April – August 2005
- 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
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.
- 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
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
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,
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Outline of the
policy study and research paper
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
Overused to the limit of ideology, the concept of transition
offers a whole spectacle regarding a series of issues, such as:
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;
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
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
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.
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.
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
A possible structure of the policy paper could be:
a word “big” as a culture
education: transition, reform, policy learning
policy in transition contexts: positive developments and needed
culture of quality policy making: conditions and possibilities
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:
of a policy learning process taking place in transition countries
on which this study focuses, with possibility to extend judgments to the
- Stage of
development, characteristics and trends of evolution of the policy
making culture in education.
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
of policymaking in transition contexts
framework of policy making in education
of educational change in transition countries
process and policy cycle: analysis of strengths and weaknesses
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.