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Educational decentralization in three Asian societies: Japan, Korea and Hong Kong

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Purpose ? This paper aims to identify and compare the nature of decentralization that has emerged in three important Asian societies after a decade of their involvement in the decentralization movement. Design/methodology/approach ? Data from the first cycle of the program for international student assessment were analyzed to investigate educational decentralization in three Asian societies: Hong Kong, Japan, and Korea. Cluster analysis was used to reveal the nature and extent of decentralization of the schooling systems in the three societies. Findings ? The results revealed four models of decentralization: highly centralized, school-driven, teacher-driven, and highly decentralized. Whilst the school-driven model was dominant in Hong Kong, indicating that the school itself is largely responsible for making school-related decisions, the centralized model was dominant in both Japan and Korea, indicating that authorities outside the school are largely responsible for making school-related decisions. Research limitations/implications ? The study is based on cross-sectional design and focuses mainly on secondary schooling systems in the three Asian societies. Originality/value ? OECD/PISA constitutes one of the most comprehensive and rigorous international databases about different aspects of educational systems. It provides a unique opportunity to assess the distribution of decision-making responsibilities between the different stakeholders in different education systems. This enables for the first time a country-wide comparison on issues of decentralization of various decision areas in this paper.
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Keywords: Decentralized control; Employee participation; Hong Kong; Japan; Schools; South Korea

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2006

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