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

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Contextualising Educational Decentralisation Policies in India

The impact of the local contextualisation of successive rounds of educational decentralisation reform on organisational learning and capacities of rural educational governance structures is examined. From locating schools in local self-government in the mid-1990s, the focus shifted in the 2000s to school accountability. This shift induced a reconstruction of the “risk” posed by the earlier round of reform and the identification of aspects of organisational learning to be retained or discarded. Such an ability to choose is an important indicator of organisational capacity for reform. The next round of reforms should include academic supervision in the accountability mandate.

Both the rounds of the study were carried out with the approval of the Government of Gujarat. The District Institute of Education and Training, Palanpur, arranged for the participant consent for the fi rst round; the second round was conducted under an agreement with the Gujarat Council of Educational Research and Training. Summaries of the fi ndings in the local language have been shared. Neither round was supported fi nancially by any external agency.

The involvement of village communities of developing countries in managing basic education very often precedes official attempts to introduce the decentralisation of governance of education (Yamada 2014). When decentralisation is legislated as a framework for local governance, such involvement and its expressions in informal, community-level or individual initiatives for education often do not get incorporated into the new structures that emerge, leading to a failure to build capacities to implement reform (Vasavi et al 1997: 3184). While a standardised policy may not account for the varieties of local experiences when it is first introduced, does such failure to build capacity repeat itself when successive waves of reform seek to shape rural, local-level management structures after decentralised governance has been formally introduced?

We seek to answer this question by studying two waves of decentralisation reform that sought to establish village-level partnerships between the school and the community in India. The first, introduced in the mid-1990s, established village education committees and the second, in 2010, replaced this structure with school management committees. Specifically, we examine how the contextualisation of policy directives regarding structures and processes of decentralised governance across successive waves of reform impacts organisational learning in rural communities and thus the capacities of local structures to act as repositories of devolved authority (Barrera-Osorio et al 2009). Is the faith in school management committees justified?

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Published On : 20th Jan, 2024

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