03.07.2013 - UNESCO Office in Dakar

Senegalese officials see concrete benefits of training in Education System Management

Oumar Babacar Diarra, Head of monitoring and evaluation division, Education planning and reform directorate @UNESCO/Jonathan Jourde

Barely six months after the launch of the sixth training course in Sectoral Analysis and Management of Education Systems (SAMES), it already has a concrete impact in the Ministry of Education in Senegal. Indeed, out of the 42 students enrolled, 15 are Senegalese including seven planners from the Education Planning and Reform Directorate (DPRE) of the Ministry of Education.

The Directorate is run by Oumar Babacar Diarra, and is responsible for monitoring and evaluating the results obtained from education policy by producing an annual performance report. Up until last year, three different reports were produced, making the exercise complex and resource intensive. The technical partners called for the entire exercise to be simplified and harmonized.

Adapting to real needs

“The training course has enabled us to review our monitoring and evaluation instruments,” said Mr. Diarra. Under his leadership, some tools learnt in the course are currently being used in the new consolidated format of the annual report. The 2013 annual report hence includes a series of indicators such as enrolment profile, retention profile or internal efficiency coefficient, directly stemming from the training.

“While we have many theoretical aspects of sectoral analysis, the training programme helps us to acquire concrete tools; that is how it adds true value”, Mr Diarra continued.

The training course is jointly organized by the Pôle de Dakar and the Faculty for Education and Training Science and Technology (FASTEF) of Cheikh Anta Diop University of Dakar. The course, mainly provided through distance learning classes, is tailored for gainfully employed Francophone Africans. The sixth training course started in December 2012 and runs until April 2014.

Willingness for national ownership

From next year, other training courses could be used to draw up the criteria for allocating public education resources more equitably. But the officers of the ministry are realistic and do not believe that the shortest path to progress was reforming practices hurriedly.

“We are trying not to be overly ambitious,” said Mr. Diarra. “We must also take the time to share new tools with colleagues who are not undergoing training”. Transfer of knowledge from the training is part of a long-term policy.

According to Mr. Diarra, another benefit from the training is better management of external service providers in sectoral analysis. “The course has become a yardstick,” he added. By transmitting quality norms and standards, the training provides the tools to officers to better define the work they have commissioned, monitor and facilitate the work of consultants.

The initial assessment of the training experience for officers of Senegal’s Ministry of Education is a positive one. It shows that capacity building is possible and the paths to progress can be multiple when they are driven by genuine national commitment.

This article is an edited version of an article published in the biannual magazine of the Pôle de Dakar, an education sector analysis unit set up within the UNESCO Dakar Office.

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