Governance and Leadership for Achieving Higher Quality in School Education: A Study of Sikkim

Publication Date01 June 2019
AuthorN. Mythili
Governance and
Leadership for Achieving
Higher Quality in
School Education:
A Study of Sikkim
N. Mythili1
Studies related to governance and leadership contributing to quality are rare in
education. Sikkim has been chosen for this study to fill the gap. The article argues
that good governance is a means or a process through which network governance
can be effectively applied in the education system that is operationalised through
leadership for achieving higher quality. The study indicates that the influence
of ministerial leadership in public administration flows from the state level to
schools. The lead-organised governance network at the state level characterises
educational functions ranging from identifying needs to build a vision for an
education system and exploiting ICT for the ease of administration. A network
administrative organisation at the district level characterises establishing networks,
aligning the focus between the state and school levels, creating a network of leaders
at the school level and spreading innovations and good practices to all schools in
the district. Participant governance at the school level mainly transl ates the state’s
vision into action, engages in professional development of teachers, creates a
climate for experimentation, distributes time equally between academic and
administrative activities and builds networks with district- and state-level officials
for improving schools. Through these processes at all levels, good governance
acts as a means for apt application of network governance. Relevant leadership
practices ensure good governance for higher quality education.
Network governance, good governance, leadership, school education system,
education quality
Indian Journal of Public
65(2) 298–324, 2019
© 2019 IIPA
Reprints and permissions:
DOI: 10.1177/0019556119844585
1 National Centre for School Leadership, National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration,
New Delhi, India.
Corresponding author:
N. Mythili, National Centre for School Leadership, National Institute of Educational Planning and
Administration, 17-B, Aurobindo Marg, New Delhi 110016, India.
Mythili 299
Understanding Governance and Leadership in the
Education System
Network Governance
In the changing circumstances of neo-liberal economic policies, many private
players invest their money in programmatic interventions to provide in-service
training to teachers. It is also fast replacing the role of traditional NGOs. It has even
changed the government’s top-down approach to consultative, cooperative and
collaborative processes in small ways. As a consequence, the notion of leadership in
the government is also changing from being directive to empowering, collaborating
and participatory, compelling both private actors and government officials to adopt
a broader approach to educational governance and leadership. More specifically, the
shift is in the approach to adopt network governance by government officials to
work with diverse stakeholders for delivering results.
Network governance creates relatively stable horizontal interdependence
having operationally autonomous actors within a normative framework (Sorensen
& Torfing, 2008) for the formulation and implementation of collectively binding
decisions (Borzel & Panke, 2008). Leadership is shared among different members
of the organisation at different levels more informally than formally in traditional
hierarchical organisations (Crosby & Bryson, 2005). Pal (2012) enumerated
several characteristics of the network. It is essentially non-hierarchical so that
orders and commands do not constitute its basic vocabulary, and rules tend to
be quite loose as its members come from diverse backgrounds and hence prefer
norms to rules. It consists of interconnected nodes and exchanges which need
not be equal, despite the flatness and the lack of hierarchy. The network in which
primary exchanges are informative are characterised by openness, focus on quality
and often in a condition of flux, change, growth and decline. Therefore, network
leaders are engaged in constant search as old information gets stale. Networks
have no single, final arbiters; decisions are made through complex interactions of
interconnections and exchanges (ibid., pp. 19–20).
There are three main approaches to network governance, namely lead-organised
governed network, network administrative organisation and participant governance
(Proven & Kenis, 2008). The lead-organised governed network takes a lead role in
the network. The network administrative organisation is set up to govern the network.
In participant governance, the network is governed by participants themselves
without an overarching governance structure. In the context of education system,
the lead-organised governance network in education influences the entire system
from the state level. At the district level, network administrative governance caters
to governing the networks across all schools at cluster and block levels within the
district. Participant governance is at the school level which moves from individual
to individual rather more informally linking higher and lower structures like block
resource centres and cluster resource centres (CRCs) to a viable collaboration in
a comparatively more flexible and horizontal manner. So, members, groups and
organisations stimulate others to recognise latent needs, desires and potentials to
work together towards their fulfilment (Denhardt & Denhardt, 2011).

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