Section 4 continues the Education Sector Plan (ESP) development process and focuses on articulating and putting together the Education Sector Plan (ESP)’s ECE components (ECE strategies, activities, indicators and targets) in the operational plan.
A note on terminology: The operational plan is also referred to as an implementation plan or action plan. As noted in MOOC Module 5 (p. 18), in countries with effective annual operational plans, there is a tendency to not have multi-year action plans. For the purposes of this toolkit, we will refer to “operational plan”, “action plan” or “multi-year action plan” interchangeably, though noting that some countries also have annual operational plans.
The operational plan puts into action the Education Sector Planning (ESP) over the medium term (generally two or three years), by specifying implementation arrangements (i.e., which entity is responsible for each activity), as well as each activity’s timing, cost and sources of financing and related outputs.
The tools in Section 4 build on the guidance provided in the IIEP-UNESCO and GPE’s Guidelines for Education Sector Plan Preparation (pages 23-27) and MOOC Module 5. The goal is to arrive at an operational, action-oriented plan to implement the ECE strategies and activities, with accountability mechanisms and understanding of implementation capacity. It also helps ensure the coherence and feasibility of the ECE components across the Education Sector Planning (ESP), operational plan and results framework, as well as alignment with broader sector-wide priorities and strategies.
As mentioned in MOOC Module 4 and Module 5, the ECE subsector may be addressed in one of two ways in the ESP:
- the ECE subsector is a stand-alone programme in the Education Sector Planning (ESP) (e., the ECE subsector is addressed as a distinct policy priority); or
- the ECE strategies and activities may be dispersed across thematic areas (such as access, quality, etc.).
In the case of (2), it may be helpful to develop a specific ECE subsector operational plan, either during or following the ESP preparation process. This will facilitate managing and monitoring the implementation of the ECE subsector’s activities in a more detailed way than may be feasible to include in whole-sector operational plans. This specific ECE subsector operational plan must be linked to and aligned with the overall sector-wide operational plan. The tools in this section are also relevant to the development of such a specific ECE subsector operational plan.
Effective implementation of the Education Sector Planning (ESP) necessitates sufficient implementation capacity across the education system, including the ECE subsector. An overall analysis of the capacity for implementing the ECE components of the ESP should be conducted, as this may result in rethinking or adjusting the Education Sector Planning (ESP) – such as revising the objectives for ECE, or including a capacity development strategy or series of activities in the Education Sector Planning (ESP) that addresses the key capacity constraints.
It is recommended to refer back to the tools in Section 3 as a starting point for Section 4. Section 3 supports and strengthens the development of the ECE components (ECE strategies, activities, indicators and targets) to be included in the operational plan.
It is useful to refer to and use tool “4.2 Checklist: ECE Implementation Feasibility and Capacity Appraisal for the ESP” as you develop the Education Sector Planning (ESP)’s ECE components (ECE strategies, activities, indicators and targets) to conduct an initial feasibility and alignment check. In this Section 4, the tool is used in the context of a final review and appraisal of the ECE components.
The tools in Section 4 may be used even if your country is not currently engaged in an Education Sector Planning (ESP) preparation process. They are relevant and applicable in the context of developing ECE operational plans in general – for example, they may be used to support the formulation of an ECE action plan for a funding/grant opportunity, or for guiding a subsector reform.
Section 4 Objectives
The overall objective is to arrive at an operational, action-oriented plan to implement the ECE strategies and activities, with accountability mechanisms and understanding of implementation capacity.
To achieve this objective, the following actions should take place:
This action will help you (or the ECE TWG stakeholders) translate the ECE components (ECE strategies, activities, indicators and targets) into an operational plan with designated timing, cost, sources of financing, related outputs and stakeholders accountable.
This action will help you check and ensure the consistency, coherence and feasibility of the ECE components across the Education Sector Planning (ESP) documents. It will also help ensure alignment with broader sector-wide priorities and strategies. The feasibility check also entails examining the different implementation factors to determine whether the education system, including the ECE subsector, has the requisite capacity to effectively implement the ECE components – this will help you consider whether adjustments to the ESP, Education Sector Planning (ESP) results framework, and operational plan are needed (for example, adjusting the ECE strategies and activities and their costs to address capacity development needs required for plan implementation).
Section 4 Tools
The tools featured in this section will help ECE TWG stakeholders arrive at an operational, action-oriented plan to implement the ECE strategies and activities, with accountability mechanisms and understanding of implementation capacity.
Cross-cutting considerations for Section 4
Through the iterative process of developing the ECE components (strategies, activities, indicators, targets and costs) of the Education Sector Planning (ESP), ECE components that are developed should be responsive to and address cross-cutting issues identified in your analysis. For example, access to quality ECE may be widespread in your country and expansion may not be identified as a priority strategy. However, if children with disabilities and children affected by displacement have not been meaningfully included in the ECE system, equity issues should be emphasized and addressed within strategies in the plan (see examples of selecting strategies in Tool 3.1 related to inclusion and crisis).
Important: When incorporating ECE components (e.g. strategies, activities, indicators, targets, and costs) in your operational plan using Tool 4.1 and Section 3 Cross-Cutting Considerations, you will be including strategies that address cross-cutting issues related to crisis, inclusion and gender. You may need to revisit and revise these components based on the data available and cross-cutting considerations outlined in Section 2 and 3.
Tool 4.2 has further “checks” or questions that will ensure your operational plan addresses cross-cutting themes as well as a rapid institutional capacity assessment to ensure you have the institutional capacity to implement your plan.
- For further gender-specific institutional assessment questions which may be adapted for ECE and added to your rapid institutional ECE capacity assessment, refer to: GPE, UNGEI and UNICEF’s (2017) Guidance for Developing Gender-Responsive Education Sector Plans, MOOC Module 5 Page 61.
- For inclusion systems’ capacity assessment questions to add and adapt to your rapid institutional ECE capacity assessment, please refer to the Education Sector Analysis Methodological Guidelines Volume 3, Chapter 11 (forthcoming).