Management reform in a centralised environment : primary education administration in Balochistan, Pakistan, 1992-97
This study reviews the attempt to decentralise the administration of primary education in Balochistan, Pakistan in the period from 1992 to 1997. It critically examines the institutions that managed public, primary education at provincial and district levels and analyses their functions to determine where the locus of control existed for categories of public service delivery. Government officers placed in twenty-six administrative units (districts) were entrusted with the responsibility for government schools and were expected to foster partnerships with NGOs and communities to develop community schools. The thesis assesses the extent to which the process was, in fact, carried through. It investigates the constraints that the Province faced in adopting donor led objectives. The study design involved interviews at the regional level, textual analyses of government and NGO documents, and two detailed case studies in very different rural districts. The data suggest that no clear education policy framework existed in Balochistan prior to 1997. The lack of policy direction for primary education was found to be a contributing factor to the Province's weak institutional capacity for providing it. Concurrently, decentralisation plans were found to be incongruent with central and district power and political structures. Delegated authority and budgetary control needed for local management did not exist at the district level. Rare local initiatives taken by district managers showed promising signs of decentralised management but they could not be sustained without appropriate local administrative capacity. The thesis ends by discussing, in light of local experience, the elusive nature of decentralisation and its shortcomings in guiding practical policy. Why do major donors favour decentralisation in primary education administration when capacity is so weak. This contrast provides an important rationale for revisiting the centralisation-decentralisation debate and analysing whether the concept of decentralisation should be considered as the definitive model for primary education management reform in centralist developing countries.