A partnership approach for constructive stakeholder dialogue
A number of partners contribute to the FCSE: the Luxembourg Directorate for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Affairs, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, UNICEF, Norway, and the Agence française de développement (AFD). AFD is also a GPE grant agent in Niger channeling GPE resources through the FCSE.
“This partnership arrangement makes for a constructive, rounded dialogue between partners and government to enhance the coordination and effectiveness of support in the sector,” notes Johan Meyer Kristian of the Royal Norwegian Embassy based in Bamako in charge of monitoring the FCSE in Niger.
The full integration of the FCSE within the national budget and management systems greatly facilitates coordination. In addition, regular joint missions review options to improve the coherence and synergies between the support provided by the sector pooled fund and those from other development partners.
A well-defined legal framework to facilitate risk management and partner dialogue
The design of the FCSE was guided by an analysis of capacities, fiduciary risks, and risks of operational counter-performance.
FCSE partners and the government agreed to manage these risks by (i) formalizing national public procurement and expenditure procedures in a manual, (ii) defining operational procedures for FCSE activities and improved education system performance, and (iii) defining additional mechanisms and rules to manage and reduce fiduciary risks.
The procedures manual also clarifies the roles and responsibilities of the many different education structures and finance ministry departments in FCSE resource management.
This aligned approach was designed to leverage the transformations needed for the Nigerien education system to enhance performance and equity.
“The FCSE is a highly promising instrument for public policy dialogue. The fact that it covers different subsectors at central, decentralized, and devolved levels with different types of actors means that we can really probe the system’s foundations and work on improving equity, learning outcomes, and management at all levels, holistically,” says Audrey Martinenq-Duplessis, Education and Training Project Team Leader at AFD.
Since its launch, the FCSE has helped improve sector dialogue and education sector planning. The Fund’s resources complement and add to the domestic resources allocated to the education system.
Technical and steering committees support high-level dialogue between development partner contributors to the FCSE and the ministries in charge of education reporting to the prime minister. These bodies steer the implementation of the sector plan and FCSE support.
Addressing regional specificities to improve inclusion for the most vulnerable populations
As the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry for Education points out, “A very important framing principle of the FCSE is that it earmarks over 80 percent of its resources to regional levels, providing critical support for local authorities and decentralized education service delivery structures.”
The fact that the FCSE resources flow through national public financial management channels means that the decentralized, regional, and local education bodies can be better supported at scale to fulfil their mandates. This includes improving local resource management in the training of teachers and supervisors, pedagogical support services and direct subsidies to schools and establishments.
As the Maradi Regional Director of the Ministry for Secondary Education put it in March 2021, “The Fund is a breath of fresh air for our system.”
The Fund is also supporting the implementation of Niger’s decentralization and devolution policy by contributing to the transfer of resources to local government bodies through the Local Government Funding Agency (AFCT) to build and equip classrooms.
“The pooled fund is accelerating the decentralization process,” declared the former Regional Councilor of the Maradi Region in March 2021. It has driven the design and development of the first grant mechanism for primary and lower secondary schools built on the municipalities and municipal federations of decentralized school management committees.