Types of reforms: Shock therapy vs Physiotherapy

The reforms in any sector can be broadly categorized into two categories - shock therapies and physiotherapies.

Shock Therapy:  Shock therapy in medicine is essentially a strong external stimuli to treat an ailment. In policy, the reforms which require enactment or amendment of a new law, or changes in certain rules and regulations come under this category.
  1. These are one time-go reforms. The major effort is to get the particular rule changed.
  2. One can advocate for these by being outside the system and get them done by persuasion or pressurizing.
Law to prevent entry of criminals into politics, removing unwanted restrictions on businesses etc come under this category.

Physiotherapy: Physiotherapy is generally used to strengthen the injured body parts. It involves regular and repeated exercise. The analogy to policy would be the tasks of improving the service delivery, making people work in offices etc. These type of reforms
  1. are about deepening the procedures.
  2. can be boring
  3. are time taking
  4. have no visibility of immediate outcomes
  5. require regularity and patience
  6. can only be done by those inside the governance system
Just like physiotherapy, the net effect of all these will be visible only after certain time, conditional upon the long term practice.

What to do with this analogy? It helps us to put things in perspective. If one is sensitive to a particular problem, the first question to be asked is - What should be done to fix this? If one has a broad idea or pointers to this question's answer, it is useful to think - Is my idea a shock therapy or a physiotherapy? This helps one to chalk out the strategy for advocacy, some times it is also useful in choosing the career path and so on.

Relevance to school education policy: Majority of the high impact reforms needed in school education, as of now, are of the second category, the physiotherapy. There are only very limited big ideas in education that one can try to advocate and push through by being outside the system. Even in the case of few big ideas like decentralization, they come with a huge caveat of 'physiotherapy', the governance capacity.

The major problem is the governance deficit and, like a physiotherapy, this is a boring, time taking procedure requiring regularity and patience, and something which can only be done by people inside the governance system. The least one can do is to make the government realize this and ensure that they work towards this.

No comments:

Post a Comment