Decentralization of Basic Education; Educators Speak
Felipe, Teresita D., Manila Bulletin
Why, When, What and How? DECENTRALIZATION of education has been a global phenomenon and a focus of education reforms in various countries. According to UNESCO (IIEP Newsletter July-Sept 2000), the reasons for decentralization are varied. In some cases it is a question of increasing efficiency in management and governance. In many cases, it is a result of political democratization: people want to be consulted and involved in decision making that concerns them directly. Decentralization is also a way of clarifying lines of accountability.
It has also been reported that in some developing countries, the motivation for decentralization is the search for more resources particularly at the local levels. However, because of unequal human and financial resources among provinces and communities, and the inability of the national government to equalize inequities, decentralization can lead to serious disparities.
In a recent visit to Thailand, it was observed that in spite of difficulties, the Thai people have rallied behind the implementation of the Thai Learning Reform through the National Education Act of 1999 believing that education is a means to solving human, social and environmental problems. The Act contains several key elements including teaching and learning reform, revitalization of Thai wisdom, and decentralization of policy making. The Act is based on the principle that education is not restricted only to the classroom and teachers are not the sole source of knowledge. The Thai learning reform was very impressive. It was essentially a shift from focusing on subject matter to human beings or learners. It aimed at focusing on the full development of the Child-physical and mental health, intellect, knowledge and integrity. The UNICEF in fact has begun to promote Thailand as a model in the Child Friendly School System in Asia.
For the Philippine Basic Education sector, decentralization has been the object of policy thrust, by various Department Secretaries. The Education For All Philippine Plan of Action crafted in 1990 included grand alliance strategies towards ensuring universal access to quality primary education. Such a grand alliance called for multi-sectoral participation and delivery modes for both formal and informal systems. The EFA 2000 Assessment report noted that much remains to be done to make the grand alliance work. It was recommended that DECS should promote greater intersectoral coordination and widen the participation of civil society and other stakeholders in policy formulation, curriculum review, performance evaluation and implementation of reform measures. The Philippine Commission for Educational Reforms (PCER) has likewise included decentralization in its reform agenda. The focus of the decentralization will be (i) the promotion of school-based management; (ii) enhancing the powers of Local School Boards; (iii) developing local education plans; (iv) influencing the allocation of development funds within LGUs; and (v) redefining the roles of the divisions and the regions.
Decentralization has been pursued by DECS through various administrative measures. In the mid 1980s to about the mid 1990s, curriculum localization through a 7030 national-local mix was advocated and became the focus of teacher inservice training. In 1997, DECS Order No. 17 titled "Adopting a Policy of Empowering School Principals" was issued. …