5.3.1 Action plans
An action plan serves as a roadmap for authorities on implementing a policy’s objectives, strategies and programmes, based on planned resources, defined roles and responsibilities, and the desired timing. Some action plans are formulated more generally, as in the case of the United Kingdom’s plan for teacher education (Box 5.3).
BOX 5.3: THE UNITED KINGDOM IMPLEMENTATION PLAN FOR INITIAL TEACHER TRAINING (ITT)
In 2011, the UK DoE published an implementation plan for the ITT Strategy. The plan’s target audience includes major actors in teacher training, namely schools and universities, teachers and teacher trainers. It follows the major themes of the strategy, listing the principal activities expected to be carried out under each major theme: the quality of trainees (five activities); better investment – better teachers (12 activities); and reform of training (nine activities). The plan also includes a chart setting out the important dates and milestones for implementation of the strategy.
The consensus is that a carefully formulated action plan increases the likelihood of successful implementation. Elements to be considered when constructing an action plan include:
- An activity statement tied to the policy and strategic/programme objective the activity is supporting
- Implementation outputs, targets, benchmarks (milestones) and indicators
- Timeline for implementation
- Information sources, such as EMIS, TMIS or an equivalent information system
- Activity costs, which may include defined unit costs and an indication of the percentage of costs in relation to the overall action plan budget
- Funding sources: public and private national (including regional and local) sources, and, where likely, funding from external development partners
- Implementation structures, roles and responsibilities for policy implementation.
Developing an action plan that has a reasonable chance of successfully implementing a teacher policy requires dialogue among various actors with different tasks and roles, as outlined in Chapter 4 and Box 5.1. Since it is a very political process, effective dialogue should take place at different decision-making levels and with the widest possible range of political actors, including:
- Between the various departments/offices/agencies of the MoE or respective education authority
- Between the MoE and other relevant government units: for example, the ministry of finance or budget; the public service or teacher service commission or equivalent entity responsible for recruiting and employing teachers; the ministry of labour, which is responsible for workplace regulation and labour relations; and any other government body whose mandate covers subjects related to a policy and plan (ministry of health for HIV and AIDS; education-level ministries such as ECE, primary/basic education or secondary education, where they exist separately from an education ministry)
- Between the national or central government and regional or local levels: for example, regional (state/province) or local (district/municipal) education authorities or committees;
- Between the government and other stakeholders: for example, teachers and teachers’ unions/organizations (which are especially important given their central place in the process); private education providers, especially where the private sector is a major source of education provision; employers and businesses who can support implementation as part of their desire to see greater coherence; autonomous teacher education institutions or providers; professional bodies, such as teachers’ councils; parent/teacher associations; community/village representatives; and non-governmental organizations. It is crucial to use the most appropriate forms of social dialogue with teachers and teachers’ organizations to plan implementation of a policy in whose development these principal stakeholders should have already been engaged (see Section 4.4.3)
- Between the government or education authority and development partners: for example, multilateral agencies and bilateral donors.
Given its political nature, the dialogue over the plan’s implementation, like the process of developing the policy itself (Chapter 4), inevitably involves compromises in prioritizing the nature and performance of the required activities. Revisions, postponement or cancellation of lower-priority activities should be expected so that the maximum number of stakeholders/actors can commit to and own the success of the policy and plan. Rather than weaken the plan, a process based on compromise and trade-off will usually enhance the likelihood of successful implementation, if it brings together the maximum partners in the process.
Once decided, the action plan will need to be fully costed and (in as much as possible) funded from within existing resources according to the above parameters. Implementation funding may be distinct from policy development funding (Section 4.3), even if it is part of a unified budget that provides for both from the very beginning. Where necessary and possible, resources may be sought from national stakeholders and/or international partners on a general or project-specific basis (as is the case for general education funding). This highlights the importance of broad-based stakeholder support for the policy and plan to increase the resources dedicated to implementation: the need is often as much a need for human resources as for financial resources. If a funding gap exists, it may be necessary to rethink the plan’s objectives and ambitions or to include alternative means of overcoming constraints in the plan. Funding for implementation through the plan should always be considered over time – not just in the short-term or as associated with a first plan – and should be timed to coincide with government and education authority budgeting cycles (ADEA, 2009: 3; GPE, 2014: 350; IIEP and GPE, 2012: 15–16; ILO, 2014: 4, 33; Yelland and Pont, 2014: 31-32).