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The findings > Thematic Studies>Community Partnerships... >Part 7
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Conclusion
 
The decade following the 1990 World Conference on Education for All brought some major changes in patterns of educational provision. Among the most significant was expansion of the need for educational provision to match population growth. This growth was especially marked in the less developed countries of Africa and Asia.
 
The decade also brought significant shifts in general perceptions of the role of the state. Governments are still generally seen, and see themselves, as the dominant agencies with responsibility for basic education. However, the non-government sector has grown significantly, and now occupies a much more widely accepted place. Some institutions in the non-government sector are independent agencies operated on either a for-profit or a not-for-profit basis. Other institutions work in partnership with governments. The opening paragraphs of the present study highlighted the "expanded vision" held by the signatories to the World Declaration on Education for All. Part of this vision was that "new and revitalized partnerships" would be formed. This was indeed a feature of the years that followed.
 
Of course this pattern was not seen uniformly. New and revitalized partnerships were more evident in some countries, and in some regions within those countries, than in others. Much depended on political and financial climates, and on longstanding traditions concerning the governance of education. In general, however, partnerships were much more evident at the end of the decade than at the beginning. This was allied to a general shift towards decentralization of much decision-making; and it included an evolution from weaker forms of participation to stronger forms of partnership. In terms of Arnstein's (1969) and Shaeffer's (1994) ladders of participation, more activity was evident in the higher rungs than previously; and in terms of Reimers' (1997) matrix, more examples could be identified towards the right end of the chart than previously.
 
Many challenges of course remain. One is that the notion of partnership can have multiple meanings and implications, which leads to fuzzy conceptualization and imperfect implementation. Another is that the goals of different partners do not always coincide, and mutual accommodation is difficult. Also, reduction in the role of the state can lead to increase in inequities of various kinds; and the mechanics of operation of partnerships often leave much to be desired.
 
Nevertheless, the emphasis on partnerships in the 1990 World Declaration has been proven wise and generally appropriate. In the continuing quest to achieve high quality basic education for all, partnerships will remain a key ingredient. In many settings, governments and communities have found ways to work together harmoniously and productively. If past lessons are built upon, the goals will surely be achieved more effectively.
 

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Note on the Author

Mark Bray is Chair Professor of Comparative Education at the University of Hong Kong. He began his career as a teacher in community schools in Kenya and Nigeria, and subsequently taught at the Universities of Edinburgh, Papua New Guinea and London. He has worked as a consultant in over 50 countries of Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Europe and the South Pacific for such agencies as the Asian Development Bank, Commonwealth Secretariat, UNICEF, UNESCO and the World Bank. He has written extensively on aspects of the planning, administration and financing of education. Correspondence: Comparative Education Research Centre, The University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam Road, Hong Kong, China. E-mail: mbray@hku.hk.

 
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