Decentralized ministerial systems to enhance and sustain education quality : lessons learned from across borders, case studies from Indonesia, Colombia, and South Africa



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Decentralization is a prominent policy strategy for transferring power from an elite to grassroots actors or from the government to the private or nonprofit sectors. In many developing countries, decentralization has been the policy of choice for improving chronically low performing education systems. This report examines decentralization in three developing countries; Colombia, Indonesia, and South Africa, which are seeking to address their longstanding educational problems. The case studies suggest that effective decentralization depends on creating a clear and measurable vision and a robust strategic plan to achieve it. The studies further revealed the importance of community participation in active school governance, which led to practical solutions to school financial and administrative problems. This research is an attempt to pay attention to problems that could be raised during the journey of policy implementation, as well as to offer guidelines for effective, sustainable change. The discrepancy between policy and practice is a great dilemma, as Cohen said, particularly with the lack of sufficient experience in implementing the new political movements such as decentralization. This report seeks to identify the key components of an effective decentralization plan by tracing the successes and shortcomings of the three case studies. It concludes that a successful education system not only needs a clear vision and effective community participation but also an effective and practical organizational transformation to achieve progress in implementing decentralization. Changes in the educational hierarchy should occur at both the local level and the central level, and should entail more than just a change in the names of positions without changing the tasks themselves.