26 SES 08 C, Centralization, Decentralization and Bureaucracy
Taking into consideration the fact that we live in a rapidly changing world, it is acknowledged that education must continuously evolve, adapt and be reformed, in order to meet the pressing and changing demands of its surrounding society (Gore, 2013; OECD, 2010). In this context, school autonomy can be identified as a megatrend, being debated and implemented both in Europe and all around the globe (Bruns, Filmer, & Patrinos, 2011).
As the relevant bibliography shows, Autonomous Financial Management (AFM) appears to be a vital component of school autonomy and it is considered as a necessary precondition for the effective operation of autonomous schools (Creemers, Stoll, & Reezigt, 2007). At the same time, though, AFM is far from being sufficient for school success (Hanushek & Woessmann, 2012). This is attributed to a number of negative effects that usually come along with financial autonomy and threaten its successful implementation (Anderson, 2011; Schleicher, 2012). As a result, educational policy makers are continuously seeking for appropriate support measures that can address these negative effects and support autonomous schools in achieving their goals (OECD, 2006).
Setting the study into context, it should be noted that Cyprus is also along the way to adopting a more decentralized decision making system for its schools, putting an end to its previous educational system, which is considered as one of the most centralized systems in the world (Pashiardis, Savvides, Lytra, & Angelidou, 2011). Naturally, this process gives birth to pressing questions, insofar the most appropriate version of school autonomy for Cypriot schools, the ways to explore and form it as well as the ways to aid its implementation.
This is where this piece of education research may serve as a valuable tool, leading to innovative approaches, that may also become a point of reference for future research, in an effort to tackle with the persisting issue of maintaining the optimum balance between centralization and decentralization; as well as between maintaining state supervision over education and allowing schools to autonomously act as agents of progress and be responsive in satisfying the individual needs of their students. Since the above mentioned issues are current, vital and critical in the international debate on Educational Leadership, it can be argued that methods used, the findings produced as well as the suggestions provided by this study can contribute in informing relevant theory, evoke future debates and, even, serve as a starting point to further investigate autonomous financial management in various countries, in an effort to identify commonalities and differences in the views of experts and work towards identifying and implementing a commonly desired future for European schools.
In order to achieve the above goals, this paper examines Cypriot schools of the future, aiming to identify and aid the implementation of the most desired version of autonomous financial management (AFM) for local schools. More specifically, the study:
a) forecasts the areas of financial decisions that the school of the future might autonomously manage,
b) identifies the negative effects that may appear along the way and,
c) seeks support measures that could enhance a school’s efficiency and effectiveness.
d) Moreover, after both the probable and the desired future emerge, the paper proceeds in examining the reasons causing the divergence between them, as well as ways in which the two futures may be better aligned.
Anderson, N. (2011). Per Pupil Spending: How Much Difference Does a Dollar Make? Retrieved from: http://digitalcommons.usu.edu/gradreports/20. Bruns, B., Filmer, D. & Patrinos, H. (eds.) (2011). Making schools work: new evidence on accountability reforms. Washington: The World Bank. Creemers, B., Stoll, L., Reezigt, G. & the ESI Team (2007). Effective school improvement – ingredients for success: the results of an international comparative study of best practice case studies. In T. Townsend (Ed.) (2007). International Handbook of School Effectiveness and Improvement. Netherlands: Springer. Franklin, K. & Hart, J. (2007). Idea Generation and Exploration: Benefits and Limitations of the Policy Delphi Research Method. Innovative Higher Education, (31), 237–246. Gamage, D. & Zajda, J. (2009). Decentralisation and School-Based Governance: A Comparative Study of Self-Governing School Models. In Zajda, J. & Gamage, D. (eds.) (2009). Decentralisation, school-based management and quality. London: Springer. Gore, A. (2013). The Future. Ebury Publishing. Hanushek, E. & Woessmann, L. (2012). Do Better Schools Lead to More Growth? Cognitive Skills, Economic Outcomes, and Causation. Journal of Economic Growth, 17(4), 267-321. (OECD) Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (2006). Think Scenarios, Rethink Education. Available from: http://www.keepeek.com (OECD) Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (2010). Trends shaping education 2010. OECD Publishing. Okoli, C. & Pawlowski, S. (2004). The Delphi method as a research tool: an example, design considerations and applications. Information & Management, 42, 15-29. Pashiardis, P., Savvides, V., Lytra, E. & Angelidou, K. (2011). Successful School Leadership in Rural Contexts: The Case of Cyprus. Educational Management Administration & Leadership, 39(5), 536–553. Schleicher, A. (ed.) (2012). Preparing Teachers and Developing School Leaders for the 21st Century: Lessons from around the World. OECD Publishing. Skulmoski, G., Hartman, F. & Krahn, J. (2007). The Delphi Method for Graduate Research. Journal of Information Technology Education, 6, 1-21. Watterston, J. & Caldwell, B. (2011). System alignment as a key strategy in building capacity for school transformation. Journal of Educational Administration, 49(6), 637-652.
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