Why does policy fail? understanding the problems of policy implementation in Pakistan - a neuro-cognitive perspective

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Education policy in Pakistan, as in other developing countries, faces the challenge of poor implementation. The article explores the history of education policy in Pakistan and describes the conventional accounts of policy failures. It particularly highlights the issues of unclear goals, political commitment, governance, centralisation, resources and foreign aid. Generally, it is assumed that overcoming these conventional challenges will result in better policy outcomes. Although this is partially true, Spillane, Reiser and Reimer (2002) direct our attention to the cognitive factors that play a critical role in policy implementation. They argued that implementing agents try to make sense of policy provisions before acting on them. This article extends their views to emphasise that a more deepened understanding the process of sense-making requires incorporation of insights from the neuro-cognitive sciences. Based on the neuro-cognitive understanding of learning that is developed in this article, some cognitive constraints on learning and sense-making are proposed. It is argued that both conventional and neuro-cognitive constraints need to be optimally satisfied to avoid serious policy failures.

Original languageUndefined/Unknown
JournalInstitute for Educational Development, Karachi
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2006

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