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Education decentralization – new data on adoption, implementation and research in low- and middle-income countries

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

Group Submission Type: Formal Panel Session


Our panel critically examines education decentralization reforms in low- and middle- income countries. These reforms attempt to improve outcomes for schools and students through varying education actor autonomy at different levels of the education system. The panel begins with two papers which take up macro, quantitative analyses of decentralization reforms over time in LMICs. The first paper examines decentralization landscape in education systems across primary and secondary education in LMICs through a novel dataset looking at 10 categories of decentralization in education. It then examines the relationship between education system standardization in LMICs and inequality in educational attainment. The second paper helps explain the patterns of school and sub-national decentralization across LMICs observed in the first paper, through its focus on the major proponent and funder of decentralization in education, the World Bank. This research presents findings from a new dataset of World Bank programme documents in 99 LMICs, showing clear trends in programme emphasis of sub-national and school decentralization over time. Next, the panel turns to questions of decentralization reform effectiveness. The third paper systematically reviews the literature on subnational actors in education delivery more broadly to understand the shape of the evidence on the middle-tier of education service delivery and what makes it effective in improving school and student outcomes. The fourth paper explores the case of Nepal, measuring levels of trust between education actors at different levels of administration during the implementation of a ‘big bang’ decentralization reform in Nepal. Together, these four papers generate novel datasets and approaches to explore questions about educational decentralization reforms that have been instituted in LMICs to understand if, when, why, and how, they influence service provision.

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