Taking action to make education accessible to all and improving its quality is a good thing. Having tools to assess the relevance and impacts of the aid provided is better. AFD consequently promotes the regular evaluation of its financing, including the financing provided to the Pôle de Dakar, a platform for expertise in education policy, which came about through cooperation between the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and IIEP-UNESCO.
Measuring the relevance of the commitment
To understand the origin of the Pôle de Dakar, we need to go back to the corridors of the World Education Forum organized in the Senegalese capital in 2000. At the time, the international community pledged to help its partners: “No country seriously committed to education for all will be thwarted in their achievement of this goal by lack of resources.” To fulfil this pledge, contributing States ask these countries to develop “credible plans” for financial partners, so that the latter can “justify their financing”. All the stakeholders focus on the same objective: work effectively for quality education accessible to all.
Following these mutual commitments, the Pôle de Dakar came into being in 2001. Its mission: assist African countries in analyzing the situation of their education and training systems and in developing these “credible plans” for the development of education. There is an obligation: estimate the long-term financial needs. AFD is currently the main supporter of the Pôle de Dakar, which is intended for all African countries, with USD 14m of financing between 2014 and 2017.
An efficient program
In 2012, after ten years of existence, the Pôle de Dakar underwent an in-depth external evaluation financed by AFD. It highlights the complementarity between the three types of support proposed by the Pôle: direct support to countries, capacity building for their sectoral analysis through training, and statistical and analytical production on the monitoring of the “Education for All” objective. The analysis reveals four main points:
- The first observation: African countries do request support from the Pôle. Its sectoral analyses have facilitated access to financing in relation to the Global Partnership for Education for at least 13 countries: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Gambia, Guinea, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Togo.
- National capacities have been built in terms of diagnostics of the education system (RESEN) through training. The training was launched in 2007 and is mainly followed through distance learning, with periods in Dakar. After five years of existence, five class years of over 150 students have been trained. The vast majority of students worked in their Ministry of Education before their training and were still working there at the time of the evaluation.
- The report also highlights the strong and sustainable impacts of the Pôle’s direct support for national capacity building in the field of sectoral analysis, for example, in Mauritania and Benin. Priority is often given to direct support to countries via RESEN, compared to the Pôle’s other types of activities.
- Finally, the evaluation shows that a strong political commitment by countries and synergies between the support for the various institutions are necessary to help build national capacities in sectoral analysis. These capacities are still largely insufficient for them to take over without technical assistance. In this context, the capacity building mission should give priority to direct support.
A new evaluation of the Pôle de Dakar will be launched in early 2018. It will assess the results achieved by the Pôle between 2014 and 2017, particularly in vocational training, a new string to the bow of the Pole since 2015 via its platform for expertise in vocational training. This structure aims to support the operationalization of vocational training policies, capitalization and experience sharing, and innovation. This makes a further contribution to the education, training and vocational integration continuum and to its role as a social pillar for sustainable development.