One of the most debated policy discourses that have engaged the attention of countries as well as the donor community is the varied pathways in improving the delivery of education through decentralisation and community participation. A key policy expectation is that through the active participation of the community, education quality and related outcomes would improve. The purpose of this paper is to explore the policy and practices of community and school partnership and the extent to which the “social contract” between communities and schools has been executed. It also explores the challenges they face as they engage in the governance of schools and how such engagement shapes education delivery.
This research was guided by a semi-structured interview schedule focused on two selected basic (i.e. primary and junior secondary) schools and their communities within a Municipality in a Coastal Region of Ghana as a single case for the study. Data were read thoroughly to identify common themes which included the multiple perspectives of participation, teacher management, conflicts and tensions, the role of community elites in school-community partnerships, capacity constraints, parental roles, and issues about the “social contract” among others.
Drawing on case study data, the paper argues that although decentralisation policies aim at strengthening local democracy and participation, they do not fully consider the conditions under which this might be achieved. Furthermore, in community–school partnership discourses, the impression has often times been given that the policy of education decentralisation is about what communities could do to support schools located within them. The fact of it being a two-way relationship is often not stressed, thus, diminishing the role the school plays or could play in the life of communities.
The study reinforced the point that the relationship was a two-way one based on reciprocity, and that it was the fulfilment of the expectations of both parties that shaped the relationship between them and determined the nature of communities’ participation in the governance of its schools. Anything to the contrary thus weakens the relationship.
Essuman, A. (2019), "Improving education delivery through community – school partnership: Is the “social contract” being weakened? – A study of two rural schools", International Journal of Educational Management, Vol. 33 No. 6, pp. 1336-1351. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJEM-06-2018-0175Download as .RIS
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