Thursday, November 24, 2011

Education Planning

The principle aim of this paper is to discuss what education planning is including the factors that should be taken into account in the process of education planning. The paper will take into account the role of stake holders in education, social classes, traders, professionals, the workers, peasant and lumens proletariats. The paper will start by defining some key terms in the question and then proceed to the main body.
Education is defined as “Developing the capacities and potential of the individual so as to prepare that individual to be successful in a specific society or culture. From this perspective, education is serving primarily an individual development function. The process by which society transmits to new members the values, beliefs, knowledge, and symbolic expressions to make communication possible within society. In this sense, education is serving a social and cultural function” Methian (2004:18). Planning on the other hand is a primary managerial activity that involve defining the organization’s goals, establishing an overall strategy for achieving those goals and developing plans for organizational work activities in order to provide direction, reduce uncertainty, minimize waste and redundancy as well as setting the standards for controlling, Fletcher, Campbell & Hall, (1990), (Devia, 1999).
According to Moosen (2007:4) “Education planning is describing or determining events, conditions, needs of some future point in time like forecasting number and types of students and expansion of facilities needed for them. It is a means of generating present or future goals and objectives for the education system”. He further indicates that it involves planning, the process of defining goals, establishing strategies for achieving these goals and developing plans to integrate and coordinate activities in the education system. It also involves organizing, the process of determining what tasks are to be done. Who is to do them? How the tasks are to be grouped? Who reports to whom and where decisions are to be made within the education system. It also involves leading and controlling where there is motivating subordinates, influencing individuals or teams as they work. Selecting the most effective communication channel and monitoring actual performance, comparing it to standard and taking actions where necessary respectively, (Fletcher, Campbell & Hall (1990).
Morgan (1999) says there are many factors that affect education planning amongst these include social classes, resources available, political influence, economic and others. Traders, professionals, the workers, peasant and the society as a whole play a critical role when it comes to education planning.
Since education planning is a process of intervention that involves the market forces or for seeking alternative solutions to those provided by the market. It is clear that traders and other professionals are actively amongst the factors to include in education planning. When market fails the state is requested to intervene. There are many examples of such state interventions to perfect the market forces. Many a time state intervention can also be seen as an alternative to market forces. This generally happens in centrally planned economies and in such case all major decisions regarding the economy are based on planning process and are arrived at by the planning bodies.
Savage (2000) Social classes as well have a strong influence on education planning. Social classes are economic or cultural arrangements of groups in society. Class is an essential object of analysis for sociologists, political scientists, economists, anthropologists and social historians. In the social sciences, social class is often discussed in terms of 'social stratification'. In the modern Western context, stratification typically comprises of three layers: upper class, middle class, and lower class. Each class may be further subdivided into smaller classes (e.g. occupational). The most basic class distinction is between the powerful and the powerless. Social classes with a great deal of power are usually viewed as "the elites" within their own societies. Various social and political theories propose that social classes with greater power attempt to cement their own ranking above the lower classes in the hierarchy to the detriment of the society overall. By contrast, conservatives and structural functionalists have presented class difference as intrinsic to the structure of any society and to that extent ineradicable, Kezar, (2001). In Marxist theory, two basic class divisions owe to the fundamental economic structure of work and property: the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. The capitalists own the means of production, but this effectively includes the proletariat as they are only able to sell their own labour power (See also: wage labour). These inequalities are normalised and reproduced through cultural ideology. Max Weber critiqued historical materialism (or economic determinism), positing that stratification is not based purely on economic inequalities, but on other status and power differentials. Social class pertaining broadly to material wealth may be distinguished from status class based on honour, prestige, religious affiliation, and so on, (Verso, 1990). Theorists such as Ralf Dahrendorf have noted the tendency toward an enlarged middle class in modern Western societies, particularly in relation to the necessity of an educated work force in technological economies, Reigeluth, (1993). Perspectives concerning globalization and neocolonialism, such as dependency theory, suggest this owes to the shift of low-level laborers to developing nations and the Third World. Developed nations have thereby become less directly active in primary industry (eg. basic manufacturing, agriculture, forestry, mining, etc) and increasingly involved with "virtual" goods and services. The national concept of "social class" has therefore become increasingly complex and confused, Schlechty, (2001).

Education planning need to take into account a number of forces and stake holders because it is an exercise of optimization of resources. It attempts to maximize output within the given resources and ensures that the benefits are distributed more equitably among various sections of population. Since planning activities attempt to indicate what is to be taken up first and what is to be taken up at a later stage, it is also seen as an exercise in prioritizing the activities to be undertaken. Though priorities of a plan are decided by the planning bodies, the prioritization is a part of planning process itself. This explains why the workers, peasant and lumens proletariats including the other members of the society has to be involved in the education system.

The workers, peasant and lumens proletariats and others must be involved in education planning for it to be implemented effectively. Since planning will require individual to implement it and monitor its progress as it is a complex process of taking decisions for future actions in order to achieve pre-determined objectives by optimum utilization of available resources in a limited time frame. Thus a pre-condition for planning is the existence of certain objectives which need to be achieved and constraints in this respect are time and resources. Here resources include all the three types of resources namely physical (or material), financial and human resources. It is said that we plan because we have limited resources and we have to achieve our objectives within the constraint of these limited resources.

Education planning must involve and take into account the different factors which might be directly or indirectly hinder its progression because the planning is very frequently used in daily life and every person without exception does some planning at individual level when one has to accomplish some task. Households plan for meeting the requirements of the family within the income available and thus plan for monthly expenditure. When planning is undertaken at the individual or household level decision for future actions are taken by individuals. However, if planning is to be undertaken for a system e.g. planning for education, the important issues to be addressed are : who (and at what level) will decide about the goals, objectives, allocation of resources and time frame which are important and essential components of planning. At the systems level these decisions are taken at various hierarchical units. This concept of availability of various hierarchical units for planning is called the multi-level planning framework. It means the existence of hierarchy of levels of planning with clearly defined territorial jurisdiction. Under this framework planning is possible at national, state (provincial), district, sub-district and village level. However in India planning particularly in the field of education is carried out at the national, state and in a limited way at the district level only.

In education planning in any country there can be a possibility of developing plans at various levels. Specifically in the big countries and even in medium sized countries the planning is undertaken at more than one level, that is, at various hierarchical administrative units. In many countries the hierarchical units available for planning are national, provincial, district, sub-district and village levels. It may therefore be noted that planning for education can possibly be undertaken at these levels. Undertaking the planning at lower levels along with the higher units is refereed to as decentralized planning. However, if we consider the methodology of planning for education it may be made clear that the methodology or the steps involved in planning remain the same whether plans are formulated at higher level or at the lower level. In order plan for education there are certain steps that are involved. These are as follows according Kezar, (2001:23) “ Diagnosis of the Educational Situation, Target Setting, Intervention Strategies and Activities, Costing and Budget Preparation, Implementation and Monitoring Mechanism and Negotiations, Appraisal and Approval”.

In education planning, the roles played by stakeholders also cannot be ignored. The roles of each stakeholder in a school district provide an integral part to the entire organization. Like a system of checks and balances, the school board oversees a superintendent and the superintendent oversees the site administrators. The parents and students, as stakeholders, have a right to complain to the board, to the administration, and to the superintendent concerning the changes and adherence to policy. Though each stakeholder has a say in the business of the district, the power and influence of say may depend on the role and the position of a stakeholder. As the ideas and methodology change to meet the information age, the structure and hierarchy within a school district and the role of the stakeholders may change. Zambia is currently revamping administrative and teaching roles within the schools, which may restructure the leadership of the school board, superintendent, and other educational stakeholders who participate in the educational processes.
As the roles change for the stakeholders, a new set of skills will have to be incorporated into each role. Additionally, decision making powers may shift; the check and balance system may move in different directions; and the final authority may come from stakeholders other than the school board or the superintendent of the district. All these factors has to be included in education planning.
The education or studies ranking in the highest tier of influences or prove to be quite different from one another in a variety of ways. Some nominee’s stakeholders conform to a conventional understanding of a study, as a relatively discrete work taking the form of a clearly identifiable core product like a report, monograph, or commission proceedings, (Dunkan 2000). For some time there has been widespread concern in Zambia over gender patterns in educational performance. Recently, this concern has focused on the perception that many educational factors have to be considered in the education circles especially when planning. While gender was the major factor under consideration, the research brief also required an examination of the relative impact of other independent variables on participation, performance and post-school destinations including geographic, demographic and socio-economic factors.
Education planning requires a lot of efforts including putting into consideration a variety of factors possible. One of the important stages in planning exercise is detailing out the implementation plan. When planning at the lower levels, e.g. district level planning, implementation is part and parcel of planning activities, (Jackson, 1987). A plan document is incomplete if it does not contain detailed plan for implementation of the programmes and projects that the plan contains. It thereby means that planning for implementation should be inbuilt in the plan document. A failure in the achievement of plan targets in the education sector is generally attributed to the lack of detailed planning for implementation. Planning for implementation facilitates the process of implementation of programmes and projects by providing a sound mechanism of monitoring in the form of implementation schedule and it also increases the efficiency of the system by minimizing the costs of implementation of a given programme or project. Planning for implementation makes it possible to critically analyze the activities of a given educational programme and to develop an implementation schedule which can be used for monitoring the progress of implementation, (Jackson, 1987). There are certain steps that are necessary in planning for implementation of educational prorgammes or projects. These are; listing of activities that make up the prorgamme; thinking through each of these activities; establishing inter-relationships between these activities; establishing a network; setting activity duration; determining material, equipment and human resource needs; deciding about time duration for the programme implementation of each activity; identifying identical activities of the programme which cannot be overlooked without affecting the duration of the programme implementation and resources invested in it; and thinking about organizational arrangements for carrying out programme activities.

In education planning this also involves scheduling forms, an important exercise in planning for implementation. Scheduling refers to the process of converting an educational plan into an operating time table which establishes start and completion time of all the activities of the programme/plan. There are several ways of constructing implementation schedules. However, an effective implementation plan makes use of the network based techniques such Programme Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT) and Critical Path Method (CPM), (Jackson, 1987). PERT is a network based procedure that facilitates planning, scheduling and controlling of education programmes and projects. It provides methods for measuring actual progress of the programme against expected progress, for comparing consequences of proposed alternative strategies, for predicting future programme status and for optimizing utilization of resources. Listing all possible activities of the programme is a key step in planning for implementation of the educational programme. The next step is to gather information about predecessors of each activity. The third step, on the basis of these information, PERT network for the programme can be developed. Fourth, once the PERT network of the programme is developed then there is a need to obtain information on the time required to complete each activity. Fifth, this is followed by three alternative time estimates (i.e. the optimistic activity time, most probable activity time, and pessimistic activity time). These three activity time estimates help the programme team to make the best guess of expected activity time. In this connection uncertainty can be expressed by providing estimates ranging from the best to the worst possible time for completing individual activities, (Jackson, 1987). Finally, the PERT network for the given educational programme is drawn on the basis of the above information. Once the PERT network is drawn, the next step is to estimate critical path in the network. This is done by using both forward pass and backward pass methods. This helps to establish early start and latest finish time of each activity. Also activity slack is estimated by using early start and latest finish times. The activities having no slack are termed as critical activities and the longest path on the PERT network is identified as critical path. The time required to traverse the critical path becomes the programme implementation period. All these information, when put in a tabular form, makes the Implementation Schedule of the educational programmed.

Educational planning also requires negotiations, appraisal and approval. The plans developed are draft plans till they are discussed and finally approved by the approving authorities. Since resources are to be allocated for implementation of plan, the negotiation process is very important. Many proposals in the plan may require financial allocation from the higher authorities. Hence the plan may become final only when they are discussed and finally approved by the authorities by approving budget and allocating funds as per requirements, (Morgan, 1999).
However, the approving authorities look into the desirability of proposals and the feasibility of implementation of the plan. This is the process of negotiation between those who formulate the plan and those who have to finally approve the plan and budget. It is generally found that some cut in the proposed resource requirement is done by the authorities and in such case the plan need to be revised in the light of discussion. Based on the resources assured by the approving authorities, plan proposals are to be prioritized. After such re-prioritization so as to establish a link between what is proposed and the extent of resources available, the plan is finalized. In order to approve the plan the authorities, who have to approve the plan and budget, do generally like to do comprehensive review of the various aspects and components of programme proposals, (Parsons, 1997). It is therefore seen whether the plan is technically sound, financially viable and justified and administratively feasible. This is done with the help of a team of experts who discuss the plan proposals at length with the planning team. This process is known as the appraisal of plan. Thus an important aspect of plan negotiation is appraisal through which the opinion of the experts is sought about the soundness and feasibility of plan proposals before it is finally approved for implementation.

Negotiation is a process by which one can bargain for more resources. If the educational plan proposals made in the plan document are justified and the planning team is able to convince the authorities it is very likely that they may get more resources. However, if the plan proposals are weak and unconvincing the chances are that they may get less amount of resources. The soundness of the proposals which constitute a plan is an important consideration influencing the amount of resources allocated, (Kezar, 2001).
Education planning is vital as it revitalizes and materializes many society issues. As the students evolve and adapt to the educational models that are introduced, student may dictate the success or failure of the programs. The students are creating their world through the education that the stakeholders provide and in time they will restructure and modify the educational system to fit their environment and learning needs, (Savage, 2000). The perception of each stakeholder in regards to the teacher’s dismissal for displaying the nativity scene is as individual as the roles of the stakeholders themselves. Each perception has to be incorporated in the support or defense of the dismissal and the entire academic community will be changed because of the dismissal. Though the ideal of the separation of church and state sounds simple, each stakeholder has to cope with their individual beliefs and those of the population of parents and students for which they serve. The stakeholders represent the beliefs and standards of a community while still abiding by the decisions of state and federal law, (Reigeluth, 1993). How the stakeholders perceive the incident will define the moral boundaries or interpretation for issues that are forthcoming. Therefore planning in education should involve a variety of factors and stake holders.
In conclusion, the paper has discussed what education planning is and it has disclosed that many and varied factors such as social, economic, natural, child rights violations and political factors affect the education system and hence have contributed to the institutionalization of children independently or in combination.

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