The Global Challenge of Broken Systems – A Response to The Allure of Order by Jal Mehta

A Reflection on Jal Mehta’s, The Allure of Order, Part 1

In the past two years I have traversed the borders of the US and Africa five times. With each crossing I am more aware of the parallels between the challenges faced between the two nations. Though appearances and circumstance may cause them to appear different on the surface, the core struggles that we face are strikingly similar.

This truth reared its head again during my recent reading of The Allure of Order by Jal Mehta a professor at the Graduate School of Education at Harvard University. Mehta opens with a catalog of failed attempts to fix an underperforming and inequitable US education system at the top of the pyramid, through policy: the most recent and (in)famous of these attempts being President George W. Bush’s ‘No Child Left Behind.’

Mehta’s ability to depict our human desire to control and manage broken situations (brokenness defined as, “the results we are seeing are far from our expectations.”) rather than work within them and alongside them to create long-term change resonated deeply with the challenge I experience in Kenya around child poverty.

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