Planning and deconcentration: A new project in Haiti

05 November 2020

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Atelier de formation animé par l’IIPE-UNESCO en mars 2020 à Port-au-Prince
IIPE-UNESCO
IIEP-UNESCO-led training workshop in March 2020 in Port-au-Prince

IIEP-UNESCO is working in Haiti as part of a mission to develop the planning capacities of the Departmental Directorates of Education (DDEs). In addition to a training programme for regional Ministry of Education staff, tailor-made coaching sessions are provided by Haitian experts. Read on for a close-up of this innovative system, which draws on the cascade training approach.

Decentralization reforms have long permeated the management of education systems. Since the 1990s, many States in the Global South have adopted measures to delegate powers to deconcentrated or decentralized structures. Although the level of implementation varies according to national contexts, the aim is usually the same: to improve the efficiency of administrative systems and the quality of education. 

Such is the case in Haiti, where a major reform to deconcentrate public administration is underway. As part of this, Haiti’s DDEs, which are deconcentrated structures under the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training (MENFP), are expected to play a key role in implementing the national education policy in each of the country's 10 departments. Planning and technology departments have recently been created within the DDEs. Their tasks include the collection and processing of local educational data and the implementation of a departmental education plan. However, because of technical shortcomings in planning – and also in management at the central level – the DDEs are struggling to deploy sectoral policies and draw up their departmental plans. 

Towards strategic educational planning at departmental level 

As part of its technical support, IIEP-UNESCO has been organizing, since 2019, a series of workshops bringing together all DDEs. Some of them are intended for planners and technical officers who are destined to become planners; others are aimed at a wider audience of departmental directors and heads of department, but also at inspectors or district coordinators. 

‘During the first phase of the project, each DDE was able to produce its own diagnosis of the departmental education system. These 10 documents highlight the difficulties specific to each region. When you take into account the conditions surrounding data accessibility in the country, this is a success ... and an important first at the departmental level,’ explains Hélène Bessières, coordinator of the IIEP-UNESCO technical support programme in Haiti. 

The next step for the participants was realizing an annual plan of activities specific to each DDE. By setting out the objectives and the action plan, these operational documents pave the way for strategic planning, adapted to the needs identified at departmental level. 

However, the project's modalities and schedule had to be revised following two successive major crises that affected the country: first, the country’s long socio-political stalemate at the end of 2019 (the ‘peyi lòk’), and then the COVID-19 pandemic a few months later. While departmental planning specialists will continue to benefit from face-to-face workshops as soon as the health context allows, a distance learning programme has been planned in parallel for the other participants. 

 

Combining training in planning and coaching 

Another feature unique to this project is that all IIEP-UNESCO workshops are followed by an on-the-job coaching session. These tailor-made sessions are led by executives from the Haitian MENFP who have been trained by IIEP-UNESCO. Each DDE can thus learn from a pair of coaches, both experienced planners, working at either the central or decentralized level. The challenge: to enable participants to put into practice, in their workplace, the technical knowledge provided by the training, and thus encourage the adoption of new planning techniques and habits. 

Jacksonn Joseph is part of the team of coaches working with the DDEs. Having completed IIEP-UNESCO's in-depth training programme in 2012, he is now a planner and technical coordinator in the general directorate of the MENFP.

He shares his experience here:

Read the transcript

Jacksonn Joseph,  Technical Coordinator at the General Directorate of the Ministry of National Education and Vocational Training of Haiti,  Education Sector Planner

The role of the coach is to ensure that the team has understood the message conveyed by IIEP staff. We also help the DDE managers taking part in the training to carry out the exercises. The coach will not carry out the exercises in the place of the participant, but must make sure that the participant has understood the statement and that there are no worries. If the message is not clear, the coach goes back to what was said by the trainers. In some cases, we therefore carry out training sessions for participants.

 

When carrying out the diagnostics, we observed that the participants did not always master the calculation or interpretation of certain indicators, particularly when it came to flow. From our discussions, we were able to identify the problems and correct them together. This enabled us to unblock situations. Using the diagnoses, we will be able to support colleagues in drawing up their departmental activity plan.’

Jacksonn Joseph, Coach and educational planner in the Haitian MENFP

IIEP-UNESCO's research findings indicate that the level of implementation of decentralization policies depends to a large extent on the effectiveness of a school’s closest local education administration structure. Developing the capacities of local actors in the field of educational planning – including DDEs – and giving them greater autonomy in the professional development of their teams appears to be a key factor for success.

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