The project continues its journey on a positive trajectory, but below its potential and capacities. This evaluation is similar to the statement, issued in the First Progress report. So far, the key question could not be solved: an approved work plan that gives work permission to key and non-key senior experts. Efforts cover 69 verbal notes, seven updates of the Work Plan coordinated with 18 organisations and a formal endorsement of the Cabinet of Ministers.
The main constrain for project implementation is lack of leadership, an inappropriate mindset and low capacity at the Ministry of Education, the main beneficiary.
The project switched to plan “B,” exploiting a grey zone (Mini-projects with TVET schools) and unoccupied niches (setting-up a cloud-based Learning Management System), cooperating with willing stakeholders (Humanitarian university) and undertaking necessary planning and action for further intervention (strategic consultation, functional analysis, course creation for further education of teachers, and more)
Highlights of project implementation during reporting period (April – September 2017) were: setting-up mutual beneficial relation with the Ministry of Education and the Labour Ministry, the first Steering committee (22 June), working on setting-up 5 sector councils, the start of implementation of seven mini-projects with a total of 70 TEUR, a joint workshop with ETF, a seminar on technology-enabled learning (10 – 11 July 2017), the start of functional analysis in four institutions, a project website (www.education-turkmenistan.eu), the setting-up of a cloud- and desktop based Learning Management system for course development, and the preparation of strategic consultancy at the Ministry of Education.
The main lesson learnt from the Reporting Period is that Turkmenistan is in the driving seat of project implementation, a difference to Aid delivery in developing countries. The project can nudge, contribute, ease, and propose, but the supply side has limited power to shape outcomes. Particularly, it could not break the custom of limited results during the first year of operation that is a phenomenon from the previous two educational and other EU projects and the private sector alike.
As the circumstances and conditions for project implementation have not changed, the outlook for the next reporting period is similar to the last Progress report: setting-up a portfolio of ToR compliant activities, from strategic consultancy to Ministries to support bottom-up (TVET schools) initiatives from TVET schools on further education of teachers and course development. When accumulating a critical mass of experience and knowledge, the focus will switch to optimise the portfolio for better efficiency and efficacy of the project’s impact.
An overall approach seems appropriate that focus on investment in Human Capital and capacity creation for problem-solving in an incremental, consistent, and holistic manner and within a low political profile. In the end, only local decision-makers can and should identify, pilot and implement innovative decisions that align the current development trajectory with society’s needs and global trends.
Eventually, by EUAid priorities and the projects’ objectives, the project positions itself as a contribution to incremental alignment with international standards in education that will serve as both a platform and a stimulus for broader transformation to come.