Educational planning is central to efficient allocation of resources and management systems that make it more rather than less likely that developmental aspirations are met and rights to education delivered. Policy that seeks to achieve desired goals depends on an elaborated web of objectives that can be operationalised, an adequate flow of resources, effective procurement, efficient and timely activities linked to outcomes, and formative evaluation that can provide feedback. Educational planning has passed through several phases over the last four decades both in terms of its underlying priciples, and in terms of the predominant techniques.
This arena of research has been linked to the work of the International Institute of Educational Planning over the last 25 years following on from Education in Austerity: Options for Planners first published in 1987. Since then the techniques of manpower planning have been superseded and rate of return analysis is less common that it was as an analytic tool. Recent planning has become more and more associated with aspirational goals which may or may not be realisable, and with the targets associated with progress towards such goals and often the release of funding linked to progress. This raises many research question that include the relationships between target setters and target getters, the ownership of targets, the possibility of moral hazard when approaching target levels of performance, the extent of gaming of [performance indicators linked to targets, and the utility of multiple targets that interact in predictable and unpredictable ways.
As 2015 approaches and the Millennium Development Goals are rewritten it is more important than ever that the new goals are more than a list and recognise that a development strategy needs something more like a recipe tailored to context and ambition and comparative advantage. Planners and policy advisors need to examine to impact of past targeting, and the behaviour of the systems that they seek to influence, before embarking on another round of aspirational planning that risks increasingly unrealistic goals setting leading to zones of improbable development.
Four Recent Publications:
Lewin K M (2011) Looking Back to See the Future: Four Decades of Development in Educational Planning in Bray M and Varghese N V, Directions in Educational Planning: International Experiences and Perspectives. UNESCO, Paris.
Lewin, K. M., (2011) Target Setting and Target Getting in EFA Policy and in EFA Practice, Journal of Education Policy, Special Issue: Access to Basic Education in Sub Saharan Africa and South Asia Policies, Politics and Progress, edited by Angela W. Little and Keith M. Lewin
Lewin, K. M., (2007) Why some Education for All and millennium development goals will not be met: Difficulties with goals and targets. Southern African Review of Education. Vol. 13 (2)
Lewin, K. M., (2007) Long Term Planning for EFA and the MDGs: Modes and Mechanisms. CREATE Pathways to Access Research Monograph No. 7. Brighton: University of Sussex