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The findings > Thematic Studies> Funding Agency ...> Part 4/Section D/ 3
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12. Evidence of Impact on National Institutional Capacity
 

"International support should be provided, on request, to countries seeking to develop the national capacities needed for planning and managing basic education programmes. International support could include training and institutional development in data collection, analysis and research, technological innovation, and educational methodologies. Management information systems and other modern management methods could also be introduced, with an emphasis on low and middle level managers" (Framework: 60,61).

The purpose of this section is to ask:

what mechanisms for capacity building are likely to be most effective?

which kinds of equity and impact issues can and should be addressed in capacity building, and how?

what lessons does past experience shed on capacity building that are relevant to the increasingly widespread sectoral approach?

To set the scene, we examine the way in which technical co-operation has declined over the 1980s/1990s.

 
12.1 The Slow Decline of Technical Co-operation
 

The 'traditional' form of assistance was a large number of teachers from the colonial metropolis. This was replaced, for many agencies, by 'expert' technical assistance - which still often meant senior teachers or assistance in the curriculum departments. Within the education sector, technical co-operation consistently accounted for between 70% and 75% of all agency support; and a large slice of that agency support is often spent in the agency country itself on education and training courses for nationals from developing countries. Around the time of Jomtien, questions began to be raised about the value of Technical Assistance.

The basic problem was seen as the lack of institutionalisation of knowledge skills and values - in that very few of the skills of the highly technical expatriate staff appeared to have been passed on to the personnel in the partner country - hence the 'new' emphasis on management or institutional development. For example, a Sida document talking in general says:

"Knowledge and capacity must be boosted, to enable the African countries to shape an effective policy of their own to combat poverty. One fundamental prerequisite for this is for the countries' systems of skills provision at various levels to be developed, as well as their competence in utilising and developing knowledge. Concurrently with continued support for basic education to permit universal participation in democratic social development, vocational training centres and universities must be developed" (Lind and McNab 1999).

As far back as 1978 the World Bank recognised that it showed insufficient concerns for helping to develop local capacity "to plan, manage, research and develop their education system" (cited in Allsop and Brock, 1993). However, in a review fifteen years later, Redkin (1994) suggested that, from the World Bank point of view, the results of TA activities have been disappointing with "gap filling" working reasonably well in some circumstances, but TA for training and institutions-building failing to leave behind any real improvement in local national capacity.

In only a few cases did the documentation from the countries which was made available to us show this breakdown between technical co-operation and other categories of aid. Where data was given, for example from Irish Aid and NORAD, the proportions on technical co-operation seemed to be much lower than the proportions mentioned earlier (see Box 12.1).

 
Box 12.1
 

Ireland

Approximately 17.7% of bilateral ODA was on TA in 1990/91, but the overall number of TAs have been dropping over the last five years [until 1993] ... with short term, regular short visits instead (Gaynor, p.81). Indeed, 'It must be acknowledged that it will not always be possible to match the needs of developing countries education systems with Irish based expertise' (Gaynor, p101)

Norway

Technical Co-operation appeared to remain at about 25% throughout although speaking specifically of education, they also said:

"Recipient responsibility to plan and implement sector reforms and programmes is a prime objective of Norwegian development assistance. If much of the sector programme has been undertaken by foreign technical assistance, then this is not in line with Norwegian development policy. [...]"

 
12.2 The All-encompassing Nature of the New Capacity Building
 
The solutions were mostly seen to involve developing capacity across a wide range of personnel and a realisation that this would involve a shift towards supporting institutions for a long time. However, it is also clear that there are difference between the agencies. Whilst many would agree with the kinds of personnel suggested by Germany (Box 12.2), i.e. nearly all specialist personnel at the central level and especially management, others tend to focus on local level substantive technical personnel. For example, Belgium, 'emphasise capacity building' but 'with a view to the expansion of high-quality primary education and basic training for young people and adults (personal communication).
 
Box 12.2
 

Germany

developing capabilities in analysis, planning, system and financial management as well as educational research.

upgrading the requisite specialist personnel in planning and administration

developing appropriate monitoring and evaluation instruments

curriculum upgrading

qualification and upgrading of specialist personnel

specialist support in developing curricula and carrying out curriculum reform

specialist support in teaching methods and didactics in basic education

provision of material and equipment for development, training and practical application in schools. Source: BMZ, KfW, GTZ (1996)

The long-term nature of the commitment was also seen as necessary because of some of the newer thematic requirements - such as gender awareness - involved changing attitudes throughout a very widely dispersed institution (see Box 12.3).
 
Box 12.3
 

In discussing gender aspects of primary school textbook in Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe, Brickhill, Hoppers and Pehrsson (1996) say "SIDA has to enter into a long term and comprehensive commitment with the programme controls for capacity development in this area. Training should go beyond committed individuals and aim at developing a gender response mechanism within the existing institutions." (pv)

Brickhill, Hoppers, Pehrsson (1996)

 
One of the consequences of such a broad approach appears to be it has been difficult to identify the proportions of aid spent on capacity building; and, a fortiori, the actual amount. This was also a complaint ten years ago!
 
"The problem is that it is not possible to estimate the proportion or the actual amounts provided for capacity building. Due to the increase in NPA assistance, the proportion identifiable as education research or support for planning units, administrative strengthening, curriculum units, etc. would appear to be going down in an accounting sense. However, it is clear that there is substantially increased support for such strengthening", (USAID: Response to 1991 Questionnaire analysed in King and Carr-Hill).
 
12.3 Mechanisms for Capacity Building
 

There have been five major approaches to increasing the building of local capacity (although it is almost impossible to quantify the relative commitment to, or expenditure on, different approaches):

taking able individuals out of country (usually with scholarships) to the agency country institutions, training them appropriately and presuming they will return to a higher post in the hierarchy from whence they came;

support for training through International Organisations;

in-country courses to train local cadres;

counterpart training via long term Technical Assistance/Co-operation;

building up of tertiary institutions and development of local research capacity.

12.3.1 Scholarships
 
This was still a common mode of delivery for some of the other agencies of aid during much of the 1990s even though the focus was meant to have shifted (see Box 12.4).
 
Box 12.4 Canada
 
A review by Mundy shows how although there was rhetorical commitment to poverty alleviation etc. CIDAs education sector work continued to be concentrated on high level training in Canada and tertiary level education (Mundy 1996 : 13).
 
Only a few bilateral agencies now admit to providing funds for substantial numbers of scholarships: for example, New Zealand's ODA which is nearly all in the Pacific Region or in South East Asia also concentrates on education and training awards for in-country. Multilateral agencies continue to use fellowships (e.g. UNDP, World Bank) and scholarships. An alternative is recycling senior government officials through international seminars and workshops, which are growing in number.
 
12.3.2 Support Through International Organisations
 
The International Institute for Educational Planning established by UNESCO in 1963 in Paris, is the centre for advanced training and research in the field of educational planning and administration. It trains 60 students each year. It is currently supported by nearly all agencies. An evaluation by Sida (Williams et al, 1996) commented on 'the high regard in which it is generally held' (p.90). There have been a number of other specialist programmes at international level. Since the trend to condition aid on local policy analysis, the lack of local capacity to provide baseline data and to integrate those with coherent policy goals has become increasingly evident to all agencies. Because of this concern over the quality of the basic statistics available in country, there is also international support for the NESIS courses managed through UNESCO, which take place on a regional basis.
 
12.3.3 Counterpart Training
 
One of the proposed mechanisms for capacity building was counterpart training in which a long-term consultant endeavours to transfer expertise by working alongside a local expert in order to improve their performance. The problem is that the process, not only depends on the pedagogical competence of the particular TA, and of the receptivity of the particular counterpart, but also on the stability of the institutional structure (in order that officials continue to be paid and are not moved on arbitrarily). The frequent shortfalls, in one or both of these respects, is one of the reasons why there is a revival of interest in across-the board training in-country.
 
12.3.4 In-Country Courses
 

These have been of two kinds:

Both in accordance with the spirit of Jomtien and for reasons of economy, some countries have experimented with in-country MA courses as a substitution for either individual scholarships abroad or building up tertiary institutions. These have proved very difficult to organise successfully (see evaluation by Carr-Hill et al (1996) of Sida programmes in Mozambique and in Guinea-Bissau).

Other agencies have become preoccupied with the implications of in-country decentralisation for capacity building of often hundreds of local governments and their staff - or at least all the head-teachers - and have supported short courses in different regions of the country in order to support the reform process (e.g. PRISM in Kenya as part of SPRED I DFID; e.g. "promoting effective management in schools" Netherlands).

Both of these approaches are recognised to have their limitations in the long term.

 
12.3.5 Building Up Tertiary Institutions and Local or Regional Research Capacity
 

For many agencies in the 1980s, this was the preferred form of support (e.g. Norway, UK) usually through scholarships and fellowships; and the consequence is that there are in many countries now large numbers of highly trained nationals. But, because of the salaries and the poor infrastructure, most are also working in the private sector; and so are not easily available as a resource to the government.

For this reason, although several agencies have shifted the focus of their support to primary education (see Chapter 6), many also argue that (appropriate) tertiary education is an essential component of an integrated approach to basic education; although there is little sign of anyone addressing the basic problem of salary structures.

 
Table 12.1 Preferred Focus or Mode of Capacity Building
 
Fellowships or Scholarships: Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, Portugal, UNDP
Local Level Management: Australia, Austria, Ireland, UK (e.g. PRISM), UNDP
Central Planning and Management: Australia, Austria, Denmark, Germany (GTZ), Ireland, Netherlands, Sweden, ADB
Courses: Australia, Sida, Multilaterals
Tertiary and Research Capacity and/or Building up Tertiary Institutions: DSE, Norway, UK, CDB
 
12.4 Impact and Equity of Capacity Building
 

In this section, we address three questions:

to what extent do the agencies (and the partner governments) monitor the social utility of those trained?

how have the capacity building efforts been distributed between men and women, different cultural/ethnic groups etc?

is the local or regional capacity used?

12.4.1 Monitoring of Capacity Building Efforts
 

The different types of capacity building imply different kinds of monitoring:

scholarships - individual tracking

support through international institutions - records at those institutions

in-country training courses - national assessment

counterpart training - institutional assessment

tertiary institutions - regional recognition of those institutions

The extent to which there can be successful monitoring depends, of course, on the type of capacity building. One would not expect individual tracking of those attending courses, whilst one would not expect national assessment of those who are on scholarships and fellowships abroad. Although there is no systematic information available across the agencies, it seems clear that part of the dissatisfaction with the scholarship or fellowship mode was related to the difficulties of tracking them and that the success or otherwise of counterpart training was essentially subjective. Equally, because the training was spread across several sectors, it was difficult for the partner country to maintain any central record. But the success of the 'newer' forms of central capacity building are equally hard to monitor and evaluate and, although there have been many brave attempts, there appears to be no consensus as to what works best.

 
12.4.2 Equitable Impact of Capacity Building
 
Only a few of the agencies give any detailed breakdown of who actually receives scholarships, attends a course at the IIEP (or other institution), is on the receiving end of counterpart training, gets to be on their courses, or which faculties get supported, so that it is even more problematic to analyse, for example, gender disparities (although Ireland did document the extent to which the scholarships that they awarded were now more fairly distributed between men and women).
 
12.4.3 Is the Local or Regional Capacity Used ?
 

Whilst local governmental capacity is weak, it has increasingly been acknowledged that there are large numbers of highly trained nationals working in the private sector; and the 'use of regional networks and of local experts' helps to create balanced and symmetrical relationships (NORAD). They, obviously, have several advantages: knowledge of culture and institutions; no adjustment time required; and reduced costs through no air-fares and smaller per-diems (because hotel not required).

Unfortunately, the major advantage as perceived by many agencies appears to have been simply that they could pay a much smaller daily rate than to 'international' consultants. This has led to some bitterness and lack of co-operation, although the EU Code of Conduct goes some way to solving that.

 
12.5 Capacity Building and Sectoral Approach
 

From the perspective of Sector Wide Approaches, institutional development needs to focus on three main issues (Ratcliffe and Macrae 1999):

Government capacity to lead the sector development processes, including strategic analysis and budgetary/financial analysis;

the creation of structures, systems and incentives in both public and private sectors, to manage and deliver education services;

the establishment of management systems, both within Government and agencies, which facilitates common management systems, through Government processes and procedures.

Many agencies have gone along with this, seeing institutional capacity building as a natural consequence of the sectoral approach, especially in terms of strengthening the central government's capacity to plan, manage etc. But, the current trend for decentralisation (which is meant to be associated with the sectoral approach) creates great need for training for a number and variety of personnel. Indeed, in principle, capacity should be trained at all levels including teachers.

There have also been programmes of training middle level personnel in-country (see above and Box 12.5), but these tend to be overshadowed in the urgent imperative to establish the strong national framework to create the conditions for receiving aid and therefore create the capacity to participate in the policy dialogue. Yet, the longer attention is focused at the central level, the more likely it is that any tendencies towards decentralisation will be reversed.

 

Box 12.5:

The Joint Review Mission in India Capacity building of state and district level resource persons working for quality improvement is a major issue. Often there is not enough resource material, ideas and experiences available to such resource persons. Apart from regular training programmes and workshops, it is useful to provide resource material/reading material to them on a regular basis to upgrade their ability to contribute to the pedagogical renewal process. In addition to what states are doing, a bi- monthly dispatch is also being published from the national level for use at the state/district level. More such initiatives at the state and district level need to be started and supported in the coming months" (DPEP 1988 :74).

Of the eleven states visited, only three were reported to have adequate staffing in post (numbers not quality) and five of them had serious shortages or equivalent.

 
12.6 Conclusions:
 

The level of technical co-operation has declined and changed in nature, partly because of their presumed ineffectiveness (because the personnel involved moved on), there appears to have been a conclusive move away from scholarships in the North and, to a lesser but still substantial extent, away from counterpart training via long term technical co-operation. Instead, the majority of agencies do indeed emphasise institutional capacity building, strengthening, etc., although exactly what this entails is not always clear, and there is even less information as to which method is most effective.

In practice, many countries appear to focus on (financial) management and planning systems at central and eventually provincial/regional level. Yet, if the move towards institutional capacity building is to be taken seriously, then all the actors in the system from teachers and village school committees upwards have to be drawn into the process. Some of the programmes include support for these activities; and although success stories are highlighted in agency material, there is only limited evidence as to the extent to which they happen.

 
12.7 Outstanding Issues
 

Careful attention is required by agencies to ensure that shifting support in favour of the SWAp mechanism genuinely contributes to a better use of scarce governmental time and resources. SWAps are unlikely per se to reduce the intensity of effort required by government departments, since they imply governments increasingly taking responsibility for using aid resources themselves.

The institutionalisation of knowledge and skills is likely to require increased investment of time and resources in training, particularly in view of the particular demands of sector-wide approaches. Agencies need to consider whether it is realistic to negotiate for sector wide reform at the same time as encouraging capacity building involving the same staff. Whatever training programmes are instituted, they need to include staff in the field as well as headquarters. At least as important is attention to promoting in-country training in collaboration with developing country governmental and non-governmental partners.

Whichever approaches are adopted by agencies, they should be properly evaluated. At a minimum, there must be sufficient information available to know how many people have been trained and what posts they are now occupying. Without basic monitoring information of that kind, it is impossible to assess the equity and impact of capacity building.

Discrimination between local and international consultancy capacity has to be addressed more systematically. The widespread adherence to the EU Code of Conduct would help; but it also requires a 'culture change' among the agencies to recognise the inequity of the current 'terms of trade'.

 
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