Vision with action can change the world

  By Suzanne Grant Lewis


Implementation is one of the most important steps of the education planning cycle because without implementation, the vision captured in the plan has no chance of becoming a reality. 

IIEP’s founding Director, Philip H. Coombs, reiterated the importance of implementation in the opening pages of his seminal 1970 book, “What is educational planning?” He wrote that planning “does not cease when a plan gets on paper and has won approval. Planning, to be effective, must be concerned with its own implementation –with progress made or not made, with unforeseen obstacles that arise and with how to overcome them.” Despite Coombs’s counsel, insufficient attention is given to implementation today. 

To help adjust the balance between plan formulation and implementation, we’ve dedicated this edition of our newsletter to practices to support successful implementation. One technique is an institutional analysis, which highlights capacity constraints and helps ministries in overcoming organizational and administrative shortfalls. The experiences Madagascar and Comoros are cited. Our work with the Ministry of Education in Comoros also highlights how looking at the local context is key in helping select what type of plan is most suitable and feasible, such as in this case, a short-term transitional plan instead of a longer-term plan. A third key planning practice is monitoring and evaluation, which plays an important role in spurring change and creating a culture of accountability for results, as illustrated in the experiences of Cambodia and Ethiopia. The story of Afghanistan’s national training centre for educational planning and management illustrates how a comprehensive plan that includes strategies for developing the capacities of educational planners and managers can create fertile grounds for more successful plan implementation with trained individuals to carry a plan forward.

This type of work is especially relevant in our shared global quest to support countries in achieving the fourth Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 4). Education sector plans, when built on solid analyses of system performance, are key tools that countries can use to lay out a blueprint for education systems that reach all children and foster in them a lifelong curiosity for learning. But they must not lie dormant. Plans are documents of great national value that must be invested in, revisited, updated, and monitored over time.  In the words of Nelson Mandala, "vision without action is just a dream, action without vision just passes the time, and vision with action can change the world.”


Access all past issues of our newsletter here.