study focuses on one of those types of partnerships: between
governments and communities.
notion of government-community partnership was of course
not new. Such partnerships had operated in a range of settings
for many decades. As the architects of the Jomtien Declaration
were aware, however, reoriented and extended partnerships
were necessary. Such partnerships could contribute to the
planning and implementation of basic education programs,
to increased effectiveness, and to stronger feelings of
decade which followed showed the wisdom of the emphasis
on partnerships. While the goals set in 1990 have not yet
been fully achieved, much more has been achieved than would
have been possible in the absence of partnerships.
deepening experience has also shown complexities. Models
which work in one setting may not work in another; and models
which operate well at one point in time may not operate
so well subsequently. In many systems, greater emphasis
on partnerships requires some decentralization of structures;
but governments are commonly ambivalent about loss of control.
They also fear loss of efficiency and increase in inequalities
in decentralized systems; and they may be uneasy about the
diversity of practices which results from the increased
number of decision-makers.
dimension concerns the role of the state. Operation of effective
partnerships may require radical changes in this domain.
Changes which require significant reduction in the role
of the state may be particularly uncomfortable to government
personnel, and may also be disquieting to other members
Meanings and Dimensions of Partnership
notion of partnership implies shared decision-making, in
which all partners play active roles. These roles are not
necessarily equal: frameworks may have dominant and subordinate
partners. However, the essence of partnership is that each
actor has an independent voice and a way to shape the outcomes
of negotiations. While in many settings the government is
appropriately the dominant partner, this model is not, and
should not be, universal. In many contexts governments and
communities play equal roles; and in some situations the
communities are the dominant partners while governments
are the subordinate ones.
the balance between the partners, ingredients which must
be present include:
1990 Jomtien declaration emphasized the need for partnerships
to be "genuine". This raises the question what a "false"
partnership might be. The chief answer would be a situation
in which the major actor did not truly listen to the aspirations
of the other actors, imposed its own agenda, and/or coerced
others to agree.
the experience since the Jomtien conference has shown many
examples of false partnerships as well as of genuine ones.
In particular, governments have commonly viewed communities
as convenient providers of resources for education on models
totally controlled by the governments. A situation in which
communities are expected just to provide pupils, materials,
finance and other resources for schools which are totally
controlled by governments cannot be called a genuine partnership.
And the fact that such models in many countries have failed
to provide education of appropriate quantity and quality
is a strong reason why the objectives and nature of partnership
need to be reviewed.
settings, it may be added, the imbalance is on the other
side: communities are the dominant partners and give little
voice to governments. These communities may be willing to
take government resources, but are unwilling to listen to
the governments' visions on how those resources should be
used. This situation is less common; but it does exist,
and needs to be brought into discussion to show that imbalances
are not always the fault of governments. Genuine partnership,
it must be stressed, requires all actors to respect viewpoints,
to identify common tasks, and to collaborate in implementation.
this overall framework are many variations in precisely
who does what under what circumstances. Contexts and needs
vary greatly in different parts of the world. Moreover,
education is a multifaceted endeavor, and each facet may
need a slightly different balance in the roles of different
actors. Thus the balance of control may not be the same,
for example, in the matters of core curriculum, maintenance
of buildings, teacher deployment, and discipline of pupils.
Again, different models may be identified which have worked
better in some settings than in others.
Nature of Communities, and the Mechanisms for Partnership
word 'community' can mean different things to different
people in different circumstances. This fact requires care
when analyzing circumstances in particular settings.
present purposes, the most important types of communities
communities, which embrace the individuals living in relatively
small areas such as villages, districts or suburbs;
and racial groups, especially ones which are minorities
and which have self-help support structures;
groups of various kinds;
based on shared family concerns, including Parents' Associations
which are based on adults' shared concerns for the welfare
of their children; and
based on shared philanthropy, and in many cases operated
by specifically-designated charitable and/or political bodies.
communities are not always well organized in a formal sense.
For example, not all geographic communities have formal
bodies through which voices are heard and collective decisions
reached. Indeed, in many settings it is difficult to state
where the community begins and ends. Moreover, communities
are rarely homogenous. Most communities have sub-groups
which do not always operate together and in harmony; and
even in tightly-defined geographic areas some individuals
and groups may not consider that residence in a particular
location necessarily makes them part of a community.
shows, however, that schools can themselves be important
focal points for creating and fostering community identity.
Many schools have formal committees which are responsible
for representing parents in decisions concerning the planning,
development and operation of the institutions. Many schools
also have broader associations to bring together not only
parents but also community members.
existence of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) concerned
with education deserves particular comment because the proliferation
of NGOs in many parts of the world was among the particularly
striking aspects of the decade which followed the 1990 Jomtien
Conference. In some settings this change was the result
of government encouragement, but elsewhere governments were
neutral or even discouraging. Whatever the causes of proliferation,
it has brought a major change in circumstances and is among
the elements requiring reassessment of approaches and strategies.
with the advent of globalization, the different regions
and sub-regions of the world of course remain very diverse.
No single formula for partnership can be presented to take
account of all types of circumstances. Appropriate policies
for rural areas may be very different from those for cities;
policies for dynamic communities will differ from those
for passive communities; and the varied historical legacies
of colonialism, politics and economics have different implications
for different societies.
the architects of the World Declaration on Education for
All were wise to emphasize the need for partnerships; and
their message remains as valid at the beginning of the new
century as it was in 1990. In the search for appropriate
partnerships between governments and communities, much can
be learned from comparative analysis. This study does not
provide a single recipe for success which can be utilized
everywhere. But it does show some models which have worked
well in some settings; and it shows some pitfalls which
in other settings have caused frustration and failure.
will remain one of the keys to the achievement of appropriate
quality and quantity of education for all. Although this
study focuses only on government and community partnerships,
some of its lessons apply to all types of partnerships.
All actors in educational processes need to review the nature
of their existing collaboration, and to identify ways in
which partnerships can be strengthened in pursuit of the