Aligning action with strategic plans

  By Khadim Sylla


A strategic education plan for education translates the vision of national development authorities in the sector. 

An education plan serves as a guide for government action and contains a set of guidelines and strategies for the coherent implementation of development priorities. The creation of a plan is based on rigorous analysis with the objective of highlighting the strengths, constraints, and challenges of the education system. The projection and financial simulation models allow for the definition, with relative precision, of a reference scenario that is financially and technically feasible and sustainable. This also helps assess the quality of a strategic plan. 

Feasibility and sustainability are equally relevant for the preparation of short- to medium-operational plans, which translate the education sector’s strategic vision into actionable programmes and projects to help achieve overall education goals. Responsible entities, programme implementers, and implementing budgets are specified in the operational plans. The same is true of financial and stakeholder accountability whose role is essential.

In reality, operational plans and strategic plans are often only loosely linked. The reasons for this are numerous. While the strategic plan can be based on educational policy objectives, the operational plan is developed according to the administrative or pedagogical structure of the ministry. There is also often a disconnect between the estimated availability of financial resources in the strategic plan and the contributions of sector partners. However, in the operational plan, these funds are systematically taken into account. In addition, an excessive time lag between plans can make estimates and indicators used in the operational plan obsolete. It is essential to ensure coherence and continuity between the two plans by harmonizing their structure and by estimating more precisely, and in an informed way, the resources that can be mobilized.

Furthermore, from a methodological perspective, it is important to simultaneously work on both the elaboration of the strategic plan and the operational plan. More specifically, the aim is to incorporate the financing ambitions of the partners (communities, technical and financial partners, NGOs, etc.) in the macro-financial framework, which are generally reflected in the operational plans. This approach would reduce margins of error in available resources. In doing so, the acceptable threshold for the funding gap, calculated by comparing resources and expenditures, could be estimated more accurately. This approach promotes a better articulation between the two planning documents, particularly in regards to funding.

In its mission to support UNESCO Member States, IIEP is continuing its efforts to improve the methodological tools for drawing up plans through its extensive field experience.


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