Efficiency in Bulgaria's schools : a nonparametric study
In Eastern European countries in large social sectors such as education, inefficiency and technical deficiencies are the legacy of the old command economy. The authors examine the technical efficiency of classroom use (defined as the number of classes per classroom in one transitional economy -- Bulgaria. They examine the concept of efficiency in 199 urban and rural municipalities, using data envelopment analysis to generate efficiency scores. Those scores -- discussed in terms of frequency and regional distribution -- are then regressed on several socioeconomic variables. The researchers find significant relationships between the efficiency scores, on the one hand, and, on the other, the proportion of students in the population under age 20 (demand indicator), the number of teachers (variable input), the percentage of the municipal budget spent on education, and the degree of urbanization. Efficiency in the use of classrooms (in terms of classes) varies considerably among municipalities, and the efficiency is highest in the capital city of Sofia. To the extent that some variation in efficiency reflects demand or demographic factos, there is little that policy can do to change the pattern. But some changes in municipal policy could increase the efficiency of classroom use without jeopardizing the fundamental learning objective. In some rural areas, for example, where there are few students and classroom utilization is low, it may be possible to consolidate several grades into multigrade classes and reduce the size of the teaching (and nonteaching) staff, while maintaining the quality of learning and maximizing the use of such fixed inputs as classrooms. To the extent that it is possible to use such classrooms more efficiently, savings could be generated in the municipalities that need them most: in demographically sparse, poor municipalities with a weak economic base. Those savings could then be reallocated to other educational essentials, such as equipment and materials.
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