University of Tasmania
whole_BhowonRajayswar1990_thesis.pdf (11.25 MB)

Elite behaviour in educational policy-making in Mauritius

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posted on 2023-05-27, 08:29 authored by Bhowon, Rajayswar
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.


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  • Unpublished

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Copyright 1990 the Author Includes bibliographical references (leaves 225-234). Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Tasmania, 1991

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