Upper Secondary and Professional Teacher Development Project: Completion Report
sector: Education | country: Viet Nam, Socialist Republic of
Consistency in project documents between the government and ADB. Some inconsistencies and ambitious targets between the government’s feasibility study report and the RRP (Report and Recommendation of the President) required discussions and formal agreements between the MOET (Ministry of Education and Training) and ADB, resulting in delays in project implementation. At the design stage, project targets should be more realistic and attainable. Intensive consultations among stakeholders are needed to avoid such discrepancies.
Capacity of project management unit staff. Limited familiarity of PMU (project management unit) staff with ADB procurement and financial management guidelines and procedures contributed to delays in implementation, procurement of equipment, awarding of contracts of civil works, and disbursement. Moreover, PMU heads were nominated and approved by the MOET (Ministry of Education and Training) only after project approval, which further contributed to delays in project start-up. For future projects, the PMU and PIUs should be established before loan approval. Moreover, once these have been established, recruitment of PMU and PIU staff with prior experience in ADB projects should be immediately undertaken. Training of PMU and PIU staff by project preparatory TA start-up consultants, and by ADB if required, must be carried out and explicitly recommended in the loan covenants.
Recruitment of consultants. The recruitment of consultants remains time consuming. This problem is not specific to the project but common in all ADB-financed projects in Viet Nam. Delays in consultant recruitment result in delays in implementing the entire project. In future, advance actions and project readiness filters should be applied to minimize start-up delays.
The PCR (project completion report) identified the following lessons, which this validation agrees with:
(i) Project design must be feasible and realistic. It is important that project design meets the needs of the borrower. Some inconsistencies in the project design, overambitious targets, significant omissions, and unclear expectations required substantial discussions and formal agreements to be made between the MOET (Ministry of Education and Training) and ADB, delaying project implementation. At the design stage, project targets should be more realistic and attainable, and any discrepancies resolved through intensive consultations among stakeholders.
(ii) ADB supervision and flexibility. ADB’s willingness to agree to reallocate loan funds among categories to facilitate the selection and engagement of consultants and to approve changes in project scope to solve the difficulties was important. The success of this project was in part due to close supervision and the agreement between ADB and the government about how to modify the initial design even though this necessary clarification did contribute to the initial slow implementation of the project.
(iii) Timing of inception and recruitment of local staff. Late recruitment of PMU (project management unit) staff, along with a lack of capacity for some PMU staff to carry out the required work, caused delays. The recruitment of consultants was also slow, delaying the initial stage of the project. The PCR recommended that the PMU and project implementation units be established early on and, where possible, staff with prior experience in ADB projects, be recruited immediately. Training of inexperienced PMU and project implementation unit staff by start-up technical assistance consultants and possibly ADB, if required, must be carried out and explicitly recommended in the loan covenants.