Advantages and disadvantages of consolidating school districts within a state
By increasing the participation of parents, community-managed schools in El Salvador show significantly lower rates of student and teacher absenteeism.While this type of management does not appear to have improved student performance in tests according to a recent evaluation, it may be just a matter of time before better student attendance translates into higher student achievement.Issues of how far to devolve decision-making in each of these subsectors, and to whom, continue to be debated.There are a number of on-going experiments worldwide, ranging from devolution of limited functions to intermediate governments and local governments, to community-based management and financing of schools.In Brazil, it has increased overall access (enrollments) but has done little to reverse persistent regional inequities in access to schooling, per capita expenditures, and quality.Chiles experience also suggests that decentralization does not by itself remove inequalities between localities of varying incomes, and quality in poorer communities continues to lag.Since the impact of management reforms such as these may take time to unfold, further empirical analysis is needed.Decentralization of education systems demands harmonization of a complex set of functions, each for primary, secondary, tertiary, and non-formal education.
These results are derived from ongoing impact evaluations.
While there are solid theoretical justifications for decentralizing education systems, the process requires strong political commitment and leadership in order to succeed.
The path, depth, and ultimately, the outcome of decentralization reforms depend on the motivations for reforms, the initial country and sector conditions, and the interaction of various important coalitions within the sector.
The current consensus is that tertiary education, and specific functions such as curriculum design and standards setting are best retained by the center; secondary and primary education should be devolved as far as possible; local participation in school management improves accountability, and responsiveness, and fosters resource mobilization.
Yet, the devil is in the details, and there are many details that need to be sorted out on a country by country basis.