A comprehensive model for the implementation of national public policies and guidelines : Empangeni Education District
Mthethwa, Bhekefini Sibusiso Vincent
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The phenomenon of the public policy process, which encapsulates the public policy implementation, has been in existence long before the political transformation that took place in South Africa in 1994. However, the ushering in of the new dispensation saw the integration of the existing public policies. In addition, it inevitably heralded the introduction of the new public policies and national guidelines across all sectors of the South African public institutions. Public policy implementation, as an integral stage of the public policy process, emerged as indispensable towards effective and efficient public service. The basic education, as a public institution, could also not be exempted from such inevitability of heightened public policy implementation. The introduction of the new education related public policies included the developmental appraisal system (DAS), the whole school evaluation (WSE), the integrated quality management systems (IQMS) and the discipline and safety national guidelines (DSNG). This, consequently, bears testament to what became an inevitable transformation process in South African basic education. Using the DAS, the WSE, the IQMS and the DSNG as points of departure and Empangeni education district as a reference area, the focus of this study has been the public policy process, the internal organisational arrangements and structures for public policy implementation, the public policy implementation process together with its inherent challenges and an improved model aimed at alleviating or even eradicating such public policy implementation challenges. The theoretical models, both descriptive and prescriptive, suggest that the public policy process, which entails namely: public policy agenda, public policy formulation, public policy adoption, public policy implementation and public policy evaluation, is premised on the public policy models. Of all the above-listed public policy process stages, public policy implementation stands out as the pinnacle around which the public policy process revolves. The public policy implementation stage, therefore, suggests a point where the influence, the impact and the successes or failures of the public policy process unfold. In light of this inextricable link of the public policy implementation stage to the general public policy process that is influenced by models, the effective public policy implementation is, subsequently, embracive of attributes and lessons derived from the public policy models. Some of these attributes and lessons, inter alia, include; the mutual participation by all actors involved, rather than dominance by an elite group (derived from the elite/mass model), the identification of institutional structures responsible for the public policy implementation (derived from the institutional model) and the accommodation of the implementation review as well as feedback (all indicative of the systems model). The literature review and the empirical data analyses show convergent views that suggest that the effective public policy implementation is directly proportional to the extent of internal organisational arrangements and structures as well as to the basic functionality of schools as centres for the implementation process. This implies that where internal institutional arrangements and structures are evident and functional, the implementation of public policies is bound to be effective and efficient, while the contrary also holds. Given Empangeni education district being the focal point of the study, it has emerged that the use of personnel from other units and the absence of a district unit designated to solely oversee the coordination, the implementation and the evaluation of the education related public policies, inhibit the potential of adequately achieving the intended objectives of the education related public policies implemented. In case of schools as the institutional centres for public policy implementation, empirical data analyses have established an inter-connection between the public policy implementation and the schools‟ basic functionality. Consequently, it is in functional schools (i.e. schools where the school management teams and school governing bodies are visible, effective and work collaboratively), where public policy implementation thrives and is effective. The contextualisation of the empirical research analyses to the study focus area, Empangeni Education District (EED), established that its current implementation model faces public policy implementation challenges. The most evident challenges, inter alia, include: * the inadequate advocacy of the education related public policies to be implemented; * the two or three days, currently accepted as a capacity building period by those expected to implement education related public policies, are not proportional to the volume of work to be covered and it suggests an inadequate time-frame for capacity development in the EED's current model; * the material and mechanisms used to perform functional work do not accommodate all role-players (also called actors in this study) according to their demographical needs, like language, which renders them inept to perform to their optimum level; * the primary structure of the current EED's public policy implementation model is a top-down directional structure which underscores the top-down cascading model; * current communication technology employed, do not take advantage of the 21 century‟s information computer technology in order to make the work environment more user-friendly, efficient and effective; * the simultaneous implementation of education related public policies poses a challenge to internal organisational arrangements, such as public policy implementation (PPI) structures and personnel, for effective implementation of such policies; and * the evident inadequate continuous and deliberate monitoring of implemented education related public policies. Conclusions and inferences drawn from this study suggest that the EED's current public policy implementation model is inadequate to deal with the identified challenges. Finally, this study proposes a strengthened EED public policy model, which accommodates recommendations to EED's public policy implementation challenges. Inherently, the proposed strengthened public policy implementation model is not limited to dealing with the identified challenges only, but it radically embraces the introduction of systems and internal organisational structures that promote inclusive, collaborative and traceable implementation of education related public policies.
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