Icon Our WorkThe Misuse of the Term ‘Graduation’ in Social Policy

In our 14th Pathways Perspective, Stephen Kidd, Senior Social Policy Advisor, discusses why the term ‘graduation’ should be eliminated from international development discourse.

The term ‘graduation’ conflates the two concepts of a) supporting people to engage more effectively in the labour market and b) exiting from social security schemes. However, these two concepts should remain separate as it encourages a belief that families on poor relief schemes should only receive support for a limited period of time.

Stephen Kidd is a Senior Social Policy Specialist at Development Pathways. Having graduated four times from university, he was hoping he’d left graduation behind along with student life. He was, therefore, very disappointed to find that graduation had entered into social policy discourse and is hoping that it never applies to him – really, four times is enough!


  • Hi Stephen

    thanks for the paper on graduation — a short comment, we in shiree are more likely to speak about graduation INTO than graduation OUT OF social welfare schemes and other mainstream public services — in other words given that about 70% of the extreme poor households in the programme are not getting any mainstream government social welfare benefits at all, the meaning of graduation is rather different to that described in your paper. Hence social protection benefits should be provided (permanently and to everyone or at least nearly everyone) as a means of supporting a sustainable graduation from extreme poverty (or eventually even from poverty). Used in this way I don\’t see any problem with the term graduation.




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