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’, NORRAG already had a global reach, with subscribers in Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa, South East Asia and the Caribbean. 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).
The institutional management of NORRAG has 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 for International Relations and Development Studies (IHEID) in Geneva. Since the move to Switzerland in 1992, the management of all NORRAG activities has been supported by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).
NORRAG has developed several key knowledge products (from NORRAG News in 1986 and then Working Papers, the NORRAG Bulletin, the NORRAG Blog, and from 2018 NORRAG Special Issues). 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 and North. Over the years, NORRAG has enjoyed support from Sida (Sweden), then DFID (UK), and Open Society Foundations (OSF), and is now supported mainly by SDC (Switzerland), OSF and the Graduate Institute, Geneva.