a.     Activity report

b.     Outline study & research



Activity report



April – August 2005



  1. Preparation of documents and website


After the first workshop in Budapest, I started to prepare the final version of the project documents, according to suggestions from our mentor, Leslie Pal, to the suggestions made by coordinator, Pamela Kilpadi, and financial officer, Krisztina Bakos. The overall discussions in the group were very useful in this respect as well.

Revised documents and preparation for publication on the website include:

  • Project proposal (some revisions were made especially related to countries involved in the study; due to limited time, decision was made to remain to Romania and Poland for collection of primary data).
  • Work and advocacy plan – identification of possibilities to cooperate with other initiative of this type, identification of institutions that might have an interest in this study;
  • Issue paper, with a clearer description and motivation of the topic, definition of the research problem and main assumption of the research;
  • Project timetable – following the suggestions of the first workshop
  • Budget – aligned with the specific requirements of the OSI, detailed and organized in clear categories; breaking down the budget for the two contracts.


Another activity was design of the website and preparation of the documents to be uploaded. By mistake I forgot to upload the project timetable at he very beginning, but this will be done as soon as I will upload also the interim reports.


  1. Documentation and data collection


Further documentation was pursued, especially related to the issue of transition and the situation of education, especially the policy making in education, in the transition contexts.

Even the focus of my paper is Central and South Eastern Europe (CSEE) as a transition area, I had the opportunity to undertake some documentation about another transition area: Middle East.

I conducted phone interview and I exchanged emails with project manager for the respective area from International Bureau of Education (IBE) of UNESCO. The person made available for mea a great deal of books and reports about educationa reform initiatives in Asian and African countries.


A first round of primary data collection took place in Poland. On the basis of an interview guide and supporting questionnaire that I designed, a number of 8 people, involved in educational policy in Poland were interviewed and questioned. 


The same instruments used in Poland will be also adapted and used in Romania, where only 2 interviews happened, but a whole series will start on 15th of September.


In-depth phone interview was conducted with expert from Poland in order to deepen the information gathered in interviews, and to further clarify issues related to the data collected. The information was processed and will be used in the policy paper.


An interview with polish expert contracted by Ministry of Education and Research in Romania was planned for July, but will only happen mid September, because delay in beginning of the mission. This interview will have two parts, since is particularly relevant, having regard the extensive expertise of the person in CSEE (especially Macedonia, Bulgaria, Serbia).


Field trip in Poland was moved to end September, at the advice of polish contacts, in order to allow people to come back from holidays and re-start working. It was also advisable to plan meeting after beginning of the school year. 


  1. Publications and events


One publication particularly relates to the topic of my project and it was submitted to OSI, for the Policy Perspectives, fall. The paper is titled Diversity and identity in transition contexts and it was accepted for publication, after the review process.


I related to one of the Soros Open Network institutions in Romania, Centre 2000+, informed them about my project and decided to cooperate on advocacy issue. They also launched a project partly funded by UNICEF on supporting Romanian Ministry of Education in policymaking, in key policy areas. I am reviewing the papers developed by selected experts on the four areas: decentralization, teacher training, quality assurance and gender.


  1. Acquisitions and payments


I managed to make some important acquisitions (computer, multifunctional printer), some others are only ordered by now (digital voice recorder).


Contractual obligations towards IT services were paid, as stated in financial reporting, as well as costs for primary data collection in Poland.


  1. Development of the policy paper


I started to writhe down the outline and some small parts of the policy paper, making sense of the information gathered, either from literature of from the field. I realized that in spite of all data the final product will still have a high speculative dimensions, so I decided to concentrate on argumentation and context analysis, rather on increasing number of persons interviewed / questioned.



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      Outline of the policy study and research paper



September, 2005



The two documents will not have significant differences in terms of content, but rather in terms of length and structure, because of their different scope. This is why we will treat the outline consistently and global.


The broad political, social, cultural and economic transformations that we witnessed in CSEE in the last 15 years created a special context for education, in the frame of the broader movement generically called transition.


Overused to the limit of ideology, the concept of transition offers a whole spectacle regarding a series of issues, such as:

  • Social and personal perceptions of the transition, mainly as unstable and uncertain times in which progress is difficult and people are “waiting” for a better future;
  • Transition as explanation for economic and political slowness in development, emphasizing difficulties of changes and their superficiality, since they are not accompanied by “changes of mentalities”.
  • Educational transition, with different meanings and perspectives: giving up the ideological ballast, modernization, separation between politics and policy, change of educational message according to the values mentioned above. On the other hand, we see the development of new educational ideal and reconstruction of schooling based on new principles: democracy, diversity of learning styles and needs, quality, accountability, autonomy and competence.


The paper intends to see if there is a clear vision of this transition, clear educational ideals and goals to guide the process and, in the same time, to find evidences of articulation of a policy making culture in the public sphere, but especially in education.


Demise of communist ideology created in some respects strange reactions, as rejecting the idea of planning, as being a habit of oppression and jeopardizing liberty and free will. The phantasm of state owned and planned economy made people resistant to normal managerial processes.


The basic assumption that we have is that policymaking in education is more likely to produce high quality results if there is a mature policy system in place. By mature policy system we understand that some conditions are met in the process of development and implementation of educational policies:


  1. Technical-functional conditions: there is in place a clear policy cycle, with defined steps which are followed constantly by those involved in the process. The policy process, therefore, takes place according to an internal functional logic, visible and acknowledged by participants.


  1. Conceptual conditions: there is a common language used in the policymaking, there is agreement of those involved regarding the common understanding of main concepts specific to the field. In other words, a community of discourse is created and allows participants to “speak the same language” of educational policy.  This community of discourse and conceptual maturity of policymaking process can be observed in the basic / key policy documents of the educational system.


  1. Professional conditions: there is in place an institutional framework in charge with policy processes in education. There could be a wide variety of institutional arrangements: specialized units at Ministry of Education level or at the level of regional / local educational authorities; specialized institutes or agencies subordinated to MoEs; NGOs or think tanks focused on policy analysis, development and evaluation. Another option could be a “soft” institutionalization of policymaking: policy responsibilities assigned to professionals at different levels. So the degree of institutionalization could be considered a sign of maturity.  In the same direction could be added the participation and consultation mechanisms used in the policy process.


Having in mind these three directions, we will investigate the maturity level of educational policymaking systems in Poland and Romania, tracking the process of articulation of a policymaking culture in these transition contexts


A possible structure of the policy paper could be:


  1. Transition: a word “big” as a culture
  2. Transforming education: transition, reform, policy learning
  3. Educational policy in transition contexts: positive developments and needed improvements
  4. A culture of quality policy making: conditions and possibilities
  5. Conclusions and recommendation


A more detailed structure and some parts of the paper are developed, but they are likely to support modifications in the next two months.


In the policy paper special emphasis will be give to:

  • Evidences of a policy learning process taking place in transition countries on which this study focuses, with possibility to extend judgments to the CSEE area.
  • Stage of development, characteristics and trends of evolution of the policy making culture in education.
  • Recommendations for policy makers at central and local level in transition context on how to make more functional and to improve the policy process.


In the research paper, a more extensive place will be given to

  • Characteristics of policymaking in transition contexts
  • Institutional framework of policy making in education
  • Paradigms of educational change in transition countries
  • Policy process and policy cycle: analysis of strengths and weaknesses
  • Articulation of a policymaking culture through a complex process of policy learning and a process of reshape the image and approach of public services


In the policy paper I will try to be more instrumental, to offer a picture of the situation, main problems and to formulate some policy recommendations, while in the research paper I will use the possibility to integrate more from the literature, in correlation with the primary data, and to try to formulate some explanations and trends regarding the policy process in education in transition contexts.





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