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Elite behaviour in educational policy-making in Mauritius


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Bhowon, Rajayswar 1990 , 'Elite behaviour in educational policy-making in Mauritius', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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The purpose of this research was to understand how educational policy in a
particular area was made and implemented in Mauritius. A decision of the Minister
(1979), that being the declaration of his intent to launch a Primary Schooling Reform
in Mauritius, was selected. This involved an exploration of the events that transpired
between the period January 1979 until April 1986. The study covered the activities of
three Ministers who occupied the Education Portfolio at three different periods.
Research questions and the conceptual framework were used as a guide to
reconstruct the Primary Schooling Reform scenario illustrating how the policy-making
elite took decisions, how these were further shaped and implemented. The information
was analysed in accordance with the factors of the conceptual framework that was
designed by drawing from a large body of literature on the policy domain, derived
from the developed and developing countries. The conceptual framework was, in
essence, a model for comparative study of policy formation by Hofferbert (1974)
which illustrated that the policy domain had to be understood within the environment
of the political system that comprises the following factors: historic-geographic
conditions, socioeconomic composition, mass political behaviour, governmental
institutions, elite behaviour and politically relevant incidents. These factors were
evident in the review of literature from developing countries. They were also evident
in the literature from developing countries except that the Hofferbert model had to be
modified to include the international aid factor that was intended to facilitate the
understanding of the dependency concept which is a critical factor in the politics of
small island nations among developing countries. The modified Hofferbert model was
considered wide enough to provide a comprehensive framework for application in the
policy domain in Mauritius.
The findings reveal the existence of a policy-making elite that comprised a very
small group of people, namely the Minister, the Director of the Mauritius Institute of
Education and the Permanent Secretary. Second, an understanding of elite behaviour
was unintelligible outside the context and that historical and sociopolitical factors
served as a backdrop to elite behaviour. The set of constraints within which the elite
worked and the way the events occurred have also been illuminated.
Third, the study questioned many things that were taken for granted and also
brought to light important things that were neglected. For instance, policy
development was not only about stating principles and strategies but - also about the
concern of personnel at all levels.
Fourth, the Minister's statement to launch the Primary Schooling Reform was
supposed to achieve on an islandwide scale some recognizably significant changes.
Hence, the definition of policy by Harman (1983: 97) as a statement that included
what was intended and what were the outcomes of that intention, goes unchallenged.
Finally, the Education Portfolio was involved at each stage of the policy-making
process. These processes are therefore considered as markers in an ongoing process
rather than separate categories with meaning of their own.
It is apparent that politically relevant incidents like elections had a long term
effect on the actions of the elite. This study also revealed that the elite behaved
rationally but that it was difficult to design a rational model of elite behaviour because
rationality cannot be easily measured. Nevertheless, rationality is considered here in
the sense that policy development did not dismantle the existing system but rather
developed on that system: the elite adapted to changing circumstances. With this
approach, the elite minimised the risks and brought about change that was largely not
resisted by parents and children.
There is a need for more research in island nations such as Mauritius before a
more comprehensive view of the elite actions as they are influenced by the society
around them can be fully understood.

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Bhowon, Rajayswar
Keywords: Education, Education and state, Elite (Social sciences)
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

Copyright 1990 the Author

Additional Information:

Includes bibliographical references (leaves 225-234). Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Tasmania, 1991

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