The Community action programme in the Romanian education

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The report on the first public action of orientation 2 provides the analysis of Community Action Programme (CA) implemented in Romania between 2003- 2009. The report discusses the knowledge-policy relation, the use of knowledge in the process of decision-making, implementation and evaluation in the case of CA. Considering the course and methodology of the research a complex process took place. Interviews were conducted, document, event and website analysis was done, media materials and CA statistics were used to provide a full understanding of knowledge circulation within this public action. The Community Action programme is about promoting the social integration of disadvantaged and handicapped children by creating volunteer student groups that visit and collaborate with them. It is a program imported to Romania from abroad (U.K.), the report considers it a typical travelling policy being a very prolific field for the analysis of the relationship between knowledge and policy.

As the report notes already at the begining there are three types of knowledge that interlock in this public action: the explicit and codified knowledge concerning the public action, the knowledge related to the functioning of the bureaucratic and hiererchical educational system, and the previously acquired tacit knowledge (related to the social support of disadvantaged persons) of those involved in the programme.

The report’s second chapter/section is an analytical description emphasizing that in the romanian education there is a great need for a programme which can diminish the social exclusion of disadvantaged and handicapped children. CA fulfills this expectation while it supports volunteering, consequently it generates knowledge. The formal structure of the program is based on the hierarchical structure of the educational system, this makes CA hierarchic. This undoubtedly determines the circulation of knowledge in this public action. The pilot study and its role in the national implementation of CA is also an indicator for knowledge production and the use of knowledge. As the report notes CA as a policy runs on a separate way, it is already from the beginning (from the political decision) a unique policy that found its position within the national education policies, but in fact it could not deeply interconnect and merge with the most important national educational initiatives (ex. decentralisation, quality assurance, deconcetration, etc.).

Moving from the analytical perspective to the comparison zones of the report chapter 3 discusses first the timeline of the public action. As we can see from the tabular presentation, till mid 2009 CA is a gradually/increasingly evolving program that – taking into consideration its aims, approaches and realizations - may be considered as an attempt for paradigm shift. As the authors mention, this process is not yet complete, therefore CA is rather the precursor of a comprehensive and radical paradigm shift.

Since CA is a multi-actor and multi-level public action different types of knowledge interact within it. As the report highlights the international knowledge has significant role, the embodied and enacted knowledge of the international actors resulted in remarkable encoded and objectified knowledge at national level. Furthermore the CA national experiences are sources for bidirectional transfer of knowledge. Based on the findings of the research the report also notes the importance of a certain type of policy knowledge. At the level of national implementation the knowledge on organisational and management issues, the practical and experimental knowledge of CA are underlined. The report also discusses the forms of knowledge lacking from the public action. The professional and scientific knowledges are the deficiencies of CA. Since human resources are the most important in this public action, CA means for the actors at the different levels an opportunity to learn.

Considering the conclusions of the report the authors emphasize that there are many divergent results and a few question marks in the knowledge-policy relation of CA. The quantitative evolution does not necessarily meant/entailed qualitative development, this is the reason why the analysis generated ambiguous impressions and conclusions. The network built upon common understanding and tacit knowledge was facilitated and supported by a very strong social approval, but even so CA could not fully apply and mobilize its knowledge potencial. One of the explanations for this deficiency is the asymmetric relationship between the policy and the recipient society that is/was accepting and implementing it. According to the analysis and the conclusions of the report, this kind of asymmetric relation facilitates the transfer and acceptance of knowledge, but it is less favourable for the creation of new types of knowledge, for a fuller mobilization of the knowledge potencials. CA as an asymmetric process of knowledge transfer partially supported the production of knowledge within the targeted field, but at the same time hindered it. It brought new type of knowledge into the romanian educational context but due to the asymmetry it diminished the opportunity of interaction between the CA and the local tacit knowledge. This meant that CA could not take advantage of a great opportunity. The interaction of the explicit and codified knowledge with the tacit knowledge of the recipient society would have offered many opportunity for knowledge production and new forms of knowledge. As the report states CA could not achieve/fullfill this. There were slight interactions between the explicit and tacit knowledge during CA, done only by some participants, and it happened less consciously so the program itself never reflected on it. Consequently this potencial remained unused. As the report finally notes: this does not prejudice the other successes of CA but it explains why – despite its successes – it remained an experiment in the unfold of knowledge-policy relation.

KISS Adél, FEJES Ildikó & BIRÓ Zoltán A. (2009), The Community Action Programme in the Romanian Education, KNOWandPOL Report.

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