Researching the politics of development



Decentralisation and teacher accountability: How the political settlement shapes governance in the education sector at sub-national levels in Ghana

Working paper 102

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Edward Ampratwum, Mohammed Awal and Franklin Oduro
Despite a series of reforms designed to improve the education system in Ghana, the quality of education remains low. This paper uses a political settlements analysis to explore why this is the case. Focusing on the issue of teacher accountability and performance, we argue that a key reform – decentralisation – remains a highly contested process. The current system generates insufficient incentives, from either a top-down or bottom-up direction, for effective forms of policy implementation and accountability to emerge at scale. In practice, educational quality differs significantly between districts. An explanation for the variation observed is the significant negative impact that intense party political competition can have in reducing the capacity of local actors to cooperate and to facilitate difficult reforms. The evidence suggests that improving educational quality depends on reform-minded coalitions made up of state and non-state actors at both district and school levels, and a stable political settlement at the district level. We conclude that where good practice is observed, it is as a result of efforts by these coalitions to devise and enforce local-level solutions to local problems.