|The Courier N° 123 Sept - October 1990 - Dossier Higher Education - Country Reports: Barbados - (EC Courier, 1990, 104 p.)|
|Training schemes under Lomé II and III|
Articles 150 and 151 of the new Convention (in annex) describe priority education and training schemes.
Education and training needs are to be identified at the programming stage (i.e. in the indicative programme), a requirement which also applies to projects and programmes to be financed from the counterpart funds. They are to be geared to the sectoral aims of the indicative programme and are therefore linked to Community aid - a LomV innovation which should make for the fastest possible implementation of training schemes.
These training schemes may be clearly identified, integrated programmes and preferably run in focal sectors, although this does not rule out those in other sectors too.
All major development programmes will have to have training sections which start up, if possible, before the programmes themselves and not several years afterwards as was often the case under LomII.
Level of education
Article 151 of LomV contains an important change in that it puts priority in this field on support for primary education and literacy schemes - a response to what is a totally reasonable request from the ACPs, bearing in mind the general state of their primary schools. This is another of LomVs innovations.
Nevertheless, in view of the Communitys present experience of higher education and technical and vocational training, some importance must be placed on continuing support in these two areas, with local training courses in ACP institutions still to the fore and regional training institutions getting priority.
The Communitys support for higher education and technical and vocational training will still be geared to:
- keeping the teachers in their jobs and improving the intellectual and material environment of teaching in various ways, with staff improvement programmes, management support, research support (particularly in libraries) and help with building accommodation for teachers;
- regional training institutions, perhaps with a grants fund (supplied by the regional funds and allocated for courses in regional institutions), and inter-university cooperation;
- rehabilitating buildings and equipment.
Education and the social aspects of adjustment
Education may be an essential part of the social dimension of adjustment policies and one which the Community may want to single out with the World Bank - i.e. where appropriate, to discuss projected adjustment measures and reforms affecting the whole of the system of education with the World Bank and the ACPs concerned. This is something which did not happen under LomII and it is the most important innovation of the new Convention.
The Community could run a basic sectoral dialogue here, on the countrys education policy, within certain limits and with a view to two kinds of financial support:
(i) to formulate particular aspects of the education policy envisaged within the framework of an adjustment programme. This could be in the form of technical assistance;
(ii) to encourage particular schemes. This could be combined with technical assistance.
Given its limited human and financial possibilities at the moment, it can only hope to have such discussions with a limited number of ACP countries. Most of its training schemes, in fact, will be a continuation of work done under LomII.
And it will have to adopt a very gradual approach to commitments in this limited number of countries, initially only agreeing to the possible financing of some aspects of the educational reforms which the ACP and the World Bank propose if these aspects are in line with Community objectives.
With education policies, it has to be realised that the effect of measures which are proposed to, forced upon or chosen by a country is never the anticipated one, as the following example show:
- It may seem legitimate, as the World Bank systematically suggests, to support primary and secondary schooling to the detriment of higher education, although without always asking why attendance is poor.
- Another problem is that a number of funders systematically support educational reforms which put far more stress on technical and vocational training than general courses. Is this effective when it comes to looking for a job? And is it financially justified?
The Community will be especially careful to take the individual features of the various education systems into account, as their costs (of salaries, supervision etc), for example, may be made up in different countries in different ways. And it will be sure to go for the restrictive measures that are socially the least difficult to apply.
The Community might envisage an educational SIP (Special Import Programme) under certain conditions, a useful instrument, particularly when it comes to delivering the teaching materials and equipment that are vital to the running of all or part of an education system.
It is important to realise that the Community does not have the human resources to start up a proper dialogue on these issues with the ACP institutions.
So the first risk it runs is of wasting these meagre resources in its relations with other funders, some of whom, the World Bank for example, are in a de facto position of dominance. The Communitys relations with this body are in fact outpacing its relations with the ACP countries, perverting LomV dangerously and entailing a real political risk.
The second risk is that of forcing the ACPs to undertake educational reforms without an adequate knowledge of their institutions and without a thoroughgoing dialogue with them. So the ACPs have to know what they want and to tell the Community so.