Quality of education in Madagascar: a system that struggles to support the implementation of its policy

Increasing Women’s Representation in School Leadership
Increasing Women’s Representation in School Leadership

The diagnosis of the management of the quality of education carried out by the teams of the Ministry of Education, with the support of the IIEP-UNESCO Dakar, shows that it is difficult for good intentions to be translated into action, and that the difficulties remain significant. The Malagasy education system has solid assets. However, there are still many obstacles to completing the efforts undertaken and achieving the expected results.

A well thought-out policy with clear objectives and targets

The result of a broad participatory process involving the Ministry of National Education (MEN), the Ministry of Employment, Technical Education and Vocational Training, the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, the national authorities, but also the TFPs, civil society and the private sector, the Malagasy system has a Sectoral Plan 2018-2022 that has reached a consensus. A framework document for Malagasy education policy, it was intended to provide a precise and targeted response to the challenges facing the education system, particularly through the implementation of major reforms (basic cycle, school calendar, etc.).

Two years after its adoption, where do we stand?

Implementation hampered by political instability 

Since 2019, three ministers and three secretaries-general have succeeded each other at the head of the Ministry of Education, affecting the organisation chart of the directorates almost every time. The high mobility of managers at all levels of the system, the lack of service continuity or of a culture of handover: all these elements lead to a loss of data and institutional memory. 

The analysis carried out highlights the difficulties encountered by supervisors and teachers for almost two decades, and which have been amplified in recent years. As they are unable to capitalise on previous actions, each new team tends to make new proposals.

"The majority of teachers and trainers feel that this is an unfavourable factor. The actors say that these frequent changes do not make their task any easier and that they have to adapt to a new approach even before they have mastered the previous one. 

If this is a reference to the changes in pedagogical approach that have been made by the central level, without the actors on the ground having the time to appropriate one of them and implement it effectively, this observation applies to other themes.

Planning, monitoring-evaluation and capitalisation methods to be rethought

Instability does not make things any easier, but it is not the only difficulty: the lack of exchange and coordination between the levels of intervention also hampers the machine.

"The elaboration of Annual Work Plans (AWPs) or Three-Year Development Plans (TDPs) requires a common vision of all actors at all levels. These comments by actors met during the diagnostic phase illustrate one of the pitfalls facing the system: its poor capacity to bring the different levels of action into dialogue and to learn from the experience of the actors.

Bodies for dialogue on the implementation of education policy do exist, but their use to build a common vision and understanding is illusory. The lack of resources, or sometimes of capacity or motivation, turns them into mere recipients of an injunction from above. Thus, certain strategies, although well thought out at central level (such as the remedial policy), fail to be implemented, as the actors we met pointed out: "The lack of exchanges between the different structures of the administration at the deconcentrated level is one of the major causes of pupils repeating a year.

The monitoring and evaluation of actions is degraded by the profusion of tools offered to actors. Not enough time to fill in the many tools, lack of training to use them or a feeling of uselessness... these are some of the main ingredients of a low motivation of the actors to produce reliable data, which would allow a readjustment of the action.

Thus, most of the large-scale actions put in place (particularly in terms of teacher training) have not been subject to in-depth evaluation or follow-up in the medium term, making it impossible to adapt the support or tools proposed on the basis of feedback.

For effective management, which will lead to an improvement in quality, the functions of planning, monitoring-evaluation and capitalisation therefore appear to be central. And this work can only be done as closely as possible and with the actors directly concerned.