Sustaining innovations : schools, institutions and linkages in the Cuzco region, Peru

J. ChavezTafur

Research output: Thesisinternal PhD, WU


<p>This thesis is about linkages between the different institutions operating in the rural areas and the contributions these linkages provide. Numerous activities are found taking place in the rural areas of Peru. Many are the result of a specific intervention, designed and implemented towards the improvement of a given situation. This research concentrated on the interventions around education, considering both formal and non-formal education. It looked, in particular, at the innovations in each case.</p><p>The purpose of this research was to determine the possibilities for sustainability which the different educational innovations have, considering basic rural education as one of the main input factors for development. In short, this study intended to explore to what extent linkages and interrelations between the different institutions in the field can contribute to sustained educational innovations. Consequently, the following research questions were formulated:</p><OL><LI>What are the critical factors influencing the sustainability of innovations within (a) basic formal education in the rural areas and (b) NGO-initiated non-formal educational interventions?<LI>What are the reasons which determine the establishment or non-establishment of linkages?<LI>What are the (potential) contributions of linkages to interventions and to the resulting innovations in education?</OL><p>Different theories on education and development were considered, as well as various concepts on sustainability and on linkages. In particular, research drew upon the knowledge systems approach as the necessary analytical tool for looking at the advantages emerging from the establishment of linkages. This proved useful for looking at the actors and institutions in the field, and specifically for looking at their interactions. A difference was found however between the institutions considered in the literature and those in the field. No research institutions were found directly involved, while the (primary) schools were seen in every location, related in many ways to agriculture and general life in the community. This proved the need for a wider outlook.</p><p>Research followed a qualitative approach. The purpose was thus not to produce generalizations, but rather in depth understandings. A combination of different research instruments was used in order to cover the research questions: literature reviews, semi-structured and unstructured interviews, observations (in particular 'participant observation') and group discussions.</p><p>Four different locations were chosen, in two provinces in the southern highlands of Peru: Urubamba and Acomayo. Each of these locations is witness to different intervention projects. Two groups of projects were chosen: those oriented at improving the provision of formal education in rural primary schools, and the general set of activities resulting from the presence of an NGO (non-formal education). These projects involve different actors and institutions: the <em>Ministerio de Educación</em> , the local education authorities, the <em>Asociaciones de Padres de Familia</em> (parents associations), the school staff, the NGOs, the extension workers and the beneficiaries.</p><p>It was observed that projects, or the specific activities within each project, last for a limited period of time. Results are seldom sustained after the project is finished. Different factors were identified behind this lack of sustainability, running from a poor definition of roles and responsibilities to a general lack of interest or motivation. All these factors are summarized in one: management. This refers to management during the intervention itself, as well as management after the project is finished.</p><p>All institutions and interviewees showed interest in sustainability. However, this is not easily translated into their day-to-day activities. Besides, the 'sustainability of educational innovations' showed various meanings. These meanings range from a continuous supply of goods and services to a continuous response to changes. Even if all opinions share an interest in an ongoing existence or persistence, the differences emerge when considering what exactly is to persist, and how.</p><p>Linkages between the different institutions were observed in the field. These showed different attributes and different functions. Still, considering the large number of institutions and activities taking place, these linkages are not many. Several factors were recognized behind this lack of linkages: from the difference in aims and objectives to an apparent competition between these institutions (e.g. competition to see which one reaches a greater section of the population). These factors were observed limiting the emergence of new linkages, as well as influencing the performance of those already existing.</p><p>The establishment of linkages is limited by the characteristics of each of the institutions surveyed. But each institution also shows positive factors, such as the accumulated experience in NGOs, their capacity to canalize resources, the permanent presence of schools in a given area or the local authority present in the municipalities. Implementation of further linkages is then to be based on these positive attributes. And it is facilitated by an adequate provision of resources (money and in particular time), a common objective between the institutions being linked, and the pressure exerted by a 'higher authority'.</p><p>The need for a certain leadership showed how important it is to establish linkages with the authorities. This confirmed previous studies which showed the importance of establishing linkages between the public and the non-governmental sectors. However, and despite the 'recovery' of the State in Peru, it is not easy to determine where 'the State' is in the rural areas. Thus the need to consider the local authorities. It became clear that district municipalities can effectively assume the role of managers and contribute to attaining specific advantages.</p><p>Fieldwork showed that the existence of linkages does provide specific benefits to the different educational activities. This positive contribution was recognized by the different actors, who mentioned existing and potential advantages. These advantages were summarized as:</p><UL><LI>a greater provision of materials, resources or facilities;<LI>a better distribution of all activities taking place (coordination); and<LI>greater possibilities for reaching the long term objectives (by reaching out to additional target groups and improving the interventions).</UL><p>The contribution of linkages to sustainability was the main motivation behind this research. Even though it was not explicitly formulated in the field, the findings showed that the sustainability of the different educational interventions can be enhanced with greater linkages. Linkages can provide resources or facilities. They can lead to a greater participation of the various groups of the population, something which in turn leads to a better selection of the activities which define an intervention. Similarly, this can lead to a better distribution of roles and responsibilities. These are all conditions which determine that the result of an intervention is sustained in time.</p><p>An additional issue arising from this research was the difference between an innovation product and a process. Research showed that most interventions see an innovation as the final product which results from the intervention itself. An innovation process is not frequently sought, and facilitation towards this process does not take place. However, an innovation process always occurs: the final product is modified and adapted, both within the formal and the non-formal activities. The product is therefore the starting point of a process, which continues or stops altogether depending on the different factors identified. The greatest contribution which linkages provide lies in the possibility for the innovation processes to continue.</p>
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • van den Bor, W., Promotor
Award date7 Dec 1998
Place of PublicationS.l.
Print ISBNs9789054859703
Publication statusPublished - 1998


  • agricultural education
  • educational innovation
  • educational reform
  • sustainability
  • government policy
  • educational planning
  • educational policy
  • primary education
  • elementary education
  • private organizations
  • rural communities
  • peru

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