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2008 02-education-swa ps-africa-csos-mundy

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  • 1. EDUCATION SWAPS IN AFRICA: LESSONS FOR CSOS BY KAREN MUNDY & MEGAN HAGGERTY UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO INTERNATIONAL FORUM ON CIVIL SOCIETY AND AID EFFECTIVENESS GATINEAU, QUEBEC FEBRUARY 3-6, 20081. SUMMARY Internationally-funded sector programs in education have spread rapidly across Africasince 2000. These programs are sharply influenced by the aid effectiveness agenda: theyrevolve around a nationally developed, and comprehensive education sector plan; they focusmost centrally on the realization of universal access to good quality basic education (both as abasic foundation for development and a fundamental human right); and they move in thedirection of harmonization and alignment of bilateral and multilateral assistance in the educationsector around the national sector plan. For some countries, including the four discussed in thispaper (Burkina Faso, Mali, Kenya and Tanzania), such sector programs have led to significantincreases in the number of children in school. Education sector programs in Africa have also incorporated a significantly new emphasison the inclusion of civil society actors - in policy dialogue, and in program implementation.However, the recognition given to civil society actors in the education sector (by governmentand donor organizations) has remained uneven, and there is a strong sense among CSOs thattheir traditional roles (as service providers), and the funding base for these roles, is eroding.Furthermore CSOs’ capacity for sustained voice and representation in the planning andimplementation of education sector SWAPs has remained quite limited, although this varies bycountry. The expectation remains that CSOs can play a significant role in holding donors andgovernments accountable to their sector promises. This case study reviews the CSO experience in four countries, based on fieldwork inKenya, Mali, Tanzania and Burkina Faso in 2006. It answers two primary questions: • Have CSOs gained a seat at the new education sector policy table – if yes or no, what factors limit or encourage their effective engagement? • What kinds of gaps in capacity do CSOs have in this new policy environment? We suggest that CSOs in Tanzania and Burkina Faso have managed to achieve aconsiderably degree of voice in the new SWAP-directed education policy arena. In bothcountries, a cohesive national CSO umbrella network in education has emerged to represent abroad range of CSO actors. Kenya and Mali have seen more fragmented CSO engagement in thenational policy arena. In all cases, though CSOs are included in policy dialogue, there is limitedtransparency or regularity in the processes through which CSOs are selected for engagement inthe SWAP process, either by donor organizations or by their home governments.EDUCATION SWAPS CASE STUDYINTERNATIONAL FORUM ON CIVIL SOCIETY AND AID EFFECTIVENESS, FEBRUARY 2008 1
  • 2. Our research also reveals a mismatch in the roles for CSOs as outlined in the educationsector plans, expressed by the national governments, and perceived by the international donorsand civil society itself. Although the importance of CSOs in democratic engagement andempowerment of marginalized peoples is recognized by donors and civil society alike,governments tended to perceive CSOs’ proper role as service providers, filling the gaps not yetcovered by the government. Governments are often uncomfortable with CSOs’ attempts to act ascitizen watchdogs or challenge the established national plans of the government. Donororganizations, for their part, continue to fund CSOs primarily as service providers, even thoughthey offer much rhetorical support for the notion of CSOs as agents of citizen voice andoversight.Key Lessons:• To differing degrees across our case studies, CSOs have demonstrated they can play a significant important role in providing a form for citizen-led accountability that enhances aid effectiveness. Through promoting citizen awareness of education rights, monitoring government policies and plans, and sharing information on education policies with the public and media, they have the capacity to considerably enhance aid effectiveness.• Coordination among civil society actors can improve their voice and recognition in the new aid context. However, such coordination is difficult to achieve for several reasons. International funding for CSO activities other than direct service provision is limited. CSO capacities in the areas of policy dialogue, using research, and mobilizing public voice are recent and weak. Historical divisions and tensions among different CSO groups, especially between teachers’ unions and NGO service providers, and between INGOs and national NGOs, also limit coordination and voice.• There is a clear need for transparent procedural frameworks for civil society engagement at the national level, including rules around the selection of CSO representatives, and establishing regular opportunities for CSO-government and CSO-donor consultation.• Donor organizations also need to establish a well-informed and coordinated strategy for supporting CSO involvement in the education sector, as well as transparent rules and processes to select CSOs they interact with and support. Because CSO engagement, capacity and coordination in the education sector varies widely across countries, there is a need to carefully tailor any effort to support better CSO recognition and voice to national contexts and histories. Furthermore, support for CSOs should allow and encourage CSOs to play a more significant “mutual accountability” role – in tracking and monitoring the quality of international aid to education and its effectiveness.• Decentralization of the administration and financing of education are among the most common reforms in education SWAPs. While this opens up new opportunities for CSOs to engage with citizens at the community level, it also stretches their capacity for coordination, oversight and advocacy at the national level.EDUCATION SWAPS CASE STUDYINTERNATIONAL FORUM ON CIVIL SOCIETY AND AID EFFECTIVENESS, FEBRUARY 2008 2
  • 3. 2. COUNTRY CASE STUDIES The countries of Burkina Faso, Mali, Tanzania and Kenya have all moved towardsgreater political freedom in recent years, and as part of this process new national developmentplans have given greater attention to the basic right of citizens to education. All four countrieshave Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs) that emphasize the importance of basiceducation. Each has an internationally-supported national education sector program that focuseson the expansion of quality education at the primary level – these programs have engendered asignificant degree of donor coordination at the national level, with a donor committee and annualdonor reviews of the sector in each country. Kenya and Tanzania have made publiccommitments to abolish primary school fees; Mali and Burkina Faso have taken a moregradualist approach, continuing to rely on private, community or NGO-funded schools for asignificant share of educational expansion. In all four countries, the terms “partnership” and “participation” of non-governmentalactors feature prominently in the national education sector plans – a fundamentally newdeparture from past policy deliberations. However, the way in which partnership andparticipation is defined remains vague. All four countries acknowledge a new role for civilsociety in the development and monitoring of national policy goals, though this is oftenexpressed as improving the accountability of decentralized levels (especially in Mali).Partnership is also described in terms of the community and private sector inputs that are seen asessential to achieve the goals outlined in the plans. Only Tanzania’s sector plan specifically cites“advocacy” as a legitimate role for CSOs in the education sector. Reference to partnership in most sector plans tends to be aspirational and to assumeharmonious, collaborative interaction with CSOs. There is little discussion of competinginterests or goals – as for example, between NGOs and teachers’ unions, where a history ofdonor intervention (supporting NGO and community schools and non-unionized teachers)continues to divide civil society. While all sector plans mention the value of stakeholder consultation, none of the sectorplans we reviewed provided clear frameworks or benchmarks for civil society consultation andengagement in national policy settings. There is a further complication here: while sectorprograms tend to emphasize a new accountability role for civil society actors, this is mainlyenvisaged at the local or community level – through parent councils, district committees, etc.There is little clarity about how/whether local level accountability structures will feed intonational level CSO capacity to act as a watchdog over national and international commitmentsand promises in education.Civil Society Engagement in the Education Policy Arena Huge variation exists across our case countries, both in capacities and interests ofdifferent types of CSO actors, and in terms of intra-CSO relationships, capacity to mobilizearound a common agenda, and ability to affect education policy. The brief summaries providedbelow only begin to demonstrate these differences. These distinctive civil society experienceshighlight the fact that there are challenges to both more contentious and more collaborativeEDUCATION SWAPS CASE STUDYINTERNATIONAL FORUM ON CIVIL SOCIETY AND AID EFFECTIVENESS, FEBRUARY 2008 3
  • 4. forms of CSO engagement. They also suggest that support for civil society engagement in thepolicy arena will need to take into account specific country contexts, and must not assumeharmonized interests or abilities of CSOs. In Tanzania, CSO engagement is relatively well-coordinated and includes impressiveuse of evidence-based policy advocacy. The CSO coalition, the Tanzanian Education Network(TEN/MET), is effective in mobilizing a wide range of members around a common policyplatform. TEN/MET includes INGOs in its membership, and has benefited substantially fromINGOs, who have provided both financing and international leverage for key policy tasks.However, TEN/MET’s leadership is primarily drawn from national and subnational NGOs andsignificant attention is paid to building links to subnational groups. In spite of this strength, thereis a perceived weakness in the capacity of the CSO coalition to reach rural and moremarginalized CSOs and citizen groups. Of the four countries, TEN/MET is the most effectivecritic and watchdog over national and international basic education commitments. However,CSO efforts to play watchdog roles have not been well-received by government, with tensionsheightened in 2005-2006 when the government placed an interdiction on a national watchdog(Haki-Elimu) and tried to prevent its participation at the policy table, despite the watchdoghaving been chosen by TEN/MET to represent the network. In addition, because thegovernment-donor-CSO deliberations mainly take place around (access to) basic education, otherlevels of education change have until late been largely ignored. In 2006, TEN/MET began toreceive a pooled fund from donor organizations to support its advocacy, research andmobilization activities. This funding promises to further enhance TEN/MET’s voice andcapacity, and guarantees it a degree of autonomy from both government and individual donorsnot realized in our other country cases. In Burkina Faso, CSOs were initially marginalized in the policy discussions that led tothe formulation of the education sector plan in 2002 (despite rhetoric encouraging an increase intheir involvement in the final document). Teachers’ unions in particular were excluded becauseof the government’s recognition of their opposition to aspects of the plan. Burkina Faso has sincedeveloped a national education CSO coalition, the Cadre de Concertation en Education de Base(CCEB), which is relatively cohesive and effective. CCEB is especially active at the regionallevel, which now is the location of much education decision-making. Its members workcooperatively and effectively to generate civil society voice on issues of gender, curricularreform and regional planning. CSO consultation at the national and regional levels in BurkinaFaso is now routine, with CCEB playing a role in relating regional to national levels of decisionmaking. In contrast to Tanzania, relations with government are non-conflictual. Furthermore, aunique feature of the Burkina sector program has created a new space for CSO initiative, throughthe establishment of a CSO-government governed pooled fund for nonformal education projects.However, in contrast to many other civil society coalitions, CCEB has not made universal freeaccess to primary education a central part of its mobilization efforts. The coalition still has alimited a capacity for monitoring national educational quality and equity issues, and limitedability to engage a wider public on education issues. In Kenya, civil society organizations came together at the time of the countries first fullyfree multi-party elections, and formed the ElimuYetu Coalition (EYC). This coalition played avery important role in lobbying citizens and political leadership – its campaign and research onschool fees and declining enrollments helped influence the winning political party to declareEDUCATION SWAPS CASE STUDYINTERNATIONAL FORUM ON CIVIL SOCIETY AND AID EFFECTIVENESS, FEBRUARY 2008 4
  • 5. abolition of elementary school fees upon its election. However, EYC has since lost much of itscapacity and voice. It does not seem to play an effective watchdog role in the context of the newsector program, and has remained highly dependent on its hosting organization, the INGOActionAid. Competition for funding, and varied views about the right direction for futureeducation sector expansion within education civil society seems to explain this deterioration.While some CSOs have emerged as trusted policy partners in the recent education SWAP(around issues such as gender and early childhood education), there is little overall capacity formonitoring government and donor commitments to universalizing good quality education. Someof this weakness reflects larger tensions between the government and CSOs: there continues tobe a perceived threat of government reprisals over critical advocacy and monitoring work, andCSOs have little traction with parliamentarians. Echoing a pattern we saw in other countries,most CSOs in Kenya have tended to focus their energies on gaining individual leverage insidethe Ministry of Education, through complimentary service and contracting roles, instead ofthrough active advocacy and monitoring. CSO engagement in education policy in Mali has a distinctive history. On the one hand,the 1990s witnessed an impressive level of coordination among NGOs involved in thecommunity school movement, in part funded from international NGOs and donor organizations.However, the 1990s also saw strong efforts to limit the power of Mali’s teachers’ unions andnational post-secondary student associations in educational decision-making. Perhaps not sosurprisingly, there are contradictory views from these different CSOs on the degree of voice theyhad in the design of the education sector plan. Many local CSOs view the sector plan as beinglargely donor-led, and modeled from a pre-established policy reform model. Teachers’ andparents’ associations and some national NGOs feel they were not adequately consulted, andcontinue to object to key aspects of the program. This is contrasted to the view of INGOs andNGOs with strong international links and traditionally large roles in direct service provision, whofeel that the sector plan was the result of wide-consultation, and are pleased that the governmenthas adopted several of the lessons learned from the NGO-sponsored community schoolmovement, including building pro-active school level management structures for civil societyparticipation. Although a number of CSO coordinating groups have emerged in Mali over the last 10years, CSOs in Mali tend to bargain individually rather than collectively. At the time of ourresearch CSO engagement in Mali’s education sector program appeared fragmented anddisorganized. As well, our research found that many Malian CSOs lacked understanding of thedecision-making spaces within the sector program: few participate in the consultative structures,joint evaluation missions or joint thematic groups. The fragmentation and lack of coordinationmay help explain why donors and civil society actors alike noted an overall diminishing level ofCSO participation in the education policy arena, in contrast to the other cases.3. LESSONS FROM THE COUNTRY CASES ON GOVERNMENT-CSO RELATIONSHIPS Across our cases, there is a new recognition of CSOs as legitimate participants ineducation sector programs, and new opportunities for CSOs to engage with governments anddonors in the education policy arena. However, governments often continue to view theappropriate role for CSOs as primarily in service provision, as shown by one senior educationofficial in Kenya who thought it was the government’s role, not CSOs, to be the think-tankEDUCATION SWAPS CASE STUDYINTERNATIONAL FORUM ON CIVIL SOCIETY AND AID EFFECTIVENESS, FEBRUARY 2008 5
  • 6. around policy development, ensure quality control, monitor and evaluate its own progress.Governments view CSO watchdog activities (including monitoring, evaluation, andidentification of important issues missing from the sector plans) with caution and occasionalanger. In Tanzania, government representatives felt a watchdog CSO had betrayed the trust thataccompanied the CSOs’ invitation to the policy table when the watchdog used its access toinformation to criticize the government. According to CSOs, there was a clear desire by governments in all countries to retaincentralized control of planning and implementation, as in line with the Paris Declaration. Inseveral cases, this has led to government officials expressing new interest in tapping NGOresources for national development plans, or having NGO contributions formally evaluated aspart of sector programs. For example, in Mali there was a failed proposal to have NGOscontribute 1% of their budget towards government monitoring. Government attempts of controlhave extended beyond financial considerations, however. The legal frameworks through whichCSOs must register in each country, although aiding autonomy and status for CSOs, have alsolimited advocacy and political mobilization by these actors. The threat of deregistration hashistorically been used in Tanzania and Kenya to silence oppositional actors. Although CSOs reject the notion of being simply subcontractors for complementaryservice provision, many of those interviewed (particularly well-established NGOs/INGOs) werepleased to work collaboratively with the government to meet the sector goals. Nonetheless,several CSOs told us that they perceive a direct tension between their service provision/subcontracting roles and efforts to monitor and advocate for change in governmental policies. In all our case countries, the government controls which CSOs get invited to the policytable, and for which purposes. This can create winners and losers among CSOs, especially wherethere is no national education-CSO coordinating group in place. CSOs also distinguishedbetween being “consulted” and being “participative”, noting that CSO presence at the policytable does not equate with influence. While most governments consult a variety of CSO actors,there is significantly more consultation with national and international CSOs holding‘complementary’ views, and with organizations that speak the language of internationaleducation sector programs and reforms. However, CSOs should not be viewed as powerless,especially where there is active coordination among CSOs. For example, in response to theTanzanian government’s attempts to limit the participation of one watchdog at the policy table,the Tanzanian Education Network en masse boycotted the annual joint evaluation of theeducation sector (attended by all donors and government), stating that the network should be theones to decide which of their members represent them at the policy table. This forced bothdonors and the government to address CSO concerns. However, the significant potential thatCSOs with large memberships– such as teachers’ unions, faith-based groups and parents’associations – have in terms of leveraging public engagement on such educational issues asequality and quality of services, is both underutilized by CSOs and under-appreciated bygovernment and donors. Finally, we noted that across all our case studies CSOs rarely engage in relationships withparliamentarians or parliamentary committees. There is a neglect of formal political andparliamentary channels for representing citizens and guaranteeing their basic human rights(including the right to education). Government-CSO relations in education are usually confinedEDUCATION SWAPS CASE STUDYINTERNATIONAL FORUM ON CIVIL SOCIETY AND AID EFFECTIVENESS, FEBRUARY 2008 6
  • 7. to interactions between CSOs and the Ministry of Education, with some interactions with localelected officials (particularly for fundraising), but rarely with the Ministry of Finance (whichoften controls education expenditure, and shapes the use of direct budgetary support). Overall, our case studies suggest the need for a number of improvements in therelationships between governments and CSOs in the education sector. These include: • Legal frameworks that allow civil society to freely represent their constituents, without the threat of deregistration. • Formal processes for CSO selection that articulate how individual CSOs are chosen to represent civil society at the policy table, and any limitations the government places on their participation. (Obviously, a jointly agreed selection process would be best). • A clear timetable laying out scheduled meetings with governments, donors and civil society, allowing all parties equal access to information and opportunity for CSOs to get proper feedback from their constituents. • More active engagement with Parliamentarians. There is a need for governments to enhance parliamentary oversight on education, and for CSOs to more actively engage elected representatives.4. LESSONS FROM THE COUNTRY CASES ON DONOR-CSO RELATIONSHIPS Relationships between donor organizations and CSOs have changed rapidly in thecontext of the new sector programs. Despite donors’ overall commitment to CSO engagement inimplementation, monitoring and evaluation, CSOs in all case countries documented a drop ininternational funding for their activities (sometimes precipitously), as aid moved sector fundingand (in the Tanzanian case) general budget support. Several Malian CSOs expressed frustrationat donors’ tendency to fund their own country’s NGOs rather than directly funding Southerngroups. CSOs also noted a decline in opportunities to meet with international donors andtechnical partners following the introduction of the sector plans. As one Burkinabe CSOcommented, “Sometimes one has the impression that the donor agencies consider NGOs a bit ofa nuisance...that they see us as either agitators or that we are standing cap in hand for their[sector-targeted] money.” Only in Tanzania did CSOs expressly mention donors as cautious butsignificant allies, keeping them informed of policy discussions and rescheduled governmentmeetings, and sharing documents and information. A significant finding across our case countries was that donors lack a well-informed andcoordinated strategy for supporting CSO involvement in education. Nor do donors havetransparent rules or processes to select which CSOs they interact with and support. Donors knewcomparatively little about national and subnational CSOs and their capacities, nor abouteducation sector CSOs funded by other branches of their own organizations. Except in Tanzania,donors have generally shown limited interest in providing core funding that might enablenational CSOs to engage in sustained and autonomous programs of research or advocacy. Ourgeneral impression was that donors wanted to support CSOs, but are not sure how to proceed inthe new policy context.EDUCATION SWAPS CASE STUDYINTERNATIONAL FORUM ON CIVIL SOCIETY AND AID EFFECTIVENESS, FEBRUARY 2008 7
  • 8. A final caution was expressed by CSOs in regards to their autonomy and relations withdonors. CSOs believe they have a legitimate role in monitoring donors and their commitments tosector programs in education, although donors’ beliefs in this regard were unclear. However, thefact that many CSOs rely on international donors for their funding limits their capacity to playthis “mutual accountability” role. An interesting effort has been launched, under theinternational Global Campaign for Education, to link Southern education-CSO coalitions withNorthern education coalitions. Although still in its infancy, this is a promising model forenhancing “mutual accountability” – providing a direct link between the citizens of countriesreceiving education aid, and citizens in donor countries capable using information about aidfailure generated by Southern CSOs to hold their own governments accountable. At times it is in the political interest of both donors and governments to ignore the areaswhere the government has failed to meet its targets, while highlighting the successes. Forexample, in Tanzania, donors and governments alike celebrate the incredible strides thegovernment had made in increasing access to primary education. The Tanzanian governmentuses education as its poster child, demonstrating its good work. Donors, similarly, have used theTanzanian success to demonstrate to their home constituencies that their aid was being effective.It is important to recognize that it is not in the political interest of either group to clearly showthe areas where the government has not made progress. Civil society actors have been morecritical. External actors face a delicate task when supporting the more “political” of the rolesplayed by civil society actors. They must do so while continuing to support governmentleadership and ownership of sector programs; in ways that do not imply partisanship; and that donot carry the threat of sanction or hegemony. Nonetheless, our case countries suggest thatexternal actors can assist in seven important ways: • Dialogue with governments about the establishment of legal frameworks, formal processes and better government receptivity to CSO policy, oversight and public deliberation roles. • Argue for more transparent, regularized and democratic processes for the inclusion of civil society representation in the formal processes engendered by national education sector plans. • Provide reliable core support for coalitions/networks in a way that ensures autonomy. • Support neglected civil society actors or interests – such as teachers’ unions and smaller subnational or thematic groups – to develop productive forms of engagement in national policy deliberation. • Support international linkages between Northern and Southern citizens and their organizations, especially where governments inhibit CSO engagement, or where civil society capacity is weak. • Support civil society organizations’ capacities for coordination and policy voice. • Assist CSOs that link decentralized forms of citizen input to national policy processes.EDUCATION SWAPS CASE STUDYINTERNATIONAL FORUM ON CIVIL SOCIETY AND AID EFFECTIVENESS, FEBRUARY 2008 8
  • 9. BIBLIOGRAPHYCross-case Analysis:Mundy, K., Cherry, S., Haggerty, M., Maclure, R. & Sivasubramaniam, M. (2007). Basic education, civil society participation and the new aid architecture: Lessons from Burkina Faso, Kenya, Mali and Tanzania. Toronto: Comparative and International Development Centre, OISE/UT, available at: http://cide.oise.utoronto.ca/civil_societyField Studies:Cherry, S. & Mundy, K. (2007). Civil society and the governance of basic education: Mali country field study. Toronto: Comparative and International Development Centre, OISE/UT, available at: http://cide.oise.utoronto.ca/civil_societyHaggerty, M., Manion, C. & Mundy, K. (2007). Civil society and the governance of basic education: Tanzania country field study. Toronto: Comparative and International Development Centre, OISE/UT, available at: http://cide.oise.utoronto.ca/civil_societyMaclure, R., Kabore, B., Meyong, C. & Lavan, D. (2007). Civil society and the governance of basic education: Burkina Faso country field study. Toronto: Comparative and International Development Centre, OISE/UT and University of Ottawa, available at: http://cide.oise.utoronto.ca/civil_societySivasubramaniam, M. & Mundy, K. (2007). Civil society and the governance of basic education: Kenya country field study. Toronto: Comparative and International Development Centre, OISE/UT, available at: http://cide.oise.utoronto.ca/civil_societyEDUCATION SWAPS CASE STUDYINTERNATIONAL FORUM ON CIVIL SOCIETY AND AID EFFECTIVENESS, FEBRUARY 2008 9