New tool for strengthening the effectiveness of local education groups

Local education groups are now able to review how well they are functioning and identify areas for improvement using a self-assessment tool informed by user feedback from partner countries.

January 20, 2022 by Stefania Sechi, GPE Secretariat, Carmela Salzano, GPE Secretariat, and Janne Kjaersgaard Perrier, GPE Secretariat
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4 minutes read
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A teacher grading homework in GS Runoga. Rwanda, July 2021. Credit: GPE
A teacher grading homework in GS Runoga. Rwanda, July 2021.
Credit: GPE

Why self-assessments can be useful to local education groups

A fundamental objective of GPE’s work is to support inclusive evidence-based policy dialogue that can accelerate transformation of national education systems.

Government leadership and the active engagement of development partners, civil society organizations, teachers, philanthropy and the private sector are encouraged through the forums of local education groups or their equivalent coordination mechanism.

Until recently, understanding how well these mechanisms function has been an unknown quantity. Local education groups rarely dedicate time to reflecting on their governance and working arrangements or on their contribution to results. Information is therefore scarce on the contribution of policy dialogue, coordination and partnership dynamics to national education goals.

Given the complexity of factors influencing how partners and governments work with each other, the Independent Summative Evaluation of the GPE in 2020 recommended a more systematic approach for identifying local education group strengths and challenges.

The insights from such an approach, it was suggested, would enable a continuum of work, from the renewal of local education group mandates and ambitions to practical improvements resulting from periodic reviews of governance and organizational issues, including stronger leadership and collaborative capacities:

“Local education groups reviewing their own performance as a multi-stakeholder platform have the closest association with strategic effectiveness of the group. It is the only principle that is always present in effective groups.”

GPE engagement

The tool for strengthening the effectiveness of local education groups was developed for this purpose—as a support to education stakeholders in carving out a space where partners can identify how the education group adds value, and how that value can be leveraged further, as well as pinpoint capacity and resource challenges.

The discussions ultimately open up options for, and agreements on, ways to improve the coordination group’s effectiveness, whether this relates to aspects of its strategic value or organizational and collaborative capacities.

The three dimensions of local education group effectiveness
The three dimensions of local education group effectiveness

The tool is based on the Principles toward effective local education groups and grounded in the new GPE 2025 strategy, which recognizes sector coordination as a core enabling factor for system transformation.

Through the GPE Effective Partnership Rollout, the tool was trailed by stakeholders in GPE partner countries over a six-month period from late 2019 to mid-2020.

And while the COVID-19 pandemic inevitably disrupted the work and forced many countries to focus on cross-sector, multi-stakeholder COVID-19 task forces, the engagement of Burundi, Cabo Verde, Cameroon, Chad, Guinea, Guyana, Mozambique, Niger, Papua New Guinea, Rwanda, Sao Tome, Senegal and Yemen suggest commitment to establishing functioning sector coordination mechanisms.

The feedback collected during the pilot period has served to inform a revised, simplified and modular version of the tool as well as user guidance.

Different uses of the tool

Pilot participants had volunteered to trail the tool, and had different motivations to engage:

Mozambique

Mozambique is entering a new 10-year strategy, as well as reviewing its model of cooperation among the ministry of education, partners and civil society organizations—Including the [memorandum of understanding] between the ministry and international partners, making this the perfect time to conduct an assessment, drawing from the tool, as part of this broader process.

Tchad

The tool has helped us a lot and was timely since we already intended to conduct an assessment in Chad to strengthen collaboration among partners. We wanted it to be an opportunity to hear the voices of stakeholders who do not necessarily come to meetings.

Papouasie-Nouvelle-Guinée

When the opportunity to do an assessment came, it was part of a logical flow for the local education group in Papua New Guinea. After having successfully worked on the management and inclusion of partners, it was time to strengthen the internal collaboration of our group.

Sénégal

Sector coordination in Senegal is complex and challenging because it involves four ministries and is very inclusive of international and domestic partners. The tool is thought-provoking, and we want to use it with the objective to enhance the relevance and quality of sector dialogue and around shared agenda to make efficiency gains.

Cameroun

The self-assessment exercise was an opportunity to have a focused dialogue—facilitated through the rating system—on what we are doing well, what we are doing less well, and identify possibilities to improve our work as a group in Cameroon; we had nothing to lose in experimenting.

Guinée

In Guinea we are pushing to energize the thematic working groups within the local education groups and boost sectoral dialogue across the three ministries in charge of education; a new technical secretariat was established specifically for this purpose. The self-assessment tool can prepare us for this process.

Guyana

The local education group in Guyana is only emerging and benefits from a good core group. We would like use the contents of the tool as a resource to explore different options for how to evolve and expand our group.

The diverse ways the tool was used demonstrate its adaptability across country situations. Users were often synched with sector developments including reinvigorating sector dialogue leading up to an education sector analysis and new plan development.

Additionally, the tool is also strengthening the role of the local education group as part of support mechanisms for implementing shared priorities, or it is informing the joint sector review process.

Several have also used the tool to establish or review the terms of reference or memorandum of understanding for their groups and/or partner cooperation frameworks. Or simply as a learning exercise in smaller and bigger groups.

Building an effective local education group requires a mutual understanding of the type of outcomes it can achieve according to where it can add most value and setting up key conditions to yield those outcomes.

Quick facts about the tool

  • The tool is not a “magic bullet” for overcoming coordination challenges at once, but it can help facilitate a focused discussion on identifying key bottlenecks and potential solutions.
  • The tool meets the local education groups “where they are,” being relevant for both emergent and well-established local education groups.
  • It offers multiple options, from a light to more comprehensive assessment, and a collective exercise and/or an anonymous exercise.
  • The tool comes in three brief documents with different focus areas and is ready to use for several settings (adaptation for online use).
  • A committed task team is key for conducting a successful assessment, as are investments in selected follow-up actions.

GPE encourages regular effectiveness reviews for an effective partnership and continuous learning and adjustments to optimize sector dialogue and coordinated action. This tool is one resource for doing so.

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