Exploring School Dynamics in Adapting to Changes in a Context of Globally-Driven Education Reform

Author: Tomy Bawulang

Bawulang, Tomy, 2017 Exploring School Dynamics in Adapting to Changes in a Context of Globally-Driven Education Reform, Flinders University, School of Education

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Countries all over the world are now reforming their education systems within an increasingly globalised and competitive environment. Widespread education reforms emphasising the impact of economic rationalism on reform policies has marked the global education trends under neoliberalist ideology. As economic growth has now become the pinnacle of human development goals, all education reforms have been directed toward the orthodoxy of economic development. This has legitimised the supremacy of supranational agencies such as the World Bank, IMF, and OECD as the steering powers that drive the direction of education reforms globally.

In the context of Indonesian education reform, the presence of this invisible global power is evident in all major reform policies currently underway. Policies such as National Curriculum, School Accreditation, Teacher Professional Certification Program, Teacher’s Competency Test, and National Examination for students are true manifestations of neo-liberal ideology enforced by supranational agencies. While education development in Indonesia in relation to those reform policies has been a research focus, little is known about how the schools enact those policies in day-to-day school operation.

This research explores the dynamic of schools as they are adapting to changes in current education reform in Indonesia. It was directed toward the interconnectivity between the global context and local context, and uncovering the underlying forces that drive systemic change in the Indonesian education system by focusing on the internal dynamics of schools. Three domains of school changes, namely Context, Content, and Process, were explored in relation to the change pressures emanated from three cascading school contexts- Macro, Meso, and Micro. The research was conducted as a qualitative study employing case study as the method of exploration.

This research sought to ascertain what processes were undertaken by the schools as they were adapting to changes, and identify factors that influence those processes. Five research questions were raised to guide the exploration: (1) In the context of school reform in Indonesia, what are the change forces on schools originated from macro context, meso context, micro context?; (2) What are the changes in the schools as they are adapting to the changes forces originated from the three contexts (macro, meso, micro)?; (3) How have schools been adapting to those change forces?; (4) What are the enabling practices and internal conditions affecting the schools in the process of adapting to change?; and (6) How might the enabling practices be leveraged for systemic change? Data were collected through semi-structured individual interviews and focus group discussions, as well as documents analysis. The researcher’s fieldwork journal was also used as complementary data.

The emerging results revealed that our current education reform has been forcing the schools to undergo a vital shift resulting in fundamental changes in leadership practices, teachers’ pedagogical practices, school management, and school cultures. A series of recommendations were developed from the results and two contextual profiles of school practices (for teachers and principals) were co-constructed based on the emerging characteristics enabling organisational practices in the schools as the original contribution of this research.

Keywords: school change, dynamic of change, change theory, co-constructing change, Indonesian Education, school leadership, globally driven change, school management, school dynamics, dynamics of change, neoliberalism impact on education, school culture, school micropolitics, school contextual dynamic, micro-meso-macro context of school change

Subject: Education thesis

Thesis type: Doctor of Philosophy
Completed: 2017
School: School of Education
Supervisor: Dr. Michael Bell