University of Sussex
Wehella,_Madura_Mangalika.pdf (2.07 MB)

School-based management initiatives in Sri Lanka: policy into practice

Download (2.07 MB)
posted on 2023-06-08, 19:04 authored by Madura Mangalika Wehella
This thesis evaluates the policy intentions, practices and effects of two different types of School-Based Management (SBM) initiatives in Sri Lanka: the Programme for School Improvement (PSI) and the Child-Friendly Schools Initiative (CFSI). Moreover, it examines the similarities and differences between these two initiatives and, when they co-exist in the same school, the ways in which schools have integrated them. PSI is the national SBM initiative of Sri Lanka introduced to the schools during 2006-2011 following a prolonged process of designing and consensus building which started in the 1990s. Running parallel to PSI, the CFSI - a rights-based approach to education which also has SBM features - is being implemented in selected primary schools. The policy discourse of SBM/PSI focused on the proposition that schools should be empowered to meet the expectations of their communities and that the administrative decentralisation which had shifted power from national to provincial levels was not addressing adequately disparities between schools. At the same time, there was scepticism as to whether SBM would be able to address the issues of a heterogeneous school system. CFSI was introduced by UNICEF in response to the government’s request to strengthen disadvantaged schools. The policy intentions of these two initiatives were investigated through interviews with key policy officials and with the representatives of development partner agencies who assisted PSI and CFSI. The influences of the policy-intents of PSI and CFSI on organisational practices, their effects, similarities, differences and complementarities were explored through six school case studies and experiences of the principals, teachers and parents. The thesis reveals that PSI is expected to empower schools with autonomy for making collaborative decisions, create a sense of ownership among the school community and permit improvement of schools. CFSI is intended to promote inclusiveness, child-centredness and democratic participation. They are both, in principle, guided by the concerns for ensuring equitable opportunities for all to learn, improving the quality of education which is judged by student learning outcomes and improving efficiency in resource allocation and use. At the school level, each case-study school has forged collaboration between school-parent-community and ensured democracy in decision-making. School-based decision-making is promoted by PSI through a set of Ministry guidelines and by CFSI through a participatory approach recommended by UNICEF and the Ministry, but having less official ‘force’ than PSI. Both initiatives have influenced to increase parents’ contribution in the school physical infrastructure development and in the educational projects. School-based planning has been promoted by both initiatives, and in some cases has resulted in the production of two separate plans. Some schools have combined these plans in accordance with the thematic structure of national Education Sector Development Framework. These initiatives have involved principals and teachers in decision-making, planning and implementation of programmes in collaboration with the community. The emphasis given to school-based teacher development is, however inadequate. Nonetheless, the increases in attendance and retention was influenced by CFSI rather than PSI, while both initiatives have had a positive influence by improving student learning and performance through various interventions at school and learning at home. The several ways in which these initiatives are integrated by schools, ensuring that each contributes towards filling the gaps left by the other are described. Considering their complementarities, the positive features of management in PSI and rights-based approach to education in CFSI in a rational manner, the author recommends an integrated ‘Learner-Friendly School-Based Management Model’ which will effectively address learners’ needs. It also recommends a methodology to pilot this model in Sri Lanka, thus putting the new knowledge produced by this research into practice.


File Version

  • Published version



Department affiliated with

  • Education Theses

Qualification level

  • doctoral

Qualification name

  • edd


  • eng


University of Sussex

Full text available

  • Yes

Legacy Posted Date


Usage metrics

    University of Sussex (Theses)


    No categories selected