About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 2127-2137
Publication year: 2012
ISBN: 978-84-616-0763-1
ISSN: 2340-1095

Conference name: 5th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 19-21 November, 2012
Location: Madrid, Spain

PROGRAMMED IMPLEMENTATION DEFICITS IN BOTTOM-UP EDUCATION POLICY - THE “BENEFITS” OF THE MEXICAN DOUBLE DISCOURSE. CASE STUDY: QUALITY SCHOOLS PROGRAM IN GUADALAJARA

A. Alcalá Padilla

University of Guadalajara (MEXICO)
The unprecedented growth of the public sector since the 1980´s and the disappointment due to well-publicized “fiascoes” in administrations around the world (Bovens & ´Thart, 2005), questioned the validity of the existent policy-making models. Education researchers and practitioners, as in other disciplines, found some of the main inconsistencies in centralized, bureaucratic and standardized public interventions, for which they promoted more participatory alternatives known as “bottom-up” (Pritchett y Woolcock, 2002). Unfortunately, these strategies are, in occasions, only partially adopted or even simulated, without targeting the weaknesses linked to the traditional top-down mechanisms. This seems to be the case in developing countries, such as Mexico, where the structural problematic complicates the implementation of participatory education policies, and where the official discourse can still be manipulated due to the yet incipient accountability culture.

A clear example of this is the Quality Schools Program - Programa Escuelas de Calidad (PEC) -, which, since the year 2001, grants schools have the possibility to generate and implement ad hoc strategies to improve de quality of education. However, participating schools are required to spend 70% of the additional funding on materials and building maintenance, even when recognized educational research suggests that teachers´ preparation and the dynamics inside the classroom have a greater impact on students´ performance in developing countries (UNESCO, 2004). Thus, despite the apparent innovative nature of the Program, it can hardly be differentiated from previous strategies and, eleven years later, most participating schools have not improved student performance significantly.

Why are there so many programmed implementation deficits in PEC and are they to blame for obstructing the success of this otherwise “well-intentioned”, bottom-up strategy? Moreover, considering the goal-based failure of this public intervention, why do the Mexican educational authorities insist in promoting it as a success? These are the questions that motivate this paper and to which I respond examining the official discourse surrounding PEC and the perceptions of the main stakeholders of the implementation structure (Hjern & Porter, 1981) in the sample – teachers, principals, parents and “street-level bureaucrats” (Lipsky, 1980)

The analysis is fundamentally qualitative and the case study is cross-sectional, centered in a process, exemplary, contemporary, analytical and single. It takes place in two phases: the first being documentary using Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA), and the second mainly empirical using convenience sampling. The perceptions of PEC´s officers regarding the coherence between the discourse and the reality of education quality in PEC´s schools, have been gathered through in-depth interviews, while those of parents, teachers and principals have been collected through semi-structured interviews. Accordingly non-participant observation has been performed and schools´ files examined.

The sample includes 16 primary schools – 1st. through 6th grade – that participated in PEC during the school year of 2010-2011, in the Municipality of Guadalajara. At least one of each type of actor was interviewed in each institution, as well as nine Program officers from PEC´s State Coordination.

The findings of this study have significant implications for the improvement of education quality in Mexico.
@InProceedings{ALCALAPADILLA2012PRO,
author = {Alcal{\'{a}} Padilla, A.},
title = {PROGRAMMED IMPLEMENTATION DEFICITS IN BOTTOM-UP EDUCATION POLICY - THE “BENEFITS” OF THE MEXICAN DOUBLE DISCOURSE. CASE STUDY: QUALITY SCHOOLS PROGRAM IN GUADALAJARA},
series = {5th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation},
booktitle = {ICERI2012 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-616-0763-1},
issn = {2340-1095},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Madrid, Spain},
month = {19-21 November, 2012},
year = {2012},
pages = {2127-2137}}
TY - CONF
AU - A. Alcalá Padilla
TI - PROGRAMMED IMPLEMENTATION DEFICITS IN BOTTOM-UP EDUCATION POLICY - THE “BENEFITS” OF THE MEXICAN DOUBLE DISCOURSE. CASE STUDY: QUALITY SCHOOLS PROGRAM IN GUADALAJARA
SN - 978-84-616-0763-1/2340-1095
PY - 2012
Y1 - 19-21 November, 2012
CI - Madrid, Spain
JO - 5th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
JA - ICERI2012 Proceedings
SP - 2127
EP - 2137
ER -
A. Alcalá Padilla (2012) PROGRAMMED IMPLEMENTATION DEFICITS IN BOTTOM-UP EDUCATION POLICY - THE “BENEFITS” OF THE MEXICAN DOUBLE DISCOURSE. CASE STUDY: QUALITY SCHOOLS PROGRAM IN GUADALAJARA, ICERI2012 Proceedings, pp. 2127-2137.
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