This is the last post in a 3-part series on education joint sector reviews.
Most GPE partner countries regularly organize joint sector reviews to bring a variety of stakeholders to the table to monitor and evaluate sector progress. When effectively prepared and organized, joint sector reviews can stimulate an inclusive policy dialogue, promote mutual accountability and support monitoring and implementation of high-quality education sector plans.
Three francophone countries—the Democratic Republic of Congo, Chad, and Madagascar—have undertaken a series of activities in recent months to exchange knowledge and good practices in the context of joint sector reviews.
During the meeting of developing country partners represented on the GPE Board in Accra in May 2017, the Secretariat met with Valère Munsya, GPE Focal Point for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and head of the Permanent Education Sector Support and Coordination Secretariat (Secrétariat Permanent d'Appui et de Coordination du Secteur de l'Education SPACE). Mr. Munsya granted us an interview during which he looked back on his experience organizing this exchange initiative in the context of the sector reviews and the joint reviews held in the DRC.
In the meetings of the GPE Board constituencies, you regularly participate in activities to discuss good practices with representatives of the Africa 2 constituency. How is the initiative to organize exchanges in the context of joint sector reviews different? Why was the decision made to invite representatives of Chad and Madagascar to participate in the joint review in Kinshasa?
Valère Munsya: The constituency meetings bring together a large number of participants representing the GPE developing country partners. During these meetings we cover many topics concurrently in a relatively short space of time. The exchange initiative is much more targeted and has provided us with an opportunity for in-depth discussions with our peers during the preparation and organization of the joint sector review.
As we were preparing our joint review, we thought to invite representatives of our constituency to attend and participate. We knew that Madagascar was preparing its sector strategy and that Chad was going to be preparing its joint review. Moreover, these are two francophone countries with which we already have strong ties. So basically, it was our initiative.
The GPE Secretariat played an essential role in making these meetings a success by helping us to define the purpose and scope of the discussions and structuring them around the five dimensions of effective joint sector reviews.
Beyond the technical assistance provided by the Secretariat, its logistical support was essential to the success of the initiative, which came at a time when we were very busy with the organization of the review and welcoming of the participants.
What did you gain from this experience that could help you in your work?
Valère Munsya: I am responsible for managing the Permanent Education Sector Support and Coordination Secretariat (SPACE), which is a unit in the Ministry of Primary, Secondary and Vocational Education. My team coordinates the activities of the various ministries responsible for education in the DRC. We work with the national government to provide technical support and to implement the recently endorsed 2016-2025 Education and Training Sector Strategy (SSEF). We play a vital role as coordination among the various ministries is crucial. In this context, SPACE guides the preparation and organization of joint reviews and acts as liaison between the various units in the national government.
For us the joint sector reviews are an important opportunity for policy dialogue and monitoring of the education sector. The reviews have taken on particular importance because they have formalized the transition from the basic education subsector plan (IEP) to the long-term sector strategy involving all subsectors.
The discussions with our Malagasy and Chadian partners were very valuable as they enabled us to reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of our review and to consider the scope of these meetings in greater depth.
You led a team of 8 persons to organize the IEP joint review, which brought some 200 participants to Kinshasa. What was the outcome of this meeting and what were the major difficulties encountered in preparing, holding and monitoring this review?
Valère Munsya: The logistical and physical organization of the review was very successful and was appreciated by many participants.
The review was inclusive, bringing together most of the stakeholders in the education sector: development partners, civil society organizations, and many representatives of the national government, both from the central offices and from the provinces.
To have been able to bring together representatives of the ministries responsible for education, as well as the Ministry of Finance and Budget, definitely qualifies the review as a success. The Minister of Primary, Secondary and Vocational Education and the provincial ministers participated in the discussions and acted as session moderators or chairs. I should also note that even in the presence of the country’s highest political authorities, the participants spoke freely and in some cases very forcefully on some topics.
Although the quality of the report was appreciated by many participants, its preparation was a major technical challenge for us. The education statistics were received late and were not up to date. To remedy this, we had to compare the national statistics with those produced by the development partners. Although we were able to overcome these difficulties, they delayed the delivery of the report, which could not be provided to the participants until two days before the workshops. We will need to work on this next year to ensure that data compilation does not become a recurrent problem.
Finally, it was unfortunate that the participation in the workshops was not always effective, which can be explained to some extent by the fact that some participants had not read the basic reference documents. Guiding the discussions took a great deal of effort and this was reflected in the recommendations, which looked more like a litany of needs than achievable operational recommendations. After some editing, we were able to include them in the draft aide-mémoire, but subsequent reviews will need to concentrate on a smaller number of topics to lead to key recommendations for improving the implementation of our sector strategy.