When Guinea-Bissau joined the Global Partnership for Education in 2010, the country aimed at strengthening its education system while it was undergoing recurrent political crises, civil wars and several coups.
Despite peaceful elections in 2014, the Guinea Bissauan political and institutional environment remains fragile and has a particularly strong impact on the education sector.
With 40% of its population being illiterate, 30% of primary school age children out-of-school, recurrent teachers’ strikes and large-scale absenteeism, the country faces significant challenges.
Despite this challenging environment, the government expressed its strong willingness to improve its education system and took positive steps to do so.
To contribute to these efforts, GPE granted Guinea-Bissau US$191,000 in 2017 with the objectives of supporting:
- an analysis of the education sector
- the reinforcement of government capacities in collecting reliable data for the development of the education sector plan (ESP)
- the independent evaluation of the ESP
- the development of the plan based on the independent evaluation’s recommendations and technical assistance
- communication and dissemination of the ESP.
A new 8-year sector strategy
After a thorough analysis as well as an independent appraisal, the Plano Sectorial da Educação covering the period 2017 – 2025 was developed, finalized and endorsed by the local education group.
The sector plan is based on Guinea Bissau’s vision to ensure quality education for all, which is outlined in the ‘Carta Politica’ and the national strategy ‘Terra Ranka’.
It aims at reaching four priorities, targeting the improvement of:
- access to basic education,
- quality and relevancy of teaching and learning,
- the development of trainings fitting economic development needs,
- the reinforcement of the sector governance.
In line with these priorities, the ESP covers all levels of education and is organized around three main components: access, quality and governance.
Ensuring that the plan’s priorities are known throughout the country
GPE’s operational model in partner countries seeks to improve equity and quality in education through a strong and inclusive policy dialogue platform, the local education group (LEG).
It enables the development, implementation and monitoring of robust education sector plans aiming to provide quality education for all children.
It is key that all actors involved in the education sector have good understanding of the sector plan and support its implementation and monitoring.
In order to better communicate and strengthen the knowledge of all actors involved in the education sector around the ESP, UNICEF (the grant agent for the sector plan development grant) and the Ministry of Education collaborated to set up a strong and innovative ESP dissemination plan.
The dissemination process took two forms: a direct dissemination and a dissemination through community radios to reach as many people as possible.
This was to happen through workshops with key stakeholders in all regions of the country. A national technical team was established, comprising directors of different directorates of the Ministry of Education and selected individuals from each of these directorates.
The technical team split itself into small groups to organize 5-day regional workshops for a total of 884 key stakeholders.
The materials for these workshops included a presentation on the ESP, the ‘Carta Politica’, which was contextualized using the Education Law of the country, a presentation of the Guinea Bissauan education situation with data on key indicators, and a summary document of the ESP.
Dissemination through community radios
To further strengthen the ESP dissemination and reach as many people as possible, UNICEF and the Ministry of Education decided to use an innovative means of communication by broadcasting key Ministry of Education officials’ interviews and spots through the country’s extensive community radio network.
These interviews were divided into three parts: the purpose of the sector plan and its importance for the country; a description of the plan’s three components, its main strategies and interventions; and the role of parents and communities in supporting the sector plan interventions.
The interviews aired to coincide with the beginning of the new school year. These spots continue being aired and are successful in raising awareness around the ESP and each actor’s role in improving education in the country.
Ultimately, these activities help improve the accountability of the government: all actors are now informed of the sector plan interventions so that they can monitor their implementation and raise questions to the government.
The dissemination activities throughout the country were a successful and innovative experience of communicating and spreading knowledge around a new sector plan.
In addition, they addressed education actors’ requests and needs to be more involved in the sector and stimulated their desire to share their experience and ensure a regular follow-up at the regional and central levels of the country.