Decentralisation in the education sector can contribute to strengthening the efficiency and effectiveness within the sector. It may result in an increase of efficiency through better management of resources, transparency and accountability of local authorities. Also the quality of services provided may improve because of the opportunity to better match the supply of services with local demand. Moreover, it can contribute to enhance the effectiveness of interventions, in the sense that it may favour the access to education by encouraging participation at the local level. At the same time decentralisation may foster equity given that it can prevent further marginalisation of the most vulnerable groups.
Conversely, if not adequately designed and implemented, decentralisation may also lead to unintended consequences. For instance, widening the gap between different administrative entities in terms of financing and quality of education provided.
The UNICEF’s South Asia Regional Office (ROSA) is engaged in a regional policy research initiative that aims to broaden and inform national policy processes and to contribute to increasing regional awareness of what it takes to establish appropriate decentralisation policy frameworks. As part of this research initiative, ROSA solicited the UNICEF’s Innocenti Research Centre (IRC) to conduct an analysis of the effects of decentralisation on equity in the educational sector specifically.