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CHAPTER 3 - Devolution And Administrative Reforms In PNG

In "Problems of Devolution of PNG Education" -by - Dr Gabriel Kulwaum, Adminstrator, Manus Province, PNG

  • Chapter 1 - Introduction - the Background; the Research; and the Arguments
  • Chapter 2 - PNG:  Colonialism and Development
  • Chapter 3 - Devolution And Administrative Reforms In PNG
  • Chapter 4 - Research Methodology:  the concept of devolution in PNG education in context of the colonial legacy
  • Chapter 5 - Problems of reform and the culture of bureaucracy in PNG
  • Chapter 6 - Unity, diversity and the problems of reform in PNG
  • Appendix 7 - list of participants and Appendix 9 - list of reports



In the previous chapter, I suggested that Papua New Guinea is a political construction, the unity of which was maintained prior to 1975 by the colonial powers through the operations of a highly centralised bureaucracy. Despite many attempts to move towards a decentralised and devolved system of governance after independence, PNG bureaucracy remains centralised. It has become clear that democratic reforms in PNG have had to filter through this entrenched structure. I have also suggested that the post-independence PNG politics have been dominated by debates about how power should be shared between different levels of government and bureaucracy. At issue have been the questions of how the imperatives of the nations cultural diversity and the need to maintain its political integrity can be reconciled; of what should be the nature of the relationship between PNG's central and regional levels of government; and of how the development of PNG's education system can respond to the contradictory demands of indigenisation on the one hand and western education on the other. I have argued that these questions need to be addressed within the framework of the colonial legacy that persists in PNG and the post-colonial future to which the nation aspires. The idea of devolution is embedded within the controversies that surround attempts to tackle these difficult questions.

From the very beginning of PNG political independence, the idea of devolution has been viewed as a way of ensuring both its fragile unity and the efficiency and effectiveness of its system of educational delivery. This balance between its democratic aspirations and bureaucratic reality has not been easy to achieve. The policy of devolution, while widely supported, has been difficult to implement. The focus here is on investigating some of the reasons for the problems of democratic reforms in PNG educational administration. Before that can be done, however, it is necessary to describe what this policy of devolution is and how it has been developed.

In this chapter, I begin with a general discussion of the concept of devolution. I suggest that the idea of devolution is a contested one, the meaning of which depends on the particular social, political, economic and educational contexts of its use. I analyse some of the justificatory arguments put forward in the literature in support of the idea of devolution. I argue that the meaning that is ascribed to the idea of devolution often depends on the justificatory scheme that is put forward in its support. I then look at some of the models of devolution as they have been attempted, particularly in Australia where each of the nation's states and territories has experimented with some kind of administrative reform around the rhetoric of devolution. The Australian literature is significant and relevant because PNG has borrowed many of its administrative ideas from Australia as part of a colonial legacy that still persists.

This discussion constitutes a background against which I discuss the development of policies of devolution and decentralisation in PNG public administration. I describe the political context in which these policies have emerged, and analyse the various debates and conflicts to which these policies have given rise. This discussion of PNG public administration and its policies of devolution and decentralisation provides the backdrop against which the policies of educational governance in PNG are discussed. This theoretical and historical overview also provides the theoretical framework within which the research conducted into the problems of devolution is reported and discussed in the later chapters.

The Concept of Devolution

Over the past twenty years, there has been a great deal of interest in the concept of devolution, not only among academic researchers but also among politicians and bureaucrats, and the general community. This interest is not confined to Western countries, but is also evident in many African and Asian countries, as well as in the newly independent "island states" in the Pacific, namely Fiji, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea (Bhindi, 1990). There have been numerous conferences and workshops on the topic, sponsored and conducted by both the public and private sectors within these countries, and by international agencies such as UNESCO and OECD. The issues relating to the notion and practices of devolution define a "new field" for research in public and educational administration.

The reasons for this interest are many. They include scholarly interest in devolution as an important political idea within democratic theory; the desire to understand the nature of political and administrative reforms; the need to identify and explain the problems confronting the implementation of these reforms; and the requirement to provide effective solutions to these problems and so on. In light of the global economic changes that now shape policy options at the national level, most countries have found it necessary to re-examine their administrative structures in order to deliver goods and services more effectively and efficiently. Many Third World countries, in debt to the international financial agencies, have had restructuring imposed upon them (Faraclas, 1995). Whatever the reasons, most of these restructurings have invoked the idea of devolution as a way of managing the administrative operations of the State (Kalam, 1992; Kim,1992; Mukwena, 1992).

However, while the idea of devolution is widely used, exactly what it means is often less clear. In many contexts, the term "devolution" is used interchangeably with the term "decentralisation", while on other occasions "devolution" is used to refer to a wider set of political considerations. Chapman (1992), for example, makes a clear distinction between devolution and decentralisation, referring to decentralisation as a style of management, while regarding devolution as a political idea that describes a mode of organising human activities and relationships. Devolution can thus be thought to be an end in itself, while decentralisation refers to the means devised to realise particular ends.

In the educational literature, the term "devolution" has been used variously to refer to a traditional form of administrative decentralisation (Conyers, 1984; Bray, 1983; Cheema and Rondinelli, 1981; Thompson, 1991), a new style of management (Duignan 1990), a set of procedures for decision making concerning the management of resources (Caldwell and Spinks, 1990), a way of involving the community in decision making (MacKenzie, 1990), corporate managerialism (Sturman, 1990), a form of social democracy (Chapman, 1990) and a political philosophy (Blackmore, 1990). These contrasting views raise the problem not only of the labels and definitions that are used to describe particular realities but also of the ideological perspectives that determine the focus of particular definitions.

The fact that the term "devolution" can be used to mean so many different things suggests that the meaning of the term can only be determined in the context of its use, and that its usage is highly contested. According to Forster (1985:1) the notions of devolution and "... participation and equity, are shown to be bound up with the notion of empowerment, that is, the process of gaining and exercising power over circumstances". A number of theorists, including Limerick (1995) and Blackmore (1995), argue that minimally devolution means some form of participation in decision-making. But the notion of local participation does not appear any clearer. As Rizvi (1995:18) maintains:

The concept of participation does not have a single meaning. Like many other social terms such as democracy, autonomy, and equality, it is a highly contested concept, having different meanings for people who hold different political perspectives. Shared meanings are only possible when there is a general agreement about the fundamental beliefs and values that people hold. It cannot therefore be assumed that policy documents use the term participation in a uniform and consistent manner. And even when they do provide clear definitions, it is possible to interpret them differently.

This observation raises a number of issues that are central to the semiotics of the term "devolution". While a semiotic analysis is beyond the scope of this work, it is nevertheless useful to ask: how do people develop a preference for a particular kind of usage; why do they subscribe to a particular understanding; and how does this understanding relate to their interests and to the issues of power and influence? Apple (1993) has pointed out that the meaning of key educational terms is always ideologically framed, and that a preference for a particular meaning demonstrates certain power relations at work. There is always a struggle over meaning of such words as "devolution" as people attempt to make their understanding popularly accepted.

While Apple's analysis is certainly valid, it is nevertheless possible to maintain that any review of the literature on "devolution" reveals that the term has been interpreted in two quite different ways: either as a political principle or as an administrative technique. Chapman's distinction between devolution and decentralisation serves to highlight these two contrasting perspectives. As a political principle, devolution is an idea which describes a particular way of organising social relations, of conceptualising the relationship between the individual and the state. In contrast, as an administrative technique, devolution is equated with decentralisation, and describes a set of procedures designed to implement policies. A bureaucratic plan of action can thus involve administrative devolution (equal decentralisation) without any necessary commitment to the political principle of devolution. Thus, the two differing perspectives on devolution--one stressing it as an end-in-itself and the other emphasising it as a means to realise given ends--are not necessarily co-extensive. A highly autocratic society can subscribe to techniques of administrative devolution in order to implement policies effectively and efficiently without any necessary moral commitment to an idea of political devolution which is more expressive of democratic intentions. It will become clearer later in this book that a challenge currently facing PNG education is to devise procedures of administrative decentralisation within the framework of a commitment to the political principle of devolution. At issue is the question of what kind of devolution remains a realisable possibility in PNG at the time when the nation's policy options have become constrained by a range of economic and political imperatives.

As I have already pointed out, minimally, the concept of devolution refers to some form of popular participation in decision-making. Pateman (1970:68) has argued that the idea of participation can be used "to cover almost any situation where some minimal amount of interaction takes place, often implying little more than that a particular individual was present at a group activity". Pateman distinguishes three forms of participation. She refers to the first form as psuedo-participation, which suggests that the top managers in the organisation make decisions while the workers and clients are manipulated and persuaded using special techniques to accept and feel as if that they have contributed to the decisions which had already been made by the management. The second form is partial participation which means that the actual powers and authority to make decisions rest with the management, but the workers are permitted to influence the decisions without any guarantee that their views will be taken into account. The third form is full participation which suggests that in decision making processes, all organisational members have equal power to determine the outcomes.

Parry (1980) contends that the fact that participation in decision-making is sometimes a contentious issue, and on other occasions not, suggests that much depends on the subject of the decision-making. He argues that the term participation is non-controversial when it simply means taking part in making a decision which is relatively trivial or when the decision has already been made elsewhere, or when power and resources are not the issues. But the idea of participation in decision-making becomes highly contested when the nature of participation is political and when the issue of the distribution of resources is being considered. But since most public policies are concerned with these matters, participation in them is likely to be highly contested.

While it is clearly desirable for people to participate in decision-making, Parry (1980) suggests that the inevitably political nature of participation in decision-making raises a number of difficult questions: how should people participate in policy decisions? Who should participate in decision-making and to what extent? At what stages of decision-making should they participate? And how do these various inputs affect the quality of decisions? Parry discusses these conceptual and practical difficulties around three distinct categories: the "mode of participation", the "intensity of participation", and the "quality of participation".

In relation to the mode of participation, Parry (1980) maintains that any discussion of participation requires attention to the question of the opportunities that exist for taking part in decision-making. Without genuine opportunities, people are denied access to decision-making in any meaningful way. Opportunities for participation are also limited when they are dictated to, controlled or restricted by, institutional arrangements that reflect unequal power relationships. Pitkin & Schumacher (1982:43) argue:

The opportunities available to each and the limits on private freedom to pursue personal goals are set by social conditions, which are humanely produced and sustained, yet not in our control.

Of course, people's apathy can also limit their participation in decision-making, but as Pitkin and Schumacher (1982:43) argue, apathy is not a natural state--it is often caused by the lack of conducive environments or relevant knowledge and skills. While it is true that the complexity of public policy demands that decision-makers need to have specialised knowledge to make sound decisions, it is not their lack of knowledge that prevents people from playing a part in decision-making, but the lack of political resources. Insufficient resources can act as a constraint to participation, leading to frustration, and thus contributing to the development of apathetic attitudes towards participation among the people.

Parry (1980) maintains that the lack of commitment to democratic values frustrates the organisation of a caring, participative, and collective community. The absence of these values dictates the formation of social institutions and relationships that discourage people from taking part in decision-making on matters which affect their livelihood. According to Parry (1980:5), the possibilities of people's participation are determined:

... according to the opportunities, institutionalised or informally available, the interests and political resources of the participant, and attitudes prevalent in the society.

The questions arise, then: at what stage of decision-making should people be involved? And at which of these stages is participation most meaningful, both in terms of the decision to be made and in terms of participation's educational role? Should participants be involved in mobilising political support, devising strategies, implementing decisions or evaluating and reviewing these decisions? Who should participate, what kind of decisions should they participate in and to what extent? These questions relate to Parry's second category of issues surrounding participation: the "intensity of participation".

While there are good grounds for encouraging the entire population to take part in the making of all the decisions that affect them, this is not always feasible. The concept of "mass participation" is impractical due to logistics and costs, and to the complexities of some of the problems that need to be solved through public policy. In general, some form of representative system is more appropriate whereby key decisions are made, not by the masses, but by the representatives who are elected by the masses. Parry (1980) suggests that the question of which issues are best handled by mass input and which by elected representatives is an open one. There are also many decisions that require experts who have specialised knowledge and skills on the decisions to be made. However, the question of who is involved in the decision-making has to be separated from that of who is held accountable for the decisions made. All these issues are related to the third dimension of this problem, which is the quality of participation.

The quality of participation is arguably determined by two criteria: first, whether participation is effective or ineffective; and second, whether participation is real or symbolic. It is always difficult to measure the effectiveness of participation of the general population, their elected representatives or the technical experts who might have contributed to the making of decisions, because ultimately the decisions may have not been determined by these participants but perhaps by a dominant group. A particular group, or individual, may exercise an inordinate amount of power, not only in organising the mechanisms of participation, but also in ultimately perhaps ignoring the wishes of the people, their representatives, or even the technical experts. Effectiveness can also depend on a range of other unknown factors. In any decision-making the input by the participants whether formal or informal is negotiated and settled. Thus decision-making is dynamic, because it is dictated by conflicting social, economic and political factors.

The other issue that relates to the quality of participation has to do with whether participation is real or simply symbolic. Participation is merely symbolic when the key decisions have already been determined by the bureaucracy or by a dominant group. The structure and mode of participation may already predispose the decision-making processes towards certain kinds of decisions. The processes of decision-making could be manipulated to legitimise certain outcomes. In such cases while the input of the participants may be genuine, the outcomes can be beyond their control.

Purposes of Participation

What the above discussion of the mode, intensity, and quality of participation suggests is that these issues cannot be settled apart from the question of the purposes of participation. It is only in terms of the reasons we give for valuing participation in the first place that we can determine the mode and intensity of participation that might be appropriate and preferred. We cannot judge in any a priori manner the quality of participation unless we have a clear view of why we consider participation to be important. As Parry (1980:17-18) argues:

Crucial theoretical differences have arisen over the purposes of participation, and the modes, intensity, and quality of participation are closely related to its purposes. Why, and to what extent, is participation desirable.

It is to the question of the purposes of participation, and by implication, devolution, to which I now turn.

The literature on administrative and democratic theories (for a review, see Pateman, 1970; Held, 1987; Burnheim, 1989) indicates that there are numerous reasons for promoting participation. These reasons are embedded in the wider metaphysical, ethical and political and pragmatic stances adopted by the theorists. Political theorists have employed a wide variety of classifications for these reasons. For example, Pennock (1979:438-469) summarises the work of recent theorists, categorising the reasons put forward in favour of participation under four main headings:

responsiveness: participation should improve governmental output by increasing flows of information and enabling a more flexible response to needs;

legitimacy: participation should make governmental output more acceptable to the governed;

personal development: individuals may achieve their full moral and intellectual development only when they have some responsibility for matters which affect them;

overcoming alienation: participation should bring individuals together and thus enable them to understand more clearly the collective purposes of society.

In contrast, Parry (1980) discusses these justifications for participation under two main categories of theories: instrumental theories and developmental theories. His conceptual framework has proved useful for my study and thus will guide the discussions on the nature and models of devolution that follow. It should be noted however that the categories--instrumental and developmental--are not mutually exclusive, but provide an analytical schema with which to describe the debates surrounding the purposes of participation.

According to the instrumental theories, participation in decision-making is best viewed as the "means" to achieve some greater "ends". It is an enabling strategy--action plan or a set of procedures--that has been devised to implement a broader political principle or an administrative purpose. Participation should not be seen an end in itself. The "ends" may be those relating to the effective and efficient delivery of goods and services or to the realisation of values and principles such as freedom, equity, social justice and rights. Parry (1980:18-19) argues:

Instrumental theories treat political participation as a means to some more restricted end such as the better defence of individual or group interests ... Instrumental theories have defended or demanded broader political participation as a means to a number of purposes ... it is only by participating that men can ensure that their interests are defended and promoted.

The developmental theories, on the other hand, suggest that political participation may be viewed not as a means but as an end in itself. The purpose of political participation in decision-making has not only to do with efficiency and effectiveness but more significantly with the creation of an educated and participatory community. Rizvi (1993:2) argues that participation may be seen as "a moral principle for organising social life". As such, it has two main purposes: first it is concerned with the creation of a "better" human society, and second it aims to mould a "democratic" citizen. Rizvi (1995:20) maintains:

organisational relations should be equal, reciprocal, and whenever possible direct and many sided, unmediated by representatives, leaders, bureaucrats and institutions, or by organisational codes or abstract rules. It highlights the distinctive principles of caring and sharing in a community where participatory structures facilitate a sense of common culture and citizenry.

Although the instrumental and the developmental views of participation highlight different aspects of decision-making, and so dictate different approaches to the issues of mode, intensity and quality, they share a number of underlying assumptions. First, they assume that the notion of the individual person and his or her rights, security and protection, are of paramount importance to the community. That is, the existence and survival of the community depends on the success of individuals. This principle advocates the right of individuals to make decisions about issues which affect their lives. Individuals know best what each wants and therefore should decide their own destiny without, or with only limited, interference from the government and its bureaucracy. This is because in recent years there has been so much red tape and dominance by the bureaucracies that they have limited the individual's choice and participation in decision-making. Parry (1980:19) contends:

It is possible to discern four principles underlying this instrumental approach to political participation. In first place the individual is seen to be the best judge of his own interests. The individual is self-determining with the capacity to make choices and it is presumed that he has, or ought to have, the opportunity to exercise his choices in an informed manner and without any coercion other than necessary in order to allow others the same freedom. As adult responsible moral agents all men are capable of participating in the formulation and amendment of the rules by which they are governed. Since, moreover, all men are presumed to be equally capable of political activity there is no good reason why government should be left in the hands of those who have not been authorised by some form of political act--though this act might amount merely to tacit consent. Since no man has natural authority over fellow, and force creates no right, we must conclude that conventions form the basis of all legitimate among men, and these conventions are the outcome of political activity and can only be maintained and renewed by political participants.

Second, it is assumed that political participation in decision-making by those affected by decisions would enable governments and organisations to secure co-operation from those who would be affected by the decisions. Such participants would be able to provide the kind of information required by the decision-makers to make sound decisions which would most likely be responsive to the participants' needs and the needs of their communities. It is also assumed that this would bring the government and its bureaucracy more in touch with what is happening at the locus of action. Arguably, this would require the government and its bureaucracy "to have greater consultation with the participants", and in so doing, to invite all key participants to reach consensus. Participation in decision-making is not only essential for ensuring that the government communicates its policies, but it is also significant for assessing implementation and receiving feedback. It is therefore suggested that participation in decision-making is a key strategy in achieving co-operation and in being responsive to the needs of the local communities. Parry (1980:21) suggests:

The principle was wanted by theorists on the grounds that it kept the government in touch with the interests and attitudes of the local population and ensured that the government was adapted to local needs. In addition it diffused authority throughout the ranks of the population instead of reserving it entirely to the control of government and its officials.

Third, Parry (1980:2) suggests that "all men have the rights to participate in politics in order to defend their interests". Participation in decision-making is an inalienable right which cannot be denied. Humans are rational beings who should be capable of deciding their destiny and therefore should be left alone to make their own decisions. Within liberal democratic theory, unless the participants give others the mandate to make decisions on their behalf, interference would be considered a violation of this natural right. Without opportunities to exercise this right, the government loses its claim to legitimacy. Unless the participants take part in the decisions which affect their livelihood, what the government might do may not be recognised and respected by its people. Liberal argumentative theories warn Governments against becoming too powerful in deciding what they might assume their citizens want, rather than finding out what they actually require.

What this brief discussion of the purposes of participation has shown is that there are a range of strong theoretical arguments in favour of the principle of participation, and by implication, also devolution. However, while these arguments have strong moral and philosophical bases, they do not explain why governments in recent years have in fact been prepared to promote the idea of devolution. What have been their motivations in supporting calls for greater democracy, since that would mean conceding some of their own powers? It has to be recognised that governments are not always devoid of commitment to moral and political principles. However, it is equally true that governments have also seen devolution as a possible response to a range of pressures and problems which they confront. Indeed, it is no coincidence that governments around the world have been prepared to experiment with forms of devolution, since they have confronted similar problems of legitimacy and complexity of the tasks they are asked to perform. These pressures for devolution will be considered in the following section.

Pressures Towards Devolution

No new policy initiative exists in a vacuum. Policy initiatives have particular historical origins and are often proposed and articulated in response to mounting pressures which come from the community or from within the government itself. Such pressures are channelled through the state bureaucracy, eventually acquiring the form of policies designed to satisfy conflicting demands. Thus, devolution, both as a political idea and as an administrative strategy, has become a policy in, for example, Australian education, because of factors which are confined not only to specific educational contexts but which also relate to the wider social and political contexts.

A review of the Australian literature (Boyd and Smart,1987; Ross,1989; Chapman, 1990; Burke, 1992; Burke, 1993) suggests that the moves towards the policy of devolution in Australian education came about as a result of a range of political pressures. These pressures did not originate from within the education system but rather originated from the wider context outside it. As Seddon et al. (1990:29) have argued: "[the] economic, political, social, and cultural pressures have contributed to the use of school-based decision and management as an administrative strategy in education". But what are these pressures and why have they led governments to accept devolution both as a political idea and an administrative design?

Perhaps the most significant of these pressures has been a growing dissatisfaction with the extensive powers of the State and its bureaucracy. Critics of bureaucracy have come from both the left and the right of politics. The State and its bureaucracy have been criticised for too much red tape, for acting in their own interests and for concentrating powers at the centre. It has also been alleged that the State has become too powerful, making decisions on behalf of others in ever-increasing areas of public life, and unnecessarily interfering with people's private lives and violating their individual rights. It has been argued that bureaucracies have increasingly acted against moves to ensure greater participation in decision-making; against the protection and the security of individual rights and freedoms; and against the up-holding of human dignity. Perhaps protests against the State and its bureaucratic apparatus have been pressured reluctantly to accept modes of participation, consultation, negotiation, and collaboration in decision-making processes. But protest alone has not been sufficient: the State has viewed devolution as a way of responding to some of the problems that it finds increasingly difficult to manage. These problems are linked to a range of economic, administrative and professional factors.

In recent years, the scarcity of resources, combined with perceptions of inefficient and ineffective utilisation, has acted as a strong pressure for the policy of devolution as the only course of action available to rectify this problem. In PNG, it is claimed not only that the nation's economy has encountered shortage of capital, manpower, materials and equipment, but also that its central bureaucracy has not used its resources effectively to implement government policies and programs and so realise the nation's developmental objectives. In the light of the perception that resources are not being utilised effectively to bring about maximum benefits, the State has been pressured into reassessing not only its policies, but also its delivery system.

It has been argued that both the scarcity of resources and ineffective utilisation contribute to the non-delivery of goods and services to communities and possibly a loss of legitimacy for the government in power. Therefore the demands for efficient and effective utilisation of resources on the one hand and the need to re-establish the government's legitimacy on the other, has led many governments to suggest devolution as an alternative to the centralised systems of policy development, implementation and evaluation. But against this thinking, the notion of devolution is being rearticulated in economic terms, as a possible solution to address economic problems which often relate to scarcity of resources such as finance, facilities and manpower, rather than to the problem of delivery.

There has been a growing dissatisfaction with the way central bureaucracy relates to the public. It has been argued that bureaucracies communicate with the public on the basis of role definitions, in impersonal, rather than in interpersonal, ways. These relationships are regulated by rules, regulations and procedures rather than by commitment to the people. Such relationships suppress open dialogue, consultation, and negotiation which are considered to be desirable democratic values. Devolution has been viewed as one way of overcoming some of these negative perceptions of bureaucracies. Devolutionary reforms, it is suggested, would facilitate personal communications and interactions, improving the relationships between bureaucracies and the public they are meant to serve.

Other pressures contributing to devolution have been widely held perceptions in PNG concerning excesses of professionalism. Those people who belong to professions--such as doctors and lawyers--often assume they possess knowledge and training that makes them uniquely placed to make most of the decisions in their field. They assume that the community members outside these specialised professions are not capable of making decisions on the issues which affect them. This appeal to privilege often does not adequately theorise the role people can play in decision-making. In the interests of efficiency and effectiveness professionals demand that the decision-making should not be centralised in the hands of people who are not qualified to make these types of decisions. Increasingly it is these professionals in PNG who seek to ensure that structures be created so that only their input is taken into account in the decision-making processes. However, while such appeal to expertise may be justifiable in medicine and engineering, its relevance in educational governance is highly dubious. In PNG, as in most other countries, the argument concerning professionalism has been subjected to considerable debate, with a view emerging that the community has a major role to play in educational decision-making because education is a field which is not simply technical, but also defined by a range of moral and cultural concerns. It is this realisation that has led to the development of various models of devolution which are based on different assumptions concerning the role of the community within educational decision-making processes. In what follows I discuss four different models of devolution which have been tried, not only in education but also in public administration in various Australian states and elsewhere, and which prescribe differing roles for the community, and differing views of the nature of the relationship between members of the community and the professional bureaucracy.

Models of Devolution

A review of the relevant literature in education suggests that there are numerous models of devolution which have emerged and been implemented over the last twenty years. These models are in part informed and framed by the justificatory arguments put forward by different proponents of devolution, and consequently the characteristics of these models are the reflection of various interpretations of the nature of education. Based on an analysis of the Australian content by Rizvi (1993), I suggest that these models could be categorised into four main groups: the decentralisation model, the social democratic model, the corporate managerialist model, and the market model.

Organisational theorists such as Rondinelli (1981:137-139), Faltas (1982:2-5), Conyers (1987) and Bray (1987) view devolution as decentralisation and describe the decentralisation model as an administrative strategy--as an administrative design which serves to achieve the goals and objectives of the organisation. Devolution is thus conceptualised as a means to attain particular ends. It is believed to facilitate the achievement of goals in education, as well as in other public policy sectors. In the context of Third World countries, the decentralisation model has three main significant and distinctive features.

First, Rondinelli (1981) argues that as an administrative strategy, devolution is best viewed as the extension of the arms of central authorities, through which the centre establishes the administrative field units at the locus of action. However such practice only "deconcentrates" administrative responsibilities and thus continues to maintain centralised decision-making power. The institution of administrative units and officers only serves to implement at the provincial and local (village) levels policy-decisions which are made by authorities and officers at the central level. The field officers in the provinces do not have the legal powers and authority to make policy decisions. Instead, they receive instructions from the top, and can only make and implement decisions already made; all policy matters are referred to higher authorities for decisions. Local officers often operate with a fundamental distinction between operation and policy, and see their powers as being confined only to operational matters.

Second, Rondinelli (1981) contends that the decentralisation model thus implies that legislative and legal powers belong to the central authorities; and that these powers could only be delegated to provincial authorities which are mainly either autonomous or semi-autonomous bodies. It suggests that these powers could only be exercised in line with the policies, procedures and general guidelines as laid down by the national authorities and their agencies. The same powers could be withdrawn if the conditions laid down for exercising these powers are not met or if the powers are abused. Under this arrangement the power to make policy decisions still belongs to the national authorities, and provincial and local authorities are established only to implement such powers as might be devolved.

The third feature of this model maintains that the legal powers, authority, and functional responsibilities are devolved and invested in the hands of officers at the provincial and local levels. The officers are thus expected to work for the community, but only to extend what their essentially prescribed powers allow. Often the officers find themselves in a bind to support and implement central decisions which they know will have negative effects on the community or to which the community objects. In terms of these arrangements, the actual powers to make decisions which affect the lives of the people at the grass-roots level are not devolved to the members of community, but are in the hands of the local officers.

While the original intention of the decentralisation model might have been to enable members of the community to participate in decision-making, the decisions are actually being made by a few decision-makers, often with little knowledge of local circumstances. There is thus no real shift in power, and the policy rhetoric of devolution is merely symbolic.

In contrast, the social democratic model demands a real shift in power to the people in the making of the decisions that affect their lives. According to Rizvi (1993), the social democratic model emerged in Australia in the early seventies after the publication of the Karmel Report (1973). In those optimistic days, education was believed to be a major vehicle for the creation of a better community through the formation of shared social ideals and a sense of a shared common culture. The social democratic view is based on a recognition of the potential for cooperation all human beings have. Within this framework, the goal of schooling is to create an educated and participatory citizenry who define their interests in terms of the social relationships that bind the community and individuals together.

Rizvi (1993) argues that the social democratic view is based on two main criticisms of social relations in "modern" society. It suggests that a large "modern" society is far too complex, and that it has become too impersonal and remote from the interests of the individual. Its institutions are too bureaucratic and hierarchical and consequently insensitive and irresponsive to the needs of its members. Second, people have become alienated from the society, and they lack feelings of community and social cohesion. Social relationships are now regulated and governed by policies, rules and procedures, rather than by personal encounters. Politics has become remote from most people's lives. People have lost the opportunities to decide collectively what is best for them, and are left feeling powerless; and the State has lost the benefits derived from the utilisation of their creative energy.

The social democratic model of devolution thus proposes the widest possible opportunities for people to engage in the processes of decision-making. It suggests that new structures of participation are needed to give people the power to have a real say in the matters that affect their lives. Devolution is thus assumed to be necessary to ensure the creation of caring participatory communities based on democratic values, and social relationships that are personal and reciprocal.

The social democratic model also stresses the educative potential of devolution. It is argued that direct participation in decision-making will enrich not only the cultural experience of those involved, but also their education, making them more confident in democratic practices. It will help them to realise their full potential through the processes of sharing and learning, to secure their dignity, self-respect and freedom. Such qualities cannot be preserved if the decisions are made by someone other than the individuals concerned. In short, the social democratic model sees "devolution" as not simply a decision making system, but also as "a moral principle for organising social life" (Rizvi, 1993:2).

A major criticism of the social democratic model relates to the possibility that it is unworkable in complex societies and it is based on a very optimistic view of human nature. It is also suggested that while human and social development may be a by-product of decision-making processes, it cannot be its central aspect.

The corporate managerialist model seeks to overcome the criticisms of both the decentralisation and social democratic models. It is based on the assumption that real power can be transferred to the people affected by the decision without sacrificing efficiency and effectiveness.

The corporate managerialist model of devolution is about efficiency and effectiveness in an organisation. It is concerned with a range of issues, including the overall objectives of that organisation; the most appropriate plans of action or strategies to achieve the goals of that organisation in a specified time; the functional responsibilities of respective sections; the job relationships of the officers concerned; the lines of command and authority (communication); and the procedures involved in the execution of the respective responsibilities and tasks. Its emphasis is on the coordination of various parts of the organisation within a framework of a concern for the most efficient and effective use of limited resources.

The corporate managerialist model relates to the scarcity of resources (funds, manpower, physical facilities, etc), and how these resources should be utilised to obtain maximum outputs. This idea is based on investing fewer resources and obtaining maximum benefits from such investment. A major criticism of the corporate managerialist model has been, however, that it has downplayed the significance of cultural values and social concerns and instead emphasised the values of efficiency and effectiveness. It is more concerned with organisational performances rather than with people and their values. In many ways it represents a return to the scientific management principles which are arguably incompatible with social democratic ideals and principles which are so central to education (Watkins, 1995).

While at the rhetorical level, the corporate managerialist model has highlighted collective organisational values, it has also lent itself to market liberalism. Thus a market model of devolution has emerged. The market view of devolution is about the rights, protection and security, of individuals. It is based on the assumption that the notion of the individual person is of paramount importance. This model (see Chubb and Moe, 1990) advocates the right of individuals to make decisions about issues which affect their lives. It is thought that individuals know best what they want and therefore should decide their own destiny without, or with limited interference from, the State. Individuals are responsible for controlling their lives and accountable for their own actions. This is because there is so much bureaucratic red-tape and dominance by the bureaucracy which has limited individuals' choices and participation in decision-making.

In many ways the market view of devolution has hijacked the social democratic language with its attempts to legitimise what appears, in the final analysis, to be the politics of self-interest. The model accommodates the notions of freedom and the rights of individuals as used by the proponents of the social democratic view, yet overlooks the importance that social democracy attaches to the values of communitarianism and collectivity. In other words, the notions of rights, freedom, participation and involvement in decision-making are associated with individuals rather than with the community and communal management of life and existence.

Experiences of Devolution in Australia

As already suggested, debates surrounding the idea of devolution in PNG educational administration have been fierce, with most of the arguments revolving around the four theoretical models of devolution outlined above. However, the arguments concerning devolution in PNG have not only been based on the theoretical arguments considered above--they have also been affected by various and specific developments in Australian education. This is so not only because of PNG's colonial legacy, but also because Australia continues to be a key aid donor to PNG, and a supplier, through AIDAB (now AusAID), of most of the technical policy advice upon which various options with PNG are considered. It is relevant therefore to consider how Australian state education authorities have approached the issue of devolution over the past two decades or so.

The experiences in Australia shows that many of the administrative reforms in education have been based on the four models of devolution as outlined above. Indeed, in some instances, they work simultaneously in education. Various Australian authorities have sought to establish a range of practices in educational governance that are at once democratic and efficient and effective. However, there are a number of general points that may be made about Australian experiences.

First, while it can be argued that different models of devolution are at work simultaneously, there are differences in the extent to which, and the manner in which, each view is being translated and institutionalised at different levels in different States. That is, the degree in which each view is translated into practice differs from one State to another. For instance, during the Labor period, the State of Victoria was more progressive in terms of translating and implementing social democratic views, compared to either New South Wales or Queensland. In the latter States, although initial efforts have commenced, their differing histories ensure that they remained relatively centralised. The States of Queensland and New South Wales are more sympathetic towards the corporate management and market views of devolution respectively.

Second, the extent to which different views are translated and realised appears to depend on the different social, political and economic contexts of each State. To put it differently, these different political and economic contexts determine the extent to which each States appear to favour one model over another. For instance, the political leaderships in Victoria, particularly under Labor, seemed genuinely sympathetic to and serious about translating the social democratic view into policies and practices. Its Ministerial Papers (1984) outlined a genuine commitment to giving local school and communities a real say in educational decision-making. The extent to which the Ministerial Papers were implemented remains a moot point, especially in light of succeeding documents on educational governance that favoured a more corporate approach to educational administration (Chapman, 1990). In Queensland under the Goss Government, the social democratic view appears more rhetorical than actual (Burke, 1993). The experience of Queensland shows that it does not matter whether it is the Labor Party or Liberal-National Party in Government, commitment to a particular view of devolution seems to depend on a range of highly localised political considerations and the particular history of the Department of Education.

Third, in different States, different interests and factional groups, whether business groups, Teacher Unions or political parties, play a major part in the State's commitment to different constructions of devolution. The types of reactions and responses seem to depend on how they expect to gain some benefit from a particular arrangement. In other words, their reactions are determined and dictated by their interests. For instance, the principals in Queensland Schools reacted bitterly to the assumptions underlying the social democratic model of devolution (Burke, 1993). In Victoria, by way of contrast, many school principals appeared more sympathetic towards the social democratic model of devolution.

Finally, many of the social democratic reforms which were being attempted in various States in Australia appear to have given way in the 1990s to more corporate and market views. So much so that a significant trend towards the corporate managerialist and market models of devolution can be said to have become dominant. Such approaches are particularly popular with political leaders, emerging administrative elites and business people concerned with what they regard as the excesses of the welfare State. On the one hand, unions and other teacher and parent organisations have found it difficult to defend the social democratic conception. Their views appear more defensive when compared with the corporate managerialist and market configurations.

The social democratic view has been criticised not only at a national level, but also at each of the State levels, for being utopian and unworkable. Not only politicians, but also many public servants, management professionals, school principals and teachers have in recent years sought to undermine the social democratic rhetoric. These criticisms are of course offered for different reasons, and are linked to various interests.

Based on these trends, it is reasonable to assume that a social democratic rhetoric is unlikely to find favour in PNG, despite PNG's particular political needs. Given that reforms proposed in PNG are often based on advice from overseas consultants, it is likely that PNG's administrative elite will be swayed by their arguments, especially when they are presented as conditions for aid and loans. Within such a complex of factors, corporate managerial and market views of devolution are likely to provide the framework principle for reforms, both in the public and private sectors of management in PNG. The extent to which this is so is a major question that this work attempts to answer.

The hypothesis I want to explore relates to the nature of reforms based on corporate managerialism and a market economy in Australia and their implication for reforms in PNG education in the direction of devolution. This is because of the persistence of colonialism in PNG through the strong historical ties between PNG and Australia and the high level of PNG's economic dependence on multi-national corporations and aid donors, in particular Australia. I suggest that through certain new forms of colonial practices there is now a global transfer of cultural knowledge, skills and attitudes from one country to another and that to understand many of the problems of devolution in PNG one must examine the way colonialism works in PNG educational administration.

Devolution and Public Administration in PNG

The major hypothesis of this book is that any democratic reforms which have been attempted in PNG have mostly been mediated by colonialism, its legacies and its "new expressions". Colonialism has served to dictate the politics of these reforms, and to define its nature and its scope. Therefore since PNG independence the reforms which have taken place have not only been difficult to formulate, but difficult to implement. The recent history of implementation processes is marked by a series of dilemmas, tensions and conflicts.

The main impulse behind democratic reforms in PNG public administration can be defined as a reaction to colonialism and an attempt to assert the nation's independence. It has also been a response to western notions of development: how foreign ideas and practices of development should be resisted is central to PNG's sense of its own post coloniality. It is an attempt to reach a political settlement between conflicting policy issues and practices and in particular to decide on an alternative public administration appropriate to "PNG Way". It is this complex policy, together with PNG's colonial legacy, that have dictated the terms of the debates around the notion of devolution in PNG. It is important therefore to examine the debates in their specific settings and how they have informed the development of a system of PNG public administration.

As I have pointed out, colonialism has had significant social, political, economic and cultural impact on PNG--its people and their way of life. John Momis (1974:1), a founding father of the PNG Constitution and key proponent of decentralisation and devolution, argues:

... colonial rule has had an important impact upon the character and the life style of our people. It placed new requirements upon them. It ignored, opposed or sought to alter our traditional forms of social organisation without proper consultation with our people. It deprived us of our self-government and even of self-respect.

At Papua New Guinea independence the Somare Government recognised the importance of "developing" the new nation in a "PNG Way". It insisted that the development process must give recognition to the PNG life style and its diverse and unique cultural values and practices. In the pre-independence period most of these values were suppressed. They were not accommodated by expatriate policy advisers who were responsible for the most of the planning and development processes.

The post-independence political aspirations of Somare's Government are documented in PNG Government Eight Point Plan (see Appendix 1). The Plan suggests that policy objectives encourage economic growth in order to create more productive work for Papua New Guineans. It encourages sustained development based on planning and investing for the long term. It calls for PNG to become increasingly self-reliant. And it also advocates equality and participation by all Papua New Guineans in the country's development. These post-independence policy intentions have continued to inform the subsequent national development plans. These aspirations are also proposed in the PNG National Constitution which aims to preserve the "PNG Way". It suggests that PNG's cultural values should be realised through its own social institutions and organisations. It is expected that any development taking place in PNG should not only reflect "PNG Ways", but also be relevant and thus appropriate to the life-style of the indigenous people.

However, in terms of specific policies and programs, while it was considered desirable to preserve the "PNG Way", it has been very difficult to decide what are in fact the appropriate PNG Ways that are nationally acceptable to the existing diverse cultures and regional groups. It has also been widely recognised that most post-independence developmental policies have been contradictory because while on one hand they have attempted to institutionalise a suitable form of development to be achieved by PNG's indigenous social institutions; on the other hand the nation has advocated for economic development reasons, that development be implemented through western institutions and infrastructures which are directly and indirectly linked to western capitalist economies supported by the multi-national corporations and aid donors, in particular Australia. So while PNG has attempted to achieve its post-independence developmental aspirations through its local social and political institutions, these efforts have had to be mediated through the nation's reliance on a western capitalist economy--its institutions and infrastructures. Within this framework, the Bigmen have been the key players in implementing the post-independence PNG development agenda. Their views of development and how those views should be realised have been framed by the training they received under expatriates who worked in the PNG public service and the professional training and formal education they have received in western schools and institutions.

At independence, Papua New Guinea as a political entity pledged to maintain its integrity. This could not be achieved without reliance on national unity. At that time it was argued that national unity and political stability were necessary pre-conditions to achieve most of PNG's post-independence development aspirations. It was thought that without unity and stability the development process would be hindered, and that "PNG Ways" would become difficult to realise. However, it also assumed that unity and stability could not be achieved by any other approach except through that which relied on the specific expertise held by the central authorities: PNG could not remain an integrated nation without its highly centralised bureaucracy. As a request, many of the autonomous communities were forced to surrender their traditional ways in order to realise the goal of "PNG Ways". Not surprisingly, many of these communities in the regions became heavily dependent on the centre to provide needed goods and services. It is this dilemma between diversity and unity that has framed and dictated the relationship between the centre and the periphery in PNG. The nature of this relationship has been defined in terms of a political expediency designed to sustain political unity and stability in PNG. The form of public administration believed to be appropriate has been determined by the significance that PNG political leaders have attached to the maintenance of PNG as a unified nation.

However, it is interesting to note that these post-colonial aspirations of unity have also paradoxically stressed the value of diversity--the richness of provincial and regional cultural diversities. In PNG post-colonial thinking everyone in PNG is expected to maintain the idea of political unity, even though it might mean conformity. As such the provinces would be expected to surrender and submit to the requirements of the single PNG government. Within the framework of this overall ideal, regions are expected to uphold their cultural diversities. It is this control within the framework of which the policy of devolution and decentralisation has not only been developed, but has also determined the structure of public administration in PNG. Those given the tasks of implementing devolutionary reforms have had to negotiate this paradox. This has been particularly challenging especially for those implementing agencies and officers who are charged with negotiating and reaching settlement on the way in which local practices and traditions are to be reconciled with national imperatives (Pokawin, 1992).

The issue of PNG unity set against provincial and regional cultural diversities has caused tensions over issues of development. On one hand, the centre has wished to maintain certain powers over development policies, while on the other, the provinces have wanted to hold onto the powers to make decisions on matters which directly affect their livelihood, and their development. Momis (1978:8-9), Chairman of PNG Constitutional Planning Committee, had argued that:

True democracy will not work until our people in every village and hamlet accept that they cannot be freed from and independent unless they actually say something and take action about what should happen to their own lives and those of the people of our country.

Yet the voice of the people has often been silenced by central policies designed to achieve "development" in a uniform way, against a centralised definition of what "PNG Ways" are. There are many grey areas which exist between the national and provincial authorities on which struggle is mostly asymetrical, with central authorities getting their way on most occasions.

At independence, while PNG political leaders recognised the importance of transferring a great deal of power to the regions and villages, they also acknowledged the necessity of bureaucracy with the power to make decisions on significant development issues. It was also thought that such a bureaucratic arrangement would serve another useful purpose, which was to provide control of what happened in the field, in terms of efficient and effective delivery of goods and services to the people. The bureaucracy was to become an effective vehicle through which development could be realised, especially in terms of infrastructures such as roads and transport, that linked various parts of the nation, enabling natural resources to be exploited so that community needs could be met. This western mode of thinking ensured that the centralised bureaucracy which the Australian government had instituted during its century of colonial rule was preserved.

Yet while the centralised bureaucracy was required to maintain national unity and achieve development, it was at the same time criticised for being too remote from the people. It was thought that the central administration was mostly insensitive and thus irresponsive to what was happening at the local field of action. It was also alleged that the policy decisions which were solely made at the centre did not accommodate input from the people at community level, and as a result, the policies made were often deemed by the people at community level to be irrelevant. In other cases, the decisions made at the centre were not communicated effectively, while often the feedback on the implementation of particular policies was not considered by the centre. It was also alleged that evaluations were not effectively done, since the people who were supposed to benefit from these policies were not given an opportunity to comment on their effectiveness.

In response to these operational problems, the PNG government repeatedly proposed a bureaucracy that would be more responsive and sensitive to the needs of the people. It called for a type of bureaucracy which is less hierarchical and more flexible, more sensitive and responsive to the problems of local communities. It also advocated maximum participation in decision-making by the people who have been previously denied this opportunity. It has been suggested that the people in the community should be actively involved at all stages of decision-making processes.

While the PNG government has proposed responsive bureaucracy and maximum opportunities to engage in decision-making, it has not taken any serious measures to restructure the bureaucracy so that such goals might be realised. As a result, there are conflicting expectations of what the bureaucracy should do. On one hand, it is expected to maintain national unity and political stability through centralisation of powers, while on the other hand, it is expected to be responsive and sensitive to the local community, which is often more loyal to local traditions than to national imperatives. The bureaucracy is also expected to be more flexible and less hierarchical in order to provide opportunities for open dialogue, consultation, negotiation and maximum participation in decision-making, and yet at the same time it is expected to ensure efficient and effective delivery of services.

The development of the policy of devolution in PNG public administration have emerged out of this complex situation. Not surprisingly therefore, the commitment to devolution in PNG varies greatly. For some people, devolution is highly desirable, while for others it is merely rhetoric--an unworkable idea for a nation as complex as PNG. Others are sceptical for other reasons. Views of devolution in PNG public administration often depend on what purposes it is thought to achieve. Different justifications frame what people perceive it to be and how it should be best implemented. It is not surprising, therefore, that in the last twenty years perceptions of devolution and its justifications have been articulated and re-articulated in a range of different ways, in response to new social, economic and political pressures as they have arisen within the country.

In PNG the regional governments were established in 1977 under an Act of parliament known as Organic Laws on Provincial Governments (OLGP). And although this Act attempted to define the functions and the power relationships between the national and provincial governments, there has always been disputation over their respective areas of responsibilities. This disputation has been over not only the grey area of who is responsible for decision-making on which policy issues, but also the nature of the Act as well. It has been argued at the central level that the Act concedes too many powers to the provinces, while the provinces have claimed that the Act is largely an instrument of centralisation. The OLGP was also viewed as a response to the new economic pressures from both within and outside PNG which demanded a clearer definition of the concept of devolution. The new pressures which led to the successive re-articulation of devolution and decentralisation in the late 1980s and early 1990s came in the form of the Hesingut, Pokawin and Micah reports.

In March 1990, the PNG national parliament resolved and established a parliamentary committee known as Select Committee on Provincial Government Review. This committee consisted of ten parliamentarians chaired by Henu Hesingut, with terms of reference to review the operation of the provincial government system in PNG. This committee specifically aimed to review the provision of the constitutional laws on powers and functions of provincial government; the exercise of those powers and functions; and the finances of provincial government; and to advise generally on the effectiveness of the system. In the same year, after a number of fact-finding tours of some provinces, the committee tabled its report in the parliament.

It is interesting to note the Committee was established in response to numerous suspensions of provincial governments. It was suggested in the report that the reasons for these suspensions concerned the abuse of power and the mismanagement of finances and other resources by provincial governments and their leadership. The Hesingut Committee (1991:18) argued:

Some of the reasons why provincial governments are mis-managed include lack of sufficient staff, disregard of the system by the leadership, lack of staff, disregard for the abuse of authority and tendency for many provincial politicians to use the system to acquire fame and glory.

It is also interesting to note that the focus of the Hesingut Report was the criticism on the utilisation of resources and in particular the mis-appropriation of public monies. It was suggested that the massive resources allocated by the central government and raised locally were not efficiently and effectively utilised to deliver goods and services to the community through the then-existing model of devolution. It was also maintained that the current devolutionary reforms were more costly. The Hesingut Committee (1991:18) asserted:

On the question of giving power to the people through provincial governments, this Committee is of the opinion that this privilege has been abused. Provincial governments seem to have led to a situation where there is overgovernment, too many politicians and too much bureaucracy. The hidden costs which such a situation has created are astronomical.

With these criticisms the Committee argued for a system of government and administration which was cost effective. It is noteworthy that the Committee's perception of devolution was informed and probably dictated by the problems of costs which were related to the funding of the then-existing devolutionary reforms. It is clear the Committee did not see devolution as a political idea. However, it viewed devolution as an administrative design. The committee was more concerned with the efficiency and effectiveness of the system to provide goods and services, rather than with democratic participation in decision making. It perceived devolution as a means to an end, rather than as an end in itself. It did not explore the educational and other cultural potentials of devolution.

The Hesingut committee rearticulated new perceptions of devolution, based on a synthesis of the decentralisation, corporate managerialism and market models discussed above. It suggested that the legislative powers which previously were exercised by the provincial governments be withdrawn and recentralised with the national government. It further suggested that the provincial level of government was no longer to make decisions on policies issues: instead it was only to perform the advisory role and implement the decisions made by the national government. The committee also suggested that there be only one national public service, compared to the previous bureaucratic arrangements, in which there were nineteen provincial departments directly responsible to their respective provincial governments. The provincial departments were to become only field units, as discussed above in relation to the decentralisation model of devolution; and they were to serve an advisory role, rather than a decision-making role, as had been the case under previous public-service arrangements. The Hesingut report proposed the powers over matters of revenue collection and control be recentralised, unlike previous financial arrangements under which the provinces had some degree of financial autonomy. In this proposal the provinces and the local community could only nominate the projects for funding, with important decisions related to project feasibility study, its approval, expenditure and implementation to be made by the national government. It was also suggested that the central authorities take absolute control of the mobilisation of resources and their utilisation. The financial autonomy which was once exercised by the provincial authorities and community was to be withdrawn and re-centralised.

Pokawin's committee was formed by the national premiers' council in 1990 in response to the Hesingut committee's report. It is clear then that Hesingut report was very harsh on the provinces, and while some of its criticisms of the mismanagement of resources at the provincial level were justified, it failed to come up with a democratic solution to the problem: finding attractive instead a corporate managerialist definition of devolution. Pokawin's committee was a sub-committee which consisted of seven premiers representing five regions, namely Papua, Highlands, New Guinea mainland (MOMASE) and New Guinea Islands and a public servant, with terms of references similar to those for the Hesingut committee. However, unlike the Hesingut committee, the Pokawin committee pursued the idea for greater autonomy to the provinces. Interestingly, the Pokawin report was tabled at the same time as the Hesingut report in the national parliament, and articulated an ideological contrast which remains significant in subsequent debates about devolution in PNG.

Unlike the Hesingut report, Pokawin's report did not rearticulate views of devolution in corporate managerialist terms, but instead reaffirmed the model of devolution stipulated under the Organic Law on Provincial Government (OLPG) which had been in place since PNG independence. In terms of the typology of the four models of devolution discussed earlier in this chapter, the Pokawin report argued for a social democratic model of devolution, rather than the corporate managerialist and market models.

In contrast to Hesingut, Pokawin's report viewed devolution not only as an administrative design, but more importantly also as a political idea. Pokawin's committee argued that the idea of devolution was linked to issues concerning the politics of power and power-sharing arrangements between the national and provincial authorities. It maintained that devolution was about the way power was shared with the people in the community: and since provinces were closer to the people, it is at that level where most of the power should reside; it should not be concentrated in the hands of the Bigmen located in the centre.

While Pokawin's committee supported the ideas of efficiency and effectiveness of the system, it also contended that the emphasis should be placed more on participation in decision-making, even though that might mean some inefficiencies. The Pokawin report thus viewed devolution as end in itself, rather than as a means to an end. The report (1990:7) argued that:

The provincial government system [a model of devolutionary reform] aims to achieve the following:

(a) greater participation in the political system (in having elected leaders at the provincial level with substantial decision-making powers, local people could participate to a greater degree in the political system through the ballot box and due to government being less remote);

(b) greater accountability (a government located close to the people it serves is likely to be more responsive to their needs);

(c) to enhance national unity (provincial governments would be more sensitive to the indigenous values and traditions of the people within their respective areas thus providing a frame work within which diversity of the people of PNG could be accommodated in a single nation).

(d) to increase the flow of resources to rural areas (provincial governments would provide a bargaining and negotiating base at the provincial level able to define priorities of the local people and seek resource for them and in doing so counter the urban/big project bias of centralised government).

Both the Hesingut and Pokawin reports thus set the parameters of the debates concerning devolution in PNG with which this work is concerned. These debates are ongoing, with the provincial governments and their leadership supporting the social-democratic agenda as advocated by Pokawin's report, while in opposition the national government supports a combination of decentralisation, corporate managerialist and market models of devolution as put forward in the Hesingut report. In PNG throughout 1991 the debate on these two competing notions of devolution was fierce. In an attempt to reach a political settlement on these issues, a Bi-Partisan Parliamentary Select Committee on Provincial Government was also established by the national parliament. The committee is known as Micah's Committee.

The Bi-Partisan Parliamentary Select Committee on Provincial Government was established in 1992 for the same purpose as the Hesingut Committee. It consisted of the fifteen elected parliamentarians, from both the Government and the Opposition, in an attempt to take a bi-partisan approach to the investigation of the problems of provincial governments. The committee's terms of reference were to study the two previous reports, Hesingut and Pokawin, with the aim of proposing to the national parliament a suitable model of devolution for implementation in PNG public administration. Although Micah's report was tabled in the national parliament in March 1993, the issues are yet to be resolved.

However, it is clear that Micah's report has opted for a corporate managerialist model of devolution for adoption in PNG public administration. Like the Hesingut report, it is concerned with the efficiency and effectiveness of the system of government and administration in PNG. Boldly, Micah's report (1993:40) argues:

It is recommended that the principles under the (corporate) managerialist model be adopted. Briefly, among other things, this would incorporate the corporate management strategy (CMS). CMS facilitates transparency in economy, efficiency and effectiveness thereby allowing those in government (accounters) to know and keep track of performance. In addition it facilitates the values for money audit/evaluation...

The Micah Report has suggested that the performance of administration should result in the efficient and effective delivery of goods and services. Like Hesingut, and in opposition to the Pokawin Report, it views devolution as a means to broader ends of national unity and development. It has maintained that the emphasis should be placed on the outcomes rather than the actual processes of participation in decision-making which are arguably viewed by the Committee as insignificant. Significantly, Micah's report discussed in some detail the specific political, administrative and financial implementation strategies for realising its corporate managerialist view of devolution in PNG public administration.

This brief discussion of Papua New Guinea public administration and its policy of devolution has provided a backdrop against which the policies and practices of educational governance in Papua New Guinea can be described. Such a discussion is not only relevant, but is also significant to understanding the factors, both within education and in the wider context, that dictate the perceptions and practices of devolution.

Papua New Guinea Educational Governance

At independence PNG inherited an education system from Australia that remained unchanged until the mid-1980s. Since then there have been quite a few reforms but these have remained, in broadest terms, located within the framework of reforms to public administration. Reforms in educational administration have been an integral part of reforms which have taken place in the broader public sector.

Such reforms have also been mediated through colonialism, its legacies and its emergence within a global system of capitalism. Over the past few years the perceptions of devolution have been framed by the discussions contained in the Hesingut, the Pokawin, and the Micah reports, and analyses of the problems of devolution in PNG education cannot be divorced from the recommendations these reports present.

It is significant that although PNG became amalgamated in 1949, its system of education remained divided and continued to be operated independently by different mission and church denominations. The churches including the Catholic, the Lutheran, the Methodist, the London Missionary Society, the Seventh Day Adventist and the Evangelical, did not only pay a major role in PNG educational development in the pre-independence period, but they continued to contribute to educational development and reforms and thus maintained considerable influence in the post-independence period. In 1970, in consultation with most of the mission and church agencies, the Australian-dominated PNG House of Assembly passed the Education Act of 1971 which marked the amalgamation of all church and government schools, with the exception of the Seventh Day Adventist, to come under a single unified system of education. This amalgamation was supported by both the PNG government and the church agencies as being in the best interests of the people of PNG. The PNG government like those of other Third World countries viewed western education as essential for nation-building. A unified system of education was seen as a necessary pre-requisite and tool for the construction of PNG. It was assumed that a unified system of education would not only serve as a binding force for political unity and stability, but would also provide the required skilled workforce for PNG's emerging cash economy. The mission and church agencies also viewed the unification of PNG's education system as a solution to the resource problems which increasingly they faced. With the PNG government's moves towards the rapid expansion of primary, secondary and post-secondary schools in the 1960s, and for the missions to respond to this new policy initiative, it became financially burdensome to meet the increasing costs of schools and colleges for which the churches were responsible. As the government began to subsidise the operational costs of running the church schools, it also became concerned with the efficient and effective utilisation of funds it gave to the churches to operate their schools and colleges. While the church agencies wanted to maintain their denominational identity in schools and colleges, and through these educational institutions realise their Christian teachings, however, they nevertheless wished to shift the financial responsibility for education to the PNG government. It is suggested here that the government viewed this move as an advantage to itself, since giving financial and other forms of assistance would mean more central control over the church schools. I therefore maintain that the amalgamation of PNG schools under a unified education system was viewed by the government as a desirable means of direct political and administrative control over schools in PNG, and furthermore it was perceived as a strategy for cost effectiveness.

The Education Act of 1970 not only provided the legal framework but also defined the administrative and functional relationships of PNG education. Between 1970 and 1977 the control and relationship of educational functions was informed and framed by the decentralised model of devolution. As mentioned, this administrative model of devolution was dictated by the need for political and administrative control and efficiency and effectiveness of resource utilisation to achieve maximum output. This 1970 Act not only defined the purposes and functions of education and its role in PNG national development, but it also framed the way in which these functions should be realised. It is not surprising to note that the Act remained in force until 1983 when it was revised and became known as the Education (revised) Act of 1983. The revised Act is informed and dictated by the original Act of 1970, and it is mostly the case that the revisions are symbolic in character. As they were legally determined by the 1970 Education Act, PNG education functions were directly controlled from the centre, at that time located in Konedobu. Under this legal dictate, the powers to make decisions on education policies and new initiatives, curriculum, finance, management and appointment and employment conditions of teachers were centralised with the Ministry of Education and its agencies (see Figure 1 on Ministry of Education structure). However, although these powers were maintained in the centre, they also made legal provisions in this Act so that some powers to make decisions on policies, curriculum, finance and management, appointment of teachers and their employment conditions, could be de-concentrated and delegated to semi-autonomous bodies such as the District Education Board at the District level, and the School Board of Management at the school and community level.

With this decentralised model of devolution, although theoretically power was deconcentrated and delegated to the field units such as District Education Board (DEB) and School Board of Management (BOM), the actual power for making decisions remained with the Ministry of Education in Konedobu. Further, if these powers were abused they could be withdrawn by the National Department of Education or Teaching Service Commission (TSC). It is also maintained that when the DEB make policy decisions on the curriculum and if these decisions did not support or contradict the national policies, the Ministry of Education could over-ride the decisions which were previously made by the DEB and BOM. This administrative model of devolution, based on the need for political control and stability, as well as efficiency and effectiveness, continued to be implemented in PNG educational governance up until 1977.

At the same time there were mounting pressures that PNG education through this decentralised model of devolution was not only insensitive, and thus irresponsive to the cultural diversities of different ethnic groups, but as well, it was not preparing the children for either community living or employment in the cash economy. While it could be argued that numerous factors were responsible and contributed to this problem, it was alleged that a major factor was about issues of participation in decision-making on educational matters which affect the children as well as the community at large. Arguably the powers to make decisions did not lie with the DEB or BOM, but remained centralised with national authorities.

In response to the passing of the OLPG, PNG education had no choice; it was expected that the system should accommodate the proposal for the new power arrangements. From 1977 until now, although there is still a concern with efficiency and effectiveness, PNG education is much informed by the social democratic model devolution. As discussed earlier, this model devolved power to make decisions on educational matters which affect the community. The re-articulation of this view of devolution is also a response to public administration devolutionary reforms made under the Organic Law on Provincial Government. In educational governance, PNG has since adopted and implemented, together with the decentralised model, the social democratic model of devolution.

In the social democratic model of devolution, new power arrangements and relationships between the national authorities and provincial authorities were proposed. Power to participate in decision-making has been categorised under three main groups: national functions, provincial functions, and concurrent functions. As stipulated in the Education (revised) Act 1983, national functions could only be decided upon by the Ministry of Education, namely the Teaching Service Commission (TSC), National Minister for Education, National Department of Education, and National Education Board (NEB). On the other hand provincial authorities, which include Provincial Government, Division of Education, Provincial Education Board (PEB), School Board of Management (BOM), and School Administration could make decisions with respect to provincial functions. The education functions which are concurrent are subject to consultation and negotiation between both the national and provincial authorities. However, in the event that the provincial authorities make decisions which are in contradiction with national education policies, these decisions could be over-ridden by the national authorities. Under the Education (revised) Act of 1983 these powers are allocated to these respective authorities (see Figure 2 on PNG education organisational structure).

Under this power arrangement the TSC has the responsibility to make decisions about the employment and appointment of teachers and their employment conditions. The National Department of Education has the responsibility for the establishment of training institutions, the registration of teachers, and the control over and the administration of the inspectorial system. The National Minister for Education has responsibility for control of the curriculum, which includes curriculum content, standards and examinations, minimum entry age, the number of teaching days each year, the number of years of instruction, the maximum pupil-teacher ratios and the language of instruction.

It should also be noted that under this legal arrangement, the provincial functions which provincial governments become responsible for include:

  • the appointment, suspension and administration of PEB,
  • the planning, opening, recognition, administration and closing of self-help schools, enrolments, obtaining land, providing buildings and finance for self-help schools,
  • the planning, opening, recognition, administration and closing of pre-schools and provincial high schools,
  • the enrolment of pupils/students, obtaining land, providing buildings and materials (including teaching materials and textbooks,
  • the provision of school library and guidance services and public library,
  • the appointment of teachers and their promotions in the provinces, and
  • all matters related to adult education and community education.

With similar arrangements the PEB could make decisions on these areas:

  • in consultation with the lower-level governments and education agencies draw up provincial education plans
  • supervising the implementation of the approved plan
  • giving approval to the list of entrants to community schools
  • hearing and determining appeals on cases where the governing bodies expel a student
  • determining the criteria of high-school selection criteria and the selection of students ntering high school
  • exercising on behalf of the TSC the appointments, promotions and transfers of teachers from one school to another, and disciplining teachers
  • administering and accounting for the spending of the departmental funds
  • organising and providing adult education
  • approving membership and functions of the governing council
  • selecting teachers to attend professional courses which are approved by TSC.

However the power, the functions and the responsibilities which have been de-concentrated and delegated to PEB have been further delegated to BOM at the school and community level. The BOM could make decisions on these specific responsibilities which include:

  • planning, building and maintaining the school facilities such as classrooms, teachers' houses, teachers' and children's toilets
  • making available teachers' houses
  • determining the aims and the goals of the schools
  • making rules for the discipline of students
  • suspending or expelling students.

Since the passing of the Education Act of 1970, Education Act (revised) of 1983 and the OLPG, it is assumed that these powers, functions, and responsibilities have been exercised by the respective authorities. However, it is maintained that in the implementation process the implementers have had some difficulties and therefore this book endeavours to provide some explanation about why the process has been difficult.

As argued throughout, the concept of devolution is framed by various pressures. These pressures become the basis for re-articulation for the new and subsequent models of devolution. In the last three years, PNG education has had to respond to emerging economic pressures which have been the subject of debates in the Hesingut, the Pokawin and the Micah reports. It is suggested that both the Hesingut and the Micah reports advocate a corporate-managerialist model of devolution. It is interesting to note that this model does not call for participation in decision-making, which is claimed to be too expensive. Instead this model proposes for cutting down the costs and providing goods and services to the people to the community. This view of devolution is currently being debated by the PNG national parliament and will have implications for the form of educational governance in PNG in the next century. When the national parliament passes the Bill on the provincial government reforms based on the corporate-managerialist model, the future form of educational governance will be framed by this view.

Since independence, PNG has been committed to the policy of devolution which has emerged as the result of different political, social, cultural and economic pressures which this nation has confronted. I maintain that these pressures dictated the different perceptions of devolution, and how these views have been translated into practices. In the last two decades PNG educational governance has been informed by decentralisation, as well as by the social democratic and corporate managerialist and to some extent the market models of devolution. Although PNG has been committed to the policy of devolution as a form of democratic reform, it has encountered difficulties in implementing this in education governance. Therefore to provide possible explanations for these difficulties the next chapter will discuss the qualitative research method and why it is considered appropriate compared with the quantitative method, and why it was chosen for investigating the issues in this research project, that is, the difficulties involved in the implementation of devolution in PNG educational governance.

  • Chapter 1 - Introduction - the Background; the Research; and the Arguments
  • Chapter 2 - PNG:  Colonialism and Development
  • Chapter 3 - Devolution And Administrative Reforms In PNG
  • Chapter 4 - Research Methodology:  the concept of devolution in PNG education in context of the colonial legacy
  • Chapter 5 - Problems of reform and the culture of bureaucracy in PNG
  • Chapter 6 - Unity, diversity and the problems of reform in PNG
  • Appendix 7 - list of participants and Appendix 9 - list of reports

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