Basic Education Programme
Title: Basic Education Programme
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Planning, Spatial Planning and Community Development
Overall term: 2013 to 2017
Niger has some of the worst education indicators worldwide. There are currently 2.4 million children aged between 7 and 12 in the country who are legally required to attend school. As a result of initial reforms, around 1.9 million children attended school in the 2010/2011 school year.
Due to population growth, the number of children attending primary schools is soon set to more than double, from around 1.7 million in 2010 to approximately 3.7 million in 2024. More than half of the country’s population is under the age of 15, which is placing increasing strain on the education system.
A ten-year programme launched by the Niger Ministry of Basic Education has already enjoyed some initial success. For example, the gross school enrolment rate increased from 34% in 2000 to 76% in 2011, and the percentage of first-year pupils completing the first school cycle increased by 35%.
There are still significant inequalities between urban and rural areas, between individual regions, and between girls and boys with regard to enrolment and drop-out rates. The objectives on improving the quality of education and strengthening the system have not been met. Improving quality and increasing efficiency in the education system are therefore the Niger Government’s top priorities. A new national programme for the entire education sector was presented in July 2013.
The expertise, efficiency and performance of management in the basic education sector have improved.
Through the measures it initiates, the programme aims to improve access to and enhance the quality of basic education. The measures aim to increase enrolment rates, reduce drop-out rates and enhance pupils’ learning performance. In the current fragile security situation, the programme makes use of conflict-sensitive intervention strategies as well as strategies designed to prevent or de-escalate conflicts.
The programme is embedded within the implementation of the basic education element of the Niger education sector programme. It focuses on two main areas of activity at national, regional and local level:
Detailed guidelines for the planning process are being developed at national and regional level. They define norms and standards for the individual planning stages, including the better integration of girls into basic education, and are being tested up to municipal level. Civil society actors are involved in project activities with a view to achieving a broad consensus within society on the realisation of education objectives at a decentralised level. The ECO-GOPA consortium is providing consultancy in this sector.
Education administration/human resources management
The programme adopts an advisory role in the development of high-quality HR management. It supports institutional and organisational changes in order to help adapt the skills of teaching and administration staff to the requirements of the sector. Areas of activity include running the teacher assessment system, which is used as a quality assurance and HR development tool, and developing job descriptions, requirement profiles and training measures for centralised administrative agencies, from regional to school level. Furthermore, the ECO-GOPA group is assisting the Ministry of Basic Education with the installation of an IT-based HR management system.
In conjunction with the Ministry of Basic Education, advisors are initially conducting a needs analysis and developing a strategy to accurately identify the requisite individual, organisational and institutional changes in education planning and HR management. In consultation with further regional and municipal actors, a concept will then be developed for achieving improvements in terms of expertise, resource administration and performance (capacity development).
In close cooperation with the partner ministry, baseline data are currently being collected for use as comparative data in the subsequent measuring of results. At the same time, municipalities are being selected in which the pilot measures will be tested.
The Basic Education Programme works closely with the Promotion of National Decentralisation and Good Governance Programme at municipal and regional level. The structures of the decentralisation programme are to be used to facilitate exchange with the aim of maximising impact.
The programme has laid the foundations for cooperation, based on mutual trust, with the Ministry of Basic Education, and consistently ensures that this same spirit continues to define the relationship between both partners. The methodological approach encourages the active participation of the partner ministry in the development of project strategy and the identification of necessary changes in the fields of education planning and HR management. This promotes a strong sense of identification with the programme and its outcome, thus producing highly sustainable results.
The results of a gender study conducted at the beginning of the programme are being used to promote schooling for girls. They were incorporated into the revised project concept to ensure that the promotion of women’s education and their participation in project measures formed part of the project strategy.