Improvement of the education in the municipalities

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Project goal:
Support civil society through establishment of effective local partnership that will facilitate the education decentralization processes in Macedonia.

Project objectives:
(1) Establishing partnership mechanisms among municipality, schools and non-governmental organizations in order to improve the education in Macedonia.

(2) Encourage activities for improvement of the education at municipal level.

Funding:
Institute for Sustainable Communities – ISC (http://www.isc.org.mk) in the framework of the United States Agency forInternational Development – USAID’s Civil Society Strengthening Project (http://www.usaid.org.mk)

Program timeframe:
March 2006 – February 2008

Program overview:
This project is aimed to strengthen communication and cooperation among municipality, schools and NGOs to address educational issues in the community. MCEC is targeting representatives from schools, NGO’s and municipal officials to build their capacities and support decentralization processes in education. Project activities are tailored to affect attitudes and relationship among these structures at municipal level in order to ensure their equal participation. MCEC selected 10 municipalities around the country to participate in the program. In order to implement the project, each municipality formally establishes a Municipal Educational Body (MEB) consisted of 5 members – representatives from primary schools and local NGO and municipal officials. This project is planned to encourage activities for improvement of the education at municipal level through Small Grant Program which includes activities conducted by the MEBs to identify, prioritize and address educational issues. Each municipality is entitled with small grant amount of 5.000,00 USD which will be allocated to the school priorities selected by MEB. It is expected that at the end of the project, the established local partnership will became sustainable through adoption of municipal educational policies as a model for supporting decentralization in the education. The educational policy documents are planned to be developed by the MEBs, taking into consideration the specifics of the municipality and the experiences and positive practices of the project implementation.

What has been implemented?
MCEC has implemented following project activities during the period March 2006 – February 2008:

Period March – November 2006

  • Selection of 10 municipalities to participate in the project based upon the criteria for equivalent representation of various types of municipalities in Macedonia
  • Establishment of Municipal Educational Bodies (MEB) in each project municipality composed of 5 members – representatives from primary schools and local NGO and municipal officials
  • MCEC and each project municipality signed a Memorandum of Understanding.
  • Project introduction plenary meeting for all MEBs representatives from the project municipalities held in HOTEL “KARPOS” – Skopje, on 20.06.2006. The goal of the meeting was to inform MEBs representatives with project goal, objectives, expected results and upcoming project activities in view of MEBs responsibilities during project implementation. Click here for photos from this meeting.
  • Information sharing meeting with NGOs’ representatives from all MEBs held in MCEC office – Skopje on 25.07.2006. The goal of the meeting was to provide information on specific role of the NGOs in the project implementation.
  • School directors and pedagogues / psychologists from primary schools in the project participating municipalities attended one-day workshop Selecting priorities for improving the educational process in the school. This activity was implemented in two groups sessions which were organized in Stip at Hotel OAZA on 28.08.2006 and in Skopje at Klub na Pratenici, on 29.08.2006 in order to provide information and guidance to schools how to participate in the assessing school priorities. Click here for photos.
  • MCEC conducted an assessment for the NGO’s capacity building;
  • MCEC organized planning meetings with the MEBs through the local NGOs’ coordinators in order to facilitate and monitor the process of identification and prioritization of municipal school problems and needs. The decision making process was based on conducted assessment about school issues and needs. Data and information collection process was implemented through the Questionnaire; School Priorities List and school visits done by the MEBs’ members.
  • MCEC provided technical support to the MEBs through written “Guidance on decision making process for selection of school needs/issues in the municipality” and template document for relevant criteria of selection.

Period December 2006 – February 2007

  • The MEBs submitted to MCEC Small Grants Applications in order to address the municipal educational priorities.During this reporting period, as in accordance with the ISC/USAID school repairs procedures, ISC and MCEC staff visited all primary schools.
  • The workshop “Fundraising – how to obtain funds from alternative sources?” was organized for the members of the Municipal Educational Bodies. The goal of the workshop was to introduce the participants to the fundraising theory and practices (methods and techniques) in order to provide capacity building support to the MEBs in their efforts to improve the education in the municipality. The workshop was also intended to strengthen the cooperation among all stakeholders at municipal level in addressing educational issues and needs through identifying alternative funds sources and applying different techniques to access the sources. All 50 members of MEBs were invited to participate on this training program which was implemented by delivering the same workshop in Ohrid on 2-4 February 2007 and in Stip on 9-11 February 2007.

Period March – May 2007

  • The workshop on Introduction into Monitoring and Evaluation was held at Velesko Ezero, on 30 May – 1 June 2007. The workshop was attended representatives from the project municipalities and they were introduced to tools & methodologies related to the whole process related to addressing the problems in the community, starting from problem identification, and ending with the developing a M&E plan and measuring the achieved results.
  • The grant activities started with analysis the individual municipalities’ requests and with developing the tender documentation as in accordance with specifics per article requested in the MEBs applications. Also, through the field-visits, the grants coordinator had an opportunity to review the municipalities’ request related to school repairs.
  • Activities related to the provision of technical support to the municipalities in the process of developing educational policy document included provision of guidance for developing municipal education policy document through one-day workshop which was organized on April 19, 2007 in Skopje. The agenda of the workshop included the following: introduction to the educational policies; law-regulations framework – municipality’s rights and responsibilities in the area of education; the content of the policy document; how to implement the process for developing the educational policy document.

During the period June – August 2007

  • During this reporting period, consultancy meetings were held with the MEBs representatives. During these meetings the different questions related to policy development were discussed and included the following: methodology for development of the document, methodologies for identifying school priorities, forms for schools data collection and analysis, timeframe for development of policies, sharing examples etc.
  • Upon selection of the bids, the process of purchasing started and as result of this process about 322 different articles of teaching aids and school equipment was purchased. MCEC has developed a delivery plan and worked on compiling needed donation documents. This activity needed precise coordination and planning to ensure that all documentation is compiled and prepared for delivery at 22 different locations throughout Macedonia. During the months of June, July and August, MCEC Grant Coordinator conducted more than 40 field visits and had field meetings with responsible MEBs representatives from each of the visited municipalities.

During the period September – December 2007

  • The Small Grants Program has been implemented in 10 Municilalites (Negotino, Strumica, Radovish, Saraj, Vrapciste, Sveti Nikole, Kocani, Kicevo, Caska, Mavrovo and Rostuse), 36 schools received direct support, 322 diffident items were donated as teaching aids and school equipment, 71 different types small repairs were implemented in 22 schools. Click here for photos.
  • The workshop Project Cycle Management and Fundraising was held in Mavrovo, on 5-7 December 2007. The workshop was attended by the representatives from the project municipalities who were introduced to the following topics: Phases of the Project Cycle, Introduction to the logical framework, Identifying priorities, Project justification, Stakeholder analysis; Analysis of problems; Analysis of goals, Matrix of logical framework-vertical logic of vertical intervention: Preconditions and assumptions; Time frame; Basic of project budget development, Creating the project budget; M&E techniques; Project design; Approach to donors; Fundraising opportunities (Projects, special events, individual donors, corporate donors)..

During the period January – February 2008

  • Mentoring workshops were implemented with interested NGOs representatives on: Finance and Administration, Data Processing, Advocacy and Lobbing. MCEC shared the finance and administrative forms with NGOs representatives, all of them found them very practical and shared that based on the information they were provided during the meeting, they will be able to better track their staff time, allocate office costs and developing finance reports. NGOs representatives shared their interest also on data processing, especially on the process for developing interactive charts and promotion of the evaluation results. Based on MCEC experience on Advocacy and Lobbing, NGOs representatives were provided examples from MCEC work and copies of the different materials.
  • On the final promotional event held on 21 February 2008, MCEC promoted the brochures and interactive CD with educational policies created by the 10 municipalities in the Republic of Macedonia. Click here for presentation. The educational policies are consisted of guidelines and processes on defining the steps on development of the strategies for improving the education on the municipality level. During the project implementation the tangible conditions related to the education on municipality level were defined, including the priorities that should be focus of the further investments of the municipality. Please refer to following links for educational policies from 10 municipalities: