The origins of NORRAG

More than forty years ago, in 1976, the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) of Canada supported the formation of a Research, Review and Advisory Group (RRAG) which was charged with critically reviewing and disseminating education research related to the developing world. In time this initiative led to Regional RRAGs, and in due course, in 1986, to what at that time was called the Northern Research Review and Advisory Group (NORRAG). This birth was made possible by support from the Swedish International Development Authority (Sida) and in particular by its Education Division.

Although it was a few years before ‘Northern’ was changed to ‘Network’, from the very first issue of NORRAG News (NN) in November 1986, edited by Christine McNab and Kenneth King, it was a priority to send NN to all the other regional RRAGs in Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa, South East Asia and the Caribbean. So it had a global reach. Also from the very beginning, its members and contributors were drawn from academia, from development agencies, and from civil society. This was evident in the three presidents which it had in its early years: Noel McGinn (Harvard), Aklilu Habte (World Bank) and Ingemar Gustafsson (Sida).

NORRAG News has been one of NORRAG’s principal knowledge products both under the support of Sida, then under ODA/DFID of the UK, and currently under the Open Society Foundations. In parallel with this shift, the institutional management of NORRAG moved across Europe from Stockholm to the Centre for the Study of Education in Developing Countries (CESO) in The Hague, to the Graduate Institute of Development Studies (IUED) then to the Graduate Institute in Geneva. Since that move to Switzerland in 1992, the management of all NORRAG activities apart from NN has been supported by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.

NN has over the years been joined by several other key knowledge products, such as working papers, the NORRAG Bulletin and from 2012 the NORRAG Blog. In addition, NORRAG has considerably expanded its service offerings over the last few years, including a wide range of policy dialogue events, capacity building and the development of institutional partnerships in the global South.

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