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.
We’re very happy to be working in Azerbaijan again, providing support to the government as it seeks to identify opportunities for public-private partnerships (PPPs) in the education sector.
Our responsibilities include identifying potential pilot projects and carrying out initial viability assessments. The current focus is on the Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector.
We are working in Uzbekistan again, this time working as part of a team developing a support package that will significantly strengthen STEM education in the country. The package will cover curriculum development, teacher training, infrastructure improvements and a network of STEM specialist schools in every district.
Our role is to explore the potential for strategic partnerships and PPPs in the STEM education sector, and we have developed several concepts including bilateral partnership arrangements and a multilateral PPP to develop a STEM visitor centre and educational hub.
Yesterday, 11 December 2019, the third of the facilities in the latest NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde healthcare PPP reached financial close.
Unusually, the new facility (new Clydebank Health and Care Centre) is being added to an existing DBFM contract under a pre-agreed change procedure.
The first component of this healthcare project reached financial in December 2018 and procured two new facilities (the new Greenock Health Centre and Mental Health In-patient facilities at Stobhill Hospital). The private partner is hub West Scotland and the contract follows Scotland’s hub/DBFM “PPP-lite” template contract.
We supported the NHS in-house team and were responsible for a range a financial transaction support activities including assessing financial submissions from the private sector partner, confirming that returns, margins and fees are consistent with benchmarks and validating financial model optimisation throughout the procurement and at financial close.
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.
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.
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.
We are helping NHS Highland procure two new DBFM/PPP hospitals from hub North Scotland. The new hospital in Broadford on the Isle of Skye will replace the ageing Dr MacKinnon Memorial Hospital, and the new hospital in Badenoch and Strathspey will centralise services currently delivered through several dispersed inpatient units that are not fit for purpose.
Within a wider redesign of health and social care services, the new hospitals will deliver a range of benefits including:
- greater numbers of people being cared for at home;
- reduced length of stay in hospital;
- co-location of specialisms and related services;
- equality of access to services;
- dementia-friendly inpatient facilities;
- more dignity and privacy for patients – 100% single rooms with en suite.
The two new hospitals will be developed under a single DBFM/PPP contract using the Scottish hub ‘compact PPP’ modality.
We will support the NHS in-house team and are responsible to assessing financial submissions from the private sector partner, confirming that returns, margins and fees are value for money and consistent with pre-agreed levels. We will liaise with technical specialists to calibrate the payment mechanism and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), and will contribute to commercial negotiations.