The discursive and social practices of actors in Benin involved in the provision of pre-school and primary education in the context of the 2010 decentralisation policy

Bulgrin, Eva (2020) The discursive and social practices of actors in Benin involved in the provision of pre-school and primary education in the context of the 2010 decentralisation policy. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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Abstract

The study explores how the policy of decentralisation emerged and how actors involved in the provision of pre- and primary education in Benin (West Africa) mediate this policy. This is an important topic reflected in the national education strategy in Benin and much debated amongst scholars and practitioners in the field of international education and development since the emergence of the global ‘good governance’ agenda in the 1990s. The contestation about the emergence and implementation of the policy of education decentralisation in Benin in the context of a highly centralised pre- and primary education system provides fertile ground for closely investigating this policy.

The conceptual framework draws on literature about the concept of decentralisation (Rondinelli, 1980, 1990; Cheema and Rondinelli, 2007) and policy analysis (Ball, 1993, 1997, 2015; Rizvi and Lingard, 2010). This framework provides a spatial and temporal dimension about the policy of education decentralisation ranging from the local to the global level over a period of nearly 30 years from 1990 onwards. The ideas of critical discourse analysis (CDA) (Fairclough 2013; Fairclough 2010) and actor-network theory (ANT) (Latour, 1996, 2005; Fenwick and Edwards, 2010) inform the study of the policy tensions and mediation of the process of decentralising education in Benin.

This is a qualitatively oriented, in-depth study about how policy is generated and mediated by different actors in Benin. It is guided by one main research question which is how the decentralisation policy in Benin is discursively and socially constructed, and how actors involved in the provision of pre- and primary education mediate this policy, and three specific sub-questions: How is the policy of decentralisation discursively constituted, and how does it relate to the broader policy ensemble? How do the actors involved in the provision of pre- and primary education mediate the current decentralisation policy from a relational perspective? How did actors connect to bring about the agenda setting of education decentralisation in 1990 as a complex web of assemblages?

The empirical research draws on qualitative data including semi-structured interviews carried out in 2017 with high and middle-ranking officials from the Ministry of Pre- and Primary Education, from the Ministry of Decentralisation and Local Governance, and the State Ministry in charge of Planning and Development as well as their sub-units. It also includes focus groups with head teachers, teachers, parents and members of teacher unions in a Northern and a Southern field site in Benin. In total, the sample consisted of more than 80 research participants.

The study of the policy of education decentralisation finds that it is underpinned by the discourses of development and modernisation and reflects Benin’s colonial and post-colonial legacies and development trajectory. Further, the study reports that the policy as enacted results in a multiplicity of social practices of actors at the national, regional and local levels in Benin. Further the findings suggest that the construction of the policy of education decentralisation in 1990 was influenced by exogenous factors, including the global world events such as the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1990, as well as endogenous factors such as the experiences of policy-makers and citizens of local community forms of participation initiated under the Marxism-Leninist government that was in power in Benin between 1974 and 1989 as well as during the pre-colonial period prior to 1894.

This research contributes to the understanding of education governance in the Global South, particularly Sub-Saharan Africa, and provides insights into how the policy of education decentralisation in Benin is influenced by local, national and global factors. As such, this study offers a holistic understanding of the emergence and implementation of decentralisation reforms in Benin contributing to a deeper understanding of how local policy knowledge is discounted by policymakers. This study is of interest to the government of Benin, international organisations, scholars and practitioners working on large-scale education reforms.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Education and Social Work > Education
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB1140 Preschool education. Nursery schools
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB1501 Primary education
L Education > LG Individual institutions (Asia. Africa. Oceania) > LG401 Africa > LG553 Benin
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 14 Aug 2020 08:30
Last Modified: 14 Aug 2020 08:30
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/93087

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