to update their systems and match with the European world. According to Waldow (2012), countries borrowed policies from other countries because they think that will suit their realities. Therefore, Cameroon needs to identify what is happening in the other countries and to train the workforce the adaptation to other cultures and global knowledge this will enable the students of higher education to not only work in the country but across the globe. There is a need to aligning of the training in higher education and place the graduates of the country at the same standard as the universities and institutes around the globe. Besides the requirement to form an alignment with global knowledge, policy borrowing was also indispensable because of the requirement to be like the universities in the West (Eta and Vuban, 2018). In terms of systematic perspective, the policy borrowing is compared with other systems for the improvement and development of the Cameroon higher education system and the development of its reforms (Alemu, 2019). For the development of a good system, there is a need to compare with other systems which are working out of the country for the improvement in the current system and there is a need to compare with other systems for the formation of a better-developed system and it should be focused on the contribution in the global knowledge and with the foreign systems of the higher education.
Conclusively, this assignment has studied different aspects of policy borrowing in Cameroon and its impact of it on higher education. The opinions of the different researchers are analysed on policy borrowing and its impact on the higher education of the country. There are different reasons which play a central role in policy borrowing that is poverty, development, globalisation and development and comparability and adaptation. The findings in this assignment have indicated that policy borrowing is in the argumentative position and this practice is a controversial paradigm as the factors which were perceived to have a positive impact on higher education have also resulted in a negative impact. There was a lack of involvement of the stakeholders in the adoption process and this resulted in the controversies and approaches were more in accordance with the French and British Universities despite the dual structure of the country and this resulted in the different methods for the implementation of the system in the country. This is based on the contribution of the analysis of the policy borrowing but this assignment has implications for the normative perspective and it is identified that policy borrowing is a part of the policy-making and decision in the current scenario (Eta, 2018). There is a need for a critical appraisal of the policies which are being borrowed before the implementation and this will highlight the strengths and weaknesses before the adoption process. This is one of the steps which should be taken to avoid any chances of problems with the potential of creating more issues in the current system which might lead to mismanagement. Thus, there is a need for a proper review of the policies that whether policy borrowing is in accordance with the local of the country and if will be implemented effectively. This assignment has helped in the understanding of the concepts of policy borrowing and the reason behind the adoption of this strategy by the countries and the case of Cameroon has helped in the understanding of the different concepts based on which this will become successful.
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