About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2011 Proceedings
Publication year: 2011
Pages: 1040-1049
ISBN: 978-84-615-3324-4
ISSN: 2340-1095
Conference name: 4th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 14-16 November, 2011
Location: Madrid, Spain
Recently, the question of educational decentralization and school autonomy has become increasingly visible in social and political discourse, making a renewal of scientific interest on the educational system’s modes of regulation (Maroy, 2001; Meuret and Durut-Bellat, 2003).
Researchers are concerned with a better understanding of the actors involved in decision-making processes, the competences decentralized and the degree of school autonomy, but also in the effect that such policies can have on the educational system. If comparative studies are classic (Archer, 1979), new techniques have been explored (Mons, s/d), which benefit from data and information produced by international organizations on the subject (Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development, Programme for International Student Assessment, Eurydice Network).
Despite the varied literature on the meaning of decentralization and autonomy, its measurement is not yet fully stabilized. In fact, it is generally accepted that “decentralization” implies authority, resources and responsibilities redistribution among the various actors of the system (Dyer & Rose, 2005) – and can be analyzed in terms of territorial or functional decentralization (Weiler, 2000) -, while “autonomy” refers to the individual and collective capacity of local actors to act, beyond the political-administrative system organization (Fernandes, 2005). However, studies on the subject use different indicators to measure these processes, and few of them reflect the impact of different degrees of decentralization and autonomy on school results (Gunnarson et al, 2004; Pena, 2007).
The PhD project presented here aims to adress the issue of decentralization and school autonomy, analyzing the specificities of the Portugal case through a historical and comparative approach. Our model comprises two main phases which are to be articulated and involve a methodology strategy that integrates and combines different levels of analysis and tools for collecting and processing data.
At first, our goal is to grasp the different configurations of these processes (by building a typology) and its effects on European Union countries. In this respect we will privilege a quantitative/ extensive approach, in order to analyze regularities between variables, both to account for the processes under study as to articulate the factors that made them possible and the effects it may have.
Secondly, and focusing on the Portuguese case, it is our intention to consider the “local space” and how the local actors – schools, municipalities’ representatives, parent’s associations, other community members – appropriate those measures, in the light of Giddens principle of the duality of structure (1984). This phase, in addition to complete the “macro” analysis, gives us the possibility to take into account re-contextualizations and different ways to implement these measures, and also to include contextual variables in the model. The analysis of the decision-making processes, exercise of autonomy, mobilization processes and social participation in a specific local community will be made through a local monograph.
Decentralization, autonomy, local space, comparative perspective.