26 SES 13 A, Institutional Autonomy and Educational Reform in Central Asia
Central Asian countries have undergone significant educational reforms since independence two decades ago. These have included changes in curriculum and assessment, the extension of the length of schooling (with knock on effects for HE); new approaches to teaching and learning, new language policies and the opening up of education provision to the private sector. Most of these changes have been centrally driven, but an emerging focus for these reforms has been the desire to shift from a tightly regulated system that is closely monitored by the Ministry of Education to one predicated on greater institutional innovation and organisational autonomy.
What this means is, however, variously – one might say poorly – understood in many contexts. To whom is power reallocated in an autonomous educational institution – to the professional community, to a managing board, to the institutional leaders, to the community that the institution serves? Over what spheres does this autonomy extend – over finance, curriculum, appointments and promotions? And to whom is the autonomous institution accountable, how and for what? Finally what changes are required of the leaders of such (quasi?) autonomous institutions?
This suite of papers examines these questions in the context of international experience and research in four countries in Central Asia: Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and, more fully, Kazakhstan. Three of the papers focus on autonomy at school level and one on higher education. They explore some of the different ways in which these questions are answered both in the wider literature and in evolving practices following independence and the collapse of the Soviet Union.
The recurring question is what does institutional autonomy actually mean and why is it seen to be desirable? The question leads us to explore three models of school autonomy underpinned by three different ‘policy rationalities’ (Fimyar 2010): the first calls for greater responsiveness to and engagement with parents and representatives of the local community in the Scandinavian folkehøjskole (Dan.) tradition; the second is inspired by neo-liberal principles and commercial practice and enhances the role of a school or university governing board (as with many educational institutions in the USA); and the third harks back to the UK in the 1970s and is a model based on the idea of the extended professional and enhances the professional responsibility of teachers or, in HE of academic staff.
On the face of it these distinctions carry different implications for the role of institutional leaders and for their accountability, but we shall report on the evidence from practice at school level and HE as to how these roles are perceived and what the new requirements mean in practice.
Some of the work in the papers is conceptual and focussed on different policy discourses, but all are also grounded in empirical evidence drawn from survey instruments, interviews (in particular with institutional leaders) and focus groups.
The authors include contributors from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Belarus, UK and USA. Our approach to the symposium will be interactive and will allow for discussion and debate.
00. Central Events (Keynotes, EERA-Panel, EERJ Round Table, Invited Sessions)
Network 1. Continuing Professional Development: Learning for Individuals, Leaders, and Organisations
Network 2. Vocational Education and Training (VETNET)
Network 3. Curriculum Innovation
Network 4. Inclusive Education
Network 5. Children and Youth at Risk and Urban Education
Network 6. Open Learning: Media, Environments and Cultures
Network 7. Social Justice and Intercultural Education
Network 8. Research on Health Education
Network 9. Assessment, Evaluation, Testing and Measurement
Network 10. Teacher Education Research
Network 11. Educational Effectiveness and Quality Assurance
Network 12. LISnet - Library and Information Science Network
Network 13. Philosophy of Education
Network 14. Communities, Families and Schooling in Educational Research
Network 15. Research Partnerships in Education
Network 16. ICT in Education and Training
Network 17. Histories of Education
Network 18. Research in Sport Pedagogy
Network 19. Ethnography
Network 20. Research in Innovative Intercultural Learning Environments
Network 22. Research in Higher Education
Network 23. Policy Studies and Politics of Education
Network 24. Mathematics Education Research
Network 25. Research on Children's Rights in Education
Network 26. Educational Leadership
Network 27. Didactics – Learning and Teaching
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