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Saturday, September 14, 2013

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT IN EDUCATIONAL POLICY IN ZAMBIA



COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT IN BASIC EDUCATION: DYNAMICS OF PROVISION AND REGULATION IN SOCIAL POLICIES UNDER ZAMBIA‘S SECOND REPUBLIC

By



Katele Kalumba, 1991
___________________________________________________________________________

INTRODUCTION

This paper addresses some but not all questions related to the theme of community involvement in basic education in Zambia.  Specifically, it addresses itself to two key issues that dictate the form and content of community involvement in social policy spheres such as education and health.  These issues pertain to the modes of education provision and the structure of regulation.

That communities have been called upon to participate in the production of social services is an empirical reality in Zambia. It is known that 30% of all rural health centres were constructed on self-help basis (MoH, 1982). But before analysing why communities should be involved in education it must be asked why the question arises now.  This question raises issues about whether there is coincidence between the aspirations of educational bureaucrats and their key partners and the empirical perception of communities on what is the problem with current forms of education provision.

WHAT ISSUES MAKE THE QUESTION OF COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT IN BASIC  EDUCATION NECESSARY?

Over the years, allocations of public finance have always been supplemented by community self-help schemes in the construction of the physical infrastructure of schools at the primary level.  But as the empirical chances of progressing to higher levels of education recede, self - help efforts have dissipated.  This point was highlighted by the community-based study of child survival in Mansa and Samfya districts in Luapula (Kalumba, 1990) which suggests the problematic nature of conceiving of community involvement in social service provision in  financing terms alone.

According to officials in Mansa, many schools in rural areas are under- utilised because parents do not encourage school attendance.  Ministry authorities in the province reported that lack of textbooks, science equipment and chemicals, and sanitary conditions were the major problems in most schools.  Most buildings were dilapidated and inaccessible by authorities because of bad roads. The example cited by the provincial education authorities was the road to Mabo.


The extent of dilapidation and resource deficiencies of some schools can be illustrated by Mabumba Basic School.  Although nominally a secondary school, Mabumba Basic is an educational nightmare.  Books are in short supply.  Some books were donated by a foreign agency but they are incompatible with the educational curriculum.  The living conditions of student in the ‘dormitories’ are nothing short of an educational and public health scandal.  The so -called dormitories are old, temporary and, by now, cracking asbestos structure left behind by a Chinese road construction team.  The negative health effects of asbestos have been ignored by both health and education authorities.

Asbestosis is a pneumoconosis due to inhalation of asbestos dust.  Pulmonary fibrosis results in man from inhalation of chrysotile, the serpentine type asbestos.  The clinical symptoms are due to fibrosis and the concomitant pathological change, chiefly emphysema and bronchiectasis.  Progressive dyspnea, which can lead to disablement, is the chief symptom.  Cough and loss of weight also occur.  Complications of secondary respiratory infections may even cause death.  No known treatment for asbestosis exists; elimination of exposure to asbestos is the only effective method of reducing the mortality from asbestos-induced conditions.

The condition which makes Mabumba Basic School particularly worrisome is the multiple usage of what are disintegrating structures which release asbestos dust.  School authorities report a high incidence of coughs or chest complaints among students who use the facilities.

Aside from the health risks posed by the structures, inspection of water sources for the dormitories revealed unhygienic wells covered by thick green algea.  Both boys and girls wash in contaminated waters which are very likely to contain Bulinus africanus and Biomphalaria pfeifferi snails.  These have been implicated in urinary and intestinal schistosomiasis respectively.  Cercarial and miracidial contamination of water is very likely under the conditions observed at water points serving the school.

The problems of sanitation and the supply of drinking water to schools are general ones.  The provincial education authorities reported that 50 percent of schools have less than an adequate supply of drinking water.  Further, while schools may report that a latrine exists, there are great “variations in the care for them” This fact stresses the role of school health services.

School health development committees exist only in schools which have a child-to-
child health programme.  However, the content of such education-based health activities is shallow and does not even provide guidelines for the prevention of prevalent endemic diseases like cholera.  According to provincial education authorities, topics such as sex education, sexually transmitted diseases, vitamin A deficiencies, drugs and alcohol are not covered.

There are provisions for adult education . Mansa Continuing Education and Samfya Skills Training Schools provide educational opportunities particularly for Grade 7 school leavers.  Carpentry skills are taught in these institutions.  In general these facilities are poorly serviced.

At the local level in Mabumba and Mabo, the schools are faced with very serious problems.  In Mabumba, Mongo School reported difficulty in attracting children to attend school.  This problem is most evident among girls, 80 percent of whom drop out by Grade 4. The condition of Ninge Primary School in Mabo typifies the decay of rural schools.  The state of this school cannot be fully grasped by an account such as this.


There is simply no incentive for schooling or for teaching.  Teachers appear disillusioned by the many problems they face in their work, to say nothing of their welfare problems.  Ninge provided the most comprehensive assessment of a school’s needs and conditions in our review and is here used as a representative case for rural schools in Mansa and Samfya district.

In this school the teacher-student ratio of 1:50 was well above the national average .  Out of a total  of 25 boys and 9 girls enrolled in 1987, 12 boys and 3 girls passed their qualifying Grade 7 examination but their certificates had not come out yet.

The school had 5 classrooms, one by two government constructed school block and one by three -classroom self-help constructed block.  The three staff houses had leaking roofs and in each over 75 percent of the window panes were broken.  Pupil and staff toilets were “nearly falling” Both the government and self-help constructed classrooms had no door panels and no glass panes in any of the windows.  There were no door frames in the self-help classes.  None of the classrooms has locks.

With respect to new staff houses, one had been built and left at window level.  It needed door frames, window frames and glass panes . Two more staff houses were needed besides new staff toilets.  Other building needs identified included a practical building consisting of one room for home economics, one room for woodwork, and two rooms for stroage of practical materials (home economics and woodwork).

The school faced critical problems of text books supply, and there were serious transport difficulties in chasing after these books at district level.  Some books such as social studies handbooks for upper classes are not printed. According to the school officials at Ninge the number (of exercise books) supplied |by| the district to schools does not equal the number of children, i.e. only a few are given, and the senior classes are given first priority “(Ninge School Assessment Report, 1989).

There were no supplementary readers for grade 4, 5, 6, and 7 .  The school lacked visual aids for teaching.  The few that had remained in stock were in very poor condition.  Upper primary and lower primary and lower primary social studies charts and maps were unavailable.  There was no globe or map for social studies.  The school had no radio or cassette recorder, an old one which had been taken for repair by the District never having been returned.

There were 20 usable seater-desks thorughout the school.  Teachers estimated a need for 100 more.  Only three teachers’ chairs were in stock;  ten more were needed.  The school needed nine tables but had only two.   Similary only two out of the seven cupboards required were available.  Sports equipment, such as footballs and netballs, were non existent.

The school reported that etere as no clean water supply because the pump at the
well was out of use and anyhow the water was contaminated and the well often dried up dring the dry season.

COST DEMAND ARGUMENTS FOR COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT

From a resource-based premise it is easy to advance two interrelated arguments which explain why such decay makes the question of community involvment necessary at this point in Zambia.  The first related to the difficulties of providing “free” educational services.  The second is the increasing pattern of demand fuelled by demographic factors.



The cost-demand argument assumes certain conditions in reconciling the conflict between public budgets and social demands for equity in education.  The policy implications are, first, that a society can allocate educational services more equitably by increasing the amount of services, or reducing the popullationdemanding such services, or diluting the level of education.  Second, a society can distribute costs of education more evenly be reducing the size of the ediucation budget, or increasing the population who should contribut to cost -recovery in order to spread the costs widely, ot raising the cost to a level that the members of society are willing to accept (Nagel, 1996).  Communities participating in the provision of basic education would be aprt of such a cost-sharing equation.

The demographic argument follows the economic argument closely.  Zambia’s economic deterioration is exacerbated by a rapid population grpowth rate of 3.2 percent per annum, with the population more that doubling from 3.5 million in 1963 to over 8 million in 1991.  This has resulted in a high dependency ratio, with 110 dependents per 100 productive working -age adults.  It is estimated that the under-five population for 1990 was 1.6 million.  Effectively, this places a large strain on soocial services such as education and reveals the gap between real demand and the level and distribution of educational provision.


The economic argument, and its limits as a justification for community involvement, are illustrated in some evidence provided by Kelly (1991b).  Limiting his discusssion to the formal school system administered by the central government ministry of education, Kelly examines the financing of primary, secondary and university education.  The major part of the investigation analyses the source and disposition of funds over the seventeen- year period from 1970 to 1986 from which the principal problems of educational financing in Zambia are identified.  Further, an assessment is made of the official policies taken or contemplated in response to the difficulties delineated and the prospects for the future financing of education in Zambia are evaluated.  Kelly’s work, then, consists of a review of the role, problems and policies of central government in the financing of the Zambian state school system.

Kelly finds that the Zambian school system was funded inadequately by the central government in the period reviewed.  He shows that school enrollments doubled while official expenditures on education decreased and argues that the problems of Zambian educational financing are both economic and demographic.  The economic aspect is that about the same proportion of resources was devoted to education out of total government expenditures whose value (in Constant prices) delined over time.  The demographic context is that a rapid of population

growth led to increasing numbers of school-aged children.  In this situation, Kelly asserts, the two sources from which the government sought additional funds for eduction were inter-governmental assistance from abroad and the private sector at home.  These sources, in his view, contributed less than was needed for the adequate funding of the school system .  He advocated that fresh intiatives be taken to reform educational practice:

Adeclinig economy and ann expanding population are on widely diverging tracks.  The gaps cannot be spanned by tapping additional sources within the public, semi-state, private or foreign sectors.  What is needed is something that Zambia has not yet thought out, a new method of making educational provision that will make a much smaller demand on resources than the traditional hierarchic institutional modality that few have bared to question (ibid, p. 50).

It may be observed that Kelly’s paper suggests that suggests that the key to the Zambian central government’s management of educational financing is structure reforms of the the school system.  He argues that for as long as the structure of the school system remains unchanged, the problems of education financing will be insoluble.


In Practical terms, Kelly’s implied preference in resolving the budget/demand crisis seems to be the proposal to shift the burden of cost to users at the post-secondary, particularly univesity.  This position conforms with the argument of the World Bank for user -fees to be charged for health and education.  Kelly correctly says the users of post-secondary education are generally persons of higher socio-economic status and that, on this account, they ought to pay for the educational services they have received freely so far.

What Kelly’s assessment raises is the question: to what extent are these categories of persons able to claim benefits from public provisions based on their capacity to block the administrative implementation of programmes which they do not favour.  In another work, Kelly (1989, p.34) has recognised the “diverse manipulations that middle - and upper-class parents use, consciously or unconsciously, to secure places for their dependents”.  In other words, he concedes that indeed these groups do have the capacity to obstruct policy, our understanding of the limits of policy proposal for financing is seriously jeopardised.  The question therefore comes back to the role of social power in the provision and regulation of education.


MODES OF PROVISION AND REGULATION AS DETERMINANTS OF COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT

These are at least two key issues that dictate the form and content of community involvement in social policy spheres such as education.  These questions pertain to the modes of educational provision and the structure of regulation.

As with health systems, education systems in most Third World countries have been modelled on the experience of the industrialised countries with heavy concentration of formal schooling infrastructure, mostly limited to the urban pouplation.  Formal education, mainly publicly provided in these environments, basically suffers from the gap between its content and the life experience of those who pass through it, between the systems of value the it preaches and the goals set by society.

Basic learning needs, in accordance with current thinking, consist in “knowledge, skills, attitudes, and values upon which individuals can build their lives, even if they receive no formal education” (WCEFA, 1990, p. 10).  In this case, both the content and the process of the social implementation of basic education would require an understanding of the current and potential challenges of living that confront a people and the quality of life to which a society wishes to aspire.


The specific problems of any social policy system, such as education, lie in the opposition between the interest of the social group which it serves statistically and the interest of the social actegories that it excludes or serves poorly relative to their perceived needs.  The social selectively of state educational policy, often imposed by educational bureaucrats seeking a social resoultion of a demand/resource crisis, generates fundamental questions concerning educational organisation as a form of demand regulation.  Educational organisation addresses itself to questions such as: who needs to be educated, who could educate them, what do they need to know or learn, how they should learn it, who should pay for it?  These and other questions can only be adequately answered by answering at the same time questions concerning the system of social power.  These questions include: what is the structure and distribution of social power in an existing state, in what does the form of political rule consist, how is it financed?  Therefore, questions about the nature of educational reform provide us with a window from which to view centr-local relations and how open or closed to reform ideas a system of political rule is likely to be.

To specify a social services system like education, we must describe both the mode of financing/provision as well as the method of regulation.  It is through the regulatory system that the duties and obligations of users and providers of services are structured.  Unless both aspects of the system of social services are adequately addressed, prescriptions for system reform are bound to go awry.  What is wrong with many current proposals for change is that while they make prescriptions for the supply of social services they say nothing aboout regualtion.

It is possible to conceive of a taxonomy of education   services system classified according to the method of provision and the method of regulation.  There are five ideal-types which could characterise the extremes of this classificatory scheme (fig.1).  The first commits the government to total/high provisionas well as to total/high regulation of social services; we call this  a government system.  The second commits the administration to high provision and low regulation of services; we shall call this model of services a government aided system.  The third type involves government financing but autonomous agency provision, administration and regulation; we shall refer to this as a parastatal system (an example would be the universityies in Zambia which receive almost all their funds from the state, but which operate as autonomous entities).  A fourth type entails high regulation by the state of services provided with little or no public financing; we have called this a privately provided system.  The final


Type commits the government to minimal provision as well as minimal regulation of social services; we have called this the informal sector arrangement.










Figure 1:          Taxonomy of structure of Provision and Regulation in Social Policy Spheres like Education and Health


Financing

Provision

administration

Quality control

Type of Institutions

Government
Government
Government
Private
Private

Government
Agency
Agency
Private
Private

Government
Government
Agency
Private
Private

Government
Government
agency
Government
Private

Government
Aided
Parastatal (autonomous)
Private
Informal/Autonomous

The first ideal-type involves educational services provided through the government education system and administered as part of the state educational bureaucracy.  In this case, the government not only finances the system but also provides and administers the services through personnel who are public servants.  In the second case, the administration regulates education through a system of financing such as grants.  What we have here is a method of educational services delivery through a quasi-official network of non-governmental organisation such as missions which are nonetheless dependent on state-provided financing for the operation of services.  Both administration and quality control are closely monitored by the state.  there is no real administrative autonomy exercised by the agency.  This in effect amounts to a state-supervised educational service in which the overall policy direction by the state is exercised through the allocation of public money.  By this device the state maintains a public presence in the very logistics and image of certain key non-governmental agencies.

Examples of this are seen in the regulation of education and medical services during the colonial era.  Colonial state control of African social mobility through education was realised through the decentralisation of control in educational administration, and particularly through colonial state education authorities resting satisfied with mere facilitation and regulation of independent producers of educational services such as local education authorities and missionaries.

Another illustration of the relation between the state and the producers of services can be gained from remarks made by the Director of Medical Services to missions in 1946 when he chided them that their administrative practices seriously threatened both the quality and quantity of services they were expected to provide in return for appreciable financial assistance from the Health Department's allocation of public money.


In the third ideal-type, the government finances operations without either providing, administering or regulating the quality of services.  In other words it is a shareholder who has expressed interest in the product and leaves the management to an independent agency.  This is the parastatal model where autonomy is a necessary condition in the operation of the agency.  In the fourth type the government sets "the rules of the game" and acts as a referee between providers and users.  In this case while the cost burden of educational services is borne by private households, the state maintains an active presence principally in the form of monitoring and ensuring standards.  this derives from the larger question of the responsibility of the state to safeguard and promote fundamental human rights.

In the final extreme, the government neither provides not controls the system.  there are two variants of this ideal-type.  The first may include attempts at registration seeks a minimal level of regulation without responsibility for financing or further control of such services, in effect saying, "I will not bother you as long as you organise yourselves and are not a danger to the public."  The state assumes a social/public hygiene function in such a system of social service provision.  In the second case, the government may simply "turn a blind eye" to the activities of such a sector.

The system of providing educational services in any given society does not consist entirely of a single or pure form of any of the ideal-types; in most cases it consists of a mix of two or more.  At any given time, we describe a system of education services by the dominant mode of providing and regulating such services, but to say one of the ideal-types is dominant is not to say that the others are absent.  Moreover, the process by which one mode becomes dominant over others is of crucial relevance.

The supersession of one ideal-type by another as the dominant mode of organisation involves a political process.  In other words, the advocacy of a particular mode of providing education services is always a political choice.  therefore, to propose one form of organisational over another has as much to do with political muscles as with the technical merits of the organisational form.  What we are saying is that there is more to the contemporary policy issue of community involvement in basic education than the question of rational technical organisation of educational services.  The question is fundamentally political.  It is the changing balance of political forces that influences the mix of ideal-type making up the delivery system and that determines which mode becomes dominant.

the advocates of current proposals to reform the structure of financing social services are saying that shifting the burden of providing social services from government to private households removes the constraints of government-provided services.  Once this has been done, it is believed that the problems in the present system will have been solved.  So the policy options being considered in this respect are designed to promote a privately-provided system of social services, underwritten by the state, and in which government-aided services are provided as an important, but always auxiliary, components.  Thus advocates of fundamental educational reform in Zambia see the organisation or educational services as a combination of the private and publicly-aided systems.

Our own assessment is that the system of social service provision is indeed being altered fundamentally and that we shall break away from a situation in which government-provided services dominate.  But there are two questions that still need to be answered.  First, for what political forces is this a desirable outcome?  Second, to what extent is this coalition of political forces likely to bring about this change in circumstances of deteriorating economic conditions?






MODELS OF COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT UNDER
VARYING MODES OF PROVISION AND REGULATION

In general, basic education provides a fundamental base for all further schooling, training, or self-education. It also provides the basis for developing the capacity to cope wiyh rapidly evolving and changing societies in an information age. Its inveersal avalibility and quality are central to the human resource development of any society. The inadequacies of an education system designed largely to produce a labor force for a limited formal employment mareket are many. Most notableis the inability to provide the many skills of everyday living required by a rapidly changing society. This defect in education bring s into focus the question of how nonformal and  local learning systems should best intract with and influience the formal school system. This point addresses the mechanics of institutional development and the panoply of regulations that may make possible or hinder innovation in forms of educational provisio and access to them.

It is obvious that forms of community involvement would be determined by the logic of forms of provision and regulation. While acceping the premise that policies such as basic education for all are often a response to social denands, there is need to examine the problematic issue of state regulation through which demands for education reforms arerefeacted. The refractive role of the public education bureaucracy makes necessary the question of the counter role of community power not only in the provision of education, through such modalities as self-help, but also in its control.

For analytical purposes, a broad distinction may be drawn between four major modes of community involvement within the context of education provision and regulation: anti-participatory, manipulative, incremental and participatory. The anti-participatory mode precludes any form of community invilvement, while the manipulative kind is carefully panned to control community involvement entirely for the ulterior motive of serving a government`s political objectives. The incremental type is unplanned and haphazard, is implemented on an adhoc basis and is commonly the result either of ambivalence towards the feasibility of community participation or simply of inefficient planning. In the participatory mode, the state makes a genuine attempt to promote community participation, devolving decision-making power to local institutions as a corollary of basic social reform.

If we examine Zambia`s case, we notice that a central policy strategy in educational reforms has been the concept of community participation wthin a decentralised political-administrative structure (under the 1980 Local Government Act). However, pearse and stiefel (1980) have noted that policy concepts, such as participation, are problematic as they mean different things to various agents involved in any effort at social change. They insist that`the central issue of popular participation has to do with power-exercised by some people over other people-and by some classes over other classes`(p.11). According to pearse and stiefel popular participation, as a means of collective action born out of relations of power, entails the organised efforts to increase control over resources and regulative institutionin given social situation, on the part of groups and movements of those hitherto excluded from such control (1980, p.25).


It is possible to see that if basic education were relegated to private provision, the regulatory requirements of education markets would be anti-participatory. Under this system of provision and regulation, emhasis is placed in the hands of the school trustees or sometimes parent-teacher association in which parents are told what the new school fees for the year are going to be. This is already the experience of Zambia`s urban private
school, most-run schools pre-schools.

Yet the notion of state-directed community participation is bound to be contradictory, since any type of officialisation of the process is bound to mean some form of control. This often means subjecting people to crude top-down planning and resource trasfer along with the co-opting of potentially autonomous local movements. It can also mean a more subtle form of laissez-faire incrementalism which fails to support community intiatives for reasons of administrative inefficiency or political indecision. The majority of government-intiated forms of community involvement tend to be motivated by instrumental goals such as taking advantage of local resources or increasing political support for the government.

Thus a statist model of community involvement assumes that there exists a consensus of interests between government`s goals and those of the community and that the only acceptable situation is one of collaboration by the community in official policy. In this sense community involvement is considered as a voluntary contribution by the people to another of the public programmes that are supposed to contribute to national development. But the people are not expected to take part in shaping the programme or in criticising its content. The self-help school in Zambia is a clear example of this. Involvement of the people in school construction schemes is sought only after the major development parameters of education have been set by the educational bureaucray and the role if each group has been carefully defined.Cmmunity involvement is thus conceived of as another kind of resource injection from outside, necessary in order to make education undertakings function smoothly.

By focusing on the strategic character of state education policies in Zambia, we are tying to highlight the role that the state organisation plays in structuring the social implementation of policies, and hence their socio-political censequences. Our emphasis in this paper is on how policy discourses designed to influence processes of decision-making coincide with the pre-existing structure of the state organisation of allocation. By examining allocative and decision-making (participation) processes as typifying a single moment, that of organisation, we can illuminate the symbolic power basis of state organisational system, their dynamics and their contradictions. This approach has been taken form aperspective which nuderstands educational organisation as an instance of symbolic power involving the establishment of decision-making units, utilising certain typical forms resources (authoritative and allocative) within discursively mobilised forms of information flow` (Giddens, 1984,p.203). Such a focus requires critical analysis pay attention to the strategic conduct of institutional agents,i.e the educational bureaucracy, including, particularly, their policy of community participation in education.


We have taken the position that there are at least two major probles that face governments such as Zambia`s in their attempts to traslate into practice generalised educational policy principles like basic education and community involvement. One is the need to ensure that every sector operates on the basis of such pricinples in the process of national development; the other is to relate or coordinate the activities of each sector with those of the others. In practice, the values and principles espoused in statements of intent are often different from those which actually determine policy formulation in detail and its implementation in each sector.

Faced with multiple development tasks and growing conflict of interests among social classes and regions, and specific policy puplics within these, a government may find it necessary to maintain a practical degree of deliberate diffusiveness among its various policy-making or imlpementation agencies, between and within sectors. This may be designed to permit a strategic response to particular social categories which, even if not equitable or effecgve, appears compatible with the broader, and often poory articulated political responsibility of authoritative intervention. Thus, while community involvement in basic education may appear as a principle of national state strategy, its application may be selective and focused on those populations intitutionally amenable to sybolic dissimulation and political reconstruction.

INFORMAL SECTOR FORMS OF BASIC EDUCATION AND
COMMUNITY PARTICIPATION: REACTIVE PARTICIPATION

It is important to realise that those who use puplicly provided educational services do not do so in a random way. In part, this is because they are subject to the forces that structure the institutional accessibility of these services. There forces inlcude the many organisational mechanisms of elimination, channelling or selective admission. Under the political sanctined system of selectivity in educational provision, the role of the education bureaucracy as gate-keepers` is crucial in reinforcing feeling of possible social opprobrium in those who seek access to it.

As an illustration of this point, we can instance the internal structuring of the educational ladder in Northern Rhodesia. Notable in that structure were the many rungs of progression whicha candidate had to climb to advance from Sub-Standard A to the Higher school Certificate. By structuring the education system in this way, the deficiencies of colonical education appeared as the failure of the individual pupil to qualify for a higher level. The fact was that even if all pupils in Stadard 6, forexample, adequatly met the educational criteria there were no places to accommodate them. The examination, therefore, was a device not for certifying the eligibility of the pupil for a higher level of education, but to give school administrators room to make the practical and socially relevant decision of selection under the convenient cover to test objectivity (Kalumba, 1988,p118). Wheither by imputing mental incapacity to children throuhg the `test`, or excluding them on grouds of age, the selectivity of the system is realised through regulation administered in a technical manner by educational bureaucrats, colonial and post colonial. The point is that the regulatory system of public schools are never subject to community control. They are
considered large technical.







The unity imputed to education planning practices as state discourse dose not consist in common oblects, style, concepts or thematic choices but rather the presence of a systematic dispersion of elements where, between objects, style, concepts, or thematic choices, there exists an order or positions in common space.  This is a disciplinary space in which education agents actively ‘downclass’ the needs of certain categories of the population, particularly the urban and rural poor.


As in games theory, strategy presupposes the existence of the potential for counter-strategy.  Public allocation is a stake which, like all social stakes simultaneously presupposes and demands that popular constituencies take part in the game and be taken in by relying upon its rules of distribution.  In this respect, Zetter says that if policies and programmes are ‘indicators of different assumptions and contradictory political objectives for the kind of state that might energe’ then we also have to look to those policy publics, such as the communities themselves, the targets of state policy discourses, as a ‘primary resource’ in any educational policy and its implementation strategy.  Consequently, the degree to which they themselves politicise their needs and objectives becomes an important element in th government’s own strategic stance (Zetter, 1985, p. 103)

When we consider the act of national basic education policy planning as indicating conditionality, differentiation, dependency, and the organisation of equity, i.e, as ‘strategies of rationalisation’ with the potential to downclass, then we must ask one crucial question.  This is: to what extent will rural and poor urban communities really be able to claim advantages or to counter or obstruct those group-specific burdens that are shifted upon them in the course of the social implementation of ostensibly equity-oriented basic education policies?

Strategies which agents use to avoid downclassing are grounded in the discrepancy between opportunties objectively available at any given moment and aspirations based upon an earlier structure of objective opportunities or potentiality.  Nationalism as a struggle for access to formerly colonial education estblished a potential or hoped- for education trajectory which would emerge after independence.  The experience for many among the rural and urban poor is an educational system that is increasingly inacessible and by and large irrelevant to their immediate needs for survival.

Communities who seek to avoid downclassing in thier hoped trajectory can either produce new education trajectories more closely matching their expectations (such as demanding greater access or by-passing those trajectories officially provided) or refurbish existing education trajectories like nonformal education to which their location in socialspace give them access.  When official systems cannot deliver, certain degrees of ‘pratical consciousness’ that are counterpoised against official discourse, occur.


What passes for community involvement in educational policy practice starts in immediate relation to the distribution of symbolic power, the define or label.  Use of educational services, regardless of official policy, will be structured by the  attempts of potential users to resist downclassing, or exclusion from access, by applying their own specific social properties, embodied in forms such as physical mobility, to centres of higher accessibility, individual mobility and collective organisation designed to articulate specific demands or exert strategic forms of socio-political or economic presure. Communuty involvement is as much about collective organisation capable of articulating demands about social entitlements as it is about assuming responsibility for providing services.

It follows from the above that in state policy-fields such as education, the strategies that various social categories employ to try and escape downclassing in access to opportunities, constitute important factors in the trasfformation of social structures. Populations who seek to avoid down classing in access to education can either produce alternative forms of a service denied or, in order to enhance accese, can seek to change their location in the field`s space from which they were `devalued`. In this regard, it is possible to predict a progressive rise in informal educational structures and nonformal education as a voluntary response by communities to the constaints of access in formal education.

In order to have an effective voice in basic education policy-making, poor groups must have some form of bargaining power to oblige governments to take their demands seriously. This may occur throuhg formal political structures, or` informal` school-cooperative movements or well-organised and co-ordinated community educational councils that are not necessarily controlled by the state.