ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

A+| A| A-

The Post Office Paradox

A Case Study of the Block Level Education Bureaucracy

Elementary education administrators at the block level primarily perceive themselves, or report themselves to be, disempowered cogs in a hierarchical administrative culture that renders them powerless. They refer to their own roles and offices as "post offices," used simply for doing the bidding of higher authorities and ferrying messages between the top and bottom of the education chain. Using the case of education delivery, this paper attempts to probe an administrator's perspective in resolving the implementation problem at the last mile and is based on detailed primary fieldwork in Bihar and Andhra Pradesh along with some quantitative surveys conducted in Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Himachal Pradesh. It endeavours to trace the "cognitive maps" of administrators by capturing how last mile public servants see themselves and their jobs, and how notions of job performance are internalised and interpreted within the administrative context of elementary education in India.

This research was undertaken as part of Accountability Initiative’s PAISA programme. We would like to thank all our respondents at the Block and Cluster level for providing insights into the process and challenges faced in delivery of elementary education. We thank Mehjabeen Jagmag and Shailey Tucker for guiding the research team and for their valuable research assistance. We are also grateful to John Blomquist, Sangeeta Dey, Ambrish Dongre, Avani Kapur, Lant Pritchett, Vimala Ramachandran, Anant Sudarshan and Ratna Sudarshan for comments on earlier drafts of the paper. Data collection was supported by a team of PAISA associates. All views expressed in this paper, and any errors, are our own.

This article was externally refereed.

Dear Reader,

To continue reading, become a subscriber.

Explore our attractive subscription offers.

Click here


To gain instant access to this article (download).

Pay INR 200.00

(Readers in India)

Pay $ 12.00

(Readers outside India)

Back to Top