Training Programme on
Methodology and Techniques of District Planning in Education
Under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan
(Shillong : May 1-6, 2000)
COPY RIGHT: NIEPA, New Delhi – 110016, INDIA.
Planning is a process of intervention by the public authorities. The intervention by the state can either be for perfecting market forces or for seeking alternative solutions to those provided by the market. When market fails the state is requested to intervene. There are many examples of such state intervention to perfect the market forces. Many a times state intervention can also be seen as an alternative to market forces. This generally happens in centrally planned economies and in such case all major decisions regarding the economy are based on planning process and are arrived at by the planning bodies.
Planning is also seen as an exercise of optimisation of resources. It attempts to maximise output within the given resources and ensures that the benefits are distributed more equitably among various sections of population. Since planning activities attempt to indicate what is to be taken up first and what is to be taken up at a later stage, it is also seen as an exercise in prioritising the activities to be undertaken. Though priorities of a plan are decided by the planning bodies, the prioritisation is a part of planning process itself.
It may further be noted that educational planning attempts to facilitate an equitable development of education and efficiency of the delivery mechanism. Educational planning deals with allocative efficiency and internal efficiency. Allocative efficiency deals with the amount of resources to be allocated for education whereas internal efficiency deals with the optimum use of the resources already allocated to a particular activity.
It is clear that the concept of planning can be understood by understanding the components like future activities, utilisation of resources which are generally scarce, proper utilisation of time, prioritisation of activities and ensuring the achievement of objectives. In this way planning can be defined as “a process of taking decisions for future actions in order to achieve pre-determined objectives by optimum utilisation of available resources in a limited time frame”. Thus a pre-condition for planning is the existence of certain objectives which need to be achieved and constraints in this respect are time and resources. Here resources include all the three types of resources namely physical ( or material), financial and human resources. It is said that we plan because we have limited resources and we have to achieve our objectives within the constraint of these limited resources.
The term “planning” is very frequently used in daily life and every person without exception does some planning at individual level when one has to accomplish some work. Households plan for monthly expenditure. When planning is undertaken at the individual or household level decision for future actions are taken by individuals. However, if planning is to be undertaken for a system e.g. planning for education, the important issues to be addressed are : who (and at what level) will decide about the goals, objectives, allocation of resources and time frame which are important and essential components of planning. At the systems level these decisions are taken at various hierarchical units. This concept of availability of various hierarchical units for decision making for planning is called the multi-level planning framework. It means the existence of hierarchy of levels of planning with clearly defined territorial jurisdiction. Under this framework planning is possible at national, state, district, block / Mandal / taluka and village level. However in India planning particularly in the field of education, is carried out at the national, state and in a limited way at the district level only.
Planning for education at the national level is carried out by Planning Commission and plans are implemented through the Department of Education, Ministry of Human Resource Development. Similarly at the state level State Planning Boards are established to help in preparation of plans. The state plans are implemented through the Secretariat and Directorates of Education. The Secretariat deals mainly with policy decisions where as the Directorates are more directly involved in the implementation process. Many bigger states in India have separate secretaries for school and higher education. Similarly there are separate Directorates of Elementary Education, Secondary Education, Higher Education, Technical Education etc. When planning for education is carried out at the state level all these Directorates and Departments are consulted and thus educational plans are formulated with active involvement and consultation of these bodies.
In India the third tier in the multi-level planning framework is the district. But at this level unfortunately such clearly defined organisational arrangement for planning are not yet created. The National Policy on Education 1986 envisaged to create District Boards of Education (DBE) to initiate and coordinate planning activities at the district level. But whatever be the reasons, no state in the country has so far been able to set up the District Boards of Education.
It is in the context of multi-level planning framework that we use the concept of centralised and decentralised planning as also the terms like macro and micro-planning. The decentralised planning denotes the planning carried out at a level which is below the centre. However it is rather difficult to define what is the centre. If we take national level body as a centre then even state level planning is a decentralised planning but when we consider state as a centre then the district level planning will be termed as decentralised planning and in the same way we can go upto the village level in case village is considered as the smallest unit of planning. This clearly means that centralisation and decentralisation are only relative terms. Whether planning carried out at a specific level is centralised or decentralised depends upon the level from where we are looking at it. Thus, state, district and block level planning can be termed as centralised as well as decentralised planning. However, the national level planning carried out in a country can only be termed as centralised planning and village level planning can only be termed as decentralised planning in case this is the lowest possible unit of planning in the country. The planning thus carried out at the highest possible level is termed as macro planning whereas the planning carried out the lowest possible level is known as micro planning. It is therefore clear that macro and micro planning are not in relative terms, these are rather in absolute terms unlike centralised and decentralised planning.
In order to further clear the decentralised planning it is to be noted that a plan is called decentralised only when (i) lower units are given authority to fix its own targets and evolve strategies to achieve them, (ii) lower units are given authority to mobilise resources and re-allocate resources already allocated by the higher level, and (iii) lower units participate in planning exercise with higher units on more equal terms.
By looking at the planning process in the country right from the inception of first five year plan in 1950-51, one can infer that we have been talking of decentralised planning from the beginning. It is generally felt that one of the reasons of our failure to achieve the basic goals e.g. Universalisation of Elementary Education, is that the plans are formulated at higher levels which is quite distant from the grassroots realities. Thus there is a wide gap between those who plan (at higher level) and those who implement it (at the local level). This gap can be reduced by planning at the lower levels and lower the level or units of planning smaller will be the gap between planning and implementation. This is one of the strongest justification of decentralised planning. There are many advantages of decentralised planning. These are (I) local needs can be taken care of more effectively and efficiently at the lower level, (ii) plans are expected to be more effective because of the homogeneity of the unit, (iii) it helps to overcome local specific problems in a better way, (iv) flow of information / data will be quick which is very crucial for planning and (v) there are more chances of successful implementation of plans as the implementers will be partner in planning process.
One of the issues in any planning process is to clearly specify the unit for initiating planning process and effect planning decision. India has debated this issue and now it is accepted that district is the most viable unit for initiating decentralised planning. Therefore, decentralisation of educational planning in India in the present context implies district level planning in education. District level planning in India is based on the recommendations of the Hunumantha Rao Committee (1994) which clearly identified the areas within the educational sector amenable for decentralisation at the district level. The constitutional amendments (73rd and 74th) provide a statutory role to the local bodies in matters pertaining to primary education.
The existing administrative structure is more centralised and hence it is not very conducive for initiating decentralised planning. For facilitating decentralised planning it is important to ensure that the role perceptions of authorities at different levels are clearly defined. It is important to draw clear distinction between the domains of operation of the district level programmes, state level programmes and national level programmes. This is very important in the Indian context because many a time a large share of the programmes which are implemented at the district level are either centrally sponsored or state sponsored schemes. In fact, what is lacking in India is that, districts are not in a position to independently initiate any programme of their own because they do not have their own resources. They depend upon the state or central government for financial resources.
Many a time the resources given from the state or national levels are specifically tailor made for certain activities. Under this arrangement, even when resources are available at the district level they may not be in a position to target on issues which they consider to be high on their agenda. Another pre-requisite for decentralised planning in India is in the area of financial decisions. The district should have the authority to mobilise resources of its own or re-allocate the resources which are allocated to them by the state government. In this context, it is very often suggested that the allocations from the State or Central Government to the district should be on a lump-sum basis rather than on a tailor made fashion.
At present, there exists no planning machinery to undertake district level planning activities in India. Although the 1986 National Policy on Education envisaged to create District Boards of Education, even after about one and a half decades of the policy formulation such a machinery has not been created in any state. Since, there is no planning machinery to formulate district plans, planning competencies are rarely developed at the district levels. At present what exists in the name of district level planning is nothing but an adjustment or manipulation with the budgetary figures that too on an incremental basis. Often, it is observed that the plans prepared at the district level are not closely scrutinized and hence planning process itself becomes rather routine and bureaucratic. The externally funded projects in primary education in India have shown that if resources are provided at the district level and power and authority are also vested with the district level authorities, then there is a possibility of developing district level plans which are more realistic and local specific.
In a multi-level planning framework in India the immediate concern of policy makers, planners and administrat is to ensure that “district” becomes a viable unit of planning. In the field of education it is expected that district educational plans may be formulated. It is heartening to note that as a result of implementation of District Primary Education Programme (DPEP) the decentralised planning of education at the district level has been in operation since 1994-95 in many districts in the country. However the emphasis was on planning for Universalisation of Primary Education (U.P.E.). Recently, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) programme launched by the Government of India, emphasizes on Universalisation of Elementary Education (UEE) rather than covering only primary education. The districts where SSA is to be launched in its first phase are expected to formulate District Elementary Education Plan for a period ranging from 5 to 7 years and the goal is UEE in these districts. These plans of 5 to 7 years duration are referred to as perspective plans. In addition to perspective plans the districts are supposed to work out the first year Annual Work Plan and Budget (AWP&B) also and in all subsequent years also the AWP&B will be formulated. These plans may be appraised and approved by G.O.I. for funding.
The District Elementary Education Plans (DEEP) to be formulated by the SSA districts are supposed to broadly present the background of the district, district educational scenario, planning process adopted, problems and issues of elementary education, objectives and targets, intervention strategies, costing of activities and developing implementation schedule. The details to be presented in the perspective plan document of the district on important items are presented below:
Any plan developed for a specific area should first of all present the background of the area. The introduction section of the District Elementary Education Plan should contain the background of the district. This may include geographical features, cultural characteristics, socio-economic features of the district. The district background may present the administrative structure of the district also. This includes the number of Tehsils, blocks, inhabited villages, village panchayats etc. The block-wise number of village panchayats and inhabited villages may also be given to present the administrative structure of the district. Detailed demographic structure of the district must be presented which may include male, female, rural, urban, S.C., S.T. population for the latest census alongwith the growth rate of population, density of population, sex ratio, percentage of urban population and percentage of scheduled caste and scheduled tribes population. However it is desirable to present the demographic data disaggregated at the block level so as to show the inter-block variations on all these parameters of population. In addition to demographic features the district background may also present the literacy scenario and that again should be given block-wise for male, female and S.C. and S.T. population for the latest census. However it may be better to show the progress of literacy in the district over-a-period of time.
District Educational Scenario
The district educational administrative structure may be given to show how education system is managed in the district. The objective of this section may be to present the details of educational facilities available as well as the utilisation of these educational facilities by the people. Though the document is specifically concerned with elementary education it should present the educational facilities for secondary, higher secondary and even higher, professional, technical education also. However on elementary education detailed information on all educational indicators may be given. While presenting the elementary education scene of the district it is important to include the private aided and unaided recognised schools as well as the Non-Formal Education Centres and Alternative Education Centres which are in operation in the district. All information of elementary education should be presented block wise which may help to identify educationally backward and advanced blocks.
The district educational profile should contain information on number of schools imparting elementary education and that even separately for primary and upper-primary education. The block-wise access position on primary and upper-primary educational facilities should be presented. The schools may preferably be presented management-wise i.e. number of schools under the categories of government, local bodies, private aided and private unaided. Further, detailed data on the number of teachers in primary and upper primary schools working in the district should be presented. The number of posts and vacancies as well as the training status i.e. trained and untrained teachers as also the teacher pupil ratio disaggregated at block level may be presented to show the position of teachers availability in the district.
The enrolment scenario at primary and upper-primary level in the district is a very important aspect of district educational profile. However the enrolment in absolute figures alone will not meet the purpose that is why it is desirable to give enrolment ratio at primary and upper primary level. While calculating and presenting the enrolment ratio the enrolment in private schools, NFE centres and Alternative Education Centres should also be taken into account. Further the enrolment ratio over a period of time, if presented, may show the progress on enrolment in the district. The enrolment at primary and upper primary level may be presented grade-wise and preferably for at least 2 or 3 consecutive years.
The data on indicators such as dropout rate, repetition rate and transition rate is important while presenting the district elementary education scene. Block-wise dropout and transition rates should be presented. These data are important for diagnosing the educational situation in the district.
The district educational scenario should contain information of building position and infrastructure facilities in primary and upper primary schools in the district. These figures should also be presented block-wise. The number and percentage of schools having building with type and condition of building, percentage of schools having facilities like black board, drinking water, electricity, compound wall, urinals, toilets, teaching-learning material etc. will help to identify the blocks and schools where these facilities are lacking. All these information provided on infrastructure have implications for planning that is why it is necessary to present it in the district educational profile.
Targets are translation of objectives in clearly defined quantitative terms. What the plan intends to achieve during the plan period when specified in quantitative terms is known as target setting. Targets are statements which state clearly and unambiguously what is to be achieved and are in measurable terms and have definite time frame. In order to develop district elementary education plan the targets may be set for access, enrolment, retention and achievement level of children. However it is desirable to undertake the target setting exercise in a disaggregated manner which means that in district plan document the targets should be set block-wise. This is important because different blocks have different levels of e.g. enrolment or retention and so targets for these block may also be different. Secondly in a perspective plan of 5 to 7 years the targets should be set in a phased manner which means that targets should not only be set for the total plan period but should also be set for all intervening years. This may not only help to see the progress of implementation of the plan on year to year basis but may also facilitate in reviewing the implementation strategies and perhaps revising the targets for the coming years.
The gender and social disparities in the field of education are common features in India. These disparities may be in enrolment, retention or even in achievement also. One of the important objective in the District plan will be to reduce these disparities. It is therefore important to set the targets on enrolment and retention separately for boys and girls as well as for Scheduled Castes and Schedule Tribes population. Over a period of time the gap between boys and girls and between SCs, STs and others may be reduced. The target of reducing this gap may depend upon the gaps that exists between these categories in the base year of the plan.
The goal in District Elementary Education Plan is to universalize elementary education which means universal access, universal enrolment, universal retention and universal achievement. This means the ultimate target is 100 percent access, enrolment, retention and achievement. But while setting the target on these parameters it is important to look at the present status of the district on these components and then accordingly set the targets which are realistic and are achievable. An insight in this exercise of target setting can be had by looking at the progress made in the district on e.g. enrolment ratios and retention rates during past 5 to 7 years.
Intervention Strategies and Activities
Evolving intervention strategies to achieve the targets is another important aspect of plan formulation. However it is to be noted that the strategies evolved will have to address the identified problems and issues of elementary education in the district. While evolving the strategies important points to keep in view are: (i) in a decentralised planning any single strategy may not be uniformly operational or applicable in different areas and that is why probably for addressing a single problem one may have to envisage a set of strategies for a given context. (ii) Many a times a single strategy may not be enough to address an issue or a problem and there will be a need to work out multiple strategies for addressing a single problem. (iii) All the problems and issues identified during the planning exercise must be tackled and intervention strategies should be worked out accordingly and there should thus be a linkage between the problems/issues identified and the intervention strategies developed for addressing them.
Translating the strategies into programmes and activities is the next step in the plan formulation. It is to be kept in view that a specific intervention strategy may require a number of programmes to make it operational and effective. However a programme may be an aggregation of various activities. It is therefore necessary to translate each and every strategy into activities and tasks. For example for improving access the strategy can be ‘opening of new primary schools’. However one of the activity under the strategy of opening new primary schools may be ‘construction of school building’. But the activity of construction of school building has many tasks that are to be undertaken. These tasks may be (i) identification of school-less habitations; (ii) identification of habitations qualifying for opening schools; (iii) listing and prioritisation of habitations; (iv) deciding about the number of schools to be opened; (v) identification of habitations where schools are to be opened; (vi) deciding the location/site of the school; (vii) acquiring site/transfer of land; (viii) identification of agency for construction and supervision; (ix) actual construction work; (x)monitoring and supervision of construction work and (xi) finishing and furnishing of school building.
Next step in plan formulation is the sequencing and phasing of these activities and the tasks. It may be noted that some activities / tasks can be undertaken only in a sequential manner whereas some activities/tasks can be started simultaneously. For example, construction of school building and recruitment of teachers are the activities which can be undertaken simultaneously while actual construction of school building can not be done before deciding the site of the school, acquiring site, transfer of land and identification of agency for construction and supervision.
Costing and Financial Requirements
An important step in the plan formulation exercise is the costing and estimation of financial requirements to implement the plan. Translating the physical inputs into financial requirements is essential for funding purpose. Various steps that are involved in estimation of financial requirements are: (i) listing of all the activities to be undertaken (ii) classifying all these activities into two categories i.e. activities having cost implications and activities which do not have cost implications; (iii) classifying the activities which have cost implications into recurring and non-recurring heads; (iv) working our the average cost of recurring activities and unit cost for non-recurring activities (v) estimation of costs separately under the recurring and non-recurring heads.
While estimating the financial requirements for the District Elementary Education Plan the recurring costs estimation may be on items such as salaries, training, maintenance of building, equipment, furniture, infrastructure etc.; travel and fuel costs; stationary and consumables, contingencies, rents etc. Similarly the non-recurring cost estimation may be on items such as: construction of school building, additional classrooms, toilets, compound wall, equipments, furnitures; infrastructure; vehicle etc. The aggregation of costs of all the activities and tasks under various strategies will give the total financial requirements of the plan.
Allocation of resources to education is based on the budgets. Budgets are prepared annually to facilitate the resource allocation process. This implies that these activities are to be classified according to the year of beginning and completion of the activities. This may help in preparing the annual budgets. The budget should correspond to the activities indicated to be completed in that particular year.
While estimating the cost requirements for the plan it is of utmost importance to keep in view the financial parameters fixed by central and state level bodies with regard to District Elementary Education Plan. Under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan a ceiling of 6 percent of the total plan budget has been fixed on management while on civil work the ceiling is 15 per cent of the total proposed budget. The costing of the district must adhere to these ceilings as these are part of guidelines issued from central level bodies to the districts being covered under S.S.A.
The districts where Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan is to be launched are expected to develop Elementary Education Plan in order to achieve the goal of UEE in the district. However before the programme is launched the districts are supposed to undertake various activities known as ‘Pre-project enabling activities’ as mentioned in draft document of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan. The document mentions in this regard “It has been decided that to initiate the implementation of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan throughout the country with a well planned Pre-Project phase that provides for a large number of interventions to improve the delivery system and to lay down a rigorous framework of community monitoring. This will facilitate optimal utilization of resources that will be available for the elementary education sector. Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan emphasizes institutional reforms in the states to create a transparent and effective system for making most efficient use of resources. Many states have already initiated large scale reforms to promote convergence and improve accountability of the school system”.
It is to be kept in view that the pre-project activities include activities which have cost implications as well as such activities which do not have any cost implications. It is therefore important to list out all such activities in the proposal for pre-project activities which the district will undertake during the next say 4 to 6 months. It is also expected that cost estimates for these activities must be presented in the pre-project activities plan. The ceiling kept on the total amount that may be made available by Government of India for undertaking these activities is Rs.50 lakh. However it is necessary to workout the activities properly and the costing to be done realistically.
The enabling pre-project activities under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan can be classified into the following broad heads :
1. Activities related to systemic issues
VIII. Activities related to strengthening of Education offices
IX. Activities related to capacity building of Education and other functionaries
X. Community-related activities
XI. School-based activities
XII. Activities related to participatory exercise and Surveys
XIII. Studies to be conducted.
While developing plan proposals for pre-project activities the districts may workout the details of all the activities to be undertaken under the above mentioned heads. However it may be desirable to briefly present the background of the district; the educational profile of the district with specific data on elementary education; issues and problems of elementary education in the district. These may follow the listing of activities alongwith its modalities and finally the cost estimates of the activities may be presented in the pre-project activities plan. It is desirable to workout and present the time schedule of all the proposed activities to be undertaken in pre-project phase in the said plan document. In order to have a better understanding of the above mentioned categories of activities some details are presented below.
The activities related to systemic issues are those which are actually preparatory activities for launching programmes like Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan in the districts. Many such activities are the concerns of the state government as they are related to policy and administrative matters which may be addressed by the state government though they are desired to be taken in the district where Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan is to be launched. The activities related to systemic issues are, for example, filling-up of teachers positions, rationalization of teachers’ units, filling-up of vacant positions in Educational administration; filling-up of DIETs positions and establishing a functional structure of decentralization within the frame work of Panchayati Raj.
It may be noted that all these activities are to be undertaken by the state in order to ensure smooth functioning of educational activities in the district. The emphasis has been laid on these issues as without undertaking these activities any district level programme on elementary education can not be successfully implemented.
Strengthening of Education Offices
In order to ensure proper functioning of educational administrative machinery it is important to equip the education offices at various levels. In this regard it is to be seen whether there is a need of equipping and strengthening the District Elementary Education office, Sub-district Education offices and Block level /circle level Education offices. Also equally important is to equip the District Institute of Education and Training. The strengthening of these offices may help them to function efficiently and ensure proper implementation of educational programmes. Further, establishment and functioning of effective educational management information system (EMIS) is important to regularly and efficiently monitor the progress of implementation of various programmes of elementary education in the district.
For developing Elementary Education plans at the district level as well as for launching and implementing elementary education programmes it is necessary to equip functionaries at various levels to undertake the assigned responsibility. It is therefore important to undertake capacity building exercise including the orientation and training of planning and implementing teams as well as educational functionaries. In this regard the functionaries and teams whose capacity building is required are : District and Sub-district level Educational Administrators and staff of DIET; District Planning team and District Nodal team; Block/Circle level Educational Administrators and Block Nodal teams; Panchayati Raj and Urban local bodies functionaries, Village level School/Education committee members; Women’s group and the Parent-Teacher or Mother-Teacher Associations (PTAs, MTAs).
The enabling activities for launching Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan in the district includes many activities related to awareness campaign and community mobilization. This is important in order to prepare ground at the grass root level for implementing educational programme. Though the community mobilization and environment building are important activities to be undertaken throughout the project period to ensure cent percent enrolment and increasing retention by creating demand for education among masses but it is equally important to start the activities even before launching the programme. Some examples of community mobilization as a pre-project activity are: organizing melas, street shows, Kala Jathas etc.; advocacy campaign for Universalization of Elementary Education; constitution of committees (elected) for management of school through mobilization; establishing community ownership of schools; preparation of material for mobilization and advocacy. Districts may undertake the specific activities that are found proper for mobilization in the local conditions.
Certain activities are expected to be undertaken at the school level. This is equally important to ensure proper functioning of the school on the one hand and show the accountability of the school for the community it is to serve on the other. Important activities in this regard may be: establishing school-community linkage by forming PTAs and MTAs; organizing school-based activities like sports and cultural meets to instil competitive spirit among children; exhibit school display boards to promote transparency etc.
Participatory Exercise and Surveys
It is to be noted that developing District Elementary Education Plan is not a centralised activity of district planning teams. The district plan is to be developed through participatory process. The involvement of stake-holders of elementary education at various levels is mandatory in formulating district plan. It is therefore necessary to organise participatory exercise at the district and sub-district level, circle and block level and village and habitation level. The exercise may be in the form orientation, workshop, meeting or through any other means but the district plan may be formulated as a result of consultative exercise in the district. This is in order to ensure that the perception and problems of parents, community members, public representatives, backward communities, teachers, officials, women’s group etc. are taken into account in the process of plan formulation. This is a very important and non-negotiable pre-project activity.
For developing the district elementary education plans data on many items are required. The data can either be taken from secondary sources or in case reliable data from secondary sources is not available primary data will have to be collected. In this regard the districts need to conduct survey for generating first hand data. The surveys to be conducted under the pre-project phase may be: school-survey (including private aided and unaided schools), household survey to identify out of school children and causes for non-enrolment and dropout; survey of village/habitation to know the access position etc.
In order to understand the social and educational problems of the people in the district an important pre-project activity is to conduct various studies. In this regard, as undertaken in DPEP, it may be desirable to conduct Bareline Achievement Study and Social Assessment Study in the district where Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan is to be launched. In addition to these two studies districts can think of district specific studies if needed. Further it may be desirable to conduct a small study on selected schools imparting elementary education to know the extent of over-age and under-age children enrolled in schools. This may help in getting an idea of Net Enrolment Ratio which is a crucial indicator for planning purpose.
The above mentioned are some of the suggestive pre-project activities to be undertaken by the districts under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan. However the districts need to workout and present the details about these activities including the time schedule as well as the cost implications of all the proposed activities. It is important to be realistic in deciding about the time schedule as well as on the cost estimation of the activities.
Planning for implementation is one of the important stages of the planning cycle. A district education plan document is incomplete if it does not contain a detailed plan for implementation of the programmes and projects that make up the plan. In other words, planning for implementation should be in-built in district educational plan document. Generally, a failure to achieve plan targets in the education sector can largely be attributed to lack of detailed planning for implementation. Planning for implementation serves two basic purposes :
i. it facilitates the process of implementation of programmes and projects by providing a sound mechanism of monitoring (i.e. in the form of an implementation schedule); and
ii. it increases the efficiency of the system by minimizing the costs of implementation of a given programme or project.
Planning for implementation makes it possible to critically analyze the activities of a given educational programme, and to develop an implementation schedule which can be used to monitor the progress of implementation. Specifically, the necessary steps in planning for implementation of educational programmes/projects are :
XIV. listing of activities that make up the programme;
XV. thinking through each of these activities;
XVI. establishing inter-relationships between these activities;
XVII. establishing a network;
XVIII. setting activity durations;
XIX. determining material, equipment/tools and human resource needs;
XX. deciding about time duration for implementation of each activity;
XXI. identifying critical activities of the programme, which cannot be overlooked without affecting the duration of the programme implementation and resources invested in it, and
XXII. thinking about organizational arrangements for carrying out programme activities.
Scheduling forms the most important exercise of the planning for implementation. Scheduling refers to the process of converting an educational plan into an operating time table, which establishes start and completion time of all the activities of the programme/plan. There are several ways of constructing implementation schedules. However, an effective implementation plan makes use of the network based techniques such as Programme Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT) and Critical Path Method (CPM).
An educational programme network is the graphic flow diagram of the interrelationships, interdependencies, and sequence of all activities and events that must be accomplished to complete the programme. PERT is a network based procedure that facilitates planning, scheduling and controlling of education programmes and projects. It provides methods for measuring actual progress of the programme against expected progress, for comparing consequences of proposed alternative strategies, for predicting future programme status, and for optimizing utilization of resources.
Listing of all possible activities of the programme is a key step in planning for implementation of the educational programme. The second step is to gather information about predecessors of each activities. One way of doing this is to identify the immediate predecessors of each activity. Third, on the basis of these information, PERT network for the programme can be developed. Fourth, once the PERT network of the programme is developed then the need is to obtain information on the time required to complete each activity. Fifth, this is followed by three alternative time estimates (i.e. optimistic activity time; most probable activity time; and pessimistic activity time). These three activity time estimates help the programme team to make the best guess of the expected activity time. In this way, uncertainty can be expressed by providing estimates ranging from the best to the worst possible time for completing individual activities. Finally, the PERT network for the given educational programme is drawn on the basis of the above information.
Once the PERT network is drawn, the next step is to estimate critical path in the network. This is done by using both forward pass and backward pass methods. This helps to establish early start and latest finish time of each activity. Also activity slack is estimated by using early start and latest finish times. The activities having no slack are termed as critical activities and the longest path on the PERT network is identified as the critical path. The time required to traverse the critical path becomes the programme implementation period. All these information, when put in a tabular form, becomes the Implementation Schedule of the Educational Programme under consideration.
Preparation of an implementation schedule facilitates smooth implementation of various activities indicated under the plan. However, drawing up of a schedule by itself may not facilitate implementation. It requires close monitoring of activities and adjustments to be made in the schedule, if there are delays in the implementation of any particular activity. Review meetings are to be held periodically to ascertain the progress in the implementation of the plan. Regular review meetings, close monitoring and readjustment of implementation schedules, if necessary, will ensure achievement of plan targets within the stipulated time.