My own failure involves trying to teach rural kids and Indian kids in Northern Canada. Step 0 (which I did not really understand at the time and the school boards had their heads in the sand about) is what we are educating the kids for — there are no factory jobs and very few office jobs, so most school skills are irrelevant to most of the people, and few of them even envision college — and thinking of envisioning college, not understanding and working with the expectations of the local people who need to know what is available out there. The net result of all this schooling and money spent seems to be a further dichotomy between the rural poor and the native people versus the urban middle class.
Some absolutely vital reading:
Anyone in this field MUST read¨The Ugly American, which is *not* what you may think from the title (He is the good guy) and which details exactly these same aid failures back in the 1950s.
Another very good and very funny book, again *nothing* like what you might think from the title, detailing the same failures in the 1990s, is The Sex Lives of Cannibals. Everyone should read these before even considering going out in the field.