Analytical tool: Governance

The 2009 Global Monitoring Report (GMR) has clearly demonstrated that governance is a critical factor in creating enabling conditions for quality learning and overcoming inequalities in education. At the system level, governance determines what education policies and priorities will be put in place; how much funding will be available to education and how these resources will be distributed, used, managed and accounted for; how the powers and functions of governing education will be distributed across the different layers and actors within the system and to what extent the rule of law and transparency will be maintained so that those who hold powers are accountable for their performance. At the institution level, governance ensures the deployment of qualified, motivated and accountable personnel (e.g., teachers/facilitators and leaders/ managers). It ensures that learners are provided with high quality and relevant curriculum materials and they are engaged in learning and get adequate support from their teachers/facilitators. Governance gives diverse critical stakeholders (parents, local community members, civil society, private sector, etc.) an opportunity to participate in decision-making and contribute to learning processes. Poor governance can seriously contribute to poor education quality and ineffective learning experiences.

Education governance consists of multiple layers from the central down to the community level with various actors and stakeholders holding varying degrees of powers, authority, influences and accountability . For quality learning, every  level of the system has an important role. Hence, in trying to understand education governance one must examine the complex web of institutional/governance arrangements designed to govern both formal and non-formal education settings at all levels.

This Analytical Tool is part of the overall UNESCO framework for diagnosing the quality of the general education system and learning effectiveness. The Analytical Tool aims at supporting Member States in diagnosing their governance structures and processes at all levels of the education system. The paramount question this tool helps to address is: To what extent does governance of our education system support the attainment and sustainability of high quality education and effective learning experiences. The diagnosis is facilitated by raising key questions around critical elements of governance.

Diagnosis and analysis

Governance at the institution level  

1. How effective are existing governance structures at the institution level (ECCE administration, School Councils/School Management Committee, adult learning organisation, adult literacy provider, prison administration, etc) in helping to improve teaching and learning? What is the support mechanism in place to enable governing bodies at the institution level to shoulder their responsibilities?  Where is the evidence that it works?

2.How inclusive and participatory is the process of constituting the governance and accountability structures at the institution level? Does the composition of the governance body reflect the diversity of critical stakeholders?  What are the criteria for identifying these stakeholders? What are the mechanisms for their effective engagement? Where is the evidence of the effectiveness of that engagement? (See: promising practice from Nepal )  

3. What is the role of leadership in promoting learning? How effective are the existing mechanisms for recruiting heads of institutions that are able to exercise instructional or learning leadership [1]? Where is the evidence to show that leadership mad a difference in learning in our country?  (See: promising practice from Singapore) 

4. What measures are adopted to make institutional operations transparent and make them accountable for performance?  Is information related to finance, staff performance, quality of learner achievement, or any other aspects of management made available to stakeholders, parents of pre-school and school children, to students’ and learners’ associations, civil society and local community members? How effective have these transparency measures been in improving the quality of education? (See:promising practice from Uganda) 

Governance at the intermediate level

1. How clear are the lines of authority and functional responsibilities between the provincial and district authorities defined and delineated so that each authority is aware of its role for quality education? Where is the evidence to confirm that educational authorities pay attention to quality learning?

2. What kind of plans and programmes do the regional and local bodies prepare for quality education? How effective are these plans in setting the quality agenda and driving quality improvements in educational institutions?  

3. How adequately are provincial and local authorities resourced to support the educational institutions, administrators and facilitators/teachers for quality education through proper guidance, educational leadership and professional support?

4. How are provinces/regions/districts or other bodies at the local level held accountable for their performance and results?

Governance at the national level

1. How do different actors/stakeholders participate in the policymaking process? Are there any evidence suggesting that there is a strong national ownership of and commitment to policies and programs for improvement of education quality?

2. How effective have various levels of governance been in discharging the roles and responsibilities entrusted to them? Have we done a review of our education governance? What lessons can we draw on the balance between centralization and decentralization of education governance?

3. Have we adequate national capacity to translate policies and strategies into plans and programs? How do we know that the plans and programs are implemented effectively?

4.What coordination mechanisms exist between the central and decentralized bodies to ensure the delivery of quality education? What is the extent of information sharing, consultation and joint work with various line ministries and other key stakeholders? (See: promising practice from China)

5. What mechanisms are in place to hold public officials and service providers accountable for results? How have we ensured that the accountability system takes account of quality and equity objectives? Has the media been effective in enhancing transparency and accountability in the education sector? (See: promising practice from Brazil)

 Monitoring and evaluation

1. What are the mechanisms and processes that exist in the country for quality assurance[2] of different types and levels of education? Are there structures with a clear mandate for promoting quality? What aspects of quality learning form the objects of monitoring and evaluation? How effective are these structures in assuring quality? What is the evidence of their effectiveness?

 2. How effective is the existing regulatory framework in in ensuring that education institutions in the non-state sector satisfy required minimum quality? (See: promising practice from Pakistan)

3.  How far does the existing system provide accurate and up-to-date information about the functioning of the education system? Does the information system provide data on instruction and learning, examination results? What other indicators are used to refer to quality? Is information readily accessible to decision-makers/managers at different levels? Is there evidence that policymakers use the data and the analysis in their decision?  (See: promising practice from New Zealand)

Priorites for action

1. What are the key areas to be addressed urgently to further develop our governance system in the education sector to achieve quality education? 

 2. What are the knowledge gaps which need to be filled for an evidence-based reform on the system of education governance?

3. What are the required actions to deal with the priority constraints and the identified knowledge gaps?

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