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LESSONS:

Postsecondary Education Development Project

sector: Education | country: Maldives

1. Early establishment of an adequately staffed project implementation unit (PIU) is important, especially in a subsector without prior experience of externally funded projects. The project experienced substantial time overrun given its failure to appropriately staff the PIU. Hence, an adequately staffed PIU could be a condition of loan effectiveness or disbursement, as appropriate. Where full-time staff for a PIU cannot be committed, recruitment of project implementation consultants should be considered. [Main text, paras. 32, 62]

2. If cofinancing arrangement is not finalized before approval of a project, ADB needs to take a more conservative approach in project design and should not include cofinancing for project scoping and costing. In the event of cofinancier’s withdrawal from the Project, as a safeguard, related components should have been covered by ADB or Government funding to preserve the integrity of project design. The AusAID financing did not materialize during and even after appraisal which subsequently reduced project scope. [Main text, paras. 8,63]

3. Government and stakeholder ownership positively contribute to sustaining project benefits. The ownership of the Government is visible as it continued to provide increased funding to Maldives College of Higher Education (MCHE) after completion. The highly relevant and acceptable MCHE course offerings enjoy wide support in the country. All key stakeholders are proud of the MCHE achievements as it successfully delivered the majority of the outputs and met their expectations. [Main text, paras. 54, 64]

4. The status of benefit monitoring and evaluation (BME) needs to be regularly followed up and more rigorously, if it is part of loan covenants. Hands-on support for BME activities could have added value to the project. To be meaningful, BME should be integrated into an existing national monitoring system such as the Statistical Office under the Ministry of Planning and National Development. [Main text, paras. 44, 65]

5. Technical assistance should be provided for capacity development before introducing new initiatives and reforms. The standard time frame of 5 years to implement projects is not realistic especially in social sector projects in a country where capacity must be built before implementing reforms and innovative actions. [Main text, para. 66]

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