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International Institute for Educational Planning About the Working Paper Strategic Planning To make progress in education, countries must have a clear vision of their priorities and how to achieve them. Many ministries therefore prepare strategic plans, which re flect this vision and help mobilize people and resources. Planning in most countries Techniques and methods is infl uenced by local history, organization of the state, and available resources, as well as specifi c challenges such as natural disasters or armed confl ict. Regardless of the particular circumstances, educational authorities need to carry out essential tasks such as analysing the education system, formulating relevant policies, then implementing these and monitoring their implementation, often jointly with their national and international partners. Since its inception in 1963, IIEP has been supporting countries in their sector planning efforts, Working whether through training, research programmes, or technical collaboration. The ‘Education Sector paper Planning Working Papers’ series is based on nearly fi ve decades of experience, gathered from 3 3 numerous country partnerships. The objective of Working Paper 3, Strategic Planning: Techniques and methods, is to provide practical guidance about the methodological and technical aspects related to the formulation of education sector strategic plans. With concrete examples from existing sector plans, and numerous references and links to further reading, it highlights the different phases of the planning process. The Paper also introduces the reader to one of the most widely used methods to design programmes and projects – the logical framework approach. It is presented here adapted to the specifi cs of education sector planning. Other Working Papers already available in this series include: • Strategic Planning: Concept and rationale (Working Paper 1) • Strategic Planning: Organizational arrangements (Working Paper 2) All of these papers are also available on the IIEP website: Forthcoming papers will focus on other educational planning steps and tools, such as the policy formulation process, yearly operational planning processes, and the use of education simulation models. International Institute for Educational Planning Education Sector PlanningStrategic planning: Techniques and methods Strategic planning: Techniques and methods Education Sector Planning Working Papers WORKING PAPER 3 International Institute for Educational PlanningThis Working Paper has been prepared by Gabriel Carron, IIEP Consultant. Overall editing and contributions have been provided by: Khalil Mahshi (Director), Anton De Grauwe (Senior Programme Specialist), Dorian Gay (Assistant Programme Specialist), and Sulagna Choudhuri (Consultant), IIEP. The designations employed and the presentation of material throughout this publication do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of IIEP or UNESCO concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries. The authors are responsible for the choice and the presentation of the facts contained in this book and for the opinions expressed therein, which are not necessarily those of IIEP or UNESCO and do not commit the Organization. Published by: International Institute for Educational Planning 7-9 rue Eugène Delacroix, 75116 Paris e-mail: IIEP website: Cover design: IIEP Typesetting: Linéale Production Printed in IIEP’s printshop iiep/web/doc/2010/07 © UNESCO 2010Foreword to the series The priority mandate of the International Institute for Educational Planning (IIEP) is to strengthen the capacity of UNESCO Member States to plan and manage education effectively. IIEP aims at fulfi lling this mandate through a range of interlinked programmes: short- and long-term training, in Paris, in Buenos Aires and in the fi eld; research on challenges to effective educational planning and management and on successful strategies and practices; policy guidance and advocacy; and collaboration with countries on the actual preparation of plans, and on their implementation, monitoring and evaluation. Over the years, IIEP has supported a large number of countries in developing their capacity to formulate their national education sector plans. This Education Sector Planning Working Papers series draws from a vast accumulation of ‘fi eld-based’ experience of IIEP staff members and consultants working with a diverse range of countries. The intention is to have a set of practical and easy-to-use guidelines on different aspects of the strategic planning of education that could be applicable in various contexts. These working papers have been prepared primarily for senior policy/decision-makers, for staff of Ministries of Education and national and regional institutions involved in technical aspects of planning and for international agency staff supporting national policy and planning. To facilitate their work in education sector planning, we have made them available on the IIEP website. Through these Working Papers, IIEP hopes to contribute to the important work being done by the community of educational planners and managers in many countries, sometimes in very challenging conditions. Other self-learning materials on specifi c educational planning and management issues are also available on IIEP’s website ( The website contains, in addition, a portal of education plans and policies from UNESCO Member States, called Planipolis ( Finally, we intend the Education Sector Planning Working Papers to evolve over time as we learn from joint experiences. Thus, any feedback to the documents will be most appreciated. The team who prepared the documents would like to acknowledge the support of the Ministries of Education of various countries and the development partners, which has greatly contributed to this work. Page 5Contents Foreword to the series . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 1. Phase 1: Sector diagnosis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 1.1 Concept, rationale, and scope . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 1.2 Analytical framework for education sector diagnosis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 1.3 Organization of the sector diagnosis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 1.4 Main steps in the sector diagnosis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 2. Phase 2: Policy formulation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 3. Phase 3: Selection of key plan objectives and priority areas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 3.1 Moving from problems to objectives . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 3.2 A fi rst feasibility testing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 3.3 An opportune moment for formal consultation of stakeholders . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 4. Phase 4: Design of priority programmes. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 4.1 Programme design and the Logical Framework Matrix (LFM) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 4.2 Different steps to complete an LFM . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 4.3 Practical examples of an LFM . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 4.4 Different ways of presenting programmes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 5. Phase 5: Preparation of the cost and fi nancing framework . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32 6. Phase 6: Design of the monitoring and review system . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33 6.1 The organizational structure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33 6.2 The monitoring procedure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34 6.3 The key performance indicators . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36 7. Phase 7: Writing of the draft plan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37 8. Phase 8: Revision of the draft plan and offi cial approval of the fi nal plan document . . . 38 Annex 1. Example plan outlines of various countries . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39 Annex 2. Key Performance Indicators from the Cambodia Education Strategic Plan 2004–2008 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45 References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46 Page 6Introduction The methodological steps for preparing a strategic medium-term plan can be split up into eight phases. The different phases have been briefl y presented at the end of Education Sector Planning Working Paper 2, Strategic planning: Organizational arrangements, and they are listed again in Box 1: Box 1. The eight phases of plan preparation Phase 1. Sector diagnosis Phase 2. Policy formulation Phase 3. Selection of objectives and priority areas Phase 4. Design of priority programme Phase 5. Preparation of cost and fi nancing framework Phase 6. Design of monitoring system Phase 7. Writing up of draft plan Phase 8. Revision of draft and offi cial plan approval The eight phases are of varying duration and complexity (and will be outlined in detail in individual chapters below). The most important and also the most time-consuming ones are generally Phases 1 and 4, concerning diagnosis and programme design, respectively. Technical expertise is needed for all phases, but some (in particular Phases 1 to 4) require the active involvement of the ministry as a whole, whereas with others (such as Phase 5) it is mainly the technical people who are responsible for their completion. Furthermore (as explained in Working Paper 2), stakeholders and development partners must be informed and consulted at critical moments of the plan preparation process, and in particular at the end of Phases 3 and 7. Because of the participatory nature of the whole undertaking and the need to combine the plan preparation with a solid capacity building component, the completion of the eight phases will ordinarily take between 8 and 12 months (if not longer), depending on the particular circumstances in each country. The objective of this Working Paper is to provide practical guidance about the methodological and technical aspects relating to each of the eight phases. For several of these aspects, excellent learning material – produced by IIEP and others – exists and will be referred to in the text. The reader can fi nd the most important reference materials in the list at the end of this document. The user of these guidelines is further invited to look at real education sector plans; examples of these which have been recently produced in various countries can be downloaded from 1 the IIEP Planipolis portal. Such practical examples will greatly facilitate the understanding of some of the techniques and methods presented here. With this idea in mind, fi ve plans – from Egypt, Ghana, Grenada, Mauritius, and Mozambique (Box 2) – have been selected and will be referred to throughout the text. They are not perfect modules to be copied, but each has interesting features. They should be seen as illustrative material and sources of inspiration, not as models. 1. See Page 7Strategic Planning: Techniques and methods Box 2. Five national education sector plans • Egypt – The National Plan for Education for All (2002/2003–2015/2016). Cairo Ministry of Education, 2003. ( pdf) • Ghana – National Action Plan Education for All: Ghana 2003–2015. Accra, MOEYS, 2003. ( NAP%20Finalised%20Version.pdf) • Grenada – Strategic plan for educational enhancement and development 2006–2015 SPEED II. Volume 1: The strategic framework. St Georges, Ministry of Education, 2006. ( Speed%20II.pdf) • Mauritius – Education and human resources strategy plan 2008–2020: draft. Port Louis, Ministry of Education, Culture and Human Resources, 2008. ( les/chet_hernana_docs/Mauritius/ National/DRAFT%20EDUCATION%20and%20HR%20STRATEGY%20 PLAN%202008-2020.pdf) • Mozambique – Education Sector Strategic Plan II (ESSP II) 2005–2009: draft. Maputo, MINED, 2005. ( 20ESSP%20II.pdf) Page 81. Phase 1: Sector diagnosis 1.1 Concept, rationale, and scope I. Concept and rationale Sector diagnosis is the fi rst step of the strategic planning process. It consists of the critical analysis of the status, functioning and results of the education system, with a view to identifying strengths and weaknesses. The quality of the sector diagnosis will determine the quality of the strategic plan: • It is the basis for identifying relevant policy goals and objectives and for selecting appropriate priority programmes. • From a more technical point of view, it provides the baseline indicators required for monitoring the plan implementation later on. II. Scope The diagnosis should cover the whole sector of education, not just education services that depend on the ministry of education. In principle, the perspective should be holistic, because all levels (from pre-school to higher) and forms of education (formal and non-formal) are interrelated. In certain instances, separate sub-sector plans will be prepared (e.g. for pre-higher and higher education); yet even in such cases the various sub-sector plans have to be closely coordinated in order to be useful. It should not be limited to the education system as such, but also cover the environment in which the system is operating. The attention given to contextual factors is an essential characteristic of strategic planning. In an open system such as education, the interactions with the global society are a crucial determinant of its development. It should not be limited to an analysis of the current situation but include an analysis of past and, to a certain extent, future trends. Trend analysis is essential to understanding the dynamics of educational development. A simple static analysis of the current situation would produce results that are diffi cult to interpret. For example, a secondary school net enrolment rate of 70% in 2008 could be positive or negative: positive if was 60% fi ve years ago, negative if it was 75%. 1.2 Analytical framework for education sector diagnosis An analytical framework for carrying out a comprehensive sector diagnosis is presented in Box 3 and briefl y commented upon. Page 9Strategic Planning: Techniques and methods Box 3. Analytical framework for education sector analysis I. Context analysis • Macro-economic context • Demographic context • Socio-cultural context • Politico-institutional context II. Analysis of existing policies III. Analysis of the education system performance • Access • Internal effi ciency • Quality • External effi ciency • Equity IV. Analysis of the management capacity V. Analysis of cost and fi nancing I. Context analysis Macro-economic context With a particular emphasis on: past and future economic growth trends, government revenues and budget, and employment trends. Demographic context With a particular emphasis on: population growth by specifi c age groups (school age population), issues of geographical distribution and population density, and issues of internal and external migration. Socio-cultural context With a particular emphasis on: distribution of wealth, linguistic and cultural differences, and minority groups. Politico-institutional context With a particular emphasis on: the role of the state and the private sector, the territorial organization of the government administration and issues of decentralization, the public service situation. II. Analysis of existing policies This involves analysis of explicit education policies where they exist (including implicit policies as refl ected in the practical decisions made by the government and in the choice of ongoing education development projects); the overall development policies which have a direct impact on the education policies (e.g. policies refl ected in Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers and/or National Development Plans); and the international commitments made by the government (e.g. MDGs, EFA Goals, Salamanca Declaration). Page 10Phase 1: Sector diagnosis III. Performance analysis of the education system Access Analysis of the coverage of the education system by level and type of education; the relative importance of the provision of education services by different organizers (public, private, community based, etc.); and the accessibility to different education services in terms of physical accessibility (distance from schools), economic (cost of schooling) and cultural (language, religious or other cultural barriers to schooling). Common indicators: literacy rate; apparent and net intake rates; gross and net enrolment rates; age-specifi c enrolment rate; transition rates; percentage of private enrolment; average distance from school; direct and indirect costs of schooling, etc. Internal effi ciency Analysis of the extent to which students who enter a given cycle or type of education progress regularly through the system, and the cost implications of their progress. Common indicators: repetition rates, promotion and drop-out rates; percentage of repeaters; school- life expectancy; survival rates by grade; coeffi cient of effi ciency; years-input per graduate, etc. Quality Analysis of the quality of the system, in terms of: • the quality of the inputs provided (teachers, learners, educational facilities, curricula and learning materials, pedagogical arrangements). (Common indicators: distribution of teachers by qualifi cation, gender, age; pupil–teacher ratio; distribution of classrooms by condition of the building; distribution of classrooms by availability of different types of equipment; pupil–classroom ratio; average surface available per student; number of textbooks per learner; number of periods of teaching per year); • the processes taking place, especially at school level, to transform these inputs into results (teaching/learning practices, in-school relationships, interactions with parents and local stakeholders, interaction with the administration). (Common indicators: student and teacher absenteeism; regularity of meetings of teacher associations or school management committees; regularity of supervision visits, etc.); • the results obtained by the learners (acquisition of knowledge, skills, values and attitudes). (Common indicators: pass rates at national examinations; achievement scores on standardized national or international tests, etc.). External effi ciency Analysis of the extent to which the investment in education produces the expected social and economic benefi ts for both the individual learner and society. For example: correspondence between education system outputs and needs of the labour market, and between education level attained and social well-being (in terms of income, health status, fertility rate of women, etc.). Common indicators: rate of unemployment for specifi c age groups by level and type of education; duration of unemployment for different categories of school leavers and new graduates; relation between level of education and income, health status, etc. Page 11Strategic Planning: Techniques and methods Equity Analysis of different types of disparities (between girls and boys, different geographical areas, income groups, socio-economic categories, cultural groups, etc.), with respect to access, internal effi ciency, quality and external effi ciency. Common indicators: absolute and relative gap analysis, parity indices, Gini coeffi cient, etc. VI. Analysis of management capacity Analysis of the capacity of different government structures and other major education organizers (e.g. the private sector) to manage the existing and planned education services effi ciently, including the analysis of major stakeholders. The idea here is not to carry out a full-fl edged organizational audit of the Ministry (or Ministries) of Education, but rather to review relatively quickly (depending on time and resources available) the major strengths and weaknesses of the education management system at different levels of administration, with a view to identifying the major challenges that will need to be addressed (organizational and human) in order to make the system capable of implementing the forthcoming plan effi ciently. In many instances, this review will serve as the basis for the preparation of a special priority action programme for reinforcing management capacities within the sector (which could in turn include a more in-depth analysis of some specifi c management issues). Present data collection methods and tools seldom provide the information necessary to evaluate the capacities of the organization and the effectiveness of its functioning. Possible indicators: percentage of management staff with profi les matching their tasks; percentage of offi cers aware of their tasks; percentage of offi ces or departments with operational plans; percentage of offi ces with necessary IT infrastructure. VII. Analysis of cost and fi nancing Analysis of public expenditure on education by level and type of education, category of expenditure, etc. Also an analysis of expenditure on education based on different sources of fi nancing (central state, decentralized authorities, local communities, families, etc.), use of resources within and across different levels and types of education. Common indicators: percentage of public budget (recurrent, capital) devoted to education, public expenditure on education as a percentage of GDP, percentage of public expenditure devoted to salary cost, public expenditure per student, relative importance of different sources of fi nancing, parental expenditure on education, etc. 1.3 Organization of the sector diagnosis A comprehensive sector diagnosis can turn out to be a major undertaking. Much will depend on the information available. In general, one does not start from scratch and can rely on a number of existing studies and reports. Furthermore, the idea is not to transform the sector diagnosis into a research programme. The objective is much more pragmatic and down to earth. It is to identify and document – mainly on the basis of the statistical and other information available and in a relatively short period of time (a few months) – the main achievements and problems of the education system, as a basis for fi xing plan objectives and selecting priority programmes. During the late 1980s and 1990s, there was a tendency to broaden the concept of sector diagnosis into what was called ‘sector analysis’. At that time, sector analysis was very much promoted and directed by external development partners. It was seen not so much as a fi rst step in the preparation of a full-fl edged education sector plan by the country, but as a process that should help in building consensus between the country and the development partners about Page 12Phase 1: Sector diagnosis long-term policy options and strategies. Thus, sector analysis was not limited to the diagnosis as such but also needed to include (and even culminate in) the formulation and adoption of precise policy recommendations. The preparation of a sector plan could always follow later on, but was not explicitly considered (Kemmerer, 1994). Within this perspective, sector diagnosis often implied the launching of new studies. The process might last 12 months or more and required the mobilization of considerable resources. Such expenditures of time and resources are rarely feasible today, and the launching of new studies has to be limited. Yet, sector diagnosis remains a serious undertaking. It has to be done in a rigorous way by the ministry as a whole, under the technical leadership of the Strategic Planning Team, by the various ministry departments. The Strategic Planning Team should handle the different technical tasks of information-gathering and analysis and provide the Technical Working Groups, composed of representatives of the various ministry departments, with the necessary inputs (including guidelines, statistical information and reports, etc.) to carry out their diagnostic work. As discussed in Education Sector Planning Working Paper 2, at this stage the Technical Working Groups will be best formed by level and type of education (early childhood education, basic education, upper secondary, technical and vocational, adult education, teacher training, etc.), complemented by a few cross-cutting groups (e.g. on management, cost and fi nancing, etc.). In order for the Strategic Planning Team to carry out its leading role effi ciently, a clear distribution of tasks and areas of responsibility (by level of education and/or by type of competence) between its members will also be required. The different modalities of involving various categories of stakeholders and, most importantly, the decentralized levels of management have also been discussed in Working Paper 2. 1.4 Main steps in the sector diagnosis The diagnostic work involves three major technical steps: information gathering, information processing and analysis, and preparation of the diagnostic results. Step 1. Information gathering Use fully all existing sources of information The statistical data will form the foundation for the sector diagnosis. With few exceptions, such data (or at least basic education statistics) are now easily available in most ministries of education, even if their coverage and quality is not always adequate. But, as mentioned above, the information to be gathered extends beyond statistical data and should also include the various documents (studies, research reports, project documents, etc.) containing both quantitative and qualitative information about education development in the country. Such documents are particularly useful for giving a meaning to some of the statistical fi ndings and, more generally, for providing a more in-depth understanding of what is going on in the sector. Unfortunately few ministries of education have a well-organized documentation centre in which such reports and documents can be easily identifi ed. This means that gathering this type of information often requires a special effort and can be very time-consuming. Among the most important sources of information to be considered are the following: • national demographic census data and projections; • results of national sample household surveys; • national policy documents and plans; • documents and reports from other relevant ministries (fi nance, planning, health, etc.); • yearly school census data and, more broadly, the Education Management Information Systems (EMIS) of the ministry of education; • data about national examinations and tests; Page 13Strategic Planning: Techniques and methods • reports produced by various donor agencies; • various research and survey reports; • others (inspection reports, teacher records, etc.). Weigh carefully the additional value of collecting new data In most cases, education sector plans are prepared under pressure, and little time and resources are set aside to undertake new studies. Consequently, the additional value of collecting original new information will have to be carefully weighed. And whenever such collection of new information is judged to be indispensable, the possibility of using a small sample-based study, rather than a large-scale survey, should always be considered. In many instances, combining systematic fi eld observation of a limited number of cases and in-depth interviewing of (and/ or focus group discussion with) a limited number of specialists and stakeholders can go a long way in helping planners to clarify pending issues and better understanding of specifi c education problems and realities. In post-confl ict and post-disaster countries (in which basic statistical information is generally scarce), consultation of a limited number of knowledgeable actors will be particularly important. Use the opportunity of the strategic plan preparation to build up or expand and reinforce the information system of the ministry A good information system is an essential condition, not only for the preparation of a good strategic plan, but also for an effi cient monitoring of the plan’s implementation. Building up such a system, which covers statistical as well as non-statistical information, is a long-term undertaking. Much progress has been made during recent years in developing computerized statistical information systems in education ministries. However the scope of most systems is still limited to regular school census data, while learner achievement data, fi nancial management data and human resource management data are either not covered or stored in different data bases that are often not compatible with each other. The experience of several countries, even 2 low-income countries such as Cambodia, has shown that these shortcomings can be overcome relatively easily, provided that there is the political will and that continued support is provided over a number of years. Setting up and maintaining a comprehensive and up-to-date non-statistical information base seems to be a more diffi cult challenge, since it is generally linked to a rather widespread tradition of defi cient record-keeping and poor sharing of information within ministries of education. In any case, and whatever the diffi culties, it is most advisable to use the plan preparation effort as an opportunity to create awareness about the importance of a good information base and to lay the foundation to build up (or expand and reinforce) both the statistical and non-statistical information systems within the ministry. 2. Since Cambodia emerged from a long period of confl ict and war in the early 1990s, its Ministry of Education has paid systematic and steady attention to setting up a proper planning and management information system. Since 1995, UNICEF and Sida have provided sustained support for the acquisition of the necessary hardware and software and for building up national expertise (since 1995, 14 specialists have been trained at the IIEP Annual Training Programme). As a consequence, today Cambodia is one of the few low-income countries with a fully integrated, active and effi cient EMIS, capable of providing, on the spot, the Ministry, the development partners and even each individual school with a consistent and up-to-date supply of education statistics and indicators. The availability of a good EMIS has made systematic planning of the education system possible since the beginning of the last decade and has played a key role in moving towards better donor alignment and harmonization. Page 14Phase 1: Sector diagnosis Step 2. Information processing and analysis The analytical framework presented above will be used for processing and analysing the existing information. The analysis of statistical data should be done on the basis of a limited number of carefully selected indicators. It will involve drawing up tables, establishing time series (including a fi rst estimation of future trends), computing means, ratios and growth rates, measuring disparities, etc. In all cases, the use of graphs and cartographic illustrations is highly recommended as the best way of making statistical information more easily understandable. The processing and analysis of the non-statistical information is generally more complex, since the amount of documents and reports available can be quite sizeable, and the information provided in them is not always clear-cut and sometimes redundant or even contradictory. This is why a detailed screening of the different documents has to be carried out with a view to identifying the major issues discussed, checking coherence between sources, and regrouping and ordering the information thus obtained by theme and level of education, using the same analytical framework matrix presented above. Although the processing and analysis of statistical and non-statistical data will generally be the responsibility of two different sub-teams within the Strategic Planning Team, close interaction and regular exchange of fi ndings will need to take place between the two sub-teams in order to arrive at a single coherent end-result. Step 3. Preparation of the diagnostic results At the end of Step 2, the Strategic Planning Team should be able to provide the Technical Working Groups with the necessary statistical and other inputs (which can take the form of diagnostic reports by level and type of education), which should allow the Working Groups: • to identify and document the major strengths and weaknesses of the education system; and • to make some draft proposals about future objectives to be pursued and possible priority actions to be taken. (At this stage the identifi cation of major objectives and priority action areas is still preliminary and these will have to be further tested and validated during the next planning stages.) A preferred tool for arriving at a consensus on the main strengths and weaknesses (but which 3 should never be a shortcut or a substitute for systematic data analysis) is a SWOT Analysis. Developed in the 1960s, SWOT Analysis is a strategic planning technique for identifying internal Strengths and Weaknesses and external Opportunities and Threats of business organizations. As was the case with other strategic planning techniques, its application gradually spread to other types of organizations and the public sector. The SWOT analysis is, by defi nition, a collaborative tool for facilitating collective brainstorming in workshop sessions. A SWOT will be all the more productive when it is based on a solid, objective data analysis and starts from the identifi cation of specifi c objectives to be reached. 3. For more information about the use of the SWOT Analysis refer to the following web links:,, For the application of SWOT to the education sector see UNESCO, 2006. A practical example of the results of a SWOT Analysis can be found in the National Action Plan Education for All: Ghana 2003–2015. Page 152. Phase 2: Policy formulation Policy formulation has to do with defi ning broad, long-term policy orientations and goals (which might well extend beyond the medium-term plan) and with selecting major strategies for reaching those goals. The education policy will be, by defi nition, closely linked to the overall development policy of the country. The policy formulation will be based partly on a review of existing policies and partly on the results of the sector diagnosis. The review of existing policies should be carried out at the same time as sector diagnosis. It can be done in parallel with the sector diagnosis or be combined with it. The latter option (which is the one taken in this working paper) will facilitate the mutual enrichment of both activities. A better understanding of policies should help with interpreting the results of the education system performance, while the results should help in assessing the value of specifi c policy options that have been taken. As stated above, the policy review involves analysis of: • explicit education policies when they exist; • implicit policies as refl ected in the practical decisions made by the government and in the choice of ongoing education development projects; • the overall development policies that have a direct impact on the education policies (e.g. policies refl ected in Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers and/or National Development Plans); and, fi nally, • the international commitments made by the government (e.g. MDGs, EFA Goals, Salamanca Declaration, etc.) The formulation of the new policies (or reformulation of existing ones) is an iterative process that implies a close interaction between the planning experts and the policy-makers. While it should be possible to agree on the broad policy options rather quickly, a more refi ned defi nition of policy goals and strategies can take much more time and might continue evolving during the subsequent planning phases and, in particular, while the results are obtained during Phases 3, 4, and 5. Page 163. Phase 3: Selection of key plan objectives and priority areas This phase is intimately linked to Phases 1 and 2. The identifi cation of the main strengths and weaknesses resulting from the sector diagnosis, together with the broad policy orientations retained during the policy formulation, will serve as the basis for setting the main medium-term plan objectives and for selecting the priority programmes. 3.1 Moving from problems to objectives There is no standardized technical procedure to move from the diagnosis of strengths and weaknesses to the identifi cation of objectives and priority programmes. This is because the relationship between causes and effects in the education sector is generally complex and diffi cult to disentangle. Thus, although a problem might have been clearly identifi ed, the appropriate action to be taken for solving it may be less obvious. For instance, a high drop-out rate in upper primary schools can have several different causes. These could include: physical (high number of ‘incomplete’ schools), educational (poor quality of education service provided), economic (high direct cost of schooling and/or opportunity cost, lack of employment perspective), socio-cultural (withdrawal of girls at a certain age), as well as other factors. Moreover, most likely there is no single cause of the problem, but rather different causes that interact at the same time, to different degrees and in different circumstances. Of course, international research has gradually given us a better understanding of many education problems, and, in an increasing number of cases, country-specifi c studies are available to throw further light on their causes. Nevertheless, even in cases where objective empirical evidence is available as a basis for decision-making, the best action to be taken for addressing a specifi c education problem is seldom straightforward and not requiring discussion. Several solutions can be imagined, depending on the professional point of view (e.g. different opinions among economists and pedagogues about reducing class size), the relative weight given to different causes affecting the same problem, the ideological position taken, etc. This is why fi xing objectives and priority actions will always remain a question of best judgement resulting from discussion and consensus building. And this is exactly what has to take place in the Technical Working Groups on the basis of the objective data and empirical evidence provided by the Strategic Planning Team. A tool that can facilitate this move from problem identifi cation to objective setting is a ‘problem tree’, normally to be transformed into an ‘objective tree’ (European Commission, 2004; Chang, 2006). Part of the Logical Framework Approach (LFA), the problem tree is used to help analyse the different problems and order them around a focal problem in a cause–effect relationship. As with the SWOT analysis, the problem tree construction is a collaborative technique used for systematizing group discussion and reaching consensus. Cards are generally used for group members to write down individual problem statements which are then sorted out in a cause– effect relationship on a visual display. After several rounds of individual statement writing, the output is a graphical presentation of interrelated problems differentiated in a hierarchical order. The effects are presented on top of the focal problem, and the causes underneath. The graph gives an idea of what the group considers to be the main causes and effects of the focal problem. It helps in understanding the context and interrelationship of problems, and the potential impact of specifi c actions that could be undertaken (Figure 1). Page 17Strategic Planning: Techniques and methods Figure 1. Example of a ‘problem tree’ FOCAL PROBLEM The ‘problem tree’ is then transformed into an ‘objective tree’. The problems are converted through simple rewording into goals, objectives and outputs. The chart then shows a ‘means-ends’ relationship of possible objectives that could be pursued as part of the sector plan (Figure 2). It is important to bear in mind that the result of a problem and objective tree is not the equivalent of empirical evidence, but refl ects the collective opinion of the people involved in constructing these trees. The quality of the product will therefore directly depend on the profi le of those individuals. Hence the importance of carefully selecting the members of the Technical Working Groups and of making sure that they are composed of the right specialists with the appropriate technical knowledge and experience. Page 18 CAUSES EFFECTSPhase 3: Selection of key plan objectives and priority areas Figure 2. Transformation of ‘problem tree’ into ‘objective tree’ GOAL PROJECT OBJECTIVE OUTPUTS ACTIVITIES 3.2 A fi rst feasibility testing It is not enough to make sure that the objectives and the priority areas selected are relevant. They also have to be realistic, and therefore a rough feasibility checking has to start already at this early stage. However feasibility checking should not be limited to the fi nancial aspects, as is often the case. Different questions have to be answered concerning different feasibility dimensions, among which are the following. I. Internal consistency Î To what extent are the different objectives and priority actions coherent and compatible with each other? For example, compatibility between the objectives in terms of expansion of enrolments and the outputs expected from the school construction and teacher training programmes. II. Financial feasibility Î To what extent are the estimated costs of what is being proposed compatible with the fi nancial resources expected to be available? Î What are the implications of the capital investments foreseen for the recurrent budget, and to what extent are these implications sustainable in the longer term? Page 19 MEANS ENDSStrategic Planning: Techniques and methods III. Management feasibility Î To what extent can the implementation of what is being proposed be effi ciently ensured by the management capacities of the ministry and its partner organizations? For example: Will the education ministry services in charge of school construction be capable of effi ciently handling the control of all the new constructions foreseen? Or even: Is the building capacity available in the country (including the capacity to take part in tendering procedures) suffi cient to carry out the total volume of the proposed construction programme? IV. Socio-cultural feasibility Î To what extent are some of the action programmes adapted to the mindset and expectations of the main stakeholders (including trade unions and political parties) and, in particular, families and teachers? This type of question is not often explicitly raised, although it is particularly important when it comes to programmes of a more qualitative nature such as those concerning in-depth curriculum reform, drastic changes in pedagogical approaches, or changes in the use of teaching languages. In all such cases, incompatibility between the content of the reforms and the expectations and mindset of the main stakeholders is bound to lead to confl ict and can have a disastrous effect on the reform implementation, as amply demonstrated by many negative reform experiences. Through successive corrections this fi rst, rough type of feasibility testing should help the Working Groups to come up at the end of Phase 3 with a rather fi rm, realistic, and coherent set of objectives and priority programmes, even if the feasibility checking process will continue and lead to further adaptation and fi ne-tuning during the subsequent phases and, in particular, during the phases of programme design and more precise estimation of cost and fi nance implications. The simulation model should be used to carry out the feasibility checking concerning the fi rst two dimensions, which means that the preparation of the model has to be initiated at the very beginning of Phase 1 in order to be ready for its use during Phase 3. The results of the diagnosis of the analytical framework should help in assessing the third dimension, concerning management feasibility, while the fourth, concerning the socio-cultural feasibility, remains the most diffi cult and delicate to assess. In any case, it should be clear that both management capacities and socio-cultural readiness are not static realities but realties that can be changed and infl uenced. Feasibility testing therefore should not lead to abandoning all ambition and taking zero-risk. Good plans need to be realistic and at the same time ambitious and risks have to be taken but need to be calculated and mitigated. Management capacities may not be enough at the beginning of the plan but can be expanded and reinforced through a special priority programme, and, in the same way, readiness for change among the teachers and/or parents can be stimulated and enhanced through specifi c interventions during the plan implementation. 3.3 An opportune moment for formal consultation of stakeholders The end of this phase is the appropriate moment to launch a broad consultation process of the different categories of stakeholders in order to share with them the results of Phases 1, 2, and 3, and also to invite their comments and suggestions regarding: • the main challenges ahead, • the national policy goals and orientations select ed, and • the k ey plan objectives and priority areas identifi ed. Page 20

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