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POVERTY REDUCTION AND EDUCATION DECENTRALISATION IN UGANDA
Consultancy Report May 2007
Executive Summary Acknowledgement
Part I Inception Report
General Background: The Ugandan Context 2
(Andrew Munk and Fredrick Wamalwa)
Theoretical Framework 4
Scope and objectives of the study 9
(Fredrick Wamalwa and Ugochukwu Idika)
Part II Recommendations Report
Field Trip findings 18 Recommendations 24
- Future Research Areas - Strategy Guidelines
Bibliography 26 Appendices 30
When Uganda’s home-based Poverty Eradication Action Plan (PEAP) was launched in 1997, the decentralisation process in this country was significantly scaled up with the expansion of local governments and resources for pro-poor service delivery. This was especially pronounced in the case of Universal Primary Education (UPE), a significant policy in the national programme for poverty reduction. However, UPE under decentralisation has led to both achievements and many unexpected consequences in education service delivery.
This report is the result of a field trip undertaken in Mbarara District aimed at examining the role of decentralisation in education service delivery. Decentralisation improves service delivery thus reducing poverty when local governments are given enough resources and authority, along with effective local mechanisms of accountability. After extensively reviewing secondary data and gathering primary data through interviews from the field, our preliminary findings show that local authorities in Mbarara District however have very limited financial capacity and autonomy to effectively improve service delivery and parents still lack effective mechanisms to hold local authorities accountable.
Therefore, we recommend that future research areas and future PEAP agenda need to address these crucial aspects to further improve education service delivery for poor Ugandan people thus accelerating the pace of poverty reduction.
Ting YAN Project Manager Education Decentralisation Group
This report has been prepared by the education decentralisation group led by Ting YAN, teamed with Obeng-Odoom Franklin, Fredrick Wamalwa, Andrew Munk, Matthew Bockarie, and Ugochukwu Idika in Development Planning Unit, University College London.
The field trip in Uganda was directed by Julio Davila, Le-Yin Zhang, Michael Walls, and Zeremariam Fre, and was assisted by Yukiko Fujimoto. The education decentralisation group was guided and advised by Moses Tukwasiibwe.
The team also benefited greatly from the following people who shared their precious time and opinions with us.
Name of Respondent Prof. Emannuel. T. Mutebille Lawyer Kafureeka Eric Hawthorne Mario Obwona Lawrence Bategeka Augustus Nuwagaba Robert Esuruku Emmanuel Kyagaba Adoniaa
Institution Uganda Central Bank Centre for Basic Research DFID Uganda Economic policy research Centre Economic policy research Centre Reevconsult & Makerere University Uganda Martyrs University, Nkozi Mbarara University of Science and Technology Mbarara District
Title Bank Governor
Principal Research Fellow Principal Research Fellow Chairman Academic Staff Association Makerere University Deputy Dean, Inst of Ethics and Dev Studies Dean of Students
Secretary of Education
Kabaribaa Steven Mugume John Agair Deus Barigye Mary Frances Semambo Francis Wayegumamya Tuhule Probia Charles Malugu
Education Office (LC 5) Education Standards Agency Education Standards Agency Education Standards Agency Kabateraine Memorial School Kabateraine Memorial School Kabateraine Memorial School (Private Primary) Booma International School (Private Secondary) Ankole Diocese Mbarara Juniour School (Primary section/UPE school) Ministry of Education (Mbarara District) Ministry of Education (Mbarara District) Ntare School Ntare School
and Health Inspector of Schools Inspector of Schools (Maths) Snr. Inspector of Schools (Science) Proprietress Headteacher Teacher IT Teacher
Benson Arinetwe Rev. Philemon Canon Tinka Johnson Muhumuza Steven Sasiirwe
Diocesean Secretary of Education Deputy Head (Primary)
Edward Mbabazi Bornyenka Boniface Birindwarugaba Blegious Hannington Noowe Basil Tibanyendera All students
Deputy Head Deputy Head Parent
Mbarara University of Science and Technology Kabateraine Memorial School
Ag. Head, Foundation Education -
General Background: Decentralisation in Uganda (Andrew Munk and Fredrick Wamalwa)
On assuming power towards the end of 1986, the National Resistance Movement under President Museveni of Uganda, introduced political decentralization by establishing the Resistance Councils at all sub-national government levels aimed at increasing local participation in the decision-making processes and strengthening democracy (Ahikire, 2002). Decentralization was seen as a tool to achieve national consensus among different groups, given the past political instability and tribal animosities (Ahamad et al., 2006). The central government opted to create districts as the highest level of local governments in an attempt to satisfy regional and tribal demands for political power (Makara, 1998). Ahamad et al. (2006) suggest that this form of decentralization was primarily administrative, aimed at building the managerial capacity at the local level and increasing transparency and accountability in service delivery. It devolved responsibility for a large number of key public services to the local level, including primary education and health services. It was not until during 1994 that signs of political decentralisation started to appear as local governments were granted specific legal responsibilities and expenditure functions. In spite of these developments, the central government retained important financing controls.
The need to ensure effective service delivery contributed to the strong expansion of Uganda’s local government (Ahamad et al., 2006). This expansion took root as the government focused its economic programme, supported by donors, more intently on poverty reduction in the second half of the 1990s (Muduuli, 2006). When the
country’s home-based Poverty Eradication Action Plan (PEAP) was initiated in 1997, Uganda significantly raised the resources allocated to pro-poor spending, in particular those identified and tracked under the Poverty Action Fund (PAF), which received strong financial support by the external donors (World Bank, 2002). The local governments were, in fact, allocated with the responsibility to deliver a growing share of pro-poor expenditures tracked under the PAF, a share that rose to 60–70 % in the early 2000s (Saito, 2006).
However, the design of Uganda’s decentralisation programme as a strategy to alleviate poverty requires continued reassessment and refinement, specifically the extent to which local governments have been effectively empowered to deliver key public services (Ahamad et al., 2006). First, the multiple layers of local government which decentralisation introduced, has further increased government expenditure due to bureaucracy and financial leakages resulting from increased rent-seeking (Brixiova 1999). Also, despite the fact that pro-poor government policies receive strong donor support, they have led to a significant increase in public expenditure, particularly in terms of the number of local civil servants. Following the introduction of Universal Primary Education (UPE) in 1997, teacher numbers have risen considerably. Central government has been faced with mounting education costs, above all the rising teachers’ wage bill, which it does not have the financial resources to meet (World Bank, 2002). Local governments have been charged with the responsibility of
delivering UPE on the ground, yet receive insufficient grants from the centre to do so, and lack the power to raise funds themselves, due to the lack of fiscal decentralisation (Saito, 2000).
In order to assess the real impact of education decentralisation on poverty reduction in Uganda, the following section sets up a theoretical framework to explore the linkage.
Theoretical Framework: Relationship between Poverty Reduction and Decentralisation (of Education) (Ting YAN) The relationship between poverty reduction and decentralisation of education is established based on the Sustainable Livelihoods Framework (SLF) (DFID, 1999). Within this linkage, in particular, a theoretical framework which guides the whole field trip is developed to exploare the pro-poor conditions of decentralisation.
Poverty reduction and Education
Since the 1990s, poverty and the processes that lead to poverty are conceived as multidimensional and highly context-specific. According to the World Bank (2000, pp.34), poverty is the result of: • • • Lack of income and assets to attain basic necessities—food, shelter, clothing, and acceptable levels of health and education Sense of voicelessness and powerlessness in the institutions of state and society Vulnerability to adverse shocks, linked to an inability to cope with them
The SLF developed by DFID (1999) also promotes a systematic analysis of the underlying processes and causes of poverty. It identifies the five assets poor people own or have access to (HNFSP), based on which they can achieve their livelihoods through livelihood strategies that are available to them.
Figure 1 The asset pentagon
From the SLF perspective, education helps achieve livelihood outcomes thus reducing poverty in the following senses:
• • •
increasing Human Capital (the skills, knowledge and ability to labour); helping the poor make better use of the four other types of assets; being regarded as an end itself by the poor.
Decentralisation and its linkage to poverty reduction
Definition and Typology Decentralisation is defined by Rondinelli (1981) as the transfer of authority to plan, make decisions and manage public functions from a higher level of government to any individual organization or agency at a lower level.
The underlying rationale of decentralisation is that a more decentralised state apparatus will be more exposed and therefore more responsive to local needs and aspirations (Crook and Sverrisson, 2001), which will produce systems of governance that are more effective and accountable to local people (Blair, 2000; Crook and Manor, 1998; Manor, 1999; Rondinelli et al.., 1989).
Power that is transferred can be political, administrative or fiscal. Four types of decentralisation are commonly recognised (Martinussen, 1997, pp.210-211): • Deconcentration: the handing over of administrative or managerial responsibility to sub-national units within line ministries or other sectorspecific national agencies. • Delegation: public enterprises and other semiautonomous government agencies are assigned responsibility for implementing sector investments or for operating public utilities and services. • • Devolution: the transfer of authority and responsibility to regional or local governments with their own discretionary authority. Privatisation: government agencies divesting themselves of responsibility for project implementation or for providing infrastructure and services.
Linkages to Sustainable Livelihoods
The above types of decentralisation have potentials to transform structures and processes of the society in a pro-poor way:
Structures operate in cascading levels with varying degrees of autonomy and scope of authority, depending upon the extent and nature of decentralisation (DFID, 1999). Decentralisation can transform structures by: • • • building structures that represent the poor; increasing the responsiveness of various organisations to the local preferences; (through privatisation) creating competitive markets valued for their economic efficiency and ‘built in’ responsiveness to clients.
Decentralisation can transform certain processes by: • • • • Utilising local information to support a more pro-poor policy-making process; Deepening and strengthening the contact between the poor and policy makers; Promoting participatory processes of policy formulation; Increasing the accountability and transparency of public decision-making;
By transforming structures and processes in the above ways, education decentralisation can contribute to poor people’s sustainable livelihoods through (See Figure 2) • • increasing the five livelihood assets by improving education service delivery; and a direct impact upon people’s feeling of inclusion and well-being
Figure 2 Decentralisation in SLF
Source: adapted from DFID (1999) and modified by the author
Conditions for a pro-poor decentralisation
Decentralisation does not automatically bring the above pro-poor transformation (See Appendix 1 for pros and cons). Only when “carefully planned, effectively implemented and appropriately managed” (Work, 1999, pp.1), can decentralisation transform the structures and processes in a pro-poor way. According to the WB (2001, pp.1), decentralisation promotes effectiveness and efficiency when “the devolution of functions occurs within an institutional environment that provides political, administrative and financial authority to local governments, along with effective channels of local accountability and central oversight”. Therefore, there are two levels of conditions illustrated in Figure 3: central-local relations and local mechanisms.
Figure 3 Pro-poor conditions of decentralisation
Source: the author
A central government with a political commitment to poverty reduction Autonomy and fiscal decentralisation: Local authorities need to have enough fiscal control to plan their activities (WB, 2000, pp.107) while “balancing autonomy and accountability” (Johnson, 2001, pp.13).
Central support is required to ensure that “national policies are adhered to and to coordinate the interregional interests of different administrative units” (ibid.)
Safeguards are also needed to monitor financial probity and discourage the capture of local bodies by powerful elites (ibid.).
Local mechanisms should also be developed for poor people to hold local authorities accountable in order to avoid the ‘elite capture’ (Crook, 2003): • Voice mechanism: representative democracy and diverse forms of participatory democracy are needed for poor people to influence policies and hold local authorities accountable. • • Information: local citizens should be informed of local politics and events to make possible an effective participation. Exit mechanism: poor people can switch to non-public service providers (private sector or civil society organisations) or to move to other localities (WB, 2001). However, the state should also provide regulations to ensure that the privatisation is pro-poor.
Mission Scope and Objectives (Matthew Bockarie)
Scope of the study The theoretical framework shows that under certain pro-poor conditions, education decentralisation can greatly enhance the state’s capacity to improve education service delivery thus reducing poverty and accelerating development. It is revealed that the central-local relations and local mechanisms of decentralisation are the two main conditions that favour the poor. In the case of decentralisation of education in Uganda, we narrowed down our scope to financial capacity and autonomy for the research of central-local relations, whilst voice, information, and exit have been focused on as local mechanisms.
Since the aim of the field study is to gain an improved understanding of the factors behind the early success of Uganda in poverty reduction and the recent fallback of the process, the first step of this field work was to get an updated look at the achievements and challenges of education service delivery in Mbarara district before undertaking further studies on the above pro-poor conditions. This ten-day field research from 2nd to 13 May 2007 was undertaken in Mbarara Municipality by interviewing parents, teachers, head teachers, proprietors, pupils, faith-based organizations, Education Quality Officers (ESA), educationist, local councillors and district education officers. Decentralisation of education in Uganda was only introduced in the primary education sector before the Universal Primary Education (UPE) was declared and introduced in 1997 (Ministry of Education and Sports, 2001) by the Government of Uganda, therefore the research focus is mainly at the primary school level, but still involves views of interviewees from the secondary education sector.
Objectives of the study • • • To assess the challenges and achievements of education in Mbarara district To determine the level of financial capacity and autonomy of local authorities in Mbarara district. To find out whether the local people in Mbarara district are informed and have the ‘voice’ & ‘exit’ mechanisms to hold local authorities accountable in educational service delivery. • To make recommendations for further research and policy guidelines to enhance effectiveness of education decentralisation in Uganda.
Methodology (Obeng-Odoom Franklin)
This section discusses the Research Design of this study. It begins with a set of Research Questions and ends with a comment on how we describe the data for this study.
Based on the research objectives, the key research questions to the study are: 1. Has education decentralisation improved the provision of education service delivery in Mbarara? 2. Do the local authorities of Mbarara District have the financial capacity and autonomy to provide education service to the local residents? 3. Are there effective mechanisms for local people to influence education policies and hold authorities accountable?
Data Collection and Sampling Both primary and secondary data were used. A review of relevant literature on decentralization of education in Uganda was done before the actual field visit in order to find out the state of decentralisation in education in Uganda with particular reference to Mbarara. Following the above research questions, detailed field questions were developed (See Appendix 2).
Primary data was collected through semi- and unstructured individual and group interviews as well as through observations (see Laws et al., 2003).
Secondary data was collected from among others, publications, studies, district profile on educational decentralization in Mbarara from sources like Educational Standards Agency, Mbarara University, EPRC and Mbarara University of Science and Technology. We also obtained data from the Ministry of Education (Mbarara branch).
Drawing the Sample Because of the limited time, the research was focused on Mbarara Municipality. We drew the sample at our convenience, which means that we used the convenience sampling approach, where we drew the sample according to the accessibility and
availability of data, taking into account the brief period within which this exercise had to be undertaken. We took a sample of most of the major stakeholders in education service delivery: One private and one public secondary school were visited. We also visited two primary schools, one private and one public. Three government offices and two faith-based organisations were also visited. Finally, one headmaster, seven teachers, two parents and two groups/classes (primary) of students were visited. Time and ease of access were the main measures of convenience.
Our Analysis was preceded by a separation of all data obtained for this study into quantitative data and qualitative data (see Agyedu et al., 1999) and summarised.
Beyond this step, similar responses have been put into common themes. Finally, the data has been presented under each of the objectives to compare the trends in the data before and after the introduction of decentralisation. This Before-After Approach has enabled us to have a fair assessment of the effect of decentralisation on education service delivery.
Qualitative data has been transformed into quantitative data by quantifying qualitative issues like perception of education quality. However, much more emphasis has been placed on the concepts they convey per se (Laws et al., 2003 and Willis, 2006).
Also, our analysis was undertaken with the stakeholders of education as we constantly briefed them on how we were doing the analysis and sought their views on the conclusions we were drawing. It should be noted that even though this method of analysis is not conventional, it was used to prevent the common pitfall of jumping to conclusions and to actively promote stakeholder participation in development research (Laws et al., 2003)
Data Description and Interpretation We have used a combination of quantitative indicators like ratios and percentages for the description of data gathered. However, these have been balanced with qualitative descriptions like the perceptions of our respondents. Interpretation has been done by
comparing and contrasting the data with existing literature on Mbarara in particular and Uganda in general.
Institutional Landscape (Fredrick Wamalwa and Ugochukwu Idika )
Appendix 3 shows the key stakeholders within the education sector in Uganda. In terms of the institutional context, the functioning of Uganda’s decentralized education works through the influence and interaction of a number of organizations and individuals that can be traced from the international to local levels as below.
International level: Donors (International Community)
External donors are major political actors in Uganda (Ahikire, 2002). Uganda’s poverty reduction strategies such SAPs, PRSPs and PEAP depend on financial and technical support from external donors (Ssewakiryanga, 2004). For example, out of a total cost of US$311 million budget for Universal Primary Education between 1998 and 2000, US$155 million was provided by the International Development Association, of which US$75 million was a grant in the context of the HIPC Initiative (World Bank Group, 2007)1. Donors are not just powerful because the country is aid dependent, but because of the sophisticated relationship they have with the President, Ministers, government institutions and civil society (Norton et al.., 2004).
National level: Central Government Level (Ministry of Education, MoE)
Although education is decentralized to the lower levels, the Central Government, through Ministry of Education (MoE) influences the sector through its control over funding and other policy procedures (Gershberg et al.. 2003). Generally, the central government budgetary allocation to the sector has been increasing over time. By 2001, 43 percent of the total discretionary budget was allocated to education compared to 24 percent in 1996 (World Bank 2002, Gershberg et al. 2003). The MoE influences the amount of funds allocated to each district. It’s also the central point where donor funding to the sector is negotiated and channelled to the district. It also issues policy guidelines on how funds should be used in schools (Saito, 2006). It also enforces measures to ensure transparent and effective use of the funds by the lower units.
Sub-National Level: Local Council Level At the Sub-National level, educational matters are addressed through a Local Council (LC) system. As shown in figure 4 below, LC is a hierarchical structure of councils and committees that stretch from village LC1 to District LC5, linking up to the NRC through the district representative appointed by the president (Local Government Act, 1997). Each Council is a supreme political organ in its jurisdiction2.
Figure 4 Five-tier RC System
Source: Saito, 2006
Principally, educational matters at a local level are channeled up through the various levels until it reaches LC 5 with sufficient authority. Equally, centrally planned directives are channeled downward until they are implemented at the local level. LC 5, which is the highest organ at the district level, allocates funds to the Sub-counties (lower local government) that are the service delivery points. It also recruits Head-
It is important to note that each Local Council is under an elected Chairman and Vice Chairman and other elected Councilors who constitute Councils and Committees. Education and Sports is one of the Committees. Importantly, at LC 2, all Village Executive Committees in a parish form the Electoral College and elect another Executive Committee with similar positions at that level. Also at LC4 the elected representatives at LC3 constitute the Electoral College from which an executive Committee is elected (Ahikire, 2002). Alongside elected councilors are administrators and civil services who assist in administration and implementation roles and are answerable to the Local Councilors (Local Government Act, 1997).
teachers, influences their postage and supervises the construction of schools (Saito, 2006). Local Level: School and Grassroots Level Each school has a School Management Committee (SMC) whose members include Parents Teachers Association (PTA) representatives, appointed members of the education committee and members appointed by the Chief Education Officer (Saito, 2006). The SMC is a policy-making body for the school and function together with head teachers as a leadership team to provide educational programmes and services that ensure quality teaching and learning (Kateeba, 2006). However studies have shown that SMC’s role overlaps with that the PTA, creating two centres of power (Saito, 2006). Also, teachers feel threatened by the SME because there influence and control over the school management reduced after the launch SME (Ahikire, 2002).
At the grassroots level are parents, pupils and the community at large. They have the power to ensure that there is efficiency and effectiveness on the part of the educational service providers discussed above, by voting out those who fail to deliver (Kateeba, 2006).
Field Trip Findings
Given the limited time in Mbarara, the findings are still preliminary and need further research in the future. The following findings based on our research questions are closely linked to research objectives:
1. Achievements and challenges of education service delivery in Mbarara District
Achievements: ∙ Following the decentralisation of education and subsequent launch of the UPE policy in 1997, primary school enrolment in Mbarara District has greatly increased: the number of primary students was 68,000 in 1996 and rose to 230,000 in 1997, which is consistent with the national trend over the past decade (3.4 to 5.7 millions).
In Mbarara Municipality gender equity has improved from a pre-1997 boy-girlenrolment-ratio of 55:45 to 49:51 following UPE (GoU, 2005).
Decentralisation of education has enhanced collaboration among key stakeholders in education. In different ways, the government, faith-based organisations, donors and parents partner each other by pooling resources to build schools and classrooms, provide scholastic materials, hire teachers and offer ways to monitor and evaluate the quality of education.
More funds (Inadequate though) have been channelled to teacher training colleges to improve teacher quality.
The increased demand for schools has also resulted in the establishment of more private schools, thus increasing local school places.
Challenges: ∙ The introduction of UPE has caused demand for school places to substantially outstrip the supply of resources. Immediately after 1997, the pupil-classroom
ratio worsened from an average 1:45 to 1:115 for primary 1-4 and 1:80 for primary 5-7. Primary 1-4 are particularly overcrowded as large numbers of poorer parents seek to take advantage of the free education provided by government. However, from primary 4-7, classrooms became less crowded as increased number of students exit government schools due to poor education quality and parental financial hardship. In spite of significant school and classroom
constructions in recent times, the pupil-classroom ratio (1:55) remains worse than prior to UPE.
Although schools are provided with learning materials, there is an acute lack of text books to meet increased enrolments. Compared with pre-1997 levels of 1:2, the pupil-textbook ratio has increased to 1:3 post-1997. Furthermore, teachers are not usually consulted on the choice of the textbooks being supplied; consequently some textbooks are irrelevant to classroom teaching.
The academic performance has also declined greatly in government schools, which was followed by the mushrooming of private schools with more widespread ‘drilling’ teaching methods. The result is a high exam success rate in private schools. For example, the percentage of pupils passing exams to enter secondary school is averagely about 100% in Kabateraine Memorial Primary School (private) compared with 60% in Mbarara Primary School (government).
Overall, it appears that even though there was a worsening of the quality of education immediately after UPE, the situation is improving and many of our respondents are optimistic of the quality of education in future.
2. Financial capacity and autonomy of local authorities
An analysis of the findings from our fieldwork suggests that decentralisation has been characterised by ‘deconcentration’ and ‘delegation’; ‘devolution’ of power has not taken place. In addition, decentralisation remains administrative, with few evidence of fiscal or political decentralisation. Consequently local authorities do not have the financial capacity and autonomy to actively respond to local needs even if they are accountable.
Following the introduction of UPE and the resultant rise in enrolment rates, government schools have insufficient resources due to the inadequate funds transferred from central to local government. However, local governments lack the authority to raise funds to fill this funding gap, due to the absence of fiscal decentralisation, especially after the abolition of local ‘graduated tax’. The lack of
funds is compounded by the illegality of parental contributions to schools. Nonetheless in many areas parents appear to largely ignore this ban and raise money amongst themselves to ‘top-up’ the funding gap. In urban compared with rural areas, parents tend to raise significantly higher top-up fees due to greater financial resources.
The Education Standards Agency (ESA), a semi-autonomous government body, also lacks the necessary financial capacity to effectively carry out quality assurance in schools. Whilst ESA has itself put in place the necessary administrative structures and procedures for widespread inspections it suffers from a severe lack of resources. For example, for the whole of Western Uganda, ESA has just one vehicle to use to travel to schools.
Autonomy of local government and schools
The ability to deliver education services to meet local needs is adversely affected by the lack of autonomy of local authorities and schools. Local education budgets are
calculated by central government based on the number of students enrolled in an area. Local governments are not however empowered with the authority to determine how
this budget is then spent; rather the budget is already ‘earmarked’ by central government. For example, whilst Mbarara district education committee is allowed to determine the geographical locations for the building of new schools, the council does not have the power to decide the percentage of their own education budget which can be spent on building new schools. Local authorities and schools are not able to devote a larger proportion of the education budget to hiring more teachers or to pay teachers a higher wage to incentivise performance. In fact, the budget local governments have to spend on teachers and salary levels are both determined centrally. As result, local authorities and schools are powerless to take steps to address vastly overcrowded classrooms or poor teaching quality.
Whilst the administration of education services has theoretically been decentralised, in reality a number of time-consuming bureaucratic processes remain which constrain the ability of local authorities to effectively respond to specific local requirements. For example, head teachers lack the necessary autonomy to take full responsibility and accountability for the performance of their school.
As noted, decisions regarding policies and financial resources devoted to specific educational requirements are made at a central level. In addition, there is no feedback loop for local authorities and schools to voice local concerns and influence decisions in order to address these issues.
Lack of financial capacity and autonomy prevents local authorities and schools from making key decisions in response to local needs, even if they are accountable to local people. However, this is also understandable, given the lack of local accountability mechanisms, to avoid the local ‘elite capture’.
3. Local mechanisms Voice mechanism The School Management Committee (SMC), which is the current governing body in public primary schools, is the major form of participation of parents in school affairs. Its main role is to ensure the effective and accountable use of resources in the provision of primary education. Two/three members of the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) who have children in the school will represent the general parents in SMC. However, it is revealed that usually well-educated and better-off parents are elected by the general parents. In some cases members representing the PTA in SMC may have already sent their children to other schools but remain in SMC, which significantly compromises their representativeness.
In addition, even the parent representatives in SMC are less influential compared with the other members in day-to-day management and school decision making processes. On the other hand, apart from the PTA meetings there are few other channels for parents to express their needs or to complain.
At the national policy level, parents often feel that there are hardly any government policies and plans that have consulted local level stakeholders in the absence of participatory democracy in spite of periodic elections.
Information It seems that parents are much more familiar with the Universal Primary Education (UPE) policies than education decentralisation policies. However, due to unclear information, they generally misunderstand UPE policies as if the government is providing all educational facilities and resources when it promises free primary education. But this intensified their disappointment especially when they found out that they have to ‘top-up’ fees to fill up the financial gap to meet their own demand for quality. But at the school level, parents are well-informed of school affairs and events through PTA meetings, where parents can also discuss their concerns on school issues.
After the introduction of UPE system, due to the general belief that the quality of government schools declined tremendously, private schools have mushroomed. Interestingly, the “exit mechanism” is controversial in a pro-poor sense.
There is a ‘clustering effect’ as a result of the exit mechanism. Since the financial contribution is usually initiated by parents themselves, the amount of top-up fees is decided through consensus building. Therefore, when poor parents cannot afford the amount agreed upon, they either contribute in other forms (e.g. labour) or pull their children out of this school (drop-out or switch to affordable schools). Usually local awareness of high top-up fees can deter poorer parents from sending their children to this school in the first place. On the other hand, rich parents who are willing to pay more would pull their children out either to private schools or to richer public schools. The result is a ‘clustering effect’ that poor children tend to remain together in poor schools with relatively low education quality while rich parents tend to gather together and top up fees to meet their higher demands.
This effect is also believed to be nationwide, as the result of the emergence of an ‘education market’ whereby the quality of a school a child attends is determined by the financial resources of his/her parents. It exacerbates the rich/poor divide in Uganda, which tends to coincide with the urban/rural divide. Whilst education provides a means by which individuals can be lifted out of poverty, the existence of a ‘market’ inhibits education provision reaching the poorest in society.
Based on the above findings, the following areas are recommended for future research: Financial capacity and autonomy of local authorities: ∙ ∙ The feasibility of fiscal decentralisation in Uganda to improve education service delivery; How can financial resources and autonomy transferred to local authorities be balanced with their accountability to avoid local ‘elite capture’? Local mechanisms: ∙ ∙ The role of decentralisation in enabling greater participation amongst parents in order to influence education policy and service delivery; The impact of an “education market” and the resulting “clustering effect” on the equitable distribution of quality education provision.
Other: ∙ Since Universal Secondary Education (USE) has just been introduced in Uganda, a comparison between decentralised UPE & centralised USE would be possible in the future (e.g. in 5 years) to determine whether decentralisation is a critical factor in education service provision.
Fully aware of the risk of ‘elite capture’ at the local level, we recommend that before more financial resources and autonomy are transferred from the center to local authorities, the PEAP policy needs to enhance local accountability mechanisms and deepen the participatory democracy: ∙ ∙ Parent representatives in SMC need to have their children attending the schools Create more channels for poor parents to participate in school affairs and educational policy planning.
Inform and sensitise parents about education policies through mass media, more contact between parents and local authorities, etc.
However, while enhancing local accountability, the financial resources and autonomy of local authorities should also follow up gradually and cautiously: ∙ ∙ ∙ Create channels for local authorities to give feedback and influence the budget allocation of the center. Empower local authorities to generate their own funds and determine the use of their budget Grant more resources to school inspection agencies
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Pros and Cons of Decentralisation Pros Cons
Promotes democracy because it provides Undermines democracy by empowering better opportunities for local residents to local elites, beyond the reach or concern participate in decision-making. of central government. Increases efficiency in delivery of public Worsens delivery of service in the services; delegation of responsibility absence of effective controls and avoids bottlenecks and bureaucracy. oversight. Provides a chance for poor households to Local institutions mirror the anti-poor participate in local institutions and have biases present at the state level. their concerns recognized. Leads to higher quality of public services Quality of services deteriorates due to because of local accountability and lack of local capacity and insufficient funds. sensitivity to local needs. Enhances social and economic Gains arising from participation by local development, which relies on local people offset by increased corruption and knowledge. inequalities among regions. Increases transparency, accountability, and the response-capacity of government institutions. Promises too much and overloads capacity of local governments.
Allows greater political representation Creates new tensions or ignites dormant for diverse political, ethnic, religious, ethnic and religious rivalries. and economic groups in decisionmaking. Increases political stability and national Weakens states because it can increase unity by allowing citizens to better regional inequalities, lead to separatism, control public programs at the local level. or undermine national financial governance. Source: WRI, n.d. Adapted from ICHRP 2002
Research Questions (RQ) 1. Has education decentralisation improved the provision of education service delivery in Mbarara? 2. Do the local authorities of Mbarara District have the financial capacity and autonomy to provide education service to the local residents? 3. Are there effective mechanisms for local people to influence education policies and hold authorities accountable?
4. RQ 1: Has education decentralisation improved the provision of education service delivery in Mbarara?
‘Improved education service delivery’ is explained here as greater access to education and higher quality education which also includes gender equality. To measure this, the perceptions of all our respondents were sought.
In addition, Headmasters, Education Quality Inspectors, Teachers, Proprietors, Parents and Education officers were as appropriate, asked questions like the following (based on Shaw, nd, OECD and ADB, 2005, Kappel et al., 2005)
1. How many students have enrolled in schools from 1997 to date? 2. What is the rate of enrolment, pre and post UPE? 3. What are the Repetition and drop-out rates in the schools, before and after UPE? 4. What is the completion rate of students, before and after UPE?
5. What has been the boy-girl ratio of total students enrolled before and after UPE? 6. What has the Pupil-teacher ratio, before and after UPE? 7. What has the Pupil-textbook ratio been, before and after the introduction of UPE?
8. What types of textbooks are supplied? (All required or some of them?) 9. Has the introduction of UPE enhanced/worsened the supply of textbooks in Q8 10. What is the Pupil-classroom ratio? Is it worse or better than before the introduction UPE? 11. What has been the Pupil-desk ratio, pre and post UPE? 12. What is the Trained Teacher-Untrained Teacher ratio? 13. What is the Transition Gap from primary to secondary schools?
RQ 2: Do the local authorities of Mbarara District have the financial capacity and autonomy to provide education service to the local residents? This question broadly seeks to examine whether education decentralisation is deconcentrated, delegated or devolved. In terms of ‘capacity’ institutions are to have the financial ability and human resources to deliver decentralised education services. ‘Autonomy’ refers to local authorities and schools having the necessary independence from central government to meet specific local needs.
To measure this, the Education Quality Inspectors at ESA and the Education Officers at MOE were interviewed. The Secretary of Education at Local Councillor (LC5) and past members of SMCs were also interviewed using a semi-structured interview approach and secondary data from the district education office. Key questions to obtain evidence in this regard are based on Piron and Norton (2004):
1. Do local authorities receive sufficient funds from central government? 2. Do local authorities have the authority and capacity to raise funds locally? 3. Are schools permitted to ask parents to make contributions/pay top-up fees at government schools? 4. To what extent are local authorities and schools able to independently determine how education funds from central government are spent? a. are the details of how the education budget is allocated calculated locally in order to meet specific local needs? 5. How are headmasters recruited?
6. Who determines changes in teacher salaries? 7. Who and How frequently are government schools inspected? 8. Are local authorities and schools able to recruit/train teachers independently? 9. Are schools able to effectively fire teachers as required? 10. Do schools/local authorities have the voice and authority to influence central government education policy and spending, based on experiences from the ‘delivery side’.
RQ 3: Are there effective mechanisms for local people to influence education policies and hold authorities accountable?
This question falls within the remit of participation. Participation is effective when first there is greater inclusiveness. But it is not enough just to have many people taking part in decision making. There should be quality of participation as well which means gender balance. Finally participation can only be effective when what participants’ preferences are heard/carried out (Crook, 2003). Inferentially, if participants’ views are ignored or unheard, they should be able to exit.
In order to determine the effectiveness of participation within education decentralisation, we interviewed past members of the SMC and Parents using semi structured interview approach. The following questions were asked:
Voice 1. What is the composition of the SMC? (total number/gender etc) 2. How is the SMC formed (appointment/election by whom)? 3. How can the SMC be dissolved (ie if election how often? If appointment, how can the committee’s mandate be ended?)? 4. What is the tenure of the SMC? 5. Are parents’ wishes carried out by the SMC/ Is the SMC responsive to what parents want? 6. Is the decision-making process in SMC through consensus building or voting?
7. Are there any other forms of participation for parents to be involved in school affairs? 8. Do parents, as citizens themselves, have other channels to express their views at other institutions (besides periodic elections)?
Information 9. Do parents understand the general education policies (both education decentralisation and UPE policies) properly? 10. How are parents informed of school affairs and events as well as local politics?
Exit 11. What kinds of parents pull their children out of the UPE schools? Why? 12. Where do these parents take their children to after pulling them out of the schools? Do private schools generally provide better education quality than government aided UPE schools?
Key Stakeholders in the education sector of Uganda 1. Donors 2. Ministry of Education 3. Ministry of Finance 4. Ministry of Local Government 5. Local Councillors (at levels LC1 to LC5) 6. Civil Servants and Administrators 7. Teachers 8. Parents 9. Pupils
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