Strategic Education Governance - Background


Governing education systems is becoming increasingly complex. Today, governance processes involve a growing number of stakeholders, interacting with each other in many different ways, in multiple time-scales and at several levels simultaneously. Relationships among these stakeholders are increasingly dynamic and open to negotiation, and a central question for education governance is thus how education systems can provide high quality educational opportunities for all.


Strategic Education Governance (SEG) addresses the need to develop flexible and adaptive governance processes that improve the effectiveness and sustainability of reform in today’s complex education systems. It aims to help countries develop smarter governance arrangements, sensitive to context and capable of delivering improvement by building upon robust knowledge systems, stakeholder cooperation and constructive accountability.


Previous work on governing complex education systems

The SEG project builds on the empirical and conceptual work carried out during CERI's Governing Complex Education Systems project (GCES), which ran from 2011-2016. The GCES project highlighted the increasingly complex nature of the systems in which governance processes are embedded, and analysed the implications of such complexity on the effectiveness of existing governance arrangements. Central to the GCES project was the use of complexity theory to analyse and improve understanding of governing education systems effectively and the role that knowledge has in this endeavour.


Complexity theory and governance

Complexity theory conceptualises complex systems as defined by the relationships between their constituent elements. As such, systems exhibit characteristics that emerge from their components interacting dynamically with each other. This leads to emergent properties of systems that cannot be anticipated by analysing the system’s elements in isolation. Related concepts pertain to self-reinforcing dynamics, tipping points and inertia that needs to be overcome to engender lasting change. The study of complex systems requires a step back to examine how the various interconnections can form a coherent whole, in what way current structures facilitate or hinder this coherence, and how best to develop new forms of governance that take this complexity into account.


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