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Archive for desembre, 2014

des. 22 2014

Is multi-level policy-making innovative? Education policy in Brazil, Germany and Spain

According to recent findings, the German federation has become innovative in educational policy-making. On the one hand. the Länder and the federation found new ways of cooperating after the conflict on the role of regions in the European Single Act. Currently, they take some time to make decisions, but the intense interaction and deliberation observed in the process seems to be fruitful. On the other hand, most of the Länder have successfully aligned their education policy with other policy areas which contribute to research, development and education.

Recently published evidence also notices a somehow successful consolidation of cooperative federalism in Brazil. In that country, since municipalities and states are all of them units of the federation and keep their own resources, some commentators expected competitive strategies to prevail, and welfare downsizing to be the likely consequence. However, the federation has managed to equalise resources and outcomes in such areas as education and health by creating a core system of strategic planning for local and regional governments. This system sets benchmarks and makes all of them accountable in these policy areas.

In Spain, devolution of education and health policies to ‘autonomous communities’ was completed by 2000. In the aftermath, the central government tried to foster ‘territorial coordination’ by providing complementary funds for the schools to implement some wide-ranging initiatives in order to tackle school failure (e.g. individualised tutoring, mentoring, extending after-class activities to all). Some regional governments have also proved to be innovative in launching a multilaterally supported, ambitious and long-term strategy for lifelong learning (the Basque country), and delivering scholarships conditioned to successful participation in further education (Andalusia). Some local governments have also strengthened their authority to guarantee more transparent school admission policies and have been struggling to widen career guidance (in Catalonia). However, the pressure for the Constitutional Court to cancel the bulk of the 2006 Catalan Statute Act (which had been voted in the Spanish Parliament and in a referendum in Catalonia) and the final decision of the court challenging many articles of that act severely damaged trust between the central and the regional governments. After 2010 fiscal consolidation has weakened some of these innovations by reducing the educational and health budgets as well as restricting social protection in a context of increasing hardship.

These three examples suggest that multi-level government can be as innovative as the Forum of Federations NGO expects it to be. However, this potential directly depends on the mainstream political arrangements and the underlying rationale of fiscal policies.

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