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World Development, Vol. 25, No. 3, pp.

349-358, 1997

Pergamon PII: SO305750X(96)00109-X

0 1997 Elsevier Science Ltd Printed in Great Britain. All rights reserved
0305-750x/97 $17.00 + 0.00

Program Success and Management

of Integrated

Primary Education in Developing Countries

PANKAJ S. JAIN Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad,


Summary. - This paper looks at the factors that shape the behavior and performance of teachers and students in relation to mass primary education in the developing country context. The determinants of students and teachers discipline, parents participation in operational management, and management of support services and education program organization are identified. Instead of emphasizing environmental and social constraints or determinants, the paper identifies policy instruments under the control of designers and implementors that can be used to strengthen primary education programs. 0 1997 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved Key words - primary formal, low-cost education, NGO program, education management, developing countries, non-


Research findings from two traditions, namely the Effective School (ES) and School Improvement (SI), have dominated recent primary education policy analysis and recommendations. The Effective School research has looked into the relationship between educational inputs and processes, both in-school and contextual, and student outcomes. It identified the factors that contribute to student achievement. The School Improvement research focused on the process of introducing changes in schools that produced positive changes in student learning outcomes. Efforts to assess the effectiveness of past education projects and to outline an agenda for improving primary education in developing countries have both relied on research findings from these traditions (Lockheed and Verspoor, 1991; Heneveld and Craig, 1996). Such applications of this research, however, suffer from two limitations. First, much of the research in these traditions was undertaken in North America and the United Kingdom. Even when its application in the developing
country context is informed by relevant school experience, it remains a conceptual adaptation (Heneveld and Craig, 1996, pp. 7-8). Second, the unit of analysis in

both ES and SI research has been a school or at best a set of effective schools. The unit of concern in most
school programs is a multitude of schools, exhibiting

the performance of a single or a set of schools are inherently different from those relevant to a school program. An application of ES/S1 research to the study and analysis of a school program, therefore, involves a shift of focus from micro to macro analysis, which cannot be taken as axiomatically valid. Unlike the dominant research tradition, this paper focuses on the working of school programs. Given the unit of analysis, the attention is on program-level organizational/managerial issues that determine the effectiveness of education programs. The educational technology-related aspects, including the design of learning materials and teacher training, are included. The focus of the study, however, is understanding what organizational actions and mechanisms are effective in this regard. In line with ES/St research, our research also highlights the role of community support, teacher supervision, textbooks and material availability in the success of primary programs. In addition, the paper discusses program-level managerial determinants that help bring these features into practice, and identifies many other program features that have not been highlighted in program policy analysis/debates so far. In addition to the ES/S1 tradition, there is another body of education research that addresses the management of education programs (Harris, 1983; UNESCO, 1984; Hanson, 1986; Middleton, Terry and Bloch,

varying degrees of context sensitivity and involving large numbers of functionaries. The methods and managerial/program instruments available for improving

*Final revision accepted: September 28, 1996.


WORLD DEVELOPMENT By 1994, BRAC was conducting about 30,000 primary classes in all parts of Bangladesh. At one time, it had plans to set up as many as 100,000 such classes, subject to the availability of funds. Average daily school attendance of children was typically more than 90%, and the dropout rate over three years of schooling was around 10% or less. Up to 90% of children completing three years of education in BRAC schools could successfully join the fourth standard in the traditional primary school system. BRAC schools admitted children only from poor landless families living in rural areas, two-thirds of which were girls. The performance of the BRAC schools stands in sharp contrast to that of government primary schools, where fewer than 50% of the children complete primary education, very few of whom are girls or children from poor families. The total cost of providing education in BRAC schools is less than US$20 per child per year, inclusive of salaries, educational materials, management and administration costs. GSS started its program in the late 1980s with the objective of taking child-centered education, modeled on Western practices, to the children of the poor. In GSS schools, all three primary classes, each of 30 children, were held at one location. There was no head-teacher and each class was handled by a teacher independently. GSS began with five schools in 1988, and grew slowly to reach around 150 schools (around 500 classes) in 1994. By the end of 1993, GSS had demonstrated that its child-centered education methodology could be practiced on a large scale with only high school-educated local women working as teachers. Like BRAC, GSS admitted children from poor sections of society, and experienced low dropout and high attendance rates, with a total program cost within US$20 per child per year. An appraisal mission rated GSS schools among the best anywhere in the Third World, and GSS was funded to expand its program to around 1,700 schools or 5,000 classes. So far, studies have not been conducted to assess learning outcomes in these programs nor to compare these with learning achievements in the government primary system. On a surrogate indicator of learning quality, namely the absence of repetition, these programs performed well. There was no repetition of classes for children in either BRAC or GSS schools, but 95% of the children still came up to the local norms of the government primary system by the end of three years of schooling. Two other parameters, namely the rural outreach and enrollment of poor village and girl children, are extremely important in the developing country context. Both programs performed well on these counts. The case studies focused on organizational processes related to the childrens behavior and performance; teacher selection, preparedness, and performance; curriculum design; and school operations. The study combined the framework of the success

1989). Typically, the coverage of these studies is limited to a few issues spanning organization structure, decentralization of the regulatory/supervisory setup, management information systems (MIS), and participation in decision making (Singh, 1986). They do not cover what, in a product-service delivery organization, are considered essential elements of management.* For example, these studies have not directly addressed the determinants of the behavior of teachers and students or classroom dynamics. Our study covers this domain. An analysis of management issues in education programs in developing countries should be sensitive to two characteristic aspects. First, in developing countries, education programs cover teacher training, development and supply of educational materials, and supervision/management of school systems. The management of such education programs has to encompass all these and not only the supervisory/regulatory aspects. Second, in developing countries, the management of primary education has to deal with the basic problems of school organization. Ensuring the daily attendance of teachers in schools, the reliable supply of books, and basic integrity of the examination system for schools in interior areas with poor communication/transport infrastructure pose complex managerial challenges. Further, all this has to be achieved while keeping costs down to around US$50 or less per child per year, which is all that is available for primary education on a sustained basis. Our research was sensitive to this perspective of the management of mass primary education. Another way to interpret the gap in the existing literature that our study attempts to fill is to note that the existing research has largely focused at two ends of a continuum, namely the individual school and the education policy. The intermediate program-level issues have remained relatively out of focus although, sometimes they are commented upon. Such bipolarity of focus is evident in the seminal work of Lockheed and Verspoor (1991), where the chapter on institutional development barely touches the program organization-level issues. The paper is based on the case studies of two successful primary education proRural Advancement grams, namely Bangladesh Committee (BRAC) and Gono Shahajjo Sangstha (GSS), in Bangladesh. The case studies were undertaken to identify the determinants of success of the two programs in terms of organization design and managerial policies.

2. PROGRAMS BRACs only for the mid-1980s. independent


primary education program, with classes first three primary years, was started in the The BRAC program was organized as classes, each having around 30 children.



factor/variance theory with the process theory approach (Marcus and Robey, 1988). Each case study was treated as an experiment, serving to test the inferences drawn from the others (Yin, 1984). The conclusions were supported by shorter case studies of two other similar programs, Shiksha Karmi in India (Rajasthan) and Proshika in Bangladesh, that have a relatively mixed level of performance and history. Each case study involved more than four weeks of field work, which the author undertook as a member of appraisaVreview missions for the two organizations. The author had unrestricted access to all internal information including accounting and MIS data and reports. The study involved school visits and interviews with functionaries involved with the education program at all levels in the organization.

3. MANAGERIAL DETERMINANTS OF SUCCESS Eight critical elements of managerial/organization policies that explained the success of the two programs were identified and each addresses a major aspect of the primary system: - Childrens regular attendance -Teachers selection and development -Incentives for teachers and control of their performance - Design and handling of the classroom learning process - Design, selection and delivery of education material - Overall program and support services management - Financial and cost control - Interface with socioeducational institutional environment Policies related to these aspects were interdependent and therefore, should be seen as an integrated package.

(a) Childrens regular attendance in school Studies have identified the following three factors to be mainly responsible for nonattendance of children in schools in developing countries (Sherry Chand and Shukla, 1993; Davico, 1990): (i) Distant location of school from residence (ii) Uninteresting or intimidating school environment (iii) Poverty of parents and resulting demand on the children to contribute to income earning and household work. In response, most governments have adopted the policy of setting up a primary school within a limited distance of each residential locality, and have initiated

attempts to make the curriculum useful and interesting to children. There are no easy solutions to the poverty of parents, but some governments and international programs now provide incentives for school attendance such as providing free midday meals in schools. Setting up schools close to each residential neighborhood and provision of free midday meals are expensive. As the examples of India and Bangladesh reveal, however, large investments in these areas have not significantly reduced the absence or drop-out rate of poor children from the school system. Attempts to make schools interesting and child-friendly through better educational material and training of teachers too have borne limited results. Fewer than 50% of children complete primary education in many developing countries. The measures adopted by BRAC and GSS suggest the efficacy of a very different package of practices in ensuring regular attendance and retention of very poor and particularly female children in schools. These programs set up schools even closer to the residential area of target children, compared to the government system, but succeeded in eliminating the high costs by adopting two measures. BRAC left the responsibility of providing school premises to the local community, but agreed to use an inexpensive housing structure made of reed walls and thatched roof. Even poor people can finance this type of school premises. GSS constructed permanent school buildings on its own, but demanded that the community provide land free of cost and contribute to the construction and maintenance of the building. None of these organizations favors providing incentives such as free midday meals for attending school. Most important, both organizations kept the cost of the largest component of school system low by using a local village person as a teacher. who is paid a salary of only around US$1&15 per month. An important feature of these schools is the short school day of only 2.5 hours. This reduces the tradeoff between the school attendance and the participation of children in domestic or field activities of the household, which could be an important factor for girls. It appears that a well-conducted 2.5 hour session can enable the children to reach locally relevant educational standards. All educational materials are free in these programs. Differing from the traditional government system, these organizations made major efforts in lobbying and motivating each parent. Before setting up a school, field functionaries of these organizations visited each home and held many rounds of meetings with target parents. They attempted to convince parents of the importance of sending children to school. They argued that participation in primary education could help a poor family to obtain a better socioeconomic status and that parents would have a say in school management. The advantages of the nearby location and flexible hours were also highlighted. A parents meeting was organized every month, in




which the teacher and concerned school supervisor reported on the functioning of the school. Every case of absence from school in the preceding month was discussed in these meetings. This seemed to generate strong social pressure/commitment in favor of regular school attendance. Field supervisors, if needed, met each parent to ensure attendance at such meetings. Another important provision was the follow-up of each case of absenteeism by the teacher or concerned school/field supervisor. If any child was found absent by a supervisor during a school visit, he/she was expected to visit the house, and bring the child to the school unless there were compelling reasons for the childs absence. BRAC places greater emphasis on this aspect, and had a 10-l%% higher attendance on a day-to-day basis when compared to GSS. It is difficult to single out any one measure that was responsible for regular attendance of children in the class. Comparing the differential performance of these and other programs, however, reveals the importance of the supervisors role. Both the role of field supervisor in initially lobbying and then meeting with the parents regularly every month, and reviewing each case of absenteeism from school appear important. A comparison of the differential performance of these organizations suggests that a major cause of irregular attendance is occasional laxity or default, not linked to overall commitment or motivation among the parents and children. This leads to children being absent from the school for no particular reason. To stop this, a system functionary, either the teacher or field supervisor, needs to follow up each case of absence. We would like to point out that our cases relate to primary schooling for very poor children in a dispersed rural setting. Ensuring regular attendance in more favorable circumstances may be less difficult.

both the content and handling of the topic. A weeklong, yearly refresher training was also organized. The experience of these organizations suggests that frequent refresher training coupled with ongoing on-the-job support is more effective in improving teaching capability than higher qualifications or long initial teacher training. An important feature in this regard is not just the attempt to enhance teaching capability per se, but also to obtain a match between teacher capability and task requirements. The design of teaching material is typically guided by the consideration of how children can effectively learn from it. In these organizations, an additional consideration was how modestly educated teachers could effectively handle learning materials. Similarly the overall curriculum had been translated into detailed operational plans for class sessions that match the teachers capability. This approach has far-reaching implications for the design and viability, both functional and financial, of the system. First, it enables the education system to use locally available high school-educated people as teachers at a low to moderate cost. Second, reduction in the initial competence and training requirements makes it easy and feasible to replace a nonperforming teacher. This possibility gives substantial negotiating power to program management in demanding good performance, or at least serious application to the task, from the community of teachers. The importance of this factor can be ascertained from the situation prevailing in India where it is held that up to half of all primary school teachers in rural areas draw salaries without regularly attending school.

(c) Organizing the classroom learning process In most education programs, the availability of education material and a trained teacher is axiomatically equated with an appropriate learning process in the school. In contrast, in industrial production or service delivery organizations, employment of skilled workers and the availability of tools and machines are not considered sufficient to deliver the desired product or service. Instead, a whole range of organizational instruments is employed to generate and ensure correct task performance. Following a similar approach, these programs instituted a variety of instruments to ensure effective classroom learning processes. Both GSS and BRAC instituted systems for explicit and participatory monthly operational planning for working out the details of subject coverage for each week and, in some cases, each day. The planning also involved discussions of the pedagogy, e.g., how the topic could be explained, exercises undertaken and examples given. This was done jointly by a group of l&15 teachers, supervised by an experienced field supervisor. Following this, each teacher had to

(b) Teacher selection and capability development The experience of BRAC and GSS represents a major innovation in the approach to teacher selection/development. They both succeeded in using a high school-educated local village man/woman as an effective primary teacher. Even more important, they gave only two weeks of initial training to new recruits. They provided one supervisor for around 10 teachers, who visited each teacher at least twice a week. The supervisor provided guidance and on-the-job support to each teacher in subject knowledge and class-handling throughout the program period. In addition, a group of 10-15 teachers had monthly meetings with an experienced supervisor. A small part of each meeting day was devoted to addressing administrative issues and logistics. The rest of the day was used for planning lessons for the coming month. During the meetings, the supervisor or a teacher demonstrated the handling of various topics in class. The group then discussed



prepare a daily teaching plan in writing, that was crosschecked and scrutinized by the supervisor. The planning of class activities was, thus, subjected to peer review and pooling of experiences in monthly meetings, and supervisory scrutiny during biweekly visits. The discipline and mechanism of routine discussions and review of the learning process by two people, teacher and supervisor, increased the probability that mistakes would be identified and corrected. Both organizations created detailed plans for the use of total class time. GSS stipulated that the 2.5 hours of class time would be used as follows. During the first 30 minutes, five minutes would be spent taking attendance and sharing local news/events among the children, 10 minutes for explaining the days work to be undertaken by the children on their own, 10 minutes for the teaching of mathematics for the whole class and five minutes for discussion of project work. Following this, 60 minutes would be spent by the teacher supervising the language or project work of each child, and the teacher was expected to devote a minimum of 1.5 minutes with each child. After this, mathematics would be taught to four groups, each of eight children, for 10 minutes each. Last 20 minutes would be devoted to teacher supervised group songs and other extracurricular activities. BRAC similarly had worked out detailed schedules for the use of class time. Formal directives for the use of time ensured that requisite elements of the learning process were practiced in the class. The learning material was designed not by subject specialists but by the teacher trainers and supervisors, This made the ease of use by the teacher and students a central concern in the design of education material. They had carefully sequenced the learning material in accordance with the desired stage-wise learning.

(d) Incentives to teachers and control of theirpevformance Contrary to normal practices, BRAC and GSS did not attempt to give high or satisfactory rewards to teachers on an abstract teacher welfare/motivation criterion. Instead, teachers were paid broadly what they could earn in the market place, given their qualifications and rural residence. It happened to be far less than the salary of, say, an unskilled worker or a peon in a factory or office, but that was what the market paid to a high school-educated person in the rural areas. Neither organization had any opportunities for career growth or development for teachers, as, among other things, it would have meant higher-than-market rewards, and higher program costs. The teachers were given annual 5% raises in emolument, over a base of US$13-15 per month for the first two years of service. Thereafter the salary remained fixed. While the supporters of better teacher reward policy may find this preposterous or

even inhuman, these organizations managed to obtain excellent performance using such a reward structure. It is important to recognize that this reward policy did not go against local market norms. These organizations did not assume that teacher reward and satisfaction are the sole determinants of performance. Instead, like other service or product organizations, they employed mechanisms of guidance, supervision and control to obtain the desired performance. The role of the supervisor was similar to that of a foreman in a factory situation who closely supervised and guided each worker, i.e. teacher. Another tier of senior supervisory staff crosschecked the performance of teachers and first-level supervisors. BRAC had set up field monitoring teams who made sample visits to schools to check the performance of schools and teachers. Monitoring reports were treated by the field management and headquarters as an important tool to guide and control field staff. In GSS schools, students progress was monitored both by teachers and field supervisors. This data was processed to check the progress of students and feedback was given to the teachers and supervisors to improve their performance. Both organizations had set up their schools as locally established and controlled institutions. From the beginning, a parents committee was involved in setting up the school, and its recommendation was needed for any teachers selection. Although a teachers salary was paid by these organizations, formally the teacher remained an employee of the local parents committee. This, coupled with the choice of a teacher from the local community, ensured that the teacher was responsive to and controlled by the local parents committee. Such local control was considered critical in managing dispersed schools in rural areas. A monthly public review of performance by the parents committee also reduced the possibility of arbitrary and negligent behavior by the supervisor. Above all, these organizations depended on a leadership example and congenial organizational culture to elicit desired performance from teachers and supervisors. This aspect is considered in greater detail in section (f).

(e) Design and delivery of educational muterial While the design of educational material is an important element of most programs, relatively less attention is paid to ensure the timely availability of the material to students and teachers. In most government primary programs, the expenditure on educational material is treated as a residual item after providing for the salary and other administrative expenses. Under the regime of budget-starved public finances in most developing countries, little is left to spend on purchases and delivery of educational material after



meeting the demands of vocal and politically powerful groups of teachers and administrators. Moreover, timely and effective distribution of such material to a large number of rural and hinterland schools and students entails logistical management challenges which are rarely addressed by educational programs. It is, therefore, common to see classrooms without blackboards and students without books or pencils. The budget for educational material in BRAC and GSS was treated not as a residual but a fixed allocation on par with, or ahead of, salary and administrative expenses. They also recognized the complexity in the logistics of delivering materials to far-flung rural schools, connected through poor road and communication infrastructures. The task of timely purchase/acquisition and delivery of books and educational material was accorded high priority and monitored directly by senior management. The accounting, purchase and administrative procedures were specifically designed to facilitate quick delivery of required supplies on receipt of a request. These programs gave relatively more power to education program managers than to administrative and purchase departments in organizing delivery of supplies to schools. The understanding was that the discipline of accounting and administrative procedures had to be followed but not allowed to impede the timely supply of program material. Traditionally in developing countries, the development of educational material is entrusted to an independent central agency that is staffed by subject specialists. This is to ensure that the best available specialist talent is deployed for designing textbooks and other educational material. BRAC and GSS held that more than subject expertise, direct experience of the use of material by teachers and students is needed for good design of primary material. These organizations entrusted the material development to their trainers and senior field supervisors, even though they were academically less qualified compared to the subject specialists in traditional textbook development agencies. Their strength was in their direct involvement in the use of the materials by teachers and students, and in being able to obtain feedback about the use of these materials. To supplement staff capability, outside experts were occasionally hired to work alongside the material development staff. This practice is similar to the tradition in developed countries wherein primary textbooks are written primarily by those who have been primary teachers.

involved in school supervision; development and delivery of education materials: recruitment, placement and training of teachers; monitoring; and administrative/accounting support. BRAC and GSS adopted a host of policies to obtain good performance from all such system functionaries. We have already discussed the role of supervision, control, monitoring and MIS in the field. In addition, the six following management practices were crucial: (i) Fieldpresence of senior officers BRAC and GSS placed emphasis on senior officers visiting schools. This practice was perceived to have two beneficial consequences. First, it energized field-level functionaries, both the teachers and field supervisors. Second, by bringing policy makers in contact with the field, it enabled the program policies to be continuously informed by grassroots experience and learning. As a result, bureaucratic orientation was kept under check even though there were many hierar chical levels of supervisors and managers. (ii) Giving a high profile and importance to ongoing training Both organizations set up their own training facilities and involved senior program managers. Consequently, they found it easy to develop human resources according to their special needs without being impeded by market supply constraints. Extensive training also appeared to be conducive to healthy staff relations, bringing senior and junior functionaries together in a collaborative, nonhierarchical exercise. This policy also appeared to contribute to enhanced organizational learning, as senior officers had to learn and update their own knowledge before training others. (iii) Comprehensive and integratedprogramming of various program components and standardization of routine BRAC and GSS understood that sustainable and reliable quality output can be achieved only through deliberately planned and controlled organizational activities undertaken as an integrated set. They carefully listed different program components and activities in a matched and congruent manner, and assigned distinct responsibility to various organizational functionaries for each of these. Resource allocation, organizational control, and managerial guidance were similarly directed to each identified activity. These organizations standardized the routines of the field functionaries. This was needed for their insulation from unforeseen events and varying situations, which were common in field operations. (iv) Assigning greater importance to operations personnel than to headquarters staff Typically, the people sitting in the head office tend

(f) Overall program and support services management Success of a mass education program depends on steering the behavior and performance of not only students and teachers, but also other functionaries



to acquire a large role in decision making simply because they have greater opportunities to present viewpoint to senior decision makers. their Management therefore becomes administration, monitors become more important than doers, and accountants become more important than the users of money. To reverse these tendencies, BRAC and GSS made explicit attempts to assign higher significance to operations personnel. As a deliberate policy, managers of accounts and administration functions were kept hierarchically junior to program managers. Similarly, the top management and planning teams were so constituted that the number of operations managers in these committees was larger than that of managers representing support services. They maintained a thin staff at headquarters and important decisions were made in the periodic meeting of operations personnel.

many features with successful development (Jain, 1994).


(g) Financial and cost control Due to the dependence on donor support, both organizations were highly conscious of program costs. The basic premise of cost control was, however, not of cost reduction but of cost effectiveness. Program cost in both organizations was higher compared to government program cost per enrolled child, but substantially lower for each child completing the education. This occurred because fewer enrolled children completed the primary cycle in the government primary program than in these other schools. These organizations spent substantial sums on items such as the mobility of supervisors and monthly training of teachers that did not exist in the traditional govemment primary system. They also allocated a significant amount of resources to monitoring and MIS. These programs kept the ratio of fixed to total cost low, about 35%, while the ratio for the government primary education program was 85-90%. This made it possible for them to experiment and introduce changes that necessarily required reallocation of resources from one use to another. This possibility is practically nonexistent in most government programs, where an additional/new book or teaching aid cannot be introduced, even if found useful, as all the funds are already tied up in fixed costs. Both organizations maintained a desirable ratio among expenditures on different program components. Depending upon the availability or lack of resources, all program components were expanded or reduced proportionately. Unlike government programs, staff strength did not continue to grow at the expense of books and education materials, or other activities such as supervisors school visits or teachers training. Two factors underlined implementation of this policy. First, these organizations were careful in phasing various components of their programs, including staff recruitment, training, material development, etc. Second, they could obtain firm donor commitments for three to five year-periods. Stability in financial allocations allowed the programs to maintain all components in the required proportions. This contributed to the effective use of resources spent and the desired quality of output. In contrast, the budget of government primary programs was subjected to sharp expansion or cutbacks on a yearly basis, forcing unplanned and unbalanced cuts in program components. To ensure transparency and accountability of funds, these organizations kept an accounting system on par with commercial organizations, which was subjected to periodic internal and external chartered audits.

(v) Experience-bused decision making The two organizations emphasized use of grassroots work and learning in designing program policies. Instead of being committed to implement a theoretically elegant program blueprint, they developed a program design through ongoing experimentation. Consistent with this approach, they created a decisionmaking mode that gave primacy to program/operations personnel, not only in implementation but also in planning and policy formulation.

(vi) Development of organization culture which emphasized hard work and integri& The two organizations operated in a country context that was characterized by a poor work culture in the field of social services such as education and health. In addition, societal exposure and the traditional education system did not emphasize a work ethic. These organizations had to insulate their program from the society-wide work culture. Both organizations relied on a number of mechanisms for achieving this. The example of senior management, the deliberately fostered work culture, the choice of initial entrants, the program coverage limited to the poor target group, and ideological articulation of the role of their program were significant in this regard. An important mechanism was setting up a hectic work schedule for field functionaries that was made known to the target audience and monitored closely by field officers. Maintaining a low profile administrative and support services which emphasized fieldwork over office-based white-collar work, was also important. The above policies were backed up by a high calibre and committed senior program management. There is a large body of literature on the management of development programs and we found that the management of education programs shares




(h) Inte$ace with the social and institutional environment The two program organizations were careful to keep direct contact with regulatory agencies to a minimum. This was achieved by terming their education programs nonformal. In terms of curriculum and methods of working, the two programs were as formal, standardized and centrally controlled as any socalled formal education program. They also explicitly directed their students to enter the stream of formal government primary education after the first three years of studies. There were still many perceived advantages of classifying the programs as nonformal. First, it allowed them to adopt innovative methods and practices different from the government system without being called into question. Keeping teacher qualification different from government norms was similarly important to align expectations of functionaries away from government key service/work norms. They, however, ensured that their curriculum conformed to and had broadly all the elements that were included in the government primary program. Another dimension of the school-environment interface related to the integration of school and societal learning. It is widely accepted that school education is only a small, although crucial, component of the overall education of a child. An effective education system must take note of the stock of knowledge and understanding that children bring to school, and build on it. The two organizations had developed many mechanisms to link class education with the wider life education of children. They attempted to create textbooks and other educational materials to link classroom learning with the real life examples faced by target children. GSS introduced project work as a large and central part of its pedagogy. The children were required to do assignments on the basis of what they could study and learn from their environment. Such activity started with a child making simple observations about what a bird does or what it looks like, and then graduated to the study of, for example, how vegetables are grown and how rural markets operate. Project work taught the children how to apply class learning to their social life, and informed classroom learning about the issues that the children were exposed to in life. Another mechanism of linking classroom education to the wider social learning was the monthly interaction between the teachers, supervisors and the parents.

4. DISCUSSION This paper differs on many counts from much of the existing literature on primary education, both in the School Effectiveness/School Improvement tradi-

tions and on system management aspects. A particularly significant aspect is the emphasis on program policies and management action focusing on childrens regular attendance and teachers effective performance. The paper highlights the role of parent\ participation in teacher recruitment and control. and the conception of the role of the supervisor in this regard. Parental and community support have routinely been recognized as important in the literature but mostly in terms of their capital contribution for school building. The potential of their role in hardcore management of teacher and supervisor performance is rarely explored. Similarly, the role of supervisors has been considered important but the details of their role in lobbying with each parent, following up each case of school absence and providing operational guidance to teachers on a daily basis is not highlighted. Our paper suggests that the success of programs depends not on introducing parental participation or supervision as catch-all phrases but on working out the detailed operational content of these elements. Controlling the behavior and performance of millions of children and thousands of teachers must axiomatically be regarded as a complex endeavor, dependent on such details. Another distinctive characteristic of much of the existing research is its near exclusion of the central issues in operations management, financial and cost control, provision of support services, and environmental relations. These are at the core of any discussion of management of manufacturing/service sector enterprises. Their exclusion from the ES/S1 literature could be explained because the unit of analysis in these researches is typically one or a set of a few effective schools, while the above aspects are more prominent in a school program. But the exclusion of these issues from research on education system management is atypical. A possible explanation could be that such research was carried out in the context of developed countries, where the basic functionality of a school system is too well established to invite explicit research attention. Moreover. in developed countries, these aspects can be assumed to exist simply because the teacher and principal are in place. This does not represent the developing country situation, where, for example, the logistics of taking the books to the children in poorly connected villages may sometimes pose a bigger problem than designing and developing the book itself. This would also explain the differences of the topic headings in this paper from the chapter headings in the major World Bank treatise on primary education in developing countries (Lockheed and Verspoor, 199 1) and the list of 18 factors representing a summary of much of the ES/S1 research (Heneveld and Craig, 1996, p. 16). The above discussed eight aspects of the primary system are not new to anyone involved in primary education. This paper differs from the existing litera-

INTEGRATEDPRIMARYEDUCATION ture in arguing that these eight aspects can be substantially influenced by program policies that are controlled by promoter/managers of primary programs. Much of the discussion in the literature about why children do not come to school has focused either on the poverty of parents or resource paucity leading to schools being at a distance from childrens home (Sherry Chand and Shukla, 1993). Such an analysis absolves education program managers from the responsibility of bringing and keeping children in the classroom. Most program analyses view the task of textbook and educational material development as belonging to an independent specialized agency. This allows both the agency and the managers of educational programs scope to transfer the responsibility of retaining childrens interest in education material to the other. We agree that factors outside the control of education program managers do affect childrens interest and attendance in the school. Our analysis shows, however. that many mechanisms and elements of program design under the control of education program managers can overcome external constraints and bring even poor children under the ambit of primary education. A salient characteristic of our paper is both the similarity and differences from the literature on development programs and organizations. Our paper draws substantially from the example of typical manufacturing/service sector organizations to make sense of and interpret various aspects of the two programs studied. Tendler and Freedheim (1994) similarly relied on the framework of industrial performance and workplace transformation (IPWT) that evolved in the Western industrial work places to interpret a successful public sector health program in Brazil. Our interpretation of the role of school supervisors runs very close to the Training and Visit system pioneered by Benor and others ( 1984) for agriculture extension. The elements of overall program support and management in these programs have a close correspondence with the practices in successful development programs (Jain, 1994). An instance of difference from the existing literature is the role of decentralization. The paper assigns a significant role to local parents committees in program management. Unlike the literature on decentralization, however, we saw a significant complementary role of centralized supervision and control, without which the decentralized control by parents would have become dysfunctional. An important feature of our analysis is the interdependence among and package nature of different organizational policies highlighted above. Earlier analysis of the BRAC program also identified some of these features, namely the field and learning orientation, and the focus on logistics (Prather, 1993). They were treated, however, as stand-alone significant features, not as


parts of a package of practices designed to obtain the desired behavior from students, teachers and other organizational functionaries. The BRAC and GSS programs are significantly different from other mainstream primary programs. First, they are termed nonformal. Second, the teachers are neither permanent program employees nor trained specialist teachers. It could, therefore, be argued that the lessons for managing primary education drawn from these cases may not be applicable to other mainstream primary programs. This contention would not be valid as the issues and concerns highlighted in the paper are important to any primary program. Moreover, the policies and practices adopted by the two organizations have led to success in very adverse conditions. Similar policies should produce even more favorable results in less difficult conditions. Most important, none of these policies is antithetical to a formal primary system. The policy package of parent involvement in monitoring or controlling teachers; an effective supervision and field-support system for teachers; involvement of teacher trainers and field supervisors in curriculum development; toplevel attention to educational materials supply and, firm financial allocation for educational material, can be practiced everywhere. The capacity of one such program to run as many as 30,000 classes demonstrates that these practices can be adapted on a mass scale and, there appears to be no inherent limitation to the replication/extension of program policies over a larger domain. Primary education the world over is seen as a social responsibility. The use of donor funds by these programs, therefore, should not be taken as an indication of the lack of sustainability. Instead, it should be seen as only one particular type of social funding. In terms of the cost of completed education per child, these programs were less expensive than the corresponding government primary system. This paper puts management at the center of attempts to improve primary education, thus taking the debate away from the traditional confines of teacher training and curriculum/book design. While the latter are important, this paper focuses on eliciting the desired behavior from thousands of teachers and students, without which no mass primary education programs can succeed. The success of organizational and management policies in obtaining reliable and effective performance from teachers is noteworthy. It demonstrates the relatively limited use of performance incentives in seeking good performance from them. In a similar vein, Tendler and Freedheim (1994) have discussed the efficacy of organizational practices that increase worker commitment and, in turn, contribute to performance improvement, without resorting to incentive-driven work motivation.



1. Heneveld and Craig (1996) give a summary review of the literature on School Effectiveness and School Improvement research, and its application to the study of education programs in the developing country context. Two considerations seem to explain such a coverage of 2. issues. which could be related to the studies being conducted in the context of North America and UK primary education systems. First, these Western primary systems have somewhat independent mechanisms for handling different aspects of primary education. Teacher preparedness and training are the concern of the university system. Designing educational material is the domain of independent authors and publishers operating in market place. The school system is typically managed by local school authorities. Second, it is assumed that all class-level activities and learning processes are designed and managed by the (class) teachers. In this scenario, university training and adequate rewards to teachers, and allocations of funds for purchase of books and other learning materials are deemed adequate for the proper functioning of learning process. Only residual aspects related to the working of regulatory/supervisory authority remain then as the core management concerns, bringing the focus on issues such as organization structure of such an authority, decentralization of decision making and MIS.

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