DECENTRALIZING CURRICULUM: CREATING SPACES FOR COMMUNITY PARTICIPATION THROUGH THE EMPOWERMENT OF LOCAL SCHOOL BOARDS

Gerard Martin C. Suarez

This research argues for the decentralization of Philippine education – shifting the paradigm of national curriculum design from what has been described as a one-size-fit-all approach towards a community-driven design. More specifically, it argues for the devolving of the Department of Education’s (DepEd’s) mandate of “...formulating, implementing, and coordinating policies, plans, programs and projects in the areas of formal and non-formal basic education” onto government mandated local school boards – allowing local leaders and members of the community a genuine space to become the primary drivers and initiators of curriculum design. This is in contrast to the present state of local school boards in the country, which primarily functions to appropriate a limited budget on peripheral needs of schools in their jurisdiction. The argument is constructed through a desk review which looks at the results of empirical studies of decentralized educational systems in other countries (notably the U.S., the Netherlands and the U.K.), the effects of strong local school boards on academic achievement and the community, the history of educational reform in the Philippines, and experiments of local school board expansion conducted within the country. By enabling and empowering community members to lead, this will allow for a curriculum design process which members of the community can take ownership in and create curricula which are more appropriate to the needs of the locality.