Building Governance Capacity in Rural Niger: A Study of Decentralization and Good Governance Policy as Experienced in a Local Village
Lyon-Hill, Sarah E.
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Niger, a northwest African country with several systemic barriers to development, has made education a priority. In an effort to improve the national education system, Niger has implemented a decentralization program. This study examines the perceptions of local school actors concerning this decentralization policy, which prescribes improving access and quality to education and strengthening institutional capacity. Local interviews and an analysis of relevant policy documents reveal limited policy implementation at the local level accompanied by a lack of state capacity, accountability and responsiveness to local school needs. Moreover, interviewees perceive a decline in education quality due to these reforms. While policy review documents focus on building institutional capacity at the central and regional government levels, the locality examined has responded as best it can to the needs of its schools. These local efforts are hampered by few resources, limited capacity and understanding of the importance of education by citizens, as well as a mistrust in government institutions, including schools, among local community members. Community leadership, development of participatory public space and trust building, could improve local education capacity to a certain extent, however, strong central government that provides additional resources and builds the capacities of school staff is necessary.
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