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China has experienced major shifts from a centrally planned economy to a market economy, from centralization to decentralization, from state ownership to privatization, and from a decisive state to a weakened state. Despite China’s economic miracle, the country also faces unprecedented challenges, including rising social inequality, rural-urban divide, regional disparity, environmental degradation, declining health and education conditions, and polarization between the rich and poor. China’s profound socioeconomic and political transformations have led to significant fundamental changes to education in China, as manifested in its decentralization, marketization, and privatization. One significant paradigm change relates to the devolution of education power and policy from a centralized governance model to local governments. With the privatization and marketization of its education system, China has adopted a market-oriented approach with the orientation, provision, student enrollment, curriculum, and financing of education. There is sufficient evidence to suggest that there has been a withdrawal of the mighty state from its paternalistic role in the provision and subsidy of public education. Unfortunately, the market economy has further increased education inequalities. The maldistribution of resources and education opportunities raises important questions about issues of social justice and equity regarding who gets how much education as the social good.

Article

Japan’s two major national school reforms succeeded in helping transform the country from a premodern feudal society into a modern nation-state in the mid-19th century, and after World War II from a militarist society into a liberal democracy. Since then, there have been numerous reform initiatives. The key drivers of the reforms since the 1990s have been neoliberals, neoconservatives, progressive educationalists, and human rights advocates. Reflecting both struggle and collaboration among these groups, the reforms have been multidirectional and not necessarily consistent. The major reform directions identified are (a) decision-making becoming more decentralized, (b) educational offerings becoming more diverse and flexible, (c) the emergence of greater individual choice, (d) recognition of a widening gap among students and addressing equity and social justice, and (e) a greater role for outside-school providers. There is a significant degree of autonomy and discretion for actors in the middle (local governments, education boards, and schools) and teachers (both independently and collectively). They have utilized this in interpreting the national government’s directives, often avoiding direct challenges to the center.

Article

The entry and prominence of international institutions in education have been striking features of policy development in the last few decades. A particular area of interest is India’s education system since independence, particularly in the context of the recent policy ideas steered by international actors. Once a strong marker of the British colonial legacy, formal education in India acquired different meanings post independence. The significance of education has been understood as an essential part of social transformation, a resource for mobility, and an instrument of empowerment. As the inherited system was domesticated, the following challenges emerged: equitable access, relevance of formal learning, and a fashioning of Indian national identity. Through a network of institutions, the enterprise of postcolonial public education was shaped in the mid-20th century and was deeply entrenched in the politics of class, caste, and gender. Mass education and schemes to enable access on the one hand, and the development of highly selective, technology-focused institutions on the other, became the route through which an extremely uneven landscape of education was established. A weakened public education system, growing private institutions, and the overall economic turn toward liberalization marked the Indian educational politics of the 1990s. Diverse international institutions, multilateral institutions, nongovernmental organizations, and national governments came together during the World Education Conference of 1990 in Jomtien, Thailand. For the developing world the policy process became globalized after the conference, and it expanded to include multiple actors and partnerships. Thriving since then, globalized education policy has become a space of solutions and authority. Given these changes at large, it is important to understand the politics of policy production, actual policy ideas, and how they acquire legitimacy.

Article

The Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden) have all based their school systems on a vision of inclusive and comprehensive schools with no streaming and easy transition between the levels. In Sweden, “A school for all” was the concept and vision for school reforms during the postwar period from the 1950s to the 1980s. This vision originated in egalitarian philosophy and the development of the welfare state. The implementation and reforms have gone through three phases: (a) implementing and supporting enactment of the comprehensive school reforms from 1950 to 1980 approximately; (b) decentralizing and implementing new public management and local accountability from 1980 to 2010 approximately; and (c) evaluating, correcting, and considering new measures from 2010 onward approximately. Political and economic premises have changed the prospects of implementing “school for all.” There are diverse developments in Nordic societies and schools, which, however, are not as dramatic as those in some other countries currently in 2021. Nevertheless, the question of equity in the school system and its importance for a democratic society needs to be raised.

Article

Denise Mifsud

It is evident that in many educational systems there has been a partial dissolution of the traditional single school model towards more flexible modes of organizational link-up, taking the form of increased collaboration among schools. The early 21st-century climate of rapid technological change creates a need for collective knowledge creation and information sharing at classroom, school, and system level. Different forms of networks, collaboratives, and federations have become an established part of many educational landscapes and have arisen for a number of reasons. Some have been “imposed” on schools, others have been “incentivized” by the offer of external funding, but many have arisen because of the efforts of educational leaders who want to “make a difference” in their locality, which assumes their essential “good.” Within education, networks are regarded as one of the most promising levers for large-scale reform due to their potential to re-culture both the environment and the system in which policy-makers operate through increased cooperation, interconnectedness, and multi-agency. School networks contribute to capacity-building across the education service through the production of multiple solutions for potential, multifaceted, and intractable problems. Networks foster innovation, providing a test bed for new ideas while offering a platform for gradual innovation, distributing the risks and the workloads among different schools. Moreover, they provide capacity-building, reflective practice, and an inquiry frame of mind besides raising achievement and enhancing student outcomes through the sharing of resources and professional expertise. Networks enable schools to overcome their isolationism and move to form community relationships. Notwithstanding the benefits generated by collaboration, some of the ambiguities surrounding the setting up of school networks focus on: network purpose; collaborative inertia; collaboration and accountability; trust and relationships; conscription and volunteerism; identity and autonomy; competition and cooperation; lateral agency; and power inequality. There is no simple, single solution to leading networks, due to the very nature of a network making it difficult to define who its leaders are, resulting in leadership that is defined by activity rather than by formal position.

Article

China has a long history of education, and its institutionalized educational leadership and administration can be traced back more than 2,000 years. Since then, educational leadership and administration systems have evolved with the development of society, politics, economy, and culture, and an educational leadership and administration system with significant Chinese characteristics has been formed. The current educational leadership and administration system in China is stipulated by different laws and regulations of the country. The State Council and the local people’s governments at various levels are responsible to guide and administer educational work under the principles of administration by different levels and a division of responsibilities. This educational leadership and administration system in China is related not only to the history of the centralized culture but also to the administration system of the country. At the beginning of the 21st century, the world is undergoing significant development, profound change, and major adjustments, while China is currently at a key stage for reform and development. World multi-polarization, globalization of the economy, development of the knowledge economy, dramatic changes in science and technology, competition for talent worldwide, and the trend toward industrialization, informatization, urbanization, marketization, and internationalization in China pose a severe challenge to education and its administration. At the same time, some serious problems in educational leadership and administration remain to be solved. Facing these challenges and problems, the government called for reforms to promote the educational governance system and modernization of the educational governance capability to educational administration. The new educational governance system emphasizes empowerment, autonomy, shared governance, social participation in policymaking, and administration.

Article

Governance has emerged as a major factor explaining the decline in the quality of public education around the world, including India. Monitoring is an important element of governance, not just as a means of tracking performance but also for planning and policymaking. In recent years, it has gained greater relevance in light of the increased participation of the private sector in all aspects of education delivery. How the government monitors education depends on the structures and systems it has in place to collect adequate and appropriate information, process the information, and follow through with a feedback mechanism. However, for monitoring to be effective, not only is it necessary to get information to the government, but it is equally important to close the feedback loop by acting on the information in a timely fashion. The community can play an important role in this process by verifying official data and providing valuable information not collected by government sources on the functioning of schools in real time. What is required are platforms for sharing that information with the community and a mechanism for response from the government. The importance of community participation in monitoring education was given a boost in India with the passage of the Right to Education (RTE) Act, in 2009, which assigned the monitoring function to the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR)—a body answerable to the Parliament of India. This separation of implementation and monitoring functions created an opportunity for the community to participate directly in the monitoring of the RTE Act through an exercise of community monitoring undertaken by the NCPCR. The impact of this exercise was wide-ranging—from creating awareness about the right to education to mobilizing the community to voice their concerns regarding schools, creating platforms of dialogue between the state and the citizens, building trust with teachers, and bringing concrete improvement in the functioning of schools. Unfortunately, the inability to get the process institutionalized with state structures led to its early demise.

Article

Federalism is a common object of study in various fields, including political science, economics, law, and history. In the field of education, however, the analysis of how educational policies are shaped by federal contexts is relatively recent. Despite the influence of U.S. constitutionalism and federalism, the historical trajectory of both Latin American federalisms and the distribution of responsibility for providing education are characterized by a centralizing federalism. This was the case at least until the final years of the 20th century when decentralizing processes based on cooperative intergovernmental relations, linked to a transfer of authority that limited the equitable provision—both in quality and quantity—of public education began.

Article

Zanzibar is a semiautonomous archipelago in the Indian Ocean along the East African coast. It gained independence in 1963 from the British. After the Zanzibar Revolution in January 1964, it united with Tanganyika to form the United Republic of Tanzania in April 1964. The Government of Zanzibar has its own executive branch led by the president of Zanzibar, legislative body (called the House of Representatives), and judicial system. The national framework for the education sector is informed by legislations, policies, and plans such as Zanzibar Vision 2020, the Zanzibar Strategy for Economic and Social Transformation, the Zanzibar Education Development Plan II, Education Act No. 6 of 1982 (amended in 1993), Children’s Act No. 6 of 2011, the Spinster and Single Parent Children Protection Act No. 4 of 2005, the Local Government Authority Act No. 7 of 2014, the Zanzibar Vocational Education and Training Policy, and the Zanzibar Education Policy. The mission of the 2006 Zanzibar Education Policy is to strive for equitable access, quality education for all, and promotion of lifelong learning. This mission is consistent with the global Education 2030 Agenda as elaborated in United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 4. Responding to reforms in both local and global education-related goals and plans, Zanzibar introduced reforms to address areas such as (a) the structure of the formal education; (b) the language of instruction; (c) the entry age; (d) curriculum; (e) inclusive education and learners with special educational needs; (f) alternative education; (g) decentralization; (h) school inspection; (i) married students, pregnant girls, and young mothers; and (j) education financing. Other measures to reform the education sector were announced by the Zanzibar president on the anniversary of the country’s revolution in 2015 and 2017. Many of these reforms are in effect, and plans for decentralization, education financing, and school inspection reforms are not yet in full operation. Some of the reforms promise positive results, such as an increase of enrollment in preprimary and primary schools, due in part to the removal of the voluntary financial contribution. Introduction of inclusive education has contributed to increasing community awareness of the right to an education for all without regard to gender, (dis)ability, or socioeconomic status. Likewise, some pregnant girls resume studies after delivery. However, there have been challenges in the implementation of some of the reforms, including the change in the language of instruction from Kiswahili to English for some subjects at the primary level. Though the actual implementation of the reforms on decentralization and education financing is yet to come into effect, there are potential risks that might negatively impact quality, equity, and inclusion. The risks include the lack of clarity of the responsibilities and functions of each actor, insufficient resources to meet the actual needs of schools, and limited capacity at the local level for the commitment to inclusive education.