Aaron Benavot

Benvot, Aaron

Short Biography & Significant Contribution

Aaron Benavot is Professor in the School of Education at the University at Albany-State University of New York with interests in global education policy and comparative and international education.  Before taking up his position at the University at Albany-SUNY, he served four years as Senior Policy Analyst on the Education for All Global Monitoring Report team at UNESCO headquarters in Paris. He contributed to the development and drafting of four monitoring reports on: adult literacy (2006), early childhood care and education (2007), a mid-term review of EFA progress (2008) and educational inequality and governance (2009) (www.efareport.unesco.org). He has also consulted and prepared background papers for various UNESCO Institutes, UNICEF and the World Bank.

Benavot's overarching intellectual project focuses on the contours and worldwide institutionalization of 'basic' education, especially--though not limited to--the curricular frameworks and policies that nations put into place. He has conducted or collaborated in cross-national and comparative-historical studies of: the historical expansion of primary education (Benavot and Riddle 1989); the convergence (and divergence) of official curricular structures (Benavot et al 1991, Benavot 2008); the prolongation of compulsory schooling (Benavot and Resnik 2006); the curricular diversification of secondary education (Benavot 2006, Kamens and Benavot 2006); school agency in curricular implementation (Benavot and Resh 2003); the changing status of vocational education (Benavot 1983); the explosion of national learning assessments (Benavot and Tanner 2007); and the growing power and impact of international testing exercises (Kamens and Benavot 2011; Meyer and Benavot 2013). His earlier research explored education's impact on important societal outcomes such as economic development (Benavot 1989; 1992) and political democratization (Benavot 1996).

In recent years, his scholarship and policy-oriented writing have highlighted issues of school quality and 'quality education'. This follows from his interest in the contents and 'grammar' of schooling-in other words, the knowledge and embedded practices to which schooled children are exposed when they arrive in the classroom. He is particularly interested in the broad social, policy and institutional conditions that enable learning to take place (or not) in schools. He has written about the loss of instructional time in Africa (Benavot and Gad 2004); the lack of alignment between official subject syllabi and the contents of authorized textbooks in reading and mathematics in primary education in the so-called 'developing' world (Benavot 2012); and the inattention to textbook policies in discussions of the provision of quality education (Benavot 2011).

Benavot has co-authored or edited five books including School knowledge for the masses (with J. Meyer and D. Kamens), Law and the shaping of public education (with D. Tyack and T. James), Global educational expansion: Historical legacies and political obstacles (with J. Resnik and J. Corrales), School knowledge in comparative and historical perspective (with C. Braslavsky) and PISA, Power, and Policy: The Emergence of Global Educational Governance (with Heinz-Dieter Meyer).

Benavot previously taught in the sociology departments at the University of Georgia (1985-1990) and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (1990-2007) and has served as a visiting professor at universities in Argentina, Japan, Germany, Italy, Malta, France and Israel. He has been involved in European Union-sponsored socio-economic research as a consortium partner, lead partner and proposal evaluator. He received a post-doctoral National Academy of Education fellowship from the Spencer Foundation (USA) and a national Alon Fellowship (Israel). 

Benavot has served as Coeditor of the Comparative Education Review [USA] (2009-2012), and currently serves on the scientific or advisory boards of the following journals: Revista Latinoamericana de Educación Comparada [Argentina]; Mediterranean Journal of Educational Studies [Malta]; Revista de Educación [Spain]; and Innovation-The European Journal of Social Science Research [Austria].

Professor Aaron Benavot 

Educational Background

Ph.D. and M.A. Stanford University, Sociology (1986 and 1983)
B.A. Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Sociology & History (1979)

Professional Background

Professor, School of Education, University of Albany-SUNY (2009-present)
Visiting Adjunct Professor, Teacher's College, Columbia University, New York, USA (2013)
Visiting Professor, Center for the Study of International Cooperation in Education, Hiroshima University, Japan (2011-2012)
Visiting Professor, School of Education, La Universidad de San Andrés, Argentina (2006, 2007, 2009)
Senior Policy Analyst, Global Monitoring Report on Educational for All, UNESCO headquarters, Paris, France (2005-2009)
Lecturer and Senior Lecturer, Department of Sociology & Anthropology, Hebrew University of Jerusalem (1990-2007)
Assistant Professor, Dept. of Sociology, University of Georgia (1986-1990)

Affiliations (associations, organizations, institutions)

Comparative and International Education Society (1995 - present); Member, Board of Directors (2007 - 2010) and CIES Secretary (2012 - 2013)
American Sociological Association, Member (1982 - 2013)
Israeli Sociological Society, Executive Board (2003 - 2004)
International Sociological Association, Sociology of Education, Council (1994 - 1997)

Selected Publications

Benavot, A. (1983) "The rise and decline of vocational education." Sociology of Education 56 (April): 63-76.

Benavot, A. and P. Riddle (1988) "The expansion of primary education 1870-1940: Trends and issues." Sociology of Education 61 (July): 190-210.

Benavot, A. (1989) "Education, gender, and economic development: A cross-national study." Sociology of Education 62 (January): 14-32.

Benavot, A., Y-K Cha, D. Kamens, J. Meyer and S-Y Wong (1991) "Knowledge for the masses: World models and national curricula: 1920-1987." American Sociological Review 56: 85-100 

Benavot, A. (1992) "Curricular content, educational expansion and economic growth."Comparative Education Review 36 (May): 150-174.

Kamens, D., J. Meyer and A. Benavot (1996) "Worldwide patterns in academic secondary education curricula."Comparative Education Review 40 (May): 116-138.

Benavot, A. (1996) "Education and political democratization: A cross-national and longitudinal study." Comparative Education Review 40 (November): 377-403. 

Benavot, A. and L. Gad (2004) "Actual instructional time in African primary schools: Factors that reduce school quality in developing countries." Prospects 34 (September): 291-310.

Benavot, A., J. Resnik and J. Corrales (2006) Global Educational Expansion: Historical Legacies and Political Obstacles.Cambridge, MA: American Academy of Arts and Sciences. 

Benavot, A. and E. Tanner (2007) The growth of national learning assessments in the world, 1995-2006. Background paper for the EFA global monitoring report: Education For All by 2015: Will We Make It? Paris: UNESCO

Benavot, A. and C. Braslavsky (Eds). (2007) School Knowledge in Comparative and Historical Perspective: Changing Curricula in Primary and Secondary Education. Hong Kong: Comparative Education Research Centre, University of Hong Kong. (also in Spanish)

Benavot, A. (2008) "The organization of school knowledge: Official curricula in global perspective." In Julia Resnik (ed.)The Production of Educational Knowledge in the Global Era. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers. Pp. 55-92

Benavot, A. (2011) "Imagining a transformed UNESCO with learning at its core." International Journal of Educational Development 31 (5): 558-561. 

Benavot, A. (2012) Primary School Curricula in Reading and Mathematics in Developing Countries. Technical Paper No. 8.UNESCO Institute for Statistics, Montreal, Canada.

Meyer, H-D. and A. Benavot (Eds) (2013): PISA, Power, and Policy: The Emergence of Global Educational Governance.Oxford UK: Symposium Books. 


Created: 8/26/2013

Updated: 8/28/2013

Contributed By: Aaron Benavot & Taya L. Owens