Room to Read, Nepal
School-based Management refers to the system of administrating schools with active public contribution. Forces driving the move towards SBM demand more freedom, diversity and the establishment of a strong network. Creating a network among such SBM, schools will be an important factor for achieving the desired outcomes. It takes time, effort and resources for the full implementation of SBM.
It is very difficult for Nepal to move directly to the desired level of SBM because the process involved in it has several barriers. Implementation of reform policies that require breaking up of the traditional values and practices faces severe resistance not only from real interest groups but also from the genuine stakeholders. It helps to realize the possibility of transformation and build the capacities that address systematic, significant and sustained change across all schools.
Keywords: School-based Management ,administration, decentralization, economy, stakeholders
Governments all over the world are introducing a range of strategies aimed at improving the financing and delivery of education services, with more recent emphasis on improving quality as well as increasing quantity (enrollments) in education. One such approach is to decentralize education decision-making by increasing parental and community involvement in schools, popularly known as School-based Management (SBM). SBM focuses on decentralization in decision-making authority to parents and the community fosters demand and ensure that school provide the social and economic benefits that best reflect the priorities and values of those local communities (Lewis,2006).
These days, a major concern in education in Asia and the world is to decentralize the authority of the central education offices back to individual schools, allowing schools to develop their own management policies ; school-based management (Chapman,2002). The aim is to empower principals and teachers or at strengthening their professional motivation, thereby enhance their sense of ownership to the school. In SBM system, tasks are set according to the characteristics and needs of the school itself. The members of the school have greater sovereignty and accountability for the use of resources to solve problems and carry out efficient educational activities. Each of these tasks is focused for the long-term development of the school. The teachers and parents, who become active directly with students, have the most informed and plausible opinions as to what educational arrangements will be most beneficial to those students. More over the primary stakeholders are key actors who have the best information about what actually goes on in schools and how it can be improved by using limited means.
The concept of School-based Management is new in Nepal. The government of Nepal is now using this as a test implementation in some of the schools and not decided whether to imply all over the country or not. This paper tries to analyze the situation of SBM in Nepal and discusses on the difficulties of SBM system in Nepal.
School-based Management (SBM)
SBM as an organizational delivery model for schooling has been well documented in the literature over the past decade (Barrington 1997; Brown 1990;levacic 1998; Whitty et al 1997) in Cranton (2001). A world wide shift of the education reform and school reform in the 1990s was to decentralize power to the school level so that schools can make full discretional use of their human and other resources to provide quality education to students according to their own structural context. With this delegation of power, schools can make better decisions at the site level and set their own development plans according to their needs and characteristics (Robertson & Briggs 1998). At the same time, schools have to increase accountability of their work to their stakeholders that include students, staff, parents, alumni, relevant school organization and community members. Ideally, all these parties take part in school management and decision making (David, 1989).
The beginning of SBM was from the developed countries like: Australia, New Zealand, the UK and Canada in the 1980s and 1990s. Hong Kong introduced SBM in early 1990s, followed by Thailand and Malaysia. International bilateral/multilateral agencies, such as UNICEF, the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, USAID and AusAID, have been assisting the government in supporting, strengthening and extending SBM to include governance.
What is School-based Management?
SBM is a “strategy to improve education by transferring significant decision-making authority from state and district offices to individual schools” (Myers & Stonehill, 1993). They further describes that, the traditional participants in the educational process, specifically, principals, teachers, students and parents are given greater control over the education process by giving them responsibility for decisions about the budget, personnel, and the curriculum.
In SBM, authority is decentralized from the central government to the school level (Caldwell, 2007). In the words of Malen et.al.(1990:290), “SBM can be viewed conceptually as a formal alternation of governance structures, as a form of decentralization that identifies the individual school as the primary unit of improvement and relies on the redistribution of decision-making authority as the primary means through which improvement might be stimulated and sustained.” Carldwell (2007) says that SBM is the systematic decentralization to the school level of authority and responsibility to make decisions on significant matters related to school operations within a centrally determined framework of goals, policies, curriculum, standards and accountability. SBM mainly is an approach to decentralize decision-making to the individual school environment, which assists the empowerment of parents and the professionalism of teachers with special focus on the shared decision-making among key stake holders at the local level becomes a defining characteristic (Murphy1997;39).
SBM does not guarantee school improvement. Wohlstetter, (1995) says that SBM as a form of governance will not in itself generate improvement in school performance. It is simply a tool, through which school-level decision makers can implement various reforms that can improve teaching and learning. It shows that SBM transforms the responsibility and decision making authority of school operations to principals, teachers, parents and sometimes even the students including other school community members. Though, they are responsible for the management of the school, they need to run within the set of policies determined by the central government. SBM program generally transfers all the authority like: budget distribution, hiring and firing of the teachers and other school staffs, designing and developing the curriculum, management of textbooks and other educational materials, infrastructure improvements and evaluating the teacher performance and student learning outcomes.
Models of School-based Management Morph and Beck (1995) suggest that SBM usually takes one of the three forms: administrative control SBM, professional control SBM, and community control SBM. Except these types one more is still visible in which power is shared and utilized equally by school professionals and parent/community ( Leithwood K., & Menzies T. 1998,p 25).
Administrative control SBM is aimed at enhancing responsibility to the school principals for the efficient expenditure of resources, on the supposition that such efficiencies will eventually pay off for students. These efficiencies are to be gained by providing local school administrators authority on the key decision areas such as budget, personnel and curriculum. Supporters of this model argues that such power in combination with the motivation to make the best use of resources, ought to get more of the resources of the school into the direct services of students. The teachers, parents, students or the community representatives can also be consulted informally for assisting to achieve the objective. To help the principal in decision making site councils are established.
In professional control SBM, teachers control the management of local schools aiming to make the better use of their knowledge in such key decision areas as budget, curriculum and personnel. The belief of this model is that professionals who are closest to the student have the most relevant knowledge for making decisions. Complete participation and authority to the teachers, in the decision-making process will increase their commitment to implement whatever decisions are made because they are the ones who interact with the students for delivering the knowledge (Hess, 1991).
Community control SBM model is established to make the parents accountable and satisfy, who are the consumer of the school. The basic assumption giving rise to this model of SBM is that the curriculum of the school ought to directly reflect the values and preferences of parents and the local community (Ornstein,1983). The supporters of this model claim that the school professionals are not as responsible to such local values and likings as they ought to be. School councils in which parent/community constituents have a majority of the membership are the primary instruments for the exercise of such power. Community control SBM is limited to school governance dominated by parents and community members. There is, however another focus of community control in which parents are given a choice of schools, the most direct form of accountability by schools to the community.
Parents and teacher control (Balanced) SBM model attempts to accomplish the purposes of both community control and professional control forms of SBM. It aims to make better use of teachers’ knowledge for key decisions in the school, as well as to be more accountable to parents and the local community. Unlike the pure community control form of SBM, balanced control forms assume that professionals are willing to be quite responsive to the values and preferences of parents and the local community under conditions in which parents are in a position to act as partners with schools in the education of their children. It is assumed that both parents and teachers have important knowledge on key decisions about curriculum, budget and personnel. Site councils associated with form of SBM have decision-making power and their membership is balanced between school staff and parent members.
Decentralization and School-based Management Highly centralized system tends to be bureaucratic and allow little opportunity to schools and local communities. Decentralized systems divert significant powers to local level called self-management (Bush, 2003). Lauglo (1997:3-4) connects bureaucracy with centralization and defines as follows:
Bureaucratic centralization implies concentrating in a central (‘top’) authority decision-making on a wide range of matters, …a ministry could make decisions in considerable details as to aims and objectives, curricula and teaching materials to be used, prescribed methods, appointments of staff and their job descriptions, admissions of students, assessment and certification, finance and budgets and inspections/evaluations to monitor performance.
We can come with number of solid arguments to clarify the introduction of SBM. It is more democratic, which allows teachers and parents to take decisions about an issue of such importance as education is certainly more democratic than to keep this decision in the hands of a select group of central-level officials. SBM is more relevant to locate the decision-making power closer to where problems are being experienced. The local staffs generally know their own situation better than the ones form administrative level at central level. Decisions can be taken much faster if they do not need to go through a long bureaucratic process (from school through several intermediary offices to the central level), which is possible in SBM system. In SBM the decisions can be made at school level so that it is faster. SBM system is more accountable to the focused group. It focuses the teachers to be accountable for the school results towards parents and the close community directly. Such accountability is expected to act as tool for greater effectiveness. Mobilization of the resources in SBM system is more reasonable and rigid. Especially the parents including teachers will be more enthusiastic to contribute to the funding of their school using the locally available sources (Chautaut, 2005).
SBM system is not so easier to handle because the local people including the head teacher might not have got any training on educational management. Until and unless the management system is not better no promotion of an institution can be wished. Many management-related decisions, especially financing and staffing issues, are intricate and complex. Studies covering four OECD countries found that “principals were troubled by ethical dilemmas in all four countries and some reported an increase in the frequency with which they were confronted with difficult decisions in recent years” (Dempster, 2000, p. 51). All the communities are not able to fund the schooling then what happen is collapse of the school. This can be unwanted burden for the public and it is obvious that the educational quality will be decreased.
Autonomous schools and colleges may be regarded as potentially more efficient and effective but depend much on the nature and quality if internal management of these potential benefits is to be realized (Bush, 2003 p.12). But the effectiveness of SBM depends strongly on the responsibility that the school feels towards the community as well as pressure that the same community can exercise on the school. For the community to play that role, four requirements should be presented valid participation, as identified by Lawler (1984): knowledge and skill; power; information and rewards. This is hardly the case in many communities, which puts in doubt, one of the main tenets of the advocates of SBM: that it will create a stronger accountability framework than the centralized management system.
School-based Management Movement in Nepal
The development of education in Nepal has got short history. During the prehistoric time, religious schools; Gurukul (Hindu) and Bihar (Buddhist) with the characteristics of religious values were managed and funded by the religious community with their trusts. Most of the schools before 1951 were established and financed by individuals and communities. On the other hand, there were very few fully funded educational institutes from the government. In this way, school governance before 1951 was the responsibility of both the community and the state. Even though the people were not educated, people from different parts of the country started to establish new schools on their own initiatives. They did not wait for the government to take initiative for establishing new schools and recruit teachers.
It can be said that the systematic development of education in Nepal started since 1951, after the establishment of Ministry of Education (MoE).In 1954, government had formed an education committee, known as Nepal National Education Planning Commission (NNEPC) for the systematic development of education. Subsequently, several commissions were formed and reports were made available. However, education policy, planning, administration and management aspects were not made specific as compared to and in line with the expansion of the schools. In the past, it is seen that the people in the community have the sole responsibility of school governance with little support from the government. From the initiative of the community, several new schools were established in many parts of the community within a short period of time. Hence, most schools at the initial stage were community-initiated schools which received different kinds of contributions like; land, funds, volunteer teachers, labor, construction materials etc. from the community. Since, the initiation was from the community, the community people were responsible for the management as well.
After the introduction of National Educational System Plan (NESP) (1971-1976), all community schools established earlier without any circumstances were brought under the direct control of the government which also shifted the governance role from the community to the central government. This plan became an effort to implement a uniform system of education by nationalizing the educational institutions of the country. This plan was formed on the assumption that education is one of the prime functions of the state and therefore, it must receive support and stimulation due to it. The feeling of the plan was that the educational system of a nation must be organized and supervised by the state itself. Ministry of Education (MoE) planned to have solitary authority and responsibility for the management of all schools in the country carried out through its Regional Education Directorates (REDs). During the time National Education Committee (NEC) was formed to guide the central Ministry in terms of general policy, establish coordination between school and higher level education. Furthermore, it was for assisting the MoE in the easy implementation of the NESP and carry out research and development functions. All the school management committees were dismissed. The school supervision system was run through secondary and primary school supervisors. This centralized system of education could not manage thoroughly the local problems in terms of curriculum, resources, manpower and monitoring (Lamichhane, 1997).
As time passed, the educational system in Nepal also has been influenced by the evolvement of the SBM practice throughout the world. Local Development Act 1966 divided the country into 14 zones and 75 districts for the administrative purpose. The educational management also was tired to decentralize according to the administrative division. However, such structural administrative changes did not manage any significance changes in educational governance (ibid. 1997).
After the Decentralization Act 1982, the government granted authority and responsibility to the local village development committee for formulating and implementing local development plans. A system of block grants-in-aid was introduced, in line with the government’s commitment to meet the teachers’ salaries for a fixed staff size so as to prevent indiscriminate hiring of teachers and also to encourage local resource mobilization by the schools. The management of public schools was thus handed over to the communities.
In 1990 the democracy was restored and the first elected government was formed. The government initiated several measures to expand the scope and participation of people in school management, but they remained less effective. Later on, Government of Nepal amended the “Education Act” in 2001(seventh amendment) and introduced the new “Education Regulations” in 2002. According to the amended version of the Education Act 2001 and regulations 2002, the government introduced major changes in the formation of school management committee (SMC). The guardians of the students were the members and they had the right to select or elect the SMC. In the history of Nepalese education development, this was the first time that community people were made responsible to government schools through the specific authority in the education act and regulations. The authority handed to the community was fully under control of the central administration. So the SMCs became the administrators without any power because all the financing, curriculum, teacher selection, supervision and monitoring was centrally handled (Lamsal, 2008).
After 2005, the government selected some schools as model-school and handed over the schools to the community. These school management committees of the respective schools get regular fixed amount of funding and centralized curriculum from the central government but the selection of teacher and staff, administrating the school, supervision and monitoring is the job of the SMC. The government is adding the number of this type of community based model-schools every year (ibid. 2008).
In the remote past, Nepal almost exclusively relied on community-managed and to a large part, community-financed schools for primary education. But those schools were not government’s schools they were established private and managed by themselves. During the time when the government became active in educational matters, community-managed schools were taken over with the anticipation of improving the overall quality of education through increased government funding and technical support. While there had been an increase in government funding of the school sector after nationalization, the improvements in quality and efficiency of SBM lagged seriously behind the public expectation with comparison to the fund invested. It can be said that there was gradual erosion of governance, accountability and quality after nationalization of the school management.
Conclusive Discussion SBM is for the enhancement of the local society in terms of education. This process is not so simple to be succeeded. Only enforcement of the rules and regulations alone is not sufficient to make it effective and success. It is a joint effort of policies implementation, empowerment of community and professionals. Key element in successful operation of SBM is capacity development in the local level. Studies have indentified that defining the responsibilities of the stakeholders, widening participation, developing professionalism of teachers, setting goals, evaluating effectiveness and developing characteristics of good schools are necessary for the implementation of SBM. For the community to play the role, four requirements should be presented; (i) legitimate participation (ii) knowledge and skill (iii) power (iv) information and rewards. This is hardly the case in many communities, which puts in doubt, one of the main beliefs of the advocates of SBM: that will create a stronger accountability framework than the centralized management system.
In SBM system, reform of administrative procedures and devolution of more authorities to schools in human resource management, use of resources and design and delivery of curriculum is sought. These measures are for creating more area for schools to develop quality education with their own unique characteristics. Principally, Nepal can adopt SBM, but above mentioned serious considerations are needed. One very important aspect is that, SBM system is not any magic which can solve all the problems immediately.
The school management system which is being practiced as test-model in Nepal seems as if it is SBM but it requires more sovereignty and flexibility. The government and the policy makers themselves are not fully confident on it. Only recruiting the teachers and staffs and handling them with the fund from the government cannot be SBM. It can be extended to be autonomous in term of curriculum development according to the community including the main stream educational system and establishing local funding resources for the education. Some people argue that the full power to the school management committee to administrate is not better because issues like politics, culture, relationship etc. will influence while recruiting and evaluating teachers and staffs. In some cases what also can happen is the school management committee does not hold the capacity to conduct the administrative activities. This practice can only be the promotion of local politics in the educational institution in the name of SBM. If this happens then it is for sure that there would be an accident which costs much and the quality can never be improved. The capacity of the school management committee and community people remains to be crucial factor for the establishment of the basic principles of SBM such as flexibility, autonomy, transparency, accountability and participatory decision making in school.
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