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Transnational Private Authority in Education Policy in Jordan and South Africa: The Case of Microsoft Corporation

Comparative Education Review Volume 56, Number 2, ISSN 0010-4086


The purpose of this article is to explore Microsoft Corporation as a new international actor shaping educational reforms and practices. This study examines how the implementation of Microsoft's global Partners in Learning (PiL) program varied and was mediated by national politics and national institutional practices in two different contexts, Jordan and South Africa. The global PiL blueprint was implemented using similar memoranda of understanding worldwide. The program, however, ended up looking very different in Jordan and South Africa. I describe localization practices that were shaped at least in part by differences in the political, cultural, and ICT (information and communication technology) contexts of the two countries. It was Microsoft's localization practices that ultimately enabled them to shape policy goals, directives, and decisions in favor of the use of commercial software and services in schools. In both countries, public authority relations were transformed by Microsoft's entrance into the educational policy arena. Government did not give up fully its authority in either case but shared it differently with Microsoft. In Jordan, the Ministry of Education's policy role became that of public facilitator of private sector ICT-in-education activities in Jordanian public schools. The PiL program in Jordan was a stand-alone program implemented parallel to public sector activities. The South African PiL program was tightly woven into the Education Department's programs and activities. Thus, the department played a public integrator policy role, although, in this case, the PiL program was developed and funded by Microsoft. (Contains 3 tables and 4 footnotes.)


Bhanji, Z. (2012). Transnational Private Authority in Education Policy in Jordan and South Africa: The Case of Microsoft Corporation. Comparative Education Review, 56(2), 300-319. Retrieved September 30, 2023 from .

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