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Planning Learning

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Sector analysis of education: where are we?

Strategies, objectives and corresponding actions and budgeted action plans. Some action plans contain

 

What are students learning?  Are they being taught in a way which will allow them to learn well? Is what they are learning responding to their parents’, communities’ and countries’ needs, aspirations and projects? What are the main factors influencing learning and what are the system’s capacities to change resources into results? A systemic sector analysis allows it to rigorously study these questions.

The diagnosis: a necessary lead-in to planning learning

Harmonizing education systems and coordination of programme aid requires a holistic analysis with figures and which uses results-based planning mechanisms. The State's Report on the Education System (RESEN) is the most complete orientation which serves as a factual diagnosis for decision-makers. This tool takes into account a country’s macro-economic, demographic, socio-cultural and political context to analyse a given system’s costs, financing, performance and capacities in order to set out appropriate policies, strategies and programmes. Analytical tools are also produced by ministries in collaboration with their partners (e.g. SitAn-UNICEF, evaluation reports of student achievements). An in-depth, efficient and useful diagnosis is based on a collaboration among all stakeholders at the various steps of the process, in order to ensure that there is overall agreement on key questions, determinative factors and final decisions concerning policy and planning.

 

Analysing learning in this context is not only measuring the level of achievements within an education system (a statement) but also examining policies, objectives, strategies and practical activities which have been implemented to lead to these results (system capacities).

 

Student achievements

Evaluation of student achievements is often summarized in a presentation of a country’s average values, sometimes set out by region, gender, type of residence and income level. Variations in these average results, interpretation of the proportion of students who do not reach a minimum threshold of knowledge/skills and the portion of adults who cannot read, whether they have finished primary school or not, are also indicators that help in judging the system’s quality and planning appropriate improvement measures.

Efficiency of policies and educational organizations

Achievement evaluation results and other impact evaluations show a link between certain factors and results, but without guaranteeing their causality. These factors are identified as quality vectors or obstacles in a given national/regional or local context. Their cost/efficiency analysis which looks at the scope of their effects and costs (financial, human, technical, time-related) is a tool for ranking measures to implement in the planning context. In the “Improve Learning” section five groups of influencing factors were identified: students and support structures, teachers and pedagogy, education curricula and teaching material, schools and classrooms and management of the education system. In the UNICEF report “Equité: un fil rouge des politiques éducatives nationales” (“Equity: a common thread in national educational policies”), four types of influencing factors for quality are considered: school hours, school input mobilized (teachers, programmes, manuals/guides and material), content and practices (language used, student preparation, programme change) and teaching management (monitoring of absenteeism, classroom practices, results).  Management of teachers, manuals and school hours were specifically analysed in the RESEN.

 

Lack of information

There is more and more data available at the country level for analysing learning and quality of education : monitoring and evaluation framework, Education Management Information System (EMIS), national exams, evaluation of achievement at the national and international levels, household surveys, impact studies, complementary qualitative studies, monographs, school input unit costs, HR educational data bases of students and teachers (training and school card), absenteeism study, teacher satisfaction study. In the context of sector analysis of education, the lack of information should be estimated in order to gather the missing data (collection of primary data) and reinforce the monitoring system at the national level to improve the quality of available information necessary for the planning process.