Exploring the policy implementation paradox, the case of the Free Compulsory Universal Basic Education (fCUBE) policy in Ghana

Rights statement
Awarding institution
  • University of Strathclyde
Date of award
  • 2007
Thesis identifier
  • T11813
Qualification Level
Qualification Name
Department, School or Faculty
  • This study explored the policy implementation paradox. That is, the view endorsed by policy literature that although tremendous investment is made in making policies, change agents and implementers often pursue different agendas when it comes to implementation. The study explored this policy phenomenon using the Free Compulsory Universal Basic Education (fCUBE) policy in Ghana as an exemplar and with a view to investigating the extent to which the 'free', 'compulsory', 'universal' and 'basic education' provisions, claimed in the policy documents, are reflected in its implementation process. The research aimed to find out how the conception and articulation of the policy purposes encapsulated in official documentation impacted on the implementation process. This approach involved the critical discourse analysis of a range of publicly available documentation and the analysis of interviews with eleven elite individuals and five groups of policy mediators at the meso-level of the Ghanaian educational system. The study posits that, owing to its commitment to the ideals of social justice, the 'fCUBE' policy is seen as deeply rooted in social democracy. However, the advent of neo-liberal ideological discourse on education wrapped in the rhetoric of 'skills for knowledge-based economy' has triggered the neutralization of progressive undercurrents, resulting in a significant discursive shift in language and policy direction. As such, it is contended that as long as there are private costs to education vis-a-vis disparities in educational provision and delivery, the 'free', 'compulsory', 'universal' and 'basic education' components of 'fCUBE' cannot be said to be adequately reflected in the implementation process. It is concluded that the policy implementation paradox is a natural policy phenomenon occurring as a result of the moving discursive shifts that occur as policy is enacted, and that this needs to be acknowledged and concerted efforts made to effectively manage its effects on policy processes.
Resource Type
Date Created
  • 2007
Former identifier
  • 751499