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Sector Management

Photograph by Gwang-Chol Chang

The public management of education covers all aspects of management, including: institutional management (i.e. formulation, planning and implementation of policies), process management, resource management - especially human and financial resources - and performance management. As such, the management agenda frequently involves complex issues, and requires the understanding of conceptual approaches, methodological skills, and management tools, that are critical to the effective formulation, implementation, and evaluation of education policies and programmes. 

Over the years, UNESCO has developed a knowledge base of management approaches and tools to support national institutions, mostly Ministries of Education, to be more accountable to deliver better quality of learning for all children, women and men.  A strong emphasis is placed on the practices of public management applied in the education sector, as well as the application of analytical methods to substantive policy issues, including: 

- Programme based approaches 

- Results based management 

- Decentralization

- Medium term expenditure framework (MTEF).


Programme-based approaches

Programme-based approaches are increasingly applied in education sector planning and management. This is a positive trend since projects alone are seen as not having as much of the desired impact as a sustainable approach to reaching all beneficiaries. Also for many countries, this is the preferred form of development cooperation based on the principle of coordinated support for a single sector policy and expenditure programme, which requires national leadership and ownership in the programme design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation. Read more


Results based management

Results based management is a technique that relies on the strategic identification of the logical links in the different stages of sector planning and management and connects them with the results chain. The technique is also referred to as the logical framework approach.  When applied in the education sector, the framework can be used in all the different stages of the planning and management cycle, including sector analysis, policy design, action planning, monitoring and evaluation. The tools are helpful for education sector managers to improve the sector performance and capture tangible results over time. Read more



Many countries of Asia have embarked on a long and sometimes uncertain route towards education decentralization.  Although seen as the most popular education management reform by many, decentralization does not always result in greater efficiency, effectiveness, empowerment and overall, better learning outcomes nor does it translate directly to greater access to and quality of education. Some highly centralized education systems achieve better outcomes, and some do not. Some decentralized systems achieve good results, and some do not. These mixed outcomes have intensified the policy debate throughout the region on whether decentralization should be pursued further, or whether some or all the elements of decentralization introduced so far should, in fact, be reversed. In this regard, policy makers and sector managers at the country level must address how best to decentralize or recentralize their education systems to achieve real educational outcomes at school and system levels.  Read more 


Medium term expenditure framework (MTEF) 

Medium-term financial planning is an important feature of the new public management paradigm which many developed and developing countries have subscribed to since the 1990's. A main objective of this process is to improve the quality and relevance of spending, by allocating resources to areas of greatest potential benefit and by introducing a rigorous evaluation of actual and potential benefits. 

Education is a popular sector for applying the MTEF approach for two reasons. Firstly, because of its size, as education often consumes between 15 and 25 per cent of the national budget. Secondly, because it is a sector where resource inputs can be more easily related to outputs and outcomes than other sectors such as agriculture. 

Many developed countries have strategically implemented MTEF reforms in a range of sectors to good effect. Despite this, it is clear that for developing countries - successfully implementing an MTEF in the same way may comprise a significant challenge. Generally this is because the process requires strong political commitment and effective organizational leadership, as well as a strong annual budgeting and resource allocation framework. However, experiences such as those of Nepal and Viet Nam, show that important improvements have been made in these developing countries; and suggest that other countries can achieve better results if strong political engagement, high technical capacity and good financial systems are in place. Read more

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