We are honoured that Martin Finnigan is a member of the team appointed to carry out a quasi-experimental Sustainability Assessment of the Education and Child Nutrition Programme in Kyrgyzstan. The project is being carried out on behalf of the United States Department of Agriculture McGovern-Dole International Food Programme and Mercy Corps. Our particular area of interest is the potential to strengthen local value chains and private sector engagement to improve the sustainability of school feeding initiatives.
In this article for Development Asia, Asian Development Bank’s knowledge sharing portal, we draw on experience in Scotland, Latin America and Asia to demonstrate ways in which partnerships between the public, private and third sectors are helping minimise the disruption to education caused by Covid-19. We go on to identify four key lessons.
On 6 September, the Government of Uruguay signed the country’s first Education PPP contract which will create 59 new kindergartens and support centres for infants and families throughout the country.
Our team at Caledonian Economics helped develop the business case and technical specifications for this wonderful project.
Compared to other infrastructure sectors, education needs a different approach to identifying projects for public–private partnerships.
In this blog for Development Asia, an initiative of Asian Development Bank, we draw on experience from around the world to demonstrate that the education sector needs a different approach to PPP project identification and selection compared to the classic infrastructure sectors (such as transport, energy, municipal services), and propose a viable methodology.
In anticipation of a forthcoming assignment, I recently attended “What’s Next for Education Reforms in Punjab”. This event was hosted by the Centre for Global Development in London.
Speakers from the #Punjab #School #Education #Department, #DFID, and The Citizens Foundation (#TCF) shared experiences and views on Punjab’s fast-paced and ambitious education reforms.
I have published a full report on my Linkedin page, and present a summary of the key points below:
- Pace of Change: Last year the Economist described Punjab, Pakistan’s most populous state, as “home to the most frenetic education reforms in the world, trying to make up for generations of neglect”.
- The infrastructure gap: it is estimated that 80,000 new schools are needed in Pakistan. Many existing buildings are crumbling and overflowing.
- Data is king: Pakistan has diligently gathered data on education for many years. There is scope to use data more effectively as the evidence base for policy-making.
- Quantity and Quality: there was much discussion about initiatives to improve teaching, the curriculum and assessment. Whilst Pakistan is making good progress at reducing poverty, improvements in human capital are falling behind some of its neighbours.
- Public and private alignment: the concept of the mission-aligned cooperation between the public and private sectors was discussed extensively.
I would like to thank event organisers at Centre for Global Development, and the speakers for such an interesting discussion.
Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending the opening ceremony of Oban High School, a PPP school on the west coast of Scotland. The building is a superb example of a modern learning environment, but the stars of the day were the pupils whose excitement and enthusiasm was a joy.
My team at Caledonian Economics were financial transaction advisers on the project, which reached financial close in 2016. The new building opened for pupils in 2018, with demolition of the old school buildings and sports pitches completed this year.
Reflecting on this in the light of my recent projects in #Azerbaijan, #Uzbekistan and #Kosovo, I wondered what lessons we can apply, as we tackle the challenges of crumbling buildings and dynamic populations in these former Soviet countries.
Lesson 1) – school estate regeneration is a long term business. My involvement with redevelopment of schools in the region goes back to the feasibility study we wrote in 2000. This led to a series of developments using both direct capital investment and PPP modalities. The approach I recommend in developing countries is to:
- start by making the most efficient use of the classroom space that already exists;
- next, tackle areas of greatest need – buildings in bad condition, or mismatch between forecast population and classroom spaces;
- then, choose the procurement method that is best suited to the task at hand. Our large new high schools are #DBFM -type #PPPs, small primary schools are financed using government capital, and refurbishments use budgeted revenues.
Lesson 2) – listen to the pupils. The range of facilities in the new school are striking: gymnasium, dance and music studios, workshops for vocational skills, and all weather sport pitches. Yet, when I asked pupils what they would recommend for as priorities to maximise the impact on pupils of new school buildings in developing countries, they told me about the simple things, such as:
- bright, airy, uncluttered classrooms and informal ‘break-out’ spaces;
- avoid projectors and screens – large bright backlit monitors are much easier to read;
- plenty of whiteboard space, to capture important points;
- good school meals.
Lesson 3) – create networks of institutions. Oban High School works closely with the small (30 pupils) High School on the remote island of Tiree. Video links and screen sharing, backed up with in-person visits, tackle the curriculum constraints and provide developmental experiences for staff and pupils.
The Oban-Tiree link generally involves connecting classes, as compared to the one-to-one approach being followed by e-sgoil in the Western Isles. These techniques are relevant for remote, rural and mobile communities in developing countries. Reliability, I have been told, is more important than bandwidth: good audio matters more than high resolution video.
The network also includes the local further education (#VET) college who deliver training on construction, marine and mechanic skills.
Lesson 4) – In Oban I saw how extra-curricular after-school arts, sport and music activities build social and team-working skills, and strengthen the core curriculum.
Many schools in developing countries operate with two or three shifts of pupils – sometimes a response to population growth, but sometimes also a consequence of demand for popular schools while nearby schools have spare capacity. Multiple shifts make extra curricular activities virtually impossible, depriving pupils of opportunities to increase the quality and value of their school days. This is a primary determinant of ‘need’ described in Lesson 1).
Finally I would like to thank the Head Teacher Mr Bain, the staff at the school, the team at Argyll & Bute Council, and especially the pupils of Oban High School for a memorable, instructive and very enjoyable day.
Report on the DIT Latin American and Caribbean Roadshow 2019
Glasgow, 25 March 2019
The Roadshow (one of five being held in locations around mainland Britain) was organised by the Department for International Trade (DIT) to provide businesses with an insight into the markets of Latin America and the Caribbean.
Joanna Crellin, HM Trade Commissioner for Latin America and the Caribbean, led the event, accompanied by senior trade experts located in Embassies and Consulates throughout this vast region, and senior officials from the Embassies in the UK.
Key points were:
- the region is home to 650 million people with a growing middle class. Collectively, the region’s 48 countries and territories constitute world’s third largest economy after China and the USA;
- key growth sectors being targeted by DIT include the extractive industries, life sciences, security and defence, infrastructure, education and financial services;
- the UK seriously underperforms in terms of trade in the region, with only remnants the once-strong relationships remaining. However there is a positive legacy with a respect for British quality and values;
- the area is far from homogenous, a point stressed by the DIT regional representatives, but many common traits are shared, especially the importance of personal relationships and trust: “it is a face-to-face place” as one person put it;
When asked what to bear in mind when trying to enter this market, DIT officers highlighted the following:
- use the DIT offices, chambers of commerce and business associations as multipliers, to help make contact with more of the right people;
- be aware of politics and the potential implications of changing government, for example in Brazil and Mexico recently;
- go native – spend time in country and meeting potential trading partners;
- differentiate on the basis of quality and innovation.
Thank you to the team at DIT and the various speakers for organising a useful and informative event.
We are very pleased to be working in an international team to support the Ministry of Education in #Azerbaijan on a long term donor-funded assignment to explore opportunities to expand the use of public-private partnerships (#PPP) in the Education sector.
This country of around 10 million people is a place of great contrasts. In the capital Baku, a glitzy modern centre sits alongside ancient Silk Road caravanserais, while an easy drive on good roads crosses the arid coastal desert before rising into the Caucasus – a mountain range as high as the alps.
Azerbaijani, a language closely related to Turkish, is the main language, with most people also speaking Russian. English is not widely spoken, although this is changing rapidly as international links grow. Most of the country was part of the Russian empire in the 19th century then the USSR until independence in the early 1990s.
Education is secular and compulsory from years 1 to 9 plus a pre-school year, and a high proportion of pupils do an additional two years in school. Most then go on to college or university.
We are looking forward to identifying the most suitable PPP modalities for addressing challenges within the education system here, testing their feasibility, and helping develop capacity and capability within the country.
The new £32 million education campus will replace three existing schools in the town and will include #nursery, #primary, #secondary, and further educational facilities.
The project is being delivered in partnership with hub South East Scotland using the standard Scottish PPP/DBFM structure, and achieved financial close 13 months after the business case (known as the New Project Request) was approved.
This successful project continues our relationship with the Council, having previously advised them on the development of the new Kelso High School which achieved Financial Close in February 2016 and which opened on time and budget in November 2017.
The Glasgow City Council procurement of the new Blairdardie and Carntyne primary schools reached financial close on 23 October 2017, and the first of the schools, Carntyne, was handed over on time and budget on 19th October 2018, with Blairdardie on target for hand over on time in February 2019.
The new primary schools have been developed under a single compact PPP contract between the Council and hub West Scotland.
As the public sector Financial Transaction Adviser on this PPP we supported the Council’s in-house team and were responsible for assessing financial submissions from the private sector partner. This included confirming that returns, margins and fees are in line with the market and consistent with pre-agreed levels. We worked closed with technical specialists to calibrate the payment mechanism, and supported commercial negotiations.