Maria Balarin Bonazzi

Maria Balarin Bonazzi
Maria Balarin Bonazzi Senior Researcher, Group for the Analysis of Development, Lima, Peru

Session 1
Tuesday, November 23rd 2021

I am a Senior Researcher and Director of Research at the Group for the Analysis of Development (GRADE), a leading independent research centre and think tank in Perú. I am also in the Steering Committee of Grupo Sofía, a network that seeks to promote equal opportunities for female social scientists in Perú and the Latin American region; and I am also a member of the Executive Committee of the Peruvian Educational Research Society.

I have a broad portfolio of both applied and academic research which focuses on education, and labour markets, with a specific emphasis in gender and youth. My applied work focuses on the qualitative analysis and evaluation of educational and social policies, with a special focus on processes of policy construction, design and implementation. My academic work has focused largely on the field of education, where I have been concerned with understanding changing patterns of school governance, and on how educational processes mediate social dynamics and relations between the state and society. My recent work focuses on the impact

of educational markets on patterns of social segregation; and on labour precarity and vulnerable youth transitions in the context of exclusionary citizenship regimes – here I also bring in a strong gender perspective.


Presentation Title

The global and local forces that shape school governance

Language of presentation

School autonomy and decentralized school management have often been hailed as key features of adaptable and democratic school systems, that respond to both systemic and local needs. The convenience of such practices, and their specific instantiations in countries with different cultures and institutions, need to be considered in the light of specific country-contexts as well as of the global trends that are currently shaping the governance of education systems.

School autonomy can mean different things when we consider them in the context of existing global governance mechanisms, such as international tests and various other indicators; but also when specific cultural and institutional contexts are taken into account. In countries with weak institutions, decentralized governance reforms have often failed because of poor capacities in local administrations. In some cases, decentralized governance has entailed the local reproduction of poorly functioning bureaucracies, as well as the decentralization of corruption. This suggests that when autonomy and decentralization are considered, they must be taken as the result of processes of capacity development that require both time and resources.

The question of how to steer education systems (i.e. coordination) in the direction of desired changes while promoting school autonomy and decentralized governance has no easy answers.

The presentation will discuss some of these tensions, drawing from discussions on the political economy of educational governance reforms, as well as from specific examples, mainly from the Latin American region.