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LESSONS:

Primary Education Sector Project (Loan 1026-BAN[SF])

sector: Education | country: Bangladesh

Market Segment Approach. Achieving the goal of the Education for All (EFA) requires a host of programs and projects to reach out to the target market nationwide. The magnitudes of requirements are too great for any one development agency to handle. Given the limited project funds, it was prudent to have chosen only one market segment in terms of geographic coverage, as it was then possible to provide a package of interrelated components that remained coherent. Although it may be said that ADB did not have much choice because the World Bank had already covered the rest of the country, the lesson still remains: focus and concentration of resources is needed to create a significant impact.

Follow-Up Project. Unlike many other ADB projects in the social sector, the one under review was followed about a year later by a similar project covering the same original area (although it was expanded to include Barisal Division). This is a very important consideration because it kept the development momentum going, and the institutional capacity built earlier not only remained intact but was strengthened. In many cases where the follow-up project came three to five years later, the momentum dissipates, institutional memory has largely gone, and it is necessary to start again.

Complementary Programs. The achievement of project objectives was enhanced by a number of programs with complementary objectives that were also being implemented in the area at about the same time. These included the Food for Education Program, Early Childhood Education Program, Nonformal Education Program to Reduce Illiteracy, and social marketing programs such as the Total Literacy Movement, and the Primary Education Fortnight. In order to realize benefits from synergy, it is important that when programs or projects with complementary objectives operate in a given area, they should be coordinated and linked together.

Hierarchy of Objectives and Quantification of Desired Outcomes. In a project with multiple objectives, some of which may have conflicting requirements (e.g., access and equity versus quality in this case) it is necessary to establish a hierarchy of objectives. Giving them equal importance and pursuing them with the same vigor invariably results in mediocre performance for all of them. That the Government implicitly chose access and equity above the other objectives such as quality and efficiency was partly responsible for the results achieved in this Project. However, a hierarchy of objectives in itself is not enough. Quantification of the desired outcome (in this Project) for each objective could have provided clearer guidance during project implementation and in the subsequent assessment of project impact.

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