Tool 1.4: Tip Sheet
Strategic Ideas for Establishing the ECE Technical Working Group
Consider and Select Options for Establishing ECE TWGs
Two options are available to have an ECE TWG:
If there are no appropriate existing TWGs, a stand-alone entity can be created, dedicated to supporting ESA/ESP development as well as overall ECE implementation aspects (such as defining teacher qualifications, developing curriculum roll-out strategies, exploring alternative delivery models, etc.).
In many cases, it will be useful to have a distinct ECE TWG that will have a mandate beyond the ESA/ESP development. Such a mandate may help the group working on joint ECE technical subsector initiatives and decision-making processes. The mandate can also facilitate the TWG’s role throughout the implementation and monitoring cycles as well.
If a stand-alone ECE TWG is established in addition to existing ECE or ECD groups, it will be crucial to ensure that activities and efforts are not duplicated and that the different groups work in coordination with one another.
If there are existing groups, it will be ideal to leverage these groups while ensuring that their scope of work includes supporting the ESA/ESP development processes. There are three kinds of groups (groups established under Education\ sector-wide processes; groups established in connection with\ broader Early Childhood Development\ (ECD) initiatives and activities; and groups established for specific ECE\ initiatives, activities or projects); determine which one(s) is/are found in your country and consider (i) the guiding question to help reflections on their purpose and functionality; and (ii) the tips about leveraging them to support ECE.
Develop a Terms of Reference for the ECE TWG
Whichever option you have chosen, it will be important to have clear terms of reference to guide the mandate and activities of the ECE TWG. The tips that follow may be helpful to guide the development or strengthening of the the terms of reference (ToR) of the ECE TWG. A sample ToR is provided as an Annex. The sample may be used as a template and adapted to your context as needed.
Become Familiar with the Background for the ECE TWG
You are likely to be asked “Why an ECE-focused TWG?”
Giving the context in the ToR for the establishment of your ECE TWG will provide stakeholders with the background and rationale for its existence. Useful background information to include in this section of the ToR consists of:
Legal status and validity of the ECE TWG (i.e., whether the TWG is established pursuant to specific laws, policies, decrees, ministerial leadership, etc.);
ESP development processes;
Overall purpose of the ECE TWG
Clarify the Objectives of the ECE TWG
Having clear objectives for establishing the TWG will help articulate the membership, role and activities of the TWG in the ToR.
As you consider the objectives of the TWG, it is helpful to bear in mind the following considerations:
The main idea is to create a core team of technical advisors that will support the ECE arm of the Ministry of Education (or other ministries that have responsibility over ECE) with its mandate and tasks on ECE. The TWG can play a critical role in ensuring that ECE is integrated into or strengthened throughout the ESA/ESP development process, as well as supporting quality implementation and monitoring of activities as the ESP rolls out. The TWG will also work and coordinate with other working groups from the Education sector and other sectors (such as health, social protection and welfare, etc.) to enhance alignment of ECE interventions.
While the TWG will have a focus on supporting the integration/strengthening of ECE throughout the ESP development, implementation and monitoring and reporting cycles, it may be beneficial and strategic to extend and broaden their role beyond the ESA/ESP development aspects. It is thus useful to think of the TWG as the main technical entity that can be called upon to brainstorm and problem-solve on all ECE-related matters and issues. Reflecting on these matters will influence how you define the group’s objective. In turn, this will have an impact on the duration of the TWG’s existence – is it only active for the purpose of the ESA/ESP development, or is it a more permanent group that can intervene as the ESP is implemented and in the monitoring and evaluation phase?
The TWG should have also have a role promoting communication among stakeholders such as government officials, NGOs, donors, development partners and community leaders. Additionally, the TWG should facilitate technical inputs to and consensus building on critical issues to achieve common objectives within the ECE subsector, broader education sector, and possibly across sectors with other coordinating bodies (ex. ECD coordinating bodies) at the national level and/or across levels of the system (national to local). For example, in Lesotho, the ECE TWG’s broad objective of supporting the ECE Unit of the Ministry of Education includes the coordination of the work of all stakeholders in the ECE subsector to align efforts; and the timely sharing of relevant updates and information pertaining to ECE subsector and Education section.
The TWG can serve as an opportunity for members to strengthen their knowledge and deepen their expertise in the area of ECE and sector planning. As such, it is helpful to identify capacity building and peer learning as an objective of the TWG, to enable sharing and exchanges of evidence, best practices and experiences in ECE and sector planning. This capacity building and peer learning approach can further contribute to advancing the objectives and goals of the TWG as a technical and advisory group.
Monitoring the ECE TWG’s progress against the objectives of the ToR
It may be helpful to outline in the ToR overarching objectives with specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely (SMART) indicators. The ToR may also state that the ECE TWG will review the ToR and the progress against the indicators on a regular basis, so that adjustments can be made.
For example, in Nepal, in the context of the mid-term review of its sector plan, the ToR of the ECE TWG (which were developed at the outset of the sector plan development process) were re-evaluated and new activities and deliverables were agreed upon by the ECE TWG to help support meeting the ECE activities of the sector plan.
Identify Factors to Consider in Selecting Members of the TWG
In the ToR, you can name the individuals or set out the profiles and how the membership has been, or will be, selected or confirmed. It is helpful to bear in mind the following considerations:
Determine the Roles and Functioning of the TWG
This entails determining the structure of the TWG, meeting and decision-making procedures.
The following tips can help ensure that the TWG is productive:
Determine the legislative and/or administrative status of the TWG. For example, in Kyrgyzstan, the ECE Steering Committee was appointed by the Minister of Education, in accordance with the laws of the Kyrgyz Republic. A set of regulations were adopted to clarify the functioning and activities of this group.
Consider the different roles that can be included in the TWG structure, such as:
Chair: Typically, a TWG is led by a chair or co-chair who are strong leaders, have significant interest in the issue and are respected as subject matter experts.
Secretariat: Some TWGs have officers, such as a secretary who is responsible for keeping meeting minutes or sharing information with the members, etc.
Clarify the responsibilities of the TWG members. What are the expected and optional contributions of each members – for example, an expected contribution would be attending a certain percentage of meetings, while an optional contribution would be serving in a leadership role, etc. What are the specific tasks of the TWG members? Clarity on these issues may also help recruitment of members.
Define the processes for how the group will function. How often will the group meet? Who will convene meetings? How will the activities and decisions of the TWG be recorded? How will decisions be made? How long will the TWG remain active (if a time limit is relevant)? Note that processes should be open to revision as the work progresses.
Document and communicate progress. It is important to record the discussions and decisions of the TWG and make it easy for members to access and share that information. This enables members to advocate for the TWG and increases buy-in as well. Communication can widen the circle of people who are invested in the success of the TWG.
Empower the leadership. Ideally, the TWG should be officially acknowledged or recognized by high-level policymakers. Such recognition helps validate the status of the TWG and endorse its activities and decisions. This will also help empower Ministerial Leadership and promote their ownership and buy-in of the TWG.
Sample Terms of Reference for the Early Childhood Education (ECE) Technical Working Group (TWG)
The specifics and sections of this sample ToR are likely to need adaptation to your country context. This is a suggested format only – please feel free to use any format that suits for your country context.