Training the next generation of educational planners in Madagascar

21 March 2023


Malagasy school children in their classroom.

Nearly 14 million children call Madagascar home. More than two in three of these children live in poverty, affecting their access to health care, decent homes, and opportunity. Ensuring equitable, inclusive, and quality education and lifelong learning for all can break this cycle and give this youthful nation’s population the best chance for the future. 

Education can also help Madagascar confront climate change and accelerate action, while the right combination of adaptation and mitigation measures can help protect learning, no matter what the future may bring.   

Madagascar, the world’s fifth largest island, is committed to achieving Sustainable Development Goal 4 and the Education 2030 Agenda. Today, the Ministry of National Education (MEN) is focusing on strengthening the education system by improving the capacities of the public administration in educational planning and management. 

This is being done through the Educational Planning and Information System Support Project (PAPESI), with funding from the World Bank and the Global Partnership for Education, and executed by UNESCO with technical support from IIEP, which is supporting the MEN's office for educational planning - the DPE or the Direction de la Planification de l'Education - in the implementation of various provisions of the new Education Orientation Law in Madagascar (LOSEM). While the project includes several components, one part is reshaping the role of the planner for the 21st century. 

Reshaping the role of the planner 

The MEN is currently embarking on the first steps of a nationally-owned, long-term training strategy for its planners across the country – from the central level, the regional level (DREN) to the district level (CISCO). 

What are the key skills and functions of planners today, and what kinds of tools do they need? How should they be trained and with what kind of certification? 

As IIEP accompanies the MEN during this reflection, a short-term training will be launched to respond to the immediate needs of planners, and to lay the foundation for long-term change. The first group of 44 education officers will come from all administrative levels. 

Using a practical and interactive approach, the training will combine face-to-face workshops and online components and will be anchored in the daily tools and work processes of the MEN. Two more groups will later join the training, reaching a total of more than 120 education officers in Madagascar. 

The training will also encourage dialogue and collaboration between the different administrative levels of the education system. Throughout the course, the participants will become familiar with the crisis-sensitive planning approach that IIEP has supported the MEN with to confront climate change, and risks such as more frequent cyclones. 

Overall, the goal is that the participants will develop the skills to develop and implement relevant and realistic annual and multi-year work plans. This will fill a significant gap in Madagascar’s public administration. 

In recent years, the Malagasy education system has grappled with a lack of training opportunities for its staff. After a wave of retirements several years ago, some planning positions also sat empty. The PAPESI project will now put in motion a new approach to better match job profiles for all planning units and to reduce turnover because of demographic trends or political changes. 

Legal recognition for planners 

In Madagascar, planners have a specific status in Public Administration. The recently established Education Orientation Law has formally recognized the role of the planner within the Ministry – making this project even more relevant. 

With this legal framework, the MEN has set the foundations to secure key technical staff within the education administration at central and decentralized levels, explains Hélène Bessières, an IIEP programme specialist leading the project in Madagascar. The tailor-made training implemented during the project should contribute to this objective.

Similar to IIEP’s capacity development project in Haiti, the IIEP team will also work with the MEN to review the existing planning tools. There are currently many tools available for planners, however, one challenge is that they are not always aligned or consistent. 

One key tool that will be reviewed is the school dashboard, which the MEN uses to see how schools are performing and to make important decisions on how to allocate resources. 

"The upcoming training will be an opportunity to discuss the tools, to see how the users feel, and especially at the decentralized level, to see what their needs are in the field," says Bessières.

This work is part of the support provided to the DPE in the modernization of the school map, which is part of article 22 of the Education Orientation Law.

"This will lay the groundwork for tools improvement down the line."

Foundational skills for planning quality education 

The training will address foundational planning skills and concepts. The participants will review the planning cycle, take stock of strengths and challenges in the education sector, craft strategies to improve the quality of education and address disparities, analyze funding sources, and examine tools and processes to make plans and programmes operational. 

While these skills are crucial for the here and now, Bessières explains that the training this year will go further to become embedded in the national strategy for educational planners, which would be aligned with the country’s 2038 Development Plan. 

With adequate funding, this 15-year strategy could help ensure career and skills development for the country’s educational planners for years to come.