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FEATURE STORY

Local Governance and Education Performance in Indonesia: Surveying the Quality of Local Education Governance in 50 Districts

November 25, 2013

Jakarta, INDONESIA - Improving the quality of basic education remains a central challenge in Indonesia. Without a good quality basic education, children will fail to acquire the skills they need to lead full and productive lives.  Indonesia will then be challenged to build the human resources necessary to sustain strong economic growth.

Since the introduction of decentralization reforms in the early 2000s, local governments have become responsible for the provision of basic services. This has put them at the heart of efforts to raise education quality.  The report ‘Local Governance and Education Performance: A Survey of the Quality of Local Education Governance in 50 Indonesian Districts’, explores how the quality of local governance affects service delivery and assesses the capacity of local governments to manage education services effectively.  

The study has four main objectives:

  • To provide an assessment of district capacity to deliver basic education services
  • To explore the relationship between governance and district education performance
  • To track recent changes in education governance
  • To assess the effect of donor-supported capacity building activities on governance

The report’s findings include:

  • Better education governance is associated with better education performance. Districts with better education governance tend to make better decisions. For example, well governed districts hire a greater proportion of qualified teachers and distribute them more equitably than districts with poorer governance indicators. Ultimately, the report finds that better decision making is also associated with better education outcomes.
  • Modest improvements in education governance took place between 2009 and 2012 but weaknesses remain. The overall quality of local education governance improved only marginally over the 3 years of the study. However, the overall improvement masked differences across specific areas of governance. For example, local governments appear to perform strongly in terms of education service provisions standards but were rated relatively poorly in terms of their management control systems.
  • Improvements were seen in the quality of education management information systems (EMIS) and in processes to strengthen transparency and accountability. Over the 3-year period, local governments made significant efforts to encourage community participation in decision-making by allowing public participation in parliamentary accountability and audit reporting sessions. By 2012, more district education offices had put in place written procedures and protocols for data collection and verification. However, two thirds of districts had failed to put systems of this kind in place by 2012.
  • Weaknesses in the way districts manage and use their education resources appear to have increased.  The study documents a decline in the effectiveness of management control systems. For example, the number of districts which systematically document and disseminate examples of innovation and best practice dropped dramatically between 2009 and 2012.  In terms of the ability of district education offices to effectively plan, budget and monitor, the study reveals a mixed picture. Only 12 percent of districts used consolidated school development plans in their district education planning process but more districts were setting budget priorities and ceilings prior to putting together their annual budgets.

Lessons learned

  • A multi-sectoral approach to capacity building is needed. The study shows the limitations of addressing local governance weaknesses through sector-specific capacity building activities.  District education officers recognized that many key challenges are related to district level systems (e.g. planning and budgeting systems) rather than specifically to the education system. However, the district education office is powerless to address these broader constraints.  If governance and management is to be improved then there is a need to tackle these broader governance constraints as well.
  • Tailor the level and type of capacity building support to district characteristics. The level and type of support that local governments need to strengthen education governance varies considerably. For example, publicizing and disseminating information to the local population is much easier when there is a vibrant local media. It is more difficult when there is no local media and communication is hampered by limited infrastructure and geographical obstacles. To be successful, future capacity building programs need to take account of the specific constraints that districts face.