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Do Education Systems Trust Decentralization? Evidence from Survey Experiments in Nepal

Wed, April 20, 9:30 to 11:00am CDT (9:30 to 11:00am CDT), Hyatt Regency - Minneapolis, Floor: 4, Great Lakes A2


How does an education system respond during early stages of big-bang decentralization? We examine this in Nepal which undertook rapid education decentralization in late 2017. Through survey experiments in 2018, we investigate trust between different tiers of education service delivery. Trust can serve as a useful litmus test for the legitimacy of the newly-formed local governments; and an early detector of potential roadblocks to the smooth transition of power. We find that local governments are seen as legitimate and trustworthy by headteachers and teachers, both in absolute and relative terms (vis-à-vis the center). However, they are concerned about the accountability of local governments and their potential politicization in certain educational tasks. We also find that local governments trust the center and are looking to them for capacity building and support. Finally, teacher management is the single most contentious roadblock to effective decentralization. There is significant disagreement between teachers, head-teachers, elected and non-elected local government officials about whether teacher hiring and promotion should be managed at the center or at the local level. We also discuss policy implications of these findings.