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Evaluation report

2008 Rep. of Turkmenistan: Assessment of Preschool and School Curriculum



Author: UNICEF. PROMAN

Executive summary

Background:

(2) UNICEF’s focus so far has been on the health and education sector, with the education sector being the major area of involvement. With the new government administration in place, a rapid change is taking place in the education sector, which is anticipated to be the most important area of engagement for UNICEF for the current CP. With a view to possible modifications to the CP (up to 2009), UNICEF considers a more extensive support to the education sector in line with the priorities of the Government. Overall, a two-pronged approach is pursued which addresses (i) policy implications and policy issues at central
level within the implementation of the Convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC) mandate, and (ii) the delivery of social services at velayat and possibly etrap levels with a specific focus on education.

Purpose/Objective:

The overall objectives of the study are (i) to analyse the relevance of possible strategies for achieving the GoT/UNICEF CP goals within the broad development context (also identifying areas of shortfall); (ii) to capture the current reform momentum to encourage Government and other stakeholders to actively engage in supporting the drive for educational and corresponding structural reforms, and to position UNICEF as one of the key facilitating agents for such a process; (iii) to determine the status of the Turkmenistan education system within the context of the Government’s determination to fully realise the desired educational change, as proposed in the EFA MDA process; and (iv) to serve as a reference guide for future UNICEF programming.

Findings and Conclusions:

The current drive for reform in Turkmenistan, particularly in the education sector, provides an excellent opportunity for intensified cooperation between the GoT, UNICEF and its partners, in order to provide targeted support to the GoT. However, it will be important to align such support with the existing policies and strategic plans of the GoT as outlined in various policy papers.

Most importantly, there will be a need to enter into consultations on the general framework of an education sector strategy for Turkmenistan which translates the existing strategies and Presidential Decrees into one comprehensive policy document according to internationally comparable planning standards. Once the overall parameters of a possible education sector strategy have been agreed upon, the UN organisations would be enabled to react most appropriately to the GoT’s request for assistance. Priority areas of the overall education sector strategy could then be selected specific to the mandate of the respective UN organisation.

Since education is a cross-cutting issue also in light of other reforms pursued by Government, an inter-sectoral and inter-Ministerial approach is recommended when negotiating with the Government. This has particular relevance for economic and legal reforms which directly impact on the role and mandate of the education sector. Likewise, the interrelations between education reform and the implications on the labour market need to be discussed in further detail. This probably needs to be done in inter-ministerial dialogue in any case since there is no specific Ministry of Labour in Turkmenistan.

In the case of UNICEF, and in close collaboration with the GoT, such support could then also be operationalised in the UNICEF-GoT Country Programme which offers the possibility for programmatic changes following the MTR end of this year. This includes the possibility of putting more weight on the education sector in general, and on strategic policy advice in particular. As an immediate measure, it is recommended to facilitate initial dialogue with the GoT, preferably also through direct advocacy through the Presidential Office, and to provide inputs into the methodological process of educational sector planning. An excellent entry point lies in the utilisation of current the EFA MDA process, and in providing assistance to the GoT for both finalising its report and for preparing their presentation at the forthcoming CARK education forum in Astana.

A shift in approach might be considered, which would entail moving from a mere output-oriented planning to a more needs-oriented planning, also focusing on assessing the existing capacities (and necessary capacity building needs) which would eventually need to determine the planning process as a whole in line with the requirements of the GoT. It is appreciated by this mission that this will be a complex process which requires time, mutual trust and understanding between the priorities and mandates of all partners involved.

In conclusion, the outcomes of UNICEF’s current initiative to field a mission for establishing possible ways and strategies of cooperation, could also provide opportunities for other Development Partners to enter into dialogue with UNICEF and the GoT on how to position themselves within a larger cooperational set-up under the lead of UNICEF and/or the UN body of organisations in Turkmenistan

Recommendations:

Please see above



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