The University Camilo José Cela has presented its new Chair on Education Policies, headed by Francisco López Rupérez, former President of the State Education Board, at the UCJC Almagro building. The Chair’s main objectives are: To promote research on education policies, provide formal and non-formal training on this topic and organise forums for discussion and analysis aimed at different sectors of education.
Within the framework of the presentation, López Rupérez outlined the academic study he headed, alongside Isabel García García and Eva Expósito Casas, entitled La calidad de la gobernanza del sistema educativo español Un estudio empírico (The Quality of Governance of the Spanish Education System. An empirical Study), that stemmed from new and more demanding requirements of educational systems in a social and economic context of increasing complexity. It is the first study to assess the quality of governance of educational systems at an international level, and it has been put forward by the researchers as diagnostic tools applicable, in particular, to developed countries.
The study, within the framework of assessing the quality of governance of education systems, includes the analysis of independent, international and specialised literature. It includes three standpoints: classic governance, modern governance and intelligent governance. Based on this, it articulates a construct with six different dimensions: multilevel holistic governance; executive governance; process-focussed governance; governance based on knowledge, empirical evidence and research; governance based on skill building and governance based on accountability, split in 20 subdivisions and 88 items. The diagnostic tools include contributions from a panel of 21 experts who have refined, enriched and validated it through a three-round Delphi consultancy.
Mediocrity of the Spanish education system
The conclusions of the study throw a sever pall of mediocrity on the Spanish education system in terms of governance, which is a result, according to researchers, of the stagnation of results and performance of students in deficient values over the last decade. Given that it is not possible to establish empirically a causal connection between these mediocrities, according to the study, the conceptual analysis and abundant empirical evidence available on other analogous factors, the researchers believe that it is ‘frankly plausible to posit this conjecture’.
According to the conclusions of the study, the low average score obtained from the analysis is striking, particularly in terms of ‘knowledge-based governance, empirical evidence and research’. However, governance quality is fundamental due to mutating social and economic contexts caused by globalisation and the revolutions in technology and the digital environment, enabling governments to formulate and roll our policies and carry out their functions, in this case applied to education systems.
Recommendations to political elites to effect change
Due to the generalise focus of the study on the education system, the recommendations made are directed to the political elite – both at state and regional levels – with significant trickle-down effects to other lower tiers of the systems and its players.
- For political parties to draft an unbreachable code of conduct on procedures to designate top-level positions and their requirements.
- To systematically apply this code of conduct and ensure accountability.
- Applying a shadow cabinet model, ensuring that parties have sufficient time to develop solutions and proposals: configuring government teams, with solid know-how and experience, and to ensure they are ready to assume responsibilities and not have to improvise or take arbitrary decisions.
- Bolster cooperation with Spanish and international universities to generate a solid base of expert knowledge on education policies (considering, for example, the New Zealand model and its BES project).
- Leverage the potential for collaboration afforded by multilateral bodies working in education and their success cases in the international sphere in educational reform, beyond their solely political ends.
- Recover the professionalisation of education authorities and avoid political appointments at lower levels, and the subsequent loss of expert knowledge with different governments.
- Boost training of executives in education governance for the 21st century.
In his address, Francisco López Rupérez expressed his gratitude for the trust placed in him. ‘I wish to thank the University Camilo José Cela for setting up this Chair, and in particular Nieves Segovia, who offered me the chance to lead it.’
For her part, the President of SEK Education Group, Nieves Segovia, said ‘this Chair on Education Policy offers a serious and reasoned discussion and the chance to find common ground’. She also addressed Francisco López Rupérez, who she said was ‘a major figure in the education sector. His career brings together thought and action. He is undoubtedly a major figure in education and this university is proud to have a Chair headed by him.’