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Decentralization by an efficient information system: Enabling efficient decisions for basic education in Malawi

Maxwell Suluma Nkhokwe, University of Massachusetts Amherst


One of the many problems the educational system in Malawi suffered is the lack of an efficient decision-making system that could make better use of its resources. A decentralization reform was therefore adopted as one of the means by which efficient decisions for the educational system could be assured. The decentralization reform was intended to give local or district level administrators powers for making discrete planning and management decisions for basic education within their jurisdiction. Unfortunately, the implementation of the reform was seen to lack progress. Some issues that were against the decentralization probably caused the stalled progress of the implementation. The basis of this study was to explore possible factors that might have caused the stalled implementation of the decentralization so that possible solutions could be provided to strengthen it. A mix of qualitative and quantitative methods was employed to conduct the study. Interviews, documents analysis, observations, and questionnaires were the means for collecting data for the study. Using a sample of 23 participants drawn from different central, division, and district offices of the educational system and donor agencies, the study forces revealed that there were problems in the process and support system for the implementation. Process related forces include: lack of a culture of change, lack of specific decentralization goals for education, fear of loss of power, poor participation, lack of preparedness by the districts, poor coordination, resistance, lack of information, and poor commitment. Support related forces that were for the implementation included: existing policies, willingness of the districts, political will, and donor support. As a way forward, the study proposes that the implementation of the decentralization could be strengthened if the design of the implementation and its support system are reconsidered and improved. Regular revisions on the design of the implementation to ensure that it meets the decentralization requirements and strengthening the support system by making sure that the districts have an adequate information system can help to strengthen the implementation of the decentralization.

Subject Area

School administration|Information systems

Recommended Citation

Nkhokwe, Maxwell Suluma, "Decentralization by an efficient information system: Enabling efficient decisions for basic education in Malawi" (2005). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3179911.