The Oxford Symposiums on the Finance, Law & Economics of Education are recurring events bringing together scholars and practitioners from around the globe. This year’s meeting took place in the Charles Wellbeloved Room in Harris Manchester College, Mansfield Rd, Oxford. The symposium gathered together a relatively small number of participants compared to other conferences I have attended at Oxford, yet the speakers came from very diverse backgrounds and geographical locations.
Nearly, 80 percent of the speakers were faculties from US-based universities, including from the University of California, Irvine. The very small setting of the symposium allowed for greater interaction and exchange among participants. Each speaker was allocated 30 minutes for both presentation and Q & A. The structural aspect of the symposium that I cherished the most was the informal, back-and-forth conversations around my research topic.
The paper I presented is titled “Decentralizing Secondary Education Governance in sub-Saharan Africa: Successes, Challenges & Prospects”, which is the fruit of a collaborative commissioned research project with colleagues at the Qatar Foundation in Doha. We assess current efforts and challenges by sub-Saharan African (SSA) Governments to decentralize governance of secondary education with the goal to achieving a technologically better trained, employable and productive workforce, that are indispensable for economic growth and development.
Using secondary sources accompanied by interviews with key education actors in SSA, the paper addresses the issue of secondary education governance in SSA to shed light on the status and recent developments in this area with a focus on lessons learned (replicable experiences) from success stories across the region and recommendations on how to strengthen governance of secondary education.
The paper is intended to serve as a background paper on secondary education governance in SSA which will be used to contribute to a more comprehensive publication on secondary education in SSA and the future of work. It focuses on decentralization in education systems and school-based management as important aspects of education governance reform in SSA and provides examples of reform efforts from several countries in the region.
My research outlines the broad aims of, and the driving forces for decentralization of secondary education in SSA. It also addresses challenges, trends and solutions implemented, progress made, and areas requiring further attention. Evidence from recent efforts to include lower secondary into basic compulsory education in some SSA countries is included and lessons learned identified.
Besides identifying specific examples of successful policies that could be replicated in other SSA countries, insight from the study also suggests institutional path-dependence in the way colonialism continues to shape national decentralization policies in SSA, and hence governance of education decentralization. The policy recommendations from the study would hopefully contribute to addressing some of the challenges African youths face in being gainfully employed after school, and in integrating the globalizing digital economy.