Words Misunderstood? Understanding the role of discourse in Philippine basic education reform Mary Jocelyn R. dela Cruz Political Science Department De La Salle University, Philippines School-Based Management has yet to empower because: LSB’s structural configuration Lack of intensive local capacity building Conceptual confusion on SBM Objective To explore the interplay of ideas, discourses, actions, and institutions in the context of reforming the Philippine basic education system Ideas Actions Discourse Rules Institutions School-Based Management Mechanism to decentralize decisionmaking authorities to the school level To empower principal, teachers and other stakeholders to identify and resolve local school problems Ownership Accountability Introducing SBM EDCOM Report • 1991 • Education decentralization principles BEAM • 2002-2007 • Flexible & cooperative learning environment TEEP • 1998-2006 • detour from decentralizing supply of inputs SBM was contained Dependence on foreign-assisted projects Pilot projects to national implementation Institutional incapacity to initiate & continue reforms Organizationally displaced offices restrained knowledge generation “The DepEd bureaucracy lives (and dies) by the DepEd Memo and this is so ingrained in the system that administrators and school heads will wait for these rather than act on their own.” (Luz, 2008/2009) “No Memo, No Action” Self-legitimizes DepEd as a reform-oriented institution Continuity of textual production contradicts to the very idea of SBM A discourse of a centralized structure As a result of rigid hierarchical structures with limited resources, the effect of policies that require the surrender of authority is limited. Democratizing decision-making processes within a local school board that is configured to decide on a top-down approach. De facto adoption of SBM SBM is adopted through DepEd projects instead of a clear congressional legislation. Governance of Basic Education Act of 2001 (Republic Act No. 9155) was not formulated based on the lessons learned in TEEP and BEAM, but through EDCOM Report. RA 9155: A struggle between SBM and ‘centralist’ discourses WB’s TEEP RA 9155 School Level Budget allocation Division Level HR management Curriculum and Infra Dev’t National Level While it is within the DepEd’s intention to legitimize its efforts to let go of its authorities according to changing rules and discourse that favors school empowerment, the manner by which such legitimation is executed reaffirms DepEd’s acknowledgement of its concentrated authority over its lower levels. SBM in fragmented grounds DistrictLevel Director SBM is misconceived by some principals as a license to be ‘free as a bird’ against the division level’s control. Principals are incapable to manage the school on their own. SBM in fragmented grounds School Principal SBM is just another central office’s directive that should be complies so as not to receive unwanted sanctions. “Centralized policies worked before. Why can’t it work now?” Exacerbated by the DepEd’s prohibition on conducting personnel trainings outside the academic calendar, the articulation, deliberation and legitimation of SBM in the education reform discourse are being seriously shortchanged. Reflections for now The actions of various actors carrying SBM ideas can still struggle to push changes within the discourse, for as long as the legitimacy of such actors is recognized, and the ideas he transmitted receives consensual validation, while the manner by which he conveyed these ideas is coercive enough to be remembered and valued by others.