Educational Policy Analysis – Journal #10

Today’s class is two days before José’s birthday so we decided to get cake and celebrate with him in class. Now I know that, and have heard superstition about this before, celebrating a birthday with cake before the actual birthday is bad luck. But we were thinking that it would be better to do that instead of waiting two weeks to do that, since next week is Spring break and our next class meeting is 2 weeks from today. In any case, he was surprised, which was the point so that was nice.

For this class we were, in pairs, to read a case study about a reform project in a country and present it to the rest of the class. So Mona and I worked on the Peru case study Haddad outlines in chapters 2 and 3.

It was a pretty interesting policy scenario. In brief, here’s the case study;

The reform aim was to integrate practical and academic subjects in the education system in order to provide the country with the intellectual power and range of skills to achieve sustained economic and social development. It aimed equally at resolving issues of equity and external efficiency. The model of reform implementation was a synoptic comprehensive model, which meant that the whole education sector was targeted.

The socio-politico-economic context is as follows:

It was a 1968 coup d’etat. A group of military officers, led by Velasco, had overthrown the democratically elected government of Fernando Belaunde Terry. The country had issues with deep income inequality, unbalanced rural-urban migration, high birth rates, poor health care, unemployment, inflation and overall a failing educational system. The challenges facing education specifically were equity and quality issues, mismatch between education and labor market needs. So both  the military and the interest groups agreed that reform should take place, but they had very different visions for the reform. Also, the ministry of education did nothing to help and was ill-equipped so this was an obstacle.

The analysis is that these conditions mean that this country was not ready for comprehensive approach to educational reform. Also, a possible reason for failure of the reform project is that the policy options were about which objectives were best suited to fit the military’s revolutionary goals. This meant that they only looked at what educational policies should be adopted and how best to effect these policies. So they started with their revolutionary goals and looked for objectives that suited these goals; so it was not based on context or what the public needed, it was all a political agenda to suit their goals.

In 1970 the civilian educational reform commission generated a report that said: “the response to the education system being inequitable, inefficient, outmoded and rigid and lacking a Peruvian spirit is to: provide education that creates ‘the new Peruvian man in a new Peruvian society’. The solution to this issue in practical  terms was to provide universal diversified secondary schooling (ESEPs) to all. This was supported by international discourse at the time. The Desirability, feasibility and affordability for adopting this reform were:

    • Desirability was driven by military ideologies, which was irrelevant to society so this reform was not relevant to the socio-economic needs and conditions of the people.
    • Affordability: The general report said that the reform is affordable and would be self-financing. After the reform started taking place the Ministry of Finance did another study and found that the general report was hazy.
    • The feasibility was inadequately evaluated due to the lack of cohesive analysis about necessary human resources and not following the reform schedule.

So they had the intention to go according to the model Haddad outlines in his chapter, but in reality we can say that their point of view was biased because if the policy reform really was feasible, desirable and affordable then it would not have failed as it did. We were using the conceptual framework of Haddad to analyze the success/failure of the reform project. This is not to say that this is the framework the Peruvian government used to implement the reform, we are just explaining the failure through the lens of Haddad’s conceptual framework.

The characteristics of the policy implemented are: synoptic, radical change (not modification to existing system, but an entire transformation), it was consistent with other sectorial reforms, which were fashioned around one overall development plan.

Here’s the 3 phase implementation schedule:

  • institutional and administrative changes
  • mobilization of financial, human, physical, technical
  • political resources

The Turning point that lead to it being a failed policy was when there was a deficiency in human capital and financial resources. There was also public dissatisfaction with the military government that started arising. This lead to time lines being severely modified and the objective of immediate overall reform was discarded and replaced with experimental piloting group of ESEPs. Also, the reform was associated with the unpopular and resisted military regime. The result of that was low enrollment in the ESEPs pilot program, ESEPs graduates were refused enrollment in universities, the quality of teachers in rural areas was lower than urban schools and the ESEPs training did not promise to match Peru’s market needs. These were pretty much the same conditions as before the reform. Add to that the fact that ESEPs was more expensive than traditional schools, which directly contradicts with the affordability claims done by the General Report.

“In sum, though not explicitly evaluated against these criteria, the reform was implicitly found to be undesirable, unaffordable and infeasible” (Haddad, 1995, p. 46).

The newly re-elected Belaunde government (which ousted the military government in 1980 elections) entered into a new policy cycle, but skipped directly to the policy decision stage. There was no formal assessment, no evaluation of alternative policy options, therefore skipping to the decision. They didn’t try to look at the stage of: is the policy at fault…etc. They decided to neglect the reform and they went back to the traditional system because it was more feasible and there was no need to confront those interest groups that were in favor of the military reform. I really liked this concept of silence is less confrontational than overt rejection of the reform.

In 1983 passed a law that changed officially the structure that the ESEPs had done. The ESEPs became Higher Technical Institutes.

In general I really liked reading this case study and in many ways it’s reminding me about a lot of what’s happening in Egypt, but I will not get into politics now. I absolutely enjoyed working with Mona on this. We work really well together and our chemistry as a pair is just right. We co-authored a paper in the winter course and it turned out to be a brilliant paper that I am very proud of. So it was pretty cool to get the chance to work with her on this presentation 🙂


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