Decntralised Government Systems with Reference to Zambia

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This essay seeks to critically discuss the meaning of a decentralized education system and to highlight the benefits and challenges of such an education system with reference to Zambian education. This essay will first look at the meanings of the terms “Decentralization” and “a decentralized education system”. And thereafter highlight the benefits and challenges and relate them to the Zambian education system and finally conclude. “Decentralization is theprocess whereby decision making powers and functions are transferred from the more central structures of the government and its ministries to local level structures...Decentralization is related to the principal of subsidiary function (or subsidiarity), that is a higher level group should not do for a lower level group what the lower level group can do for itself and a group above the level of individuals should not do for the individuals what the individuals can do for themselves”.(Kelly, 1996; page 200). Fiszbein (2001) ed. also adds that decentralization is a matter of degree since all organizations are decentralized to some extent out of necessity. At one extreme a strongly decentralized organization is the one which even the lowest level employees or managers are empowered to make decisions, at the other extreme at a strongly decentralized organization the lower level managers or employees have little freedom to make decisions. Although all organizations fall somewhere between these two extremes, there is a pronounced trend towards more and more decentralization. A decentralized education system is an education system whose legal and financial powers have been granted to local units. The central authorities will only exercise direct supervisory control over such units which gives full control over planning, implementation of programmes and projects within the guidelines set by the central authorities. This type of educational system also transfers managerial responsibilities for certain defined educational functions to organizations that are outside the regular bureaucratic structure of the educational system that are directly controlled by the central authorities (i.e. the Ministry of Education) and the central authorities or government divesting itself of some responsibility for ownership, power and control over education and the transfer ofsome of these to voluntary organizations or private enterprises (Ministry of Education, 1996). A decentralized education system is further defined by Winkler et al, (2000) as the transfer of decision making authority from the central authorities or Ministry of Education to the beneficiaries. This can take the form of transferring power to lower levels of the ministry which is called deconcentration or administrative decentralization. A popular form of deconcentration in the education system is to give additional responsibilities to schools. This is often called school autonomy or school based management and may create elected or appointed school councils and giving them budgets and authority to make important decisions. Deconcentration can also empower school managers and/or teaching faculty to make decisions within the schools. Another form of decentralization in the education system is calleddevolution, which entails transferring power or authority from the central authority or government to an authority or government in a local unit or region such as the local education offices in the districts of Zambia. A decentralised education system should bring a number of advantages or benefits including the fact that it should increase community involvement, ownership of what is taking place and sensitivity to local needs (Carmody, 2004). A decentralised education system relieves the central authorities of the burden of everyday business, therefore giving senior officers enough time and space to focus on their principal functions and duties. (Kelly,1996). In the Zambian education system, instead of the minister of education physically...
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