Transforming education starts with planning

24 June 2022


SPANI Arnaud /
Young school children and their teachers in Imbabura, Ecuador.

In the run-up to the United Nations Transforming Education Summit next September, UNESCO is hosting the Pre-Summit in Paris at the end of June 2022. For the countries and education leaders involved, this event is a great opportunity to share initiatives, good practices, and commitments from five thematic tracks. What is IIEP-UNESCO doing to accelerate progress by 2030? Find out how our actions and vision are helping to fuel global momentum for education.

Action track 1 - Inclusive, equitable, safe, and healthy schools

We work with governments and partners to address equity and promote inclusion throughout the educational planning cycle. 

Safe, healthy schools lay the foundation for cohesive, peaceful, and secure societies. Similarily, inclusive schools help close education gaps and unlock progress in equality. This benefits all learners – including girls, children with disabilities, refugees – and society at large. This is also why we are making sure that equity and inclusion is integrated into everything we do. 

From sector analysis to plan development, implementation and monitoring, IIEP works with countries and partners to make sure often limited resources are used in the best way possible to address all kinds of disparities. This is also being done by mainstreaming crisis, disability and gender equality in education sector planning and management and by sharing knowledge and evidence that can inform policy decisions, and ultimately help transform schools.

  • From Guyana, Jordan, Liberia, to South Sudan and Kenya, IIEP has strengthened the capacities of education actors to develop risk management and response plans and to collect and use more relevant data to reach all learners.
  • Through the shared experiences of Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Brazil, and Panama, the IIEP Office for Latin America and the Caribbean has disseminated best practices for crisis-sensitive educational planning with a focus on migrant populations. An online course was developed at a regional level, and specifically adapted for Costa Rica at the request of the Ministry of Education.
  • In the framework of the Gender at the Centre Initiative (GCI), Sierra Leone and Nigeria have mainstreamed gender in their education sector analyses with the technical support of the IIEP-UNESCO Office for Africa. Many other ministries of education in Africa have developed leadership on gender equality, including Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Chad, and Mauritania. 

Thanks to the sensitization activities of the Gender at the Centre Initiative in our community, several girls have found the way to school again after the Covid-19 school closure.
13-year-old Fatoumata from Mali

Action Track 2 - Learning and skills for life, work, and sustainable development

Through sector analysis and planning, we make sure education systems are prepared to deliver strong, equitable learning outcomes

Transforming education is about making sure that all learners are equipped with the knowledge, skills, and values to help them not only succeed but contribute to the betterment of our world. However, up to 70% of children in low- and middle-income countries are not able to read or understand a simple text at 10 years old. 

Tackling this global learning crisis requires a concerted, global effort, as well as fundamental changes at all stages of policy-making and the planning cycle. At IIEP, all our work is ultimately designed to contribute to system strengthening to improve learning and skills for the future.  

  • The global learning crisis is especially acute in Africa. To respond, IIEP’s Office for Africa, together with 15 African countries, set up an innovative programme to support the management of basic education. In three phases, education actors and IIEP experts work together to assess quality management practices, to develop proposals for improving management, and finally, to support the integration of an action plan into national policy. 
  • IIEP sees immense value in instructional leaders at the middle-tier level of education systems. In India, Jordan, Rwanda, China, and Wales, for example, we have seen how instructional leaders can improve teaching and learning, serve as a link between policy and practice in the classroom, and help test innovations and scale up best practices.

By giving them positive feedback, bringing suggestions, and encouraging them to share their ideas, teachers realize that mentor teachers are not a threat - but a support for them. (…) Collaboration really works. The children have started working in groups and have become more confident in sharing their ideas.
- Bhavna Sawnani, Mentor teacher in India

Action Track 3 - Teachers, teaching and the teaching profession

We support countries in building a more capable ecosystem for quality education service delivery.

Teachers are the frontline for education delivery and play a key role in ensuring quality learning. By working with governments at every step of the planning cycle, from diagnosing, planning, and implementing, to monitoring and learning, IIEP emphasizes the importance of strong teacher management. Unless this issue is addressed, the overall quality of the education sector will be limited. 

  • In Latin America, a research project addressed the issue of indigenous teachers’ training, as an obstacle to the implementation of the bilingual intercultural education model. 

The poor planning of indigenous peoples' education, manifested in the neglect of bilingual teacher training explains, but does not justify, the serious educational situation of these communities.
- Sylvia Schmelkes and Ana Daniela Ballesteros, Researchers, Mexico

  • In Ethiopia, Jordan, Kenya, and Uganda, IIEP has been part of a collaborative, multi-partner initiative to identify promising policies and practices for effective teacher management in refugee settings. The goal is to support teachers’ motivation, well-being, quality, and retention, which would all have a positive impact on the quality of education for refugees and host communities. 
  • More generally, IIEP also supports the allocation of teachers in countries. For example, while more than 100,000 teachers are assigned or transferred every year in Burkina Faso, the Ministry of National Education, Literacy and Promotion of National Languages is receiving technical assistance for the implementation of a Human Resources Management System to better manage its workforce budget and staff mobility. 

96 HR officers of the Ministry of Education of Burkina Faso have received training to improve the management and regulation of teachers.

Action Track 4 – Digital learning and transformation

We support ministries of education with use of digital technologies to better plan and manage their education systems. 

The COVID-19 crisis has demonstrated the urgent need to develop accessible and inclusive digital learning environments for all learners. Technological advances also offer the opportunity to have new and relevant data and visualization tools to inform educational planning, particularly in contexts of crisis or natural hazards related to climate change.

  • IIEP’s country-facing work uses data visualization to help ministries of education at national and sub-national levels to better monitor outcomes and understand implementation bottlenecks. A number of digital tools are also on offer, such as the IIEP Policy Toolbox and methodologies to estimate school-age populations anywhere in the world. 

The applications developed by IIEP enable us to visualize a wide range of data on a map or a web platform, at all levels of the education system. These spatialization tools will help us to prioritize the allocation and reallocation of resources and to organize school networks.
- Jullino Serge Rasamison, Director of Planning, Ministry of Education of Madagascar 

More than 320 data specialists in educational planning from 26 countries are involved in a new community of practice launched in 2022 by the IIEP Office for Latin America and the Carribbean and the Regional Bureau for Education in Latin America and the Caribbean OREALC/UNESCO Santiago. 

Action Track 5 – Financing of education

We strengthen the capacity of member states to analyze costs and ensure appropriate financing of educational priorities, so that systems can transform.

The crux of educational planning is about setting priorities: what are the main objectives, and are they feasible with current human and financial resources? 

  • Globally, IIEP uses and develops cost simulation models to support ministries of education and their partners in weighing policy options against available resources and desired results. This helps gauge the sustainability of a plan and spotlights any financing gaps that would undermine the right to education. A specialized course on Projections and Simulation models is regularly offered by IIEP in Paris.
  • IIEP has also contributed to the development of other tools and methodologies, including the National Education Accounts methodology, to strengthen analyses linked to the costs and financing of quality education – and to inform decision-making.
  • In Latin America, we have provided the Ministry of Education of Costa Rica with technical assistance to implement a new results-based budgeting system, and to improve the financial architecture for implementation of the SDGs. In addition, a specific axis on education financing has been developed within the Information System on Educational Trends in Latin America (SITEAL).

Analysing costs and financing is part of the planning cycle. 43 countries since 2017 have received IIEP support via an Education Sector Analysis and/or Education Sector Plan, helping to shape the education of more than 200 million primary-age students worldwide.

While the sustainable financing of quality education for all is far from guaranteed across the world, climate change brings new complexities and urgency to the issue. Maximizing the use of available resources and linking education goals with budgets and financing cannot be forgotten on the path to 2030.  IIEP stands ready to continue to support countries with this crucial task.