Wednesday 13 Oct 2021 | 20:56 | SYDNEY
Wednesday 13 Oct 2021 | 20:56 | SYDNEY

The AusAID scholarships non-scandal


Fergus Hanson


6 May 2011 15:35

This Canberra Times article on AusAID scholarships has a tone of scandal about it. The opening sentence reads:

The Australian Government spends millions of its overseas aid dollars on scholarships, some of which were handed to foreign politicians' children while others funded courses in design and photography.

I don't see any problem with that. AusAID's explicit mandate is 'to assist developing countries reduce poverty and achieve sustainable development, in line with Australia's national interest' (my emphasis).

Given AusAID's aim is to advance Australia's national interest, surely it would be mad to ignore the children of politicians as potential scholarship recipients, given they are more likely to be future elites in many countries.

In fact, a large leadership study a colleague and I conducted in Samoa (funded by a consortium that included AusAID), revealed Australia and New Zealand have been pretty successful at identifying and then educating what has become the political elite there. It also highlighted how entrenched leadership can be among key families.  

As for design and photography, why not let talent and merit be a guide rather than setting a prescriptive list of courses for future poverty breakers to study? There are more than a few global dynamos who took unorthodox pathways

Follow Fergus on Twitter @FergusHanson