An important aspect of the head's functions is establishing
appropriate relationships with the various agencies which contribute
to the quality of school governance. This unit aims to provide
you with a greater operational knowledge of the various agencies
which have authority in one way or the other over the way schools
operate. The main focus is on the duties and rights of the various
agencies which are responsible for helping to establish operational
procedures and standards in schools.
Individual study time: 3 hours
By the end of this unit you should be able to:
describe the norm-setting role of the Ministry of Education
identify the main levels of educational administration
explain how relations with the national Ministry of
Education, with state, regional or provincial authorities,
with district authorities, with the inspectorate unit and
with other bodies involved in the work of schools affect the
nature and quality of school governance.
Fig 3 indicates some of the agencies who may exercise their
responsibility for establishing procedures and standards in
Fig 3 Relationships between schools and other agencies
The norm-setting role of the Ministry of Education
Identify some of the areas in which the Ministry of Education
determines the way your school operates and list the main ones.
The list you have produced may include:
the nature and type of physical facilities your school
has such as classrooms, furniture, etc.
the type of equipment in use in your school
the curriculum components and content by course and
your personnel, i.e. the types and number of teaching
and non-teaching staff
the management of your school finances.
The functions of the Ministry of Education at the national
headquarters level with regard to school governance are mainly
normative, that is, they establish norms or standards for
the operation of schools.
By defining principles, setting standards and establishing
guidelines for the operation of schools, the Ministry of Education
is able to direct the educational system towards the national
goals. This norm-setting role is often also described as strategic
Levels of educational administration
Consider the structure of the Ministry of Education in your
country and identify the different levels of educational authority
from the Ministry of Education headquarters down to the individual
Two clearly distinct levels of operation characterise all
educational systems; there is always the Ministry of Education
and various national agencies at the highest level, and there
is the level of individual schools where the actual teaching
and learning take place. Between these two extremes are intermediate
levels, and the number and range of these depends on the nature
of the political administration of each country. We could
have levels involving state, regional, provincial, district,
sub-district, municipal and local administrations. Heads have
to deal with authorities at each of the various levels in
the running of their schools.
For a fuller account of the organisation and functions of
the national government study Unit
2 in Module 2, Principles of Educational Management.
Relations with the Ministry of Education and national
In view of the importance of education in the development
of human resources of a country, every government has, to
a varying extent, a direct involvement in the education of
its people. The involvement of government in the provision
of education is normally through its Ministry of Education
and through national parastatals.
How are the following national bodies involved in the provision
of education in your school?
- the National Council on Education (if your country has one);
- the Planning Unit;
- the Ministry of Finance;
- the Curriculum Unit;
- the Inspectorate;
- the Exams Board.
The involvement of national governments in the provision of
education takes many forms and might include the following:
1 In some countries there is a permanent council, a National
Educational Advisory Council, made up of senior representatives
from a range of departments and bodies involved in education,
which helps to determine and establish policies and may guide
the implementation of educational programmes.
2 A Planning Unit is likely to provide an analysis of educational
data which may be used to determine the age for entering formal
education, the duration of schooling at different levels,
the location of schools, student enrolments, etc.
3 The Ministry of Finance will probably control the flow of
government resources to education.
4 A Curriculum and Educational Research Institute may oversee
curriculum developments and the evaluation of the educational
processes and outputs.
5 An Inspectorate monitors for the government educational
practices and standards in schools, and advises teachers,
heads, managers and policy-makers on ways to improve.
6 An Exams Board provides appropriate forms of pupil assessment
in an efficient and reliable way.
Since government intervention in the provision of education
is normally through the Ministry of Education or through a
national paraststal, you need to know, as a school head, the
different bodies and agencies within the Ministry of Education
which deal with the different policies and regulations affecting
the operation of your school.
Relations with State, Regional or Provincial Authorities
(2) To what extent would you judge that dealing with matters
at the regional, state or provincial level of educational authority
is more beneficial for the efficient and effective operation
of your school than with the central government? State your
(1) Consider each of the 15 items included in Fig 4 and indicate
at which level - national, regional, district, school - the
responsibility lies for its provision. Note that in some areas
the responsibility may be shared.
Fig 4 Levels of responsibility
|1 Location of
2 Size (enrolment) of schools
3 Employment of teachers
4 Posting, promotions of teachers
5 Choice of curriculum
6 Choice and purchase of textbooks
7 Operation of exams
8 Inspection of schools
9 Appointment of board of
10 Payment of teachers' salaries
11 Budget allocation and control
12 Organisation of Parent Teachers' Association
13 School calendar
14 School rules and regulations
15 Educational management
Education administration is increasingly being decentralised
in line with the decentralisation of public administration
in most countries of the world. In countries with a federal
type of government, but also in unitary states which are rather
large or have a great diversity in their territories, the
responsibility for formulating and implementing educational
policies devolves to State, Regional or Provincial Authorities
(or further, to district level). For example, standards for
the type of physical facilities in schools, or the minimum
and optimum numbers of students per class, may vary as amongst
the states, regions or provinces within the same country.
Furthermore, funding for school operations may be provided
both by central government through the Ministry of Education,
by state, regional or provincial administrations as well as
by district administrations. School heads should therefore
be in a position to relate adequately with each level and
type of educational authority.
The main argument for decentralising the management of education
is to allow communities to decide what they want for themselves.
Centralised systems may appear to promote fairness in the
distribution of resources, but, in fact, the large bureaucracies
which are created are often inefficient and slow to react
to change and local needs. Decentralising does have problems
in ensuring local accountability, otherwise the inefficiency
of the centre may be replaced by local corruption. A lot of
training in management skills is required to ensure that regional
and local administrations are efficient and effective.
Relations with the District Education Authority
In what ways and to what extent would you say that in your system
the district is the key level of authority influencing the ability
of heads to manage their schools effectively?
Relations with the Inspectorate
The process of decentralisation of educational administration
in many countries is according much more importance to the
office of the District Education Officer. Very often it is
the office of the District Education Officer which actually
has to deal with issues affecting the implementation of educational
programmes in schools. Generally speaking, the degree of decentralisation
of functions from the centre to intermediate levels diminishes
as one moves from the primary grade, through secondary, to
the higher grades of education. At the primary school level,
issues relating to planning and statistics, the management
of teaching and supporting staff, the management of financing
and budgeting, the management of facilities and equipment,
the management of pedagogy and curricula and issues of school
welfare, are dealt with at the municipal or district levels.
At the secondary and higher levels of the educational system,
most of these issues are dealt with at the state, regional
or provincial levels. As a school head, you need to be aware
of the distribution of these areas of authority and be skilled
at relating to each appropriate authority.
Reflecting on the work of school inspectors in your school:
(1) Describe how inspectors may contribute towards the effective
operations of your school.
(2) Suggest ways in which school inspectors could assist further
to improve the effectiveness of your school.
(3) Would you say that inspectors should work to ensure minimum
standards in all the schools in your country or to ensure the
highest possible standards?
It is intended that the effectiveness of schools should be
enhanced through the monitoring and evaluation activities
of inspectors. For this reason, most countries have set up
Inspectorate Units or Divisions and have charged them with
the responsibility of conducting the periodic inspection of
schools with a view to evaluating the quality of their work.
The function of the Inspectorate Unit is quite complex since
it exists both to ensure the maintenance of minimum standards
as well as the attainment of the highest possible standards
in all schools. These include the following:
standards of accommodation and equipment
standards of teaching
standards of achievement of pupils and students
standards of management, discipline and the overall
ethos of the school.
Given that the Inspectorate has this function to promote
higher standards of operation in schools, it is essential
for heads to maintain a close liaison with local inspectors
so that they may be assisted in setting minimum standards
and working for even higher standards in their schools.
Relations with other bodies involved in school management
The history of the development of education in Africa
shows clearly that the Christian missionary churches and Islamic
organisations played pioneering roles in establishing schools
in most Sub-Saharan African countries. As a result of this,
there are still many schools and institutions at all levels
which are managed by these bodies.
In some countries religious bodies are involved in recruiting
teachers for the schools they established even though the
teachers' salaries are paid by government. In addition, they
may provide other resources, including buildings, furniture
and other physical facilities.
For the above reasons, school heads, particularly if they
happen to be working in a school with religious affiliations,
must relate with the education authorities of the religious
body concerned and be conversant with their present and past
roles in the provision of education.
In more recent times local communities have fulfilled a similar
function. We consider their role in school governance in the
next unit, Unit 5.
In this unit we have examined the relations which the school
head needs to establish with the different agencies which
play some part in the governance of schools.
The role of the Ministry of Education in setting standards
and norms for school operations has been explained and the
different levels of educational administration have been identified.
The reasons why the school head should relate to the units
in the Ministry of Education have been stressed.
The relationships of the school head with Regional, State
or Provincial Authorities as well as the District Education
Authorities, and the functions each performs have been clarified.
The role of the Inspectorate Unit in promoting both the minimum
and the best standards in teaching and learning, as well as
the overall management and ethos in schools, has also been
Lastly, the need for heads of schools with religious affiliations
to relate with the religious authorities, has been identified.