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Are school committees a source of empowerment?

Orest Masue has alongside with Professsor Steinar Askvik published a new article in : "International Journal of Public administration". The article investigates if school committees are a source of empowerment using insights from Tanzania.

Children in Tanzania
Foto/ill.:
Orest Masue

Survey data on school committees in Tanzania is used to find out whether school committee membership is a source of empowerment of people at the local levels.

The present study is an attempt to find out how school committees in Tanzania are formed, and to what extent their members and also parents have a voice in decision-making. In particular, the authors want to find out whether members of school committees feel more empowered than nonmembers. School committees are elected bodies meant to enhance local participation and facilitate broader locally based decision-making in primary education. They are seen as tools for empowering people at the grassroots level in less-developed countries and are examples of what Manor (2004), from a more general perspective , refers to a user or stakeholder committees.

In addition, it was examined whether a number of other factors than committee membership explain variation in empowerment among parents. Among relevant factors are: gender differences, the level of education, residential area, age group, types of employment, access to information, differences in competence.

The findings suggest that membership in itself has limited impact on empowerment, while access to information and gender are the major sources of empowerment.