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The findings > Thematic Studies>Community Partnerships... >Part 2
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The starting point for this study is Article 7 of the World Declaration on Education for All. The Declaration emerged from the World Conference on Education for All (WCEFA), which was held in Jomtien, Thailand, in 1990. It stated that: National, regional, and local educational authorities have a unique obligation to provide basic education for all, but they cannot be expected to supply every human, financial or organizational requirement for this task. New and revitalized partnerships at all levels will be necessary: partnerships among all sub-sectors and forms of education; … partnerships between government and non-governmental organizations, the private sector, local communities, religious groups and families…. Genuine partnerships contribute to the planning, implementing, managing and evaluating of basic education programmes. When we speak of "an expanded vision and a renewed commitment", partnerships are at the heart of it.
This study, prepared a decade after the World Declaration, examines some dimensions of partnerships in education. It notes the rationale for this clause in the World Declaration, comments on the experiences upon which it was based, charts some of the paths which have been forged during the decade which followed the 1990 World Conference, and discusses appropriate future directions.
In order to permit reasonable depth, the study covers only some of the partnerships envisaged by the World Declaration. As will be evident from the title, the primary focus is on communities. These communities are of many types, operate in diverse settings, and have multiple partnerships. The study primarily focuses on their partnerships with government at various levels. The chief goal is to identify lessons from what has and has not worked in settings of different kinds. Like the World Conference, the concern is with the quality as well as the quantity of educational provision. The study also notes some of the wider implications of partnerships for social and political development.
In line with the Jomtien mandate, the work is mainly concerned with the less developed countries of the world. However, even poor countries may have rich communities, just as rich countries have poor communities. In such cases, a major question for policy makers concerns ways to harness the resources and energies of prosperous communities while protecting and encouraging their less prosperous counterparts. The study is concerned with urban communities as well as rural ones.
Within the education sector, the study is mainly concerned with primary schooling. Obviously partnerships also exist at other levels and in other types of education; but the restriction in focus is necessary to permit some depth of analysis.
One of the major themes when analyzing the nature of partnerships between communities and governments is the extent and impact of centralization and decentralization. The periods both before and after the Jomtien conference brought considerable advocacy of decentralization as a mechanism to improve the provision of education in less developed countries. Much of this advocacy failed to distinguish between the many types of decentralization, and glossed over the fact that in some circumstances increased centralization of decision-making was more desirable than increased decentralization. However, decentralization was certainly desirable in many settings; and a particular need was to find structures in which governments shared control in a more balanced way with communities and other actors.
The study begins by presenting the conceptual framework in greater depth. It then turns to rationales for advocacy of partnership in the education sector. Different actors of course have different motives. However, many of these motives overlap with and complement each other. Some statements about partnership are rather idealistic, and they are not always grounded on empirical reality. Nevertheless, identification of rationales provides a benchmark against which to evaluate the actual experiences set out in subsequent parts of the study.
Also important for macroscopic understanding is awareness of major trends over the decades. These are the focus of the next section, which discusses emerging concepts of partnership within the framework of the changing role of the state in education systems. The Jomtien conference was held during a period in history in which the central role of the state was being seriously questioned. During the period since the Jomtien conference the questioning has grown louder, and major shifts have been evident in some countries. This has implications for communities as well as for governments.
Following these quite broad analyses, commentary turns to two particular mechanisms through which partnership is operationalized. The first concerns school governance. The study notes different models for school committees and parents' associations, and notes both positive and negative features of experiences in a number of settings. The second mechanism, which may be linked, concerns financing. Much has now been learned about the nature of partnerships as they affect and arise from community financing, and about administrative structures within centralized and decentralized systems.
The next section analyzes the impact of innovations in a number of domains. It gives particular attention to recruitment and retention of pupils; to teachers and their conditions of service; educational achievement; equity tensions; and political dimensions. These areas are of particular importance to policy-makers at the apex of education systems.
Finally, the two concluding sections highlight major lessons learned, summarize trends since 1990, and comment on future prospects. While strategies for the future must vary according to context and priorities, some common principles may be identified as a guide for policy makers.

Box 1: Partnerships - A Persistent Theme

The 1990 Jomtien call for strengthened partnerships was echoed at the 1996 mid-decade review in Amman, Jordan. The final report of that meeting (International Consultative Forum on EFA 1996, p.26) observed that: As governments seek ways to decentralize responsibility for education, equalize educational opportunities, and raise more funds, they need strong and innovative allies. The [Amman] Forum noted that greater and more active partnerships have been one of the most successful outcomes since Jomtien. As the report added, however, "building partnerships is easier said than done". The Forum tried to evaluate critically the conditions in which partnerships can thrive, and pointed to new directions for their development. The present study builds on that work.

Concepts and Parameters
To provide a framework for what follows, certain terms need to be defined and/or explained. The first is the concept of primary education. While at first sight this seems to be clear, particularly when primary schools are distinct from kindergartens and secondary schools, closer examination may reveal complexities. In general, the study focuses on institutions with an explicit educational purpose operated for children in the approximate age-range six to twelve years by governments or independent operators. However, education systems may vary in the length of the primary cycle. Thus, while in Nepal and Maldives for example the primary cycle lasts only five years, in Malawi and Kenya it lasts for eight years. Sharp distinctions will not be drawn in this study, because in most cases the general nature of the organization and content of schooling is more important than the specific duration of formal cycles.
Another potential complexity is that some societies have institutions which operate parallel to mainstream schools but serve many of the same functions. In some settings, these institutions are described as nonformal rather than formal. However, the dividing lines between the categories are blurred. Bangladesh, for example, has a system of institutions run by the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC) which operate parallel to government primary schools and serve 1.2 million children (Ahmed et al. 1993; Nath & Chowdhury 1999). Whether the BRAC institutions are formal or nonformal could be debated, but for present purposes such a debate would not be very useful. The main point is that they serve the educational needs of primary-school-aged children; and the BRAC model has inspired innovations in such countries as Chad, Uganda and Malawi (Hyde 1999a).
Other initiatives which could be classified as either formal or nonformal include community schools in Egypt, El Salvador and Mali, which operate parallel to the mainstream government system with support from various external donors (Zaalouk 1995; Reimers 1997; Muskin 1999). All these models are within the framework of the study. Indeed they are of considerable importance because in many cases they have instructive forms of partnership from which lessons can be learned.
The second term to be defined is partnership. One dictionary (Procter 1980, p.791) rather naturally defines partnership as "the state of being a partner". The question then turns to the definition of partner, to which the answer is "a person who shares (in the same activity)". For the present study sharing in the same activity is indeed important, though the concept can apply to organizations as well as to persons. Although in many contexts the word partnership implies equal sharing, it does not necessarily do so. This study will give some examples in which communities are the dominant partners, and other examples in which communities are the subordinate partners. The nature of partnerships varies widely in different settings and at different points in time.
Two terms which are related to partnership are involvement and participation (Myers 1992, p.309; Shaeffer 1994, p.16). Most analysts consider involvement and participation to be relatively weak forms of activity. Partnership implies more active and committed involvement. Partners share responsibility for a joint activity, whereas participants may merely cooperate in someone else's activity.

A further term to be defined is that of community. At this point, the complexities multiply. Hillery's classic paper (1955, p.113) noted 94 alternative definitions of community, and observed that the list was still not exhaustive. Without going too deeply into this matter, it is useful here, based on the observations by Wolf et al. (1997, pp.9-10), to note that a community has at least some of the following features:

a network of shared interests and concerns,

a symbolic or physical base,

extension beyond the narrowly-defined household, and

something that distinguishes itself from other similar groups.

However, some authors warn against coarse generalizations. Communities may expand or contract according to the need and situation. Also, the voices of all stakeholders may not be heard equally; and although multiple and possibly overlapping communities sometimes come together to achieve common objectives, they may have different ideas about the ways in which those objectives can best be achieved (Myers 1992, pp.317-8; Wolf et al. 1997, p.10).

Nevertheless, with these caveats and qualifications, it is possible to identify several types of community which are particularly prominent in the field of education. For present purposes, the most important types are:

geographic communities, which embrace the individuals living in relatively small areas such as villages, districts or suburbs;

ethnic and racial groups, especially ones which are minorities and which have self-help support structures;

religious groups of various kinds;

communities based on shared family concerns, including Parents' Associations which are based on adults' shared concerns for the welfare of their children; and

communities based on shared philanthropy, and in many cases operated by specifically-designated charitable and/or political bodies.

Examples in this study will be taken from each of these types of community. They vary considerably in their degrees of formal structure, for some are quite fluid while others are officially registered as Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) or Community-Based Organizations (CBOs).
Schools can themselves have a community-building function which is important for social development quite apart from the educational role. As noted in 1999 (p.10) by Kader Asmal, South African Minister of Education, a functioning school "is a true community in its own right, and an indispensable centre for the wider community's social and cultural needs and interests". To help achieve goals of community-building and social cohesion, the South African government has devoted major effort to the creation and operation of school governing bodies. Other countries may be faced by different circumstances and challenges; but the general point remains that schools in all societies may be focal points for community activity and development. School committees are important instruments for achieving these goals, especially when they include not only parents but also representatives of religious organizations, commercial bodies, NGOs, and other groups.
The role of NGOs deserves special mention, first because they received particular prominence at the Jomtien conference and second because their role developed further in the decade which followed. In some parts of the world, the NGO sector remains small. This is the case in China, Eritrea and Iran for example. However, NGOs are particularly active in countries as diverse as Brazil, Egypt, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Philippines and Thailand (Chen 1997, p.576). They can be an important force for poverty eradication, reinforcing and complementing government activities. NGO work is not always unambiguously constructive; but many productive partnerships between governments and NGOs achieve results which would otherwise have been impossible.
The fact that many NGOs participated in the Jomtien conference both reflected the changing times and helped to shape the outcomes of the conference. Some participants felt that NGO voices were being clearly heard in fora of this type for the first time; but, if so, the final report (WCEFA Secretariat 1990, p.34) explicitly recorded the view of the Co-Rapporteur-General that it would "not be possible after this week for anyone to consider having a major educational conference or meeting without the participation of these important groups".
The growth of the NGO sector during the 1990s increased the diversity. Some NGOs are large, while others are small; some are tightly organized, while others are loosely organized; some have multiple national and international connections, while others are parochial in focus and operation. This creates a further problem for analysis, because the term NGO, like the term community, can cover so many different types of body. While some NGOs are effectively community bodies, others are more like corporations or foundations. Governments may thus have partnerships with NGOs which are distinct from government partnerships with communities. In some settings, trilateral relationships are needed between governments, NGOs and communities. These types of arrangement are not a strong focus of the present study. In other settings, more clearly within the focus of this study, NGOs and communities identify so closely with each other that relationships with governments are bilateral rather than trilateral.

Box 2: Partnerships and a New Way of Working

One of the syntheses of roundtable themes prepared after the WCEFA (Fordham 1992, p.22) elaborated on the concepts of partnerships presented at the Conference: Developing strong partnerships with parents and communities means a new way of working for governments, for service agencies, and for educators. Above all, it means listening to the needs of local communities and addressing their local agendas. It means becoming familiar with the people and their religious beliefs, their customs and even their food taboos. Then it is possible to see how best to build on what they know. The synthesis added that listening to people:

means recognizing the diversity of cultures, languages, customs, and resources which make up societies, rather than seeking uniformity;

means training - for teachers, administrators, specialists -- to sensitize them to the needs of communities and to ways in which they can involve parents in the education of their children;

means recognizing that education as well as child care begin in the home and within the community, and must be nurtured there.

Rationales for Partnership

Within every partnership, the various actors may have different reasons for collaboration. For example, when governments, communities and international agencies work together, each side may have a different reason for doing so. In most settings, however, one may identify a cluster of important rationales for engaging in partnerships:

Shared experiences and expertise. Each partner can bring knowledge and skills to the task at hand.

Mutual support. When circumstances are difficult, partnership provides mutual support to persist in efforts to achieve goals.

Division of labor. Collaboration can allow partners to concentrate on the tasks that they do best. The tasks which one partner can do best are not necessarily the ones that other partners can do best. In this situation, division of labor permits all sides to gain.

Increased resources. When each partner brings resources to the common forum, the total availability of resources is increased. These resources can be human and material as well as financial.

Increased sense of ownership. When people work together on a task, they are more likely to feel a sense of ownership than if the task is performed for them by someone else.

Extended reach. Different partners may have voices in different places. This can extend the reach of initiatives.

Increased effectiveness. When partners come together, they each bring their own perspectives. They may help each other to identify obstacles to effective implementation of programs, and ways round those obstacles.

Evaluation and monitoring. When partners have links to different sectors of society, they can complement each others' efforts in assessing the impact of programs. This information can be used to make necessary adjustments and improve impact.

While these rationales are quite generally applicable, some commentators have made specific observations on the value of partnerships within the context of education for all. For example, the WCEFA Framework for Action (WCEFA Secretariat 1990, p.58) presented two main reasons for an emphasis on partnerships. One, focusing on resources, would be placed by many people at the top the list:

Partnerships at the community level and at the intermediate and national levels should be encouraged; they can help harmonize activities, utilize resources more effectively, and mobilize additional financial and human resources where necessary.


The other rationale focused more specifically on learning:

The demand for, and participation in, learning opportunities cannot simply be assumed, but must be actively encouraged. Potential learners need to see that the benefits of basic education activities exceed the costs the participants must bear…. Also, learners tend to benefit more from education when they are partners in the instructional process, rather than treated simply as 'inputs' or 'beneficiaries'.


One of the three volumes which synthesized the roundtable themes and which was prepared following the WCEFA (Windham 1992, p.3) made related but slightly different observations:

Whether through new organizational structures or through reorienting existing structures to include a basic education component, local and national partnerships can help provide materials, facilities and personnel to meet the basic education challenge. A special benefit of this broadening of participation is to focus greater public attention on educational issues and to establish a stronger societal commitment to the principles of the World Declaration.


Other actors may have different or additional reasons for wishing to promote partnerships. For example, UNICEF (1998b, p.11) has stressed sustainability:

[P]artnerships at this time of economic uncertainty will strengthen the capacities and maximise the investments needed to ensure that programmes for children are sustainable in political, technical, managerial and humanitarian terms.


This statement also mentions politics. A comparable perspective has been presented by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), which has argued that partnerships can promote democratization and help weak voices to be heard. Also, the agency has suggested, partnerships can help in accurate identification of needs. These perspectives are embodied in the statement (USAID 1998, p.24) that:

The complex political economy of the education sector requires participation in and ownership of both the process and the results of problem identification, strategy building, and reform implementation to:

1) arrive at informed and appropriate solutions;

2) achieve consensus, cooperation, and acceptance;

3) fairly and efficiently distribute financing responsibility; and

4) dislodge entrenched interests in the status quo. Experience and research show that educational reform must be demand-driven, and its success depends on the ongoing support and involvement of the stakeholders in this dynamic process. Systemic reform will require that fora, mechanisms, and systems (e.g. … town meetings, parent-teacher-student associations, and NGO umbrella organizations) be put in place to give voice to both the outspoken and seldom-heard groups, to support their development, and to integrate and respond to their concerns.

In some countries, external agencies seek partnerships with local communities in order to circumvent governments which the agencies do not consider sufficiently oriented to the needs of disadvantaged groups and democratic voices. In other cases, external agencies operate through governments, and do not themselves have direct dealings with local communities.
While many governments advocate partnership so that they can gain access to the resources of communities, many communities advocate partnership so that they can gain access to the resources of governments. Only the most prosperous and well-organized communities can by themselves run entire school systems, and partnerships with larger entities provide ways to secure not only financial but also human and other resources. But the fact that both governments and communities consider partnerships as a way to access the resources of each other is not necessarily a contradiction. Both sides realize that the collaboration permits their reach to be considerably extended; and both sides achieve more through partnership than they would on their own.
From the perspectives of communities, partnership with governments can give further benefits in addition to resources. One concerns public recognition. Partnership with government may strengthen legitimacy, which in turn facilitates institution-building. Communities may also gain access to technical expertise, including teacher training and advice on planning and management.

However, where partnership is initiated, and how far it goes, depends on circumstances. Some communities feel confident of their own goals and resources, and prefer not to enter partnerships with either governments or other agencies because the communities fear that the partnerships would bring interference and loss of control. In other cases, schemes initiated by governments in the name of partnership are in fact efforts to "pass the buck", i.e. to reduce the financial and other burdens on governments by simply decreeing that henceforth certain types and levels of schooling are the responsibility of communities rather than of governments. Lynch (1997, pp.77-78) has observed that:

Moves towards greater involvement of local communities in the provision of primary education have often been little more than thinly disguised means to move the burden of financing onto the backs of the poor, where such approaches have not included the allocation to those communities of adequate and appropriate resources to fulfil the devolved functions.

This observation raises important issues of equity and of local capacity, which will be considered in subsequent sections of this study.

Box 3: Partnerships and Self-Interest

The fundamental basis for all partnerships is self-interest. Partnerships are only likely to endure if they recognize and build on this fact. As pointed out by Sack (1999, p.12): It would be easy to provide a long list of partnerships in a variety of contexts: politics (running mates), business (banker and entrepreneur; co-owners), the family (husband and wife) and social spheres (mother and midwife), sports (coach and player), education (teacher and learner; teachers and Ministry of Education)… No matter how broad the variety, they all have something in common: when all is said and done, the most powerful motive for the partnership is self-interest. People enter partnerships because there is something to be gained from it. Success in partnership is heightened when all concerned are explicitly aware of their own and their partner's interests. Success is also promoted when the partners share a common goal of mutual attainment of each partner's interests, as well as mutual respect for each other's interests.

Historical Perspectives
The concept of community partnership is not new. This becomes especially clear if one takes a perspective of centuries rather than years. Prior to the 20th century, most formal education was provided by private individuals or by religious bodies. The notion that governments should take responsibility for education only grew during the 19th century, reaching a peak in the mid-20th century (Archer 1984; Green 1997). When colonial governments decided to take an increasing role, in many cases they commenced by aiding the schools provided by missionaries and other religious and voluntary groups (Bereday & Lauwerys 1966; Cummings & Riddell 1994). In this sense, partnership has a long history.
The notion of state responsibility for education was fuelled by various international conventions. For example, the 1948 United Nations Declaration of Human Rights included the clause (Article 26) that elementary education should be compulsory. This was followed by a similar clause in the 1959 Declaration of the Rights of the Child (Principle 7). Flowing from and contributing to such declarations was a view that education could only be made compulsory if the state was willing to provide access free of charge and in sufficient volume. Such sentiments were enshrined in the constitutions of various countries, particularly ones gaining sovereignty during the initial decades following World War II.
Accompanying this perspective, moreover, was a widespread view, particularly in newly-independent countries, that the state should take the lead role in education in order to promote national unity and to underwrite basic standards. Partly for this reason, the authorities in some countries nationalized all non-government schools.
By the 1980s, however, the world had witnessed a fundamental shift. In part this was linked to arguments favoring privatization, which had its stronghold in the economic sphere but flowed over to the social sector. Government operations, it was argued, tended to be inefficient and unresponsive to changing circumstances, and private enterprises were said to be more client-centered (James 1989; Kitaev 1999). For governments in low-income countries, the possibility of greater contributions to education by the private sector held out the prospect of increased sharing of the heavy load of operating education systems. This perspective was reflected in the 1990 Jomtien Declaration. It was echoed three years later in the Delhi Declaration (UNESCO 1994), which emanated from an Education for All summit of leaders in nine high-population countries. The preamble of the Delhi Declaration (clause 2.8) included the statement that:

education is, and must be, a societal responsibility, encompassing governments, families, communities and non-governmental organizations alike; it requires the commitment and participation of all, in a grand alliance that transcends diverse opinions and political positions.

Although governments still saw themselves as the principal actors, they did not see themselves carrying the burden alone. Widespread perceptions accorded an increasingly prominent place to non-government actors.
The role of the state underwent shifts in relatively prosperous societies as well as in less developed ones. In England, for example, the influential 1967 Plowden Report stressed the importance of parental support for children in schools. A movement of Parent-Teacher Associations (PTAs) gathered strength and focused on cooperation between schools and homes. By the late 1960s many Local Education Authorities were appointing parent governors to schools, and this trend gathered strength in the 1970s. The 1980 Education Act took reform further still, requiring schools throughout the country to have governing bodies which included parents (Kogan et al. 1984).
Parallel developments were evident in other relatively prosperous countries. In Australia and the USA, reforms were based on democratic principles which argued that participants in education systems had the right to greater recognition (Dimmock et al. 1996, p.6). Parental participation also became more prominent in France, Italy and the German Federal Republic. Beattie's (1985) analysis of these countries argued (p.228) that parental participation was attractive to governments because it appeared to be inexpensive but could provide strategic benefits. On the one hand were educational benefits arising from closer liaison between schools and homes; and on the other hand were political and administrative benefits because problems could be removed from the overcrowded central agenda and resolved, often more effectively, at lower levels.
The shifts in industrialized countries inevitably influenced patterns in less developed ones. Although the reforms in Western Europe, North America and Australasia emphasized parental inputs, attention was also given to links between schools and broader communities (Ryba & Kallen 1975). The contexts were of course substantially different in less developed countries (Houghton & Tregear 1969; King 1976; Sinclair with Lillis 1980; Johnson 1997); but at least some policy-makers considered links between schools and communities to be important for financial, pedagogic, political and other reasons.
However, the 1980s and 1990s brought qualitative shifts in the types of actors involved in the education sectors of less developed countries. As noted above, one particular feature of this changing pattern was the growth in the number and activities of NGOs. These were not all of equal credibility, and critics have noted the existence of opportunistic, self-interested NGOs as well as philanthropic ones. Moreover, even well-meaning NGOs may lack competence to achieve their goals, and can contribute to fragmentation and mis-direction of resources. Nevertheless, Bowden's (1997, p.4) historical review suggested that "the suspicion, even antagonism that has existed towards NGOs over many years is lessening". He added:

NGOs rely more on government for their funding than ever before, and for achieving basic NGO aims in many areas of development. In addition, bilateral and multilateral agencies are increasingly incorporating the community-oriented approaches of NGOs in their projects.

Bowden observed that this increased cooperation is linked to the fact that all parties seem less certain of their roles, and of the solutions to the problems that they face. Awareness and tolerance of the weaknesses and strengths of NGOs on the one hand, and of governments and aid agencies on the other, is strengthening the dialogue.
Again, however, the consequences are not all entirely positive. As Bowden pointed out (p.4), many NGOs are becoming contractors, losing in the process their NGO focus. Approaches to community mobilization, group development, and the concentration on the very poor, Bowden observed, are being replaced by skills in proposal-writing and project management. This suggests that partnerships may not always be entirely beneficial to all concerned.
Commentary on historical perspectives must also include remark on the collapse of communism in the Soviet Union and elsewhere. At the time of the 1990 Jomtien conference, the cracks and their implications were only beginning to become apparent. However, trends accelerated rapidly, with the result that half a decade later only a handful of old-style communist regimes remained in power. The collapse of communism brought an even more dramatic change in the role of the state in those countries than in longstanding-capitalist countries. Most governments in former-communist countries had neither the inclination nor the resources to maintain their previously centralized control of education. In most such societies, at least part of the gap was bridged by entrepreneurs. Communities of various kinds also mobilized themselves for self-help initiatives, realizing that if they did not, then the shortfalls in quantity and quality of education would be even more severe (Heyneman 1997; UNICEF 1998a). Some other countries, such as the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, the Lao People's Democratic Republic, and the People's Republic of China, remained officially socialist but in practice became heavily dominated by market economics and by strategies in education which resembled those of their former-socialist counterparts (Gannicott 1998). Thus the overall framework at the end of the 1990s gave independent actors, operating either on their own or in partnership with governments, much greater place than had been the case a decade earlier.

Box 4: The Changing Role of the State

The World Bank is among agencies which have noted the changing role of the state and its implications for partnerships. The Bank's 1999 Education Sector Strategy observed (pp.2-3) that: Governments are becoming less the direct producers and providers of goods and services and more the facilitators and regulators of economic activity…. In education, government still plays a leading role -- and most likely always will - especially in the financing of primary and secondary education. But other entities are involved and likely will become increasingly so in the decades ahead…. The vital question now is not whether other-than-government roles in education will expand - they will - but rather how these developments should be incorporated into countries' overall strategies. Partnerships will be crucial.

Participation and Partnership: Distinctions and Forms
Ladders and Matrices
As noted above, many analysts consider the concepts of participation and partnership to be related but not synonymous. Partnership is commonly considered a stronger form of activity than participation.
However, some analysts have considered participation to be a broad umbrella term which includes several types of activity including partnership.
A seminal paper by Arnstein (1969) in the field of planning presented what she called a ladder of citizen participation (Figure 1). The eight rungs of the ladder were divided into three groups. At the bottom level, manipulation and therapy were really considered to be non-participation. The next three rungs - informing, consultation and placation -- were considered degrees of tokenism. Partnership was the label on the sixth rung, which was placed in the group of citizen power. However, it was not considered so strong as delegated power or citizen control.
Figure 1: A Ladder of Citizen Participation (not available)

The model is useful to the present discussion for two reasons. First, it distinguishes partnership from weaker forms of participation. In these weaker forms, endeavors to promote participation may amount to little more than window dressing. As Arnstein observed (p.216):

There is a critical difference between going through the empty ritual of participation and having the real power to affect the outcome of the process.

Arnstein illustrated this point with a French poster (Box 5) drawn to explain a student-worker rebellion. The poster asserted that participation without redistribution of power is a meaningless and frustrating process for the powerless. It allows the powerholders to claim that all sides were considered, but makes it possible for only some of those sides to benefit. As such, it is likely to maintain the status quo.
Box 5: Participation and the Status Quo (not available)
The second reason why Arnstein's ladder is useful to the present discussion is that it shows the upper limits as well as the lower limits of partnership. Thus rungs seven and eight take citizen power to such extremes that balances are reversed. At the highest rungs of the ladder, governments and other actors are likely to be treated by citizen groups to only token or weaker forms of participation. It is useful to note the possibility of this type of situation in the field of education. Where communities and other agencies running schools are so powerful, the situation cannot really be called partnership any more than it can at the lowest rungs of the ladder. A case can be made in some settings for more government inputs and controls on communities to ensure coherence in education systems and protection of the poor.
The ladder is of course only a simplified model (Fagence 1977, p.125); and Arnstein herself conceded (1969, p.217) that the real world of people and programs might have 150 rungs with less sharp and 'pure' distinctions among them. Nevertheless, the fact that the ladder has proved useful in the specific domain of education has been demonstrated by the work of Shaeffer (1992a, 1992b, 1994) and Reimers (1997).

Shaeffer (1994, pp.16-17) devised a slightly different ladder for analysis of participation in the education sector. His ladder was influenced by Arnstein's, but had seven rather than eight rungs. They were:

7. participation in real decision-making at every stage - problem-identification, feasibility-study, planning, implementation, and evaluation;

6. participation as implementers of delegated powers;

5. participation in the delivery of a service, often as a partner with other actors;

4. involvement through consultation (or feedback) on particular issues;

3. involvement through the contribution (or extraction) of resources, materials, and labor;

2. involvement through attendance and the receipt of information (e.g. at parents' meetings), implying passive acceptance; and

1. the mere use of a service such as a school.

Shaeffer, viewing involvement as a weaker form of activity than participation, commenced three of the four lower rungs on his ladder with the word involvement and only the top rungs with participation. Shaeffer's goal at that time was to analyze participation rather than partnership. However, the word partner did explicitly appear in the fifth rung.
Reimers (1997, p.150) built on this work and sought to make understanding more concrete. He devised a matrix (Table 1), in which aspects of Shaeffer's rungs were placed along the horizontal axis and some specific functions in the education sector were placed along the vertical axis. The matrix could be used in comparison of education systems. However, this would not just be a matter of placing ticks in boxes. Some functions are arguably more important than others, and therefore should not be treated as if they are equal. For example, textbook distribution is largely a mechanical process, whereas curriculum development addresses more deeply the content of education.
Table 1: Matrix of Dimensions and Degrees of Community Participation in Education (not available)
Reimers argued that the matrix could be used first to map the starting and ending points in a process of management reform, and second to define the different stages needed to progress in that continuum. For instance, he suggested, it might be unrealistic to expect communities of parents who have traditionally lacked a voice in the conduct of school affairs to play a significant role in school organization just because they have been given a checkbook to pay the teachers' salaries. However, transferring this function to communities might be a sensible starting point to increase the competencies of local communities and their sense of efficacy, and gradually to change the skills and attitudes of parents, teachers and administrators.
Examples of Application
El Salvador
Reimers (1997) used his framework to analyze a reform in El Salvador called Educación con Participación de la Comunidad (Education with Participation of the Community) or EDUCO. The model was based on a community self-help initiative that had operated during a 1980-92 civil war. During the war, communities had realized that they could not expect assistance from the government, and had hired their own teachers for children in schools that had been closed. In 1988, about 1,000 such community groups were operating. However, the system was unstable because communities had no formal contracts with teachers, and teacher assignments were frequently interrupted when the associations' funds dried up (World Bank 1994).
EDUCO was launched in 1991 as a way to expand access to preschool and junior primary education in rural areas. Initially, the primary education part covered only the first three grades. In the first year of the scheme, six experimental projects were established. Parents were organized into Asociaciónes Comunales para la Educación (Community Education Associations, or ACEs), which were legal entities able to receive government funds in exchange for provision of services. The Ministry gave each ACE enough funds to hire a teacher and purchase limited supplies, helped with organization, and provided training. By 1992, 958 ACEs operated 1,126 classrooms for 45,000 students in all 14 departments in the country. Plans were devised not only to spread the model to further parts of the country but also to expand the EDUCO schools to all six primary grades (World Bank 1994, p.2).
Reimers observed (1997, p.158) that results concerning participation were mixed. Community associations successfully managed the responsibilities delegated to them by the Ministry; but in EDUCO sections that were opened in existing schools, the community associations were to a great extent managed by school principals. Community associations in EDUCO schools played a larger role than their counterparts in traditional schools in providing materials and supplies; but schools of both types were equally likely to have parents' associations, and the nature of supervision by the Ministry was similar. Reimers added (p.160) that:
The EDUCO experience also teaches us that school autonomy and local participation are not panaceas and that they are outcomes of insufficiently understood processes more than they are conditions that can be produced by decree. The fact that spaces are opened for participation does not mean that those spaces will be occupied, and that the resulting quality of education will be better.
Nevertheless, other evaluations have shown significant effects of community ownership on teacher motivation, and some effects on academic achievement (Jimenez & Sawada 1998; Sawada 1999). The EDUCO model could be considered one of quite strong partnership, because significant powers were granted to the communities while retaining government involvement and financing.
Papua New Guinea
In a very different part of the world, a reform which was in some ways similar to that in El Salvador was embarked upon in Papua New Guinea. As in El Salvador, a significant part of the context was scarcity of government resources and a desire to increase enrolment rates, though the model did not arise from civil war.
The reform arose out of a 1991 Education Sector Review which had been critical of the education system's inadequate coverage, low retention rates, and irrelevant curricula (Tetaga 1993). Despite its relatively small population of 4.5 million, Papua New Guinea is a diverse society with over 800 indigenous languages. Prior to the reform, some communities had operated vernacular preschools on a self-help basis, but the whole of the mainstream school system used English as the medium of instruction. The reform aimed to increase the scope for vernacular-medium instruction, and also to lengthen the cycle of basic education.
Papua New Guinea's national education system was created in 1970 by bringing together the various separate education systems operated by churches and other bodies (Smith 1975). The reform gave the government a stronger role, and in this respect was a type of centralization. The government took over responsibility for macro-level planning, and also paid teachers on a unified salary scale. However, churches and other voluntary bodies still played major consultative and organizational roles, and thus became partners in the unified system. In 1995, for example, only 47.0 per cent of primary schools were owned by the government, and almost all the others were formally owned by churches even though they operated within the public education system.
Strong traditions of community participation were also evident at the school level. Each school was required to have a Board of Management with community members, and communities were responsible for major parts of the physical infrastructure of their schools.
Prior to the 1990s reform, the structure was 1+6+4+2, i.e. one year of preschool education, six years of primary schooling, four years of junior secondary, and two years of senior secondary schooling. The reform grouped the year of preschool education with the first two years of primary education, and called it the elementary level. The next stage was six years of primary education, leading to Grade 8. Students who continued took two years of junior secondary and two years of senior secondary schooling. This gave a basic structure of 3+6+2+2. The architects of the system envisaged that for some time the old and new systems would operate in parallel, with one phasing in and the other phasing out.
Table 2 shows the distribution of powers and responsibilities for elementary education following the reform. Most striking was the fact that communities and agencies (meaning churches or other sponsoring bodies) could decide on the language of instruction. This was consistent with the previous arrangement for vernacular preschools, but was a sharp change from previous practice concerning the mainstream school system. In the previous system of vernacular preschools, most teachers were selected and paid by the communities and agencies. In the new elementary school system, communities and agencies are responsible for selection of the teachers, subject to approval at higher levels, but finance for salaries is received from the national government.
Table 2: Distribution of Powers and Responsibility for Elementary Education, Papua New Guinea (not available)
Source: Papua New Guinea (1994a).

The planners of the reform placed considerable stress on community roles. For example, one document (Papua New Guinea 1994b, p.4) stated that:

Community involvement will become easier. Those communities that are demanding expansion can much more easily provide bush material classrooms and other needed infrastructure for the village based Elementary Schools…. Also, [effective involvement of] communities in building and managing the educational solutions to problems that they have been pressing the government to resolve for them is likely to ease some of the political pressure. Participation builds ownership and a better understanding of the true nature of the educational problems facing the country.

However, initial evaluation suggested that this type of statement was over-idealized and simplistic. In some parts of the country, the early years brought decline in participation. Some communities which had previously been willing to operate vernacular preschools now felt that such operation was the responsibility of the government (Institute of National Affairs 1997, p.22).
Nevertheless, significant elements of partnership on Shaeffer's scale were evident in the fact that communities could recruit teachers, subject to higher level approval, and that government financing for salaries and supplies was matched by community financing of buildings and land. Also, significant partnership was evident in the choice of language for instruction, and then in the development of materials for the curriculum (Josephs 2000, pp.22-26). The model showed clear domains in which government and communities worked together for a common purpose.
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