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Submitted by Jishnu Das on

Thank you for your comment. We agree that at first glance there are many seemingly intractable problems. But first, lets give kudos where its due. We know from the cases of Brazil, from Bihar (in Jishnu's slide presentation) and from Punjab, Pakistan between 2003 and 2010 (also discussed in Jishnu's presentation) that change can come, and it can come rapidly. We are also deepening our understanding of how change comes, and one of the lessons is that there is no unique recipe. In some situations an unusually astute politician makes service delivery part of their platform and turns out to be exceptionally adroit at building the right coalitions (Bihar). In another, rising anxiety and distress about educational costs and inequality leads to a national dialogue (Chile). In others, households start using "exit" options (the private sector and charter schools in Pakistan, Northern India and the U.S.) and in yet others, fundamental changes in education structure (Poland) leads to large changes in test-scores (Merilee Grindle's book, "Against the Odds" documents more examples of education reform working in Latin America). In each of these cases, perhaps better management plays a role, but our understanding of the previous instances of deliverology is that the impacts have yet to be carefully studied and there is considerable debate in the U.K. of whether the overall approach of centralized monitoring and target setting leads to better outcomes, or simply better single-minded adherence to targets! It is not surprising that U.K. was where this all started. After all, in 1862, U.K. was also the first country to institute the "revised code" for education, commonly called "Payment for Results". Under this scheme, school inspectors would pay bonuses to schools depending on things they found during inspection, and not surprisingly, schools started catering to the inspectors rather than the parents, with disastrous results. Matthew Arnold, the poet (and an inspector), after a visit to mainland Europe, writes "I find in English schools....a deadness, a slackness and a discouragement....This changes is certainly to be attributed to the `Payment by Results' school legislation of 1862". Will the target approach and centralized monitoring lead to similar problems today?