FORMATION AND IMPLEMENTATION OF THE EDUCATION POLICY: THE ASPECT OF COHERENCE
Authors: Aušrinė Gumuliauskienė
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Strategic education-related documents reflecting the content of the education policy emphasise the priorities, provisions, principles of the organisational development of the edu-cation system and its separate sectors, target societal attention and endeavours on the essen-tial changes in the field of education focusing on expectations of the state society, the global, European Union tendencies within education policy and practice as well as assessment of the condition of education. The education policy as a prerogative of the state sector, a constituent part of public policy is closely related to policies of other fields, is multilayered, contextual, based on ideological and value attitudes, relatively encompasses closely interrelated strategic, managerial (tactical), administrative (operational performances) levels. The coherence of the education strategy and its implementation in education practice defined at the political level is a multifaceted issue.
The article actualises the contradictions of formation and implementation of the edu-cation policy aims in the contexts of societal transformations. The correlations between the formation of the education system and globalisation processes, economic factors are dis-cussed in detail, the demand for research-based formation and implementation of the education policy is underlined, significance of the strategy of integrated development of educational organisations when implementing the education policy at the organisational level is theoretically reasoned.
On 12 November 2002, the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania approved the Long-Term Development Strategy of the State. It projected the development of Lithuania, the EU state-to-be. Its purpose was to provide a basis for implementation of the education vision of Lithuania. The provisions of the strategy complemented the long-term development strategy of the state and set the mission, values, principles of education in Lithuania; also, they set the aims of education development and means to implement it, defined quantitative and qualitative outcomes which would ground and be regarded when estimating the education development in Lithuania in 2003–2012. During the latter period, Lithuania set three major tasks for education: to ensure accessibility of education, development and perfection of human resources focusing on the tendencies of development of economy, culture and science in Lithuania and other states of the European Union, the demands of the labour market, the strategy of sustainable development, aiming at higher competitiveness of the state and higher social cohesion; to ensure proper quality of education adequate to the quality of education in the European Union and other countries of the world; to increase efficiency of performance and management more clearly defining its mission and exceptionality, improving self-governance, consolidating independence and autonomy of education organisations as well as striving for education to become the major factor pre-determining the progress of Lithuanian economy and society as well as competitiveness.
Assessing creation and implementation of the Strategy from the today’s perspective, formers of the education policy state the following: skills of strategic planning have changed very much, i.e. this was one of the first big-volume strategic documents of the state one dec-ade and a half ago, therefore, there was lack of experience in creating such documents; today we obtain much more data and other sources of information, therefore prognostication of the future and creation of the strivings can be more exact; after entering the European Union, projects being generously supported by structural funds started being implemented, they partially directed the investment to smaller aims and thus evoked challenges; undergoing the changes of coalitions in power, each time political priorities of the government would change, in some cases they even would not properly match the provisions of the Strategy; in some cases, reality and education underwent changes faster than expected, whereas in some other cases it lasted for too long (Valstybinės švietimo strategijos įgyvendinimas 2003–2012 metais, 2012).
The analysis of implementation of the state education strategy for the period 2003–2012 reveals not only the tendencies of education development, the condition of its quality, but also the tendencies of development of the education policy in Lithuania. Creation and implementation of education strategies are complex, first of all, because of specificity of their object, i.e. education. Strategies for its development are to be projected with regard to complex junctions of social, economic, technological, cultural, political processes, constantly altering their contexts, the coherence of globality and nationality. Formation and implemen-tation of the education system are inseparable processes; their coherence determines the quality change and efficiency of education. At the political level, education is given excep-tional significance in the societal life; however, its social impact should not be overesti-mated. The coherence of formation and implementation of the education policy is a multifaceted issue. The problem of this coherence is most vividly reflected by the following tendencies: the lack of connections between education policy and public policy as well as policies of other fields, especially at the level of administration of the education policy; insufficiency of methodological, scientific interdisciplinary approaches when analysing, assessing and contextualising educational processes; the lack of ideological and value-based reasoning; at the strategic level, there is too much emphasis on internationalisation, whereas national priorities of education, its purpose in the postmodern society are not clear; processes of policy formation are insufficiently based on a complex analysis, experts’ assessment of achievements, threats, opportunities of education and its separate sectors; the direction “top down” is too much enabled in the political decision-making, increasing the volume and potential of administration; ambitious political strivings are too weakly grounded on financial capacities and vice versa economic/financial priorities dominate over social, value priorities; there is lack of coherence between strategic and tactical/administrative levels. Implementation of the education policy at the organisational level is too little linked with development of human resources, managerial potential as well as actualisation of the demand for projection and implementation of the integrated development strategy. Having the above-mentioned strategies dominating, the education policy loses the status of a national priority, its formation becomes the most significant process for the group of interests of education policy-makers, participants of the education system processes are too weakly empowered, majority of strategic aims remain declarative orientations because their implementation is not grounded on real resources, opportunity studies and responsibility.