Education and Decentralization
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Contributor: World Bank
Author: Decentralization Thematic Team
Contact: Jennie Litvack

Function Assignment/Rationale
Central Subnational/Local
Setting Educational Standards Central Government better equipped to address labor-market issues and target under-performing areas with additional technical assistance. Some federal governments (for example the United States) have successfully delegated monitoring and standards to states or provinces.
Curriculum Design and Teaching Methods Central Government generally plans national curriculum within Central Ministry of Education In heterogeneous societies (such as Nigeria)local governments given some latitude to localize curriculum - introducing indigenous languages, for example. Student Evaluation.
Student Evaluation National-level examination systems can shape the general direction local evaluation and monitoring. Teachers, schools, districts, generally evaluate on a day-to-day basis. Also, developing school-based performance plans increases the information available so that local level players can take an active part in monitoring education quality.
Textbook Production and Distribution Usually centralized in order to harmonize textbooks with curriculum design and development process; also to increase cost efficiency (due to scale economies in centralized procurement, production, and distribution).
Teacher Recruitment and Promotion Teachers are central government civil servants in most developing countries; conditions of service are determined centrally by the Public Service Commission, or an independent Teacher Service Commission. In a few countries, mostly federal systems such as Brazil and India, where sub sectors for education are fully devolved, some teachers (primary and secondary education) are civil servants of intermediate governments.
  In many cases, including federal systems such as Pakistan, teachers have resisted reforms that would have placed them under the jurisdiction of local or intermediate governments on the grounds that they lose inter-jurisdictional mobility, comparable conditions of service, and prestige. Constructive dialogue with the relevant teacher unions and groups is an important priority in education reform, for teacher resistance to reforms of conditions of service designed to make them formally accountable to intermediate and local governments remains a common impediment to system reform.
Education Financing: Despite private sector involvement, the bulk of education services are publicly provided in most countries. Intergovernmental Transfers are a common financing mechanism. Where subnational governments have statutory or constitutional responsibility for some education sub sectors, central governments either assign taxes sufficient to cover these and other devolved responsibilities, or, if revenues sources are centralized, central governments factor expected education costs into the share of revenue it allots to various subnational governments. Some central and intermediate governments also provide additional matching grants to local governments to increase local expenditures on priority areas within education.
In deconcentrated systems, field offices receive their budgets from the central ministry via the next highest level.
Many governments have implemented community management and cost recovery schemes in response to shrinking central fiscal resources and growing demand for basic education. it is felt that this approach also significantly improves sustainability compared with more centralized systems.
In all cases, community financing involves full or partial beneficiary cost-recovery schemes. Types of partial community financing include: contingencies fees, reduced (subsidized) school fees, PTA contributions, and ad-hoc community contributions in cash or kind. Most countries have implemented a partial model. In rare cases communities are entirely responsible for school financing, usually for subset of schools. In China for example there are government schools gonban and community-run schools minban.
On the management side, communities are increasingly given substantial control over the day to day operation of schools. In many countries, local school committees and district education boards/ committees comprising mainly community representatives have been set up for this purpose. In rural El Salvador, the elected members of a community education association are vested with the legal responsibility for enrolling a specified number f students, establishing classrooms or new schools, and hiring and supervising their teaching staff. Zambia and Bhutan also provide good examples of this trend. The United States, United Kingdom, and Ireland also have highly developed school level management systems. PTA roles are highly variable across schools, community income levels, and countries.
Construction and Maintenance In some cases e.g. Tanzania, central government finance both. This is traditionally among the most decentralized education subfunctions. In some cases- for example local governments in China for some schools- subnational governments with statutory responsibility finance both.
  Responsibilities for construction and maintenance are often divided between government tiers-- for example the province provides resources for construction and major rehabilitation, and the local government conducts routine maintenance; (iv) communities and their representatives share costs. Usually, local governments and communities focus on basic education an not on tertiary education
Teacher's Salaries Salaries are usually paid from the recurrent budget of the level to which teachers report administratively. Formal budgetary responsibility, however, goes beyond simply preparing the check it involves planning and resource allocation as well. Most teachers are members of a unified national civil service, and pay scales are set by the relevant service commission. Even in highly centralized systems physical payment is usually made by the local education office or the school, but from resource transfers that are meticulously earmarked for salaries. Where communities finance schools they often finance some teachers' salaries, and this helps to make affected schools more responsive to community needs. However, community financing of salaries is controversial with teachers' unions because it can create inequities in salaries and student-teacher ratios among poorer and richer communities.