Decentralization and Community Management
The two central elements in the education reform in Senegal are the transfer of management responsibility to regional and local governments and strengthening of decentralized management at the school level through the establishment of functioning School Management Committees (SMC). The policies and procedures for implementing these reforms have been promulgated, including a manual for developing and implementing school development plans. However, the emphasis has been on procedures and responsibilities, rather than on tools and systems to make these reforms work at the school and regional levels. Most principals, teachers, parents, community members, and regional councils are not well prepared to develop strategies and concrete actions that will improve the quality of education. The respective roles and responsibilities of the regional councils and the academy inspectorates are not clearly delineated. The challenge of implementing effective decentralized responsibility is to provide the key actors with the tools, knowledge, and systems to make informed decisions.
By the end of the USAID/PAEM project, the regional administrative entities will have defined strategies and systems focused on improving educational quality in the schools and systems for monitoring the results against goals. All regional level authorities dealing with supervision, teacher training, principal training, and general school support will be coordinated with the same objectives. Each district will have trained teams with proven systems and tools to assist schools and communities to develop and implement school development plans. Each participating school will develop and implement a school development plan each year, with increasing emphasis on issues related to school quality and relevance, rather than only infrastructure.
This component is the most important element of the USAID/PAEM project. The other components are intended to enable success at the regional and school level. Policy implementation and systems from DEMSG create the conditions and support for success, and community mobilization creates the demand for education. Activities at the regional and school levels in the target regions will support all of the project components: school construction, community participation, school development planning, and teacher and principal development. Implementation of the project components at the regional level will create practicums for exercising authority and responsibility under a decentralized system, leading to sustainable management systems. Therefore, work at the regional and district levels will create the institutional capacity and systems that link national policies to school improvement. The goals of this component are:
Progress Report 2006
- To increase the capacity of regional and departmental entities in three regions to support schools in improving educational quality. Regional entities will develop and implement clear strategies of support to schools to achieve defined goals of school quality; and
- To create school management committees that will be active and effective in the target regions. These committees will develop, implement, and refine school development plans.
The first group of activities in this component supports communities to fulfill their commitments and help school management committees improve their schools. The USAID/PEAM project has conducted awareness-raising and mobilization activities and meetings with communities, local offices, authorities, and civil society members. Partnership workshops have provided community stakeholders with an opportunity to compare their own experience of cooperation and partnership with what is prescribed by official education decentralization policy. Data collected in each community has helped to identify the changes needed to make local management of schools more efficient and realistic.
Secondly, DEMSG and USAID/PAEM have designed a training program for school management committees through creative workshops in three regions. A manual for trainers has also been developed. This manual is divided in four modules: information sharing on PDEF, especially as it relates to middle schools; school improvement plan design; maintenance activities in CEMs; and managing material and financial resources as part of the school improvement plans.
The third type of activity has provided direct support to communities in terms of school management. In 2006, a regional team of SMC trainers began work in the region of Fatick. This team was charged with providing training and post-training support to seven SMCs. Similar teams will be formed in Tambacounda and Kolda, and, eventually, each of the nine departments in which USAID/PAEM schools will follow. The training modules that have been developed for the SMC members include partner outreach strategies, techniques of management and conflict resolution, and strategies and tools for sustaining current infrastructure and resources.