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Accountability, Governance, and Quality of Decentralized Education in Africa

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Accountability, Governance, and Quality of Decentralized Education in Africa


January 2009 through May 2009

Accountability, Governance, and Quality of Decentralized Education in Africa

In the Africa region as well as in most parts of the globe, countries are facing dilemmas and delays in reaching the Millennium Development Goals, Education for All and national education goals. While the widespread progress in enrolment figures is laudable, most education systems still confront persistent patterns or pockets of exclusion, inequalities, inequities, low completion rates, and low learning outcomes.

Governments, civil society, and the private sector at national and local levels are recognizing that resolving these issues would not be done by more of the same, or business as usual. We need another way of thinking, acting and relating together to solve these problems. Effectiveness and capacities are needed at all levels: international, national, regional and local – hence the common call for decentralization.

Decentralization is part of most discussions around political, social and economic reforms across countries and continents. Though often seen as essential to such issues as democratization, cultural and indigenous rights, local accountability and local governance; the outcomes of decentralization do not necessarily result in greater efficiencies, empowerment, transparency, civic engagement, and the reduction of poverty.

Similarly, education decentralization is nearly global and done for a myriad of reasons, but often does not result in educational quality, learning outcomes, and more and better education for more children. Some highly centralized education systems achieve results, and some do not. Some decentralized systems achieve goals, and some do not. These mixed outcomes have called into question the idea that decentralization is inherently good and have intensified the debate about which elements and relationships (conditions, legal frameworks, policies, leadership, capacities and practices) are required for decentralization to achieve real educational outcomes at the school and systems levels.

In the Distance Learning Course, we wanted to look at the experiences that different countries have in:

  • The effective changes at the school level that improve education quality and outcomes, and,
  • Effective changes at the system level (district, state, national) that support and encourage changes in all of the schools.

This round of this course consisted of five country teams from Ghana, Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia. This course is facilitated by the World Bank Institute.


Highlights of the 2006-07 offering of the course, Capstone version

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Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Amena Chenzaie at


For more related information, please visit previous event


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