IIEP launches its new strategy

For The IIEP Letter, Suzanne Grant Lewis, the Director of IIEP-UNESCO, discusses the main priorities of the Institute for the next four years.

How do you prioritize when everything is a priority? This question was posed by some of IIEP’s technical experts as they reflected on the recent development of South Sudan’s Education Sector Plan.

Prioritizing is indeed a challenge when so many urgent needs, as well as long-term development goals, call for attention. For educational planning in South Sudan, this has meant addressing how to get the1.8 million out-of-school children into safe, stable classrooms; ensuring learning takes place with qualified teachers; addressing  disparities and ensuring equal distribution of limited resources; and promoting peace, resilience, and social cohesion, both within and beyond education.

Defining priorities is a core part of educational planning. Over the past year, IIEP has been busy defining its own priorities in regard to how it supports UNESCO Member States. Over a series of discussions – internal and external – the Institute has identified five areas of top concern: social inequalities, learning outcomes, governance and accountability, education system resilience, and education financing. Elyx, the UN Digital Ambassador created by the artist Yacine Ait Kaci, illustrates each area:


IIEP’s new 10th Medium-Term Strategy, which will guide the Institute’s work until 2021, addresses these five focus areas in its training programme, technical assistance, research, and knowledge sharing and advocacy. 

The five priorities also undergird IIEP’s two strategic objectives. The first of these is to help UNESCO Member States plan effectively for education sector development and evaluate its overall performance. The second is to make available applied knowledge on educational planning and management to policy-makers and other stakeholders. 

All of this feeds into our long-standing mission of over 50 years to strengthen the capacity of Member States to plan and manage their education systems. Our vision remains grounded in the shared understanding that education is a basic human right and a global common good; that no child, youth, or adult should be excluded from learning opportunities that will allow her or him to live decently, to access and exercise their rights, and to contribute to civic life.

To help make this shared vision a reality, IIEP’s new strategy aims to support countries not only in designing education plans, but also with implementation, costing and financing, monitoring and evaluation, ongoing plan refinement, and organizational and management choices, as well as with the strengthening of national education planning training centres. The aim is to provide not merely quick fixes, but also measures that may enable genuine system transformation. 

Such frameworks will also encompass new areas of expertise for the Institute, notably early childhood education, policies for displaced persons and for inclusive education at large, the implications of demographic shifts, and linkages between education and employment, among others.

All of these new directions reflect IIEP’s increasing commitment to ensuring not only the Institute’s own relevance and sustainability, but also that of the education systems we support. In a rapidly changing world, success depends upon revisiting approaches and methods, and adapting them to the needs of the day. For IIEP, it will also require forming new partnerships, strengthening interactions across ministries and governments, and even greater collaboration and innovation. Lifelong education knows no bounds, and likewise its planning must be open to constant reflection and evolution.


Read the rest of The IIEP Letter here!