AbstractLocal self-management, popularly known as devolution, is a political initiative in English-speaking nations over the last couple of decades taken to promote community participation in education. In Australia, state and territory governments are responsible to provide public education services but with this policy they devolve decision-making, management and responsibility, as considered appropriate, to the local level. Functions that are devolved to be performed locally, in the school communities, are managed within parameters established by the governments and as directed, supported and monitored through arrangements made in their respective systems for these purposes.
The policy of self-management in education has aroused contention. This has resulted primarily from a publicly perceived ‘rhetoric/reality gap’, wherein governments are seen to advocate ‘devolution’ as educationally beneficial for children but actually institute it as a cost-cutting strategy. Although acceptance has been widespread nonetheless and there is enthusiasm about the administrative advantages it offers, there is resentment where governments are considered to have been heavy-handed in handling its introduction. This has been the case in the Northern Territory, especially with growing enforcement of its acceptance from the mid-1980s.
This dissertation is devoted to the NT experience: it provides background on the Territory and its education system; the substance of the policy is considered and a theoretical model against which to analyse it is devised; the development and implementation of the policy are traced; its impact in two Aboriginal communities is studied on an exploratory basis, a prerequisite for which is an introduction to education in remote Aboriginal NT; and the findings of the study are finally reconsidered, to identify emergent characteristics, advisable direction with the policy and any need for further research. It gives the NT Government substantial feedback on a major policy initiative in public education. A fuller study of the impact of ‘devolution’ across the Territory could use this thesis as its base.
|Date of Award||Mar 1996|