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Borhène Chakroun and Pasi Sahlberg (eds) with contributions from Mounir Baati, Anar
Beishembaeva, Slavko Gaber, Andy Hargreaves, Outi Kärkkäinen, Vacklav Klenha, Jean-Raymond
Masson, Gérard Mayen, Søren Nielsen, Margareta Nikolovska, Slava Pevec Grm, Peter Schuh,
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Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of
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ISBN: 978-92-9157-566-4
doi: 10.2816/63812
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Printed in Italy

As we put the finishing touches to this fifth methodology on which we have

and final ETF Yearbook, it is interesting to increasingly based our work and promoted
reflect on the way the publication has ourselves to others in our international
evolved. We started in 2004 with a very community.
straightforward aim: to give ETF operational
staff the opportunity to present analyses and The process of producing the Yearbook
insights based on their project or country has been a developmental experience for
experience. Not only would this encourage the ETF and could be said to chart our
colleagues to reflect on their work but it progress from that of a technical
would also provide readers with an insight assistance body to that of a recognised
into critical issues related to the reform of centre of expertise in human capital
vocational education and labour markets in development. The lessons we have
transition countries. learned along the way are ones which have
much wider application than the sphere in
Over the following two years, we decided to which the ETF works and so we hope that
focus that reflective practice on a specific our readers will be able to benefit by
theme. In the 2005 Yearbook we chose to applying the reflections on our experience
write on the dual role of teachers and trainers to their own working contexts, different
in reform; while in 2006 we switched our though these may be.
focus to the contribution that skills
development can make to poverty reduction. One aspect of the ETF’s evolution in recent
Through these themes, we continued to years has been our increasing engagement
approach the writing of the Yearbook as an with other multi-lateral institutions and with
opportunity to bring into focus the ETF’s the community of thinkers who inform their
particular approach to working with our work. Therefore it was appropriate that we
partner countries through the methodology of should invite colleagues from the
policy learning. international community to contribute their
reflections on policy learning. I would like
Perhaps it was inevitable therefore that the to thank our four external contributors to
2007 and 2008 Yearbooks would look Part 2 for accepting the invitation and
more deeply at that methodology to the thereby adding to the value that this
extent that policy learning itself became the publication brings to our collective thinking.
theme, albeit in the context of the ETF’s
continuing work in education, training and Although this may be the final edition of the
labour market reform. In the 2007 Yearbook in its current format, our plans at
Yearbook, having given examples of the the ETF are to continue to produce
methodology in action in a variety of high-quality, thought-provoking publications
settings, we concluded with a foretaste of which will be of interest to our wide range
the 2008 Yearbook, promising a more of stakeholders, both in Europe and
practice-oriented type of publication, based beyond. Our objective is to be an
on systematic enquiry of an empirical or international reference point for human
analytical nature always referring to the capital development specialists and our
concept of policy learning. And this is what publications will reflect that. Please enjoy
I am pleased to present to you in this reading this Yearbook and look forward to
Yearbook. I feel that we have come a long further publications on the ETF’s activities
way in five years, from a publication that and research.
aspired to providing some insight into our
work, to one which can examine Muriel Dunbar
dispassionately and with rigour a Director, ETF





Borhène Chakroun 11


Gérard Mayen 19


Søren Nielsen, Outi Kärkkäinen, Recep Varcin and Arjen Vos 27


Margareta Nikolovska and Arjen Vos 39


Vaclav Klenha, Søren Nielsen and Anar Beishembaeva 53


Mounir Baati and Peter Schuh 65


Jean-Raymond Masson and Slava Pevec Grm 73






Ronald G. Sultana 95


Slavko Gaber 101


Louise Stoll 107


Andy Hargreaves 113


Peter Greenwood 125


Part 1

Debate is increasing among donors and Sector-Wide Approach (SWAp), which

recipient countries on the need to secure requires a stable macro-economic
ownership of development policies by situation, realistic sector strategy and
supporting local policymakers and other coordination of external support by national
stakeholders in leading policy development governments. All these developments have
and implementation. At the same time, led the ETF to adopt policy learning as a
concern is growing about the capacity of major principle of cooperation with partner
government (and other stakeholders and countries.
institutions) to design and lead reforms.
Policy learning emphasises the active
Several approaches in the European Union engagement of national stakeholders in
and elsewhere attempt to theorise and developing their own policies and
provide methodological tools for implementation plans. It also emphasises
investigating the process by which the active engagement of the international
governments can better inform policy community in helping countries to help
development. In the EU context this has themselves. The challenge for local
raised interest in what has become known policymakers and for international
as the Open Method of Coordination, assistance is to find a balance between the
defined by the Lisbon European Council in urgency of policy development and the
2000 as ‘a means of spreading best necessary time for learning and informing
practice and achieving greater policies.
convergence towards the main EU
goals […]’. The main assumption of the ETF Yearbook
2008 is that policy learning – considered as
In the context of the ETF’s partner the ability of governments, and other
countries, the European Commission is stakeholders, to inform policy development
progressively adopting new instruments for by drawing lessons from available
supporting reforms based on the evidence, experience and their own past –


can lead to sustainable development practitioner, the tension between facilitation

policies in partner countries. and advising roles.

The first part of the Yearbook draws In Chapter 3, Søren Nielsen, Recep Varcin,
lessons from an unprecedented and Outi Kärkkäinen and Arjen Vos adopt the
systematic approach to putting policy Greek concept of ‘agora’ – a place where
learning into action. It is particularly market and politics meet and blend, where
unprecedented in that, first, it covers private emotions and opinions meet public
countries in transition whereas international opinion and political consensus – to argue
literature on policy learning refers mainly to that an innovative evaluative approach with
Western countries; second, it covers a a sharper focus on organising policy
wide range of countries and regions learning platforms may facilitate stronger
(Morocco, Kyrgyzstan, the Western Balkan stakeholder involvement and horizontal
countries, and Turkey) with different network learning, leading to more
contexts and governance systems. consistent follow-up decision-making.

The particular focus of all articles in this Margareta Nikolovska and Arjen Vos
first part of the yearbook is on vocational offer another angle from which to
education and training (VET). Initial interpret policy learning in Chapter 4. The
experiences are presented from ETF ETF peer learning projects provide
attempts to facilitate VET reforms using further insight into how policy learning
policy learning principles in a number of principles can be applied from
countries. The authors invited to contribute international experiences. The chapter
to this volume are representative of that examines several peer learning activities
larger group in that they see the decisive in the Western Balkan countries. The
influence of policy learning principles on peer learning process is taken a step
their work in and with partner countries. further by critically questioning the link
They were all directly involved in the between peer learning and policy change
projects and initiatives described. Some in the countries concerned.
chapters are the result of collective work
involving colleagues from the ETF and In Chapter 5, Vaclav Klenha, Anar
experts from partner countries. Beishembaeva and Søren Nielsen describe
an attempt to support structural vocational
In the opening chapter, Borhène Chakroun training reform in Kyrgyzstan through a
presents a synthesis of policy learning from policy learning approach facilitated by the
theoretical and practical perspectives. He ETF. They focus specifically on three
argues that policy learning inevitably sets elements of policy learning facilitation:
up different kinds of tension: between the (i) rationale behind the application of policy
process and the end result, between the learning principles in the context of Kyrgyz
time needed for learning and the urgent VET reform; (ii) main challenges to policy
need to develop policy and between the change; (iii) lessons regarding the
role of facilitator and advisor. He concludes facilitation role of the ETF. This chapter
that policy learning is a complex process illustrates the complexity of policy learning
which supports the emergence of new and suggests that external cooperating
models of governance and capacity partners also need to be sensitive to their
building but that often takes more time and own approaches and intentions.
resources than planned and that its real
impact is difficult to measure. In Chapter 6, Mounir Baati and Peter Schuh
provide an example of their own role as
In Chapter 2, Gérard Mayen, based on his policy learning facilitators in Morocco. They
experience in Jordan, considers policy describe how the participatory approach
learning as a process where policymakers initiated by the ETF to develop a strategic
progressively learn to take full and plan for strengthening apprenticeship
conscious account of the importance of the training in agriculture and crafts is viewed by
role of social partners in the reform local experts and policymakers. The
process. He also examines, as a reflective conclusion is that policy learning does not


always work in practice as it has been ABOUT THE AUTHORS

designed in theory.
Mounir Baati, Anar Beishembaeva,
In the final chapter of Part 1, Borhène Chakroun, Outi Kärkkäinen,
Jean-Raymond Masson and Slava Pevec Vaclav Klenha, Jean-Raymond Masson,
Grm apply the policy learning perspective Gérard Mayen, Søren Nielsen, Margareta
to analyse ETF experience in new EU Nikolovska and Arjen Vos are all experts
member states. The authors first look at working at the European Training
common definitions used in EU policy Foundation.
messages and how these match the
reality of partner countries, identifying Slava Pevec Grm is Assistant Director for
misconceptions and ambiguities that can Development at the Slovenian National
degrade the effectiveness of support. Institute for Vocational Education and
They then examine more closely the Training.
experience of Slovenia, which received
EU support throughout the 1990s and the Peter Schuh has been involved in human
early years of the new millennium, in an resources development projects in many
attempt to distil lessons which are then developing countries for over 30 years.
fed back into a general conclusion and a
set of recommendations for EU assistance Recep Varcin is Associate Professor at
for VET reform and for ETF work in Ankara University and Director of the
general. Ankara University Centre for the study of
human resources management and career

Borhène Chakroun

1. INTRODUCTION This chapter attempts to answer two key

questions about policy learning:
This yearbook takes a close look at the
strategic approach the ETF has adopted 1. What can we learn from attempts to put
for its interventions in partner countries: policy learning into practice in a wide
policy learning. It is also an attempt by a range of partner countries? and
team of believers to define what is meant 2. To what extent does policy learning lead
by the term and what it can offer to to policy change in partner countries?
policymakers. This effort is necessary if we
are to save the concept of policy learning The first section explores the theoretical
from becoming a mere buzzword used basis of policy learning and the reasons
indiscriminately in all situations. why it can sometimes fail to deliver. It
continues with a look at how the ETF has
This opening chapter aims to draw lessons come to adopt policy learning as an
from the attempts to put this pioneering approach for intervention before going on
approach into practice in transition to discuss how policy learning ideas and
countries. Thus I rely heavily on what principles have been applied on the
others have written while discussing the ground. It sums up the lessons learned so
implications of their approaches for the far and finally looks at policy learning within
body of knowledge on the policy learning a wider context of policy change.
process as well as placing them in a
broader perspective. I also rely on 1.1 Conceptual framework of policy
published writings on policy learning, taking learning
into account theoretical discussions
(Bennett and Howlett, 1992) and more Bennett and Howlett (1992) provide an
empirical literature (Raffe and Spours, interesting, although already somewhat
2007; Grootings, 2004). dated, review of literature on theories of


policy learning. They link the emergence of of its importance for policymaking although
policy learning to the desire to challenge it may not always be named as such. For
conflict-oriented theories. The review takes in instance, many donors are abandoning a
the following concepts: “political learning” piecemeal approach involving individual
developed by Heclo (1974), “policy-oriented projects in favour of a sector-wide
learning” developed by Sabatier (1987), approach. This aims for greater
“lesson-drawing” analysed by Rose (1991), sustainability and ownership of domestic
“social learning” discussed by Hall (1988) policies (Europeaid, 2007). The Paris
and “government learning” developed by Declaration on Aid Effectivenes 1 provides
Etheredge and Short (1983). Bennett and a recent example of this trend; on page two
Howlett conclude that the concept of policy of the declaration, ministers of developed
learning has been “overtheorised and and developing countries pledge they “will
underapplied” and that “the relationship be guided by development strategies and
between policy learning and policy change priorities established by partner countries”
contours and components has only begun to when it comes to choosing the most
be investigated and understood”. effective ways of delivering aid.

Although it is useful to refer to the ideas of I consider it useful to explore the reasons for
the above mentioned authors, I would like what we can call policy learning failure in
to retain another perspective, put forward partner countries before explaining why the
by Raffe and Spours (2007) and Grootings ETF decided to put policy learning into
(2004), that sees policy learning as a way practice and to use it as a guiding philosophy
for governments or systems of governance for its interventions in partner countries.
to inform policy development by drawing
lessons from available evidence and 1.2 Policy learning failure in partner
experience. countries

In the context of the ETF’s partner Policy learning failure in partner countries,
countries this means examining to what in part, reflects the failure of both policy
extent policy learning approaches have borrowing from abroad and the desire of
helped those countries to inform policy. policymakers to find fast solutions to urgent
This includes the capacity of partner problems (see Philips, 1989 for a more
countries to learn from their own detailed discussion). Sultana in Part 2
experience and from that of other briefly discusses the failure of the earlier
countries. Thus policy learning should lead model of supporting policy development in
to policy change and increasing policy less developed countries through the direct
effectiveness (Grootings, 2004). transfer of knowledge and expertise.

Although the words policy and learning are John Dewey’s theory of experience could
by no means newcomers to the debate on perhaps throw some useful light on our
how to reform VET systems, in recent efforts to understand policy learning failure
years they have moved from the periphery (Dewey, 1938, p.28). He argued that “any
to the centre of the discussion on policy experience is mis-educative that has the
development. The question of how policy effect of arresting or distorting the growth
learning can lead to policy change has of further experience”. Dewey believes
occupied many researchers and there are several ways in which prior
practitioners, particularly in countries such experience can be counterproductive. It
as the UK and Sweden. Some authors can engender callousness or cause a lack
attribute the failure to produce good policy of sensitivity and responsiveness which
to failures in the policy learning process can make people less open to new
(Raffe and Spours, 2007). experiences. Different experiences may be
so disconnected from one another that,
In partner countries, policy learning has not while each is agreeable or even exciting in
received as much attention. Nevertheless, itself, they do not teach us anything. The
there are signs of an increasing awareness very disconnectedness of these

1 See


experiences also runs the risk of artificially organisations and to the ETF in particular
generating dispersive, disintegrated, with its long experience of establishing
centrifugal habits. observatory functions in most partner
countries (see Chapter 7 for a detailed
International development aid provides a discussion of this). Three important
wealth of examples of these kinds of elements tend to be weak or missing in
experiences. How many countries, for almost all partner countries: a tradition of
example, have benefited from the systematic data collection and analysis,
generous gift of a ready-made curriculum policy evaluation studies and research.
and skills needs analysis when their ability While the first two points are
to make good use of it is extremely limited? systematically highlighted (see Sweet, in
How many countries have decided to press), the research dimension has almost
import the foreign VET model only to find it always been ignored. In almost all partner
so alien to their specific context so as to be countries, research capacities are weak or
practically useless? How many ministries totally lacking, thus depriving education
have been plagued by infighting between policymakers of a vital source of
different project management units so that knowledge and expertise.
every donor-funded project ends up being
totally disconnected from the rest? Therefore it seems there are at least three
overlapping factors that lead to policy
In their discussion of policy learning failure learning failure in partner countries:
in secondary education in the UK, Raffe misleading experiences caused by donor
and Spours (2007) found that it was intervention, highly politicised models of
caused by the inability and unwillingness to governance which are not conducive to
learn from past experience and by learning policy learning and the limited knowledge
from the experience of other countries but base.
only superficially. Chapter 5 mentions the
loss of policy memory in Kyrgyzstan that
occurred after the DACUM curricula 2. THE ETF’S APPROACH TO
reforms. Chapter 6 also mentions the POLICY LEARNING
difficulties in helping the Moroccan team
learn from past experience in spite of the The beginnings of policy learning as an
policy learning nature of the whole process. intervention approach for the ETF can be
traced back to the ETF Advisory Forum
Policy learning failure is also linked to the meeting in 2003 where the concept
model of governance in place in each attracted considerable attention. As a
partner country (see for example the result, the ETF and its partners agreed to
discussion of the Arab Human adopt policy learning as a tool for
Development Report, 2005). In most supporting national reforms (ETF, 2003a).
partner countries, the process of The rationale given was that “systemic
policymaking is far from transparent. reforms of vocational education and
Policymakers often work with little training will only be successful and
coordination or recourse to policy analysis sustainable if policy development,
and with a low level of consultation and formulation and implementation are firmly
involvement of social partners and civil based on broad ownership and
society. In almost all partner countries, embeddedness in existing institutions”
accountability is to the state rather than to (Grootings, 2004). Thus policy learning is
the general public (World Bank, 2008). This viewed as a source of policy change and
aspect is discussed in more detail in the ownership and as a way of making policy
final section. more effective.

Even when policymakers do try to learn The decision to adopt policy learning as an
from previous experience, the lessons intervention approach was based upon
may be very difficult to spot due to their several assumptions. The first was that
limited knowledge base. Such problems learning paradigms could be used to
will be familiar to many international organise policy learning approaches.


The second was that partner country learning environments and produces
institutions could engage in a policy good learning outcomes (Grootings,
learning process by involving new 2004).
stakeholders and making use of their policy
memory as well as international experience 2.2 The role of partner countries
in the field. The third was that the role of
the ETF would be to facilitate this process. Following several initiatives (see ETF
Yearbook, 2005), the ETF decided to
2.1 Learning paradigms launch a new generation of policy learning
projects in 2007. The idea was to test the
Analysis of policy learning generally policy learning approach and see how far it
focuses on the process of policy change could contribute to VET policy change in
rather than the underlying process of partner countries. Three countries –
learning. The challenge for policy learning Morocco, Kyrgyzstan and Turkey – agreed
was how to get policymakers actively to participate.
learning from local and international
experiences. Grootings (2004) summed up An initial problem was how to translate
the main characteristics of the learning and explain the concept of policy leaning
paradigm as “active learning”. Recent into different languages. Mapping the
theories on learning argue there are many connection between policy learning and
ways people learn apart from simply the process of making policy in each of
receiving information from a teacher. the partner countries constituted a
These hold that learning is first and second hurdle. Chapter 6 explores the
foremost a situated social activity (Lave relationship between the policy process
and Wenger, 1991; Wenger, 1998), that a and policy learning and puts forward
lot of tacit learning takes place which is not some reasons why the actual experience
easy to define or quantify but which is there can often fail to live up to expectations.
when needed (Schön, 1983) and that
learning is dynamic and that good learning
depends on experiential learning (Kolb, 3. THE ETF’S ROLE AS A
Once again Dewey’s theory of experience Although there was a general agreement
can provide useful insight. By seeing that facilitating a policy learning approach
experience as a continuous and highly should be the guiding principle of ETF
interactive process of exchange between interventions (Grootings, 2004, Grootings
individuals and their environment, Dewey & Nielsen, 2006, recent ETF Work
argued that people assign their own Programmes), the question of exactly how
meaning to information. They do so based the ETF should go about this was not
on what they already know and only retain specified. A critical issue for the ETF is
what is relevant for them. By so doing, they that many people see the concepts of
construct their own understanding of reality policy advice and policy learning as
as a basis for action. Different people will interchangeable. I believe there is a
therefore form different interpretations of tension between the two concepts and
the same event and may act differently on what they can offer partner countries in
the basis of the same information. practical terms (Chakroun, 2007).
Although resolving this tension is not a
Theories of learning also argue that question solely for the ETF, the question
learners are more successful at acquiring of whether it is best to use a policy
and using knowledge, skills and attitudes learning approach or offer policy advice is
when they have been actively engaged in crucial: in my opinion, the former can build
the process. This active involvement also a strong sense of ownership and deliver
helps increase their motivation to learn, empowerment as well as learning
making it easier for people to take whereas the latter runs the risk of
responsibility for their own learning. proffering ready-made analysis and, in
So active learning creates conducive some cases, unsolicited advice.


This volume as a whole presents a strong society and researchers. This trend could
argument for continuing to change the role herald an emerging new form of
of the ETF from delivering policy advice governance of the VET system in several
and providing policy solutions to policy partner countries. I will return to this idea
learning interventions that help partner in more detail later.
countries to help themselves.
3.1.2 The content of learning
3.1 Key lessons
Several researchers have mentioned the
There are of course many lessons to be difficulties of pinning down the content of
learned from the analyses and findings in learning in policy learning processes
the following chapters. However some key (Freeman, 2006). In their analysis of
points stand out and could provide several policy learning approaches,
inspiration for future ETF work with partner Bennett and Howlett (1992) stressed that
countries. Four key questions must be “[…] existing theories vary on what this
considered when undertaking a policy object is. While all see learning as the
learning process: general increase of knowledge about
policies, some see this in terms of
n Who are the policy learners? instruments, some in terms of
n What is the content of the learning? programmes, and some in terms of policy
n What are the key actions or processes goals or some combinations of these three
of learning? elements”. Heclo (1974) and Grootings
n What is the impact of policy learning on (2004) believe that to a certain extent what
resulting policies? is learned is policy itself. For Grootings,
“the basic assumption underlying the
3.1.1 Policy learners concept of policy learning is not so much
that policies can be learned but that actual
In his discussion about policy learners, policies are learned policies”. Rose (1991,
Peter Hall (1988, cited in Bennett & 1993) thinks of it in terms of
Howlett, 1992) suggests that both state “lesson-drawing”, where the lesson is “an
and societal actors are the main actors of action-oriented conclusion about a
policy learning. programme or programmes in operation
elsewhere” (1991, p.7).
In Chapter 5, the authors give a broad
description of what they call the Several chapters in Part 1 provide
stakeholder working group and the range examples of two types of learning
of actors – government officials, school contents which broadly correspond to the
managers, local experts and social ones outlined above. The first, closer to
partners – involved in the policy learning the definitions of Heclo and Grootings,
process in the project featured. refers to the actual processes of
policymaking. The second suggests that
Chapter 3 mentions the important role the content learnt consists of mastering
played by practitioners and researchers in capacity building instruments such as
the steering committee involved in impact scenario building, VET policy building
assessment. The role of the newly blocks and how to design VET policy in
re-established Turkish National Committee the case of Kyrgyzstan or how to design
of Teacher Training – a network of key an apprenticeship strategy in the case of
policymakers and practitioners – is likely to Morocco.
be even more significant.
The facilitator’s decision to use capacity
Thus when policy learning is put into building instruments works on the
practice it brings together a wide variety of assumption that institutions lack the
learners. In the some of the most capacity to produce the desired policy or
advanced cases such as Turkey, it has are unable to do so fast enough. The
managed to bring together policymakers, observations of the authors of Chapter 6
practitioners, representatives of civil would seem to back this up. “While the


Task Force members were excellent in learning is situated learning. It also

their analysis, interaction and involvement, involves participating in collaborative
it was difficult for them to move from a activities which in turn involve social and
research format to the actual formulation of intercultural dialogue (Kyrgyzstan) and
the policy and strategy paper, in spite of negotiation (Morocco). In Chapter 4, the
the facilitating efforts of the ETF”, they authors state that peer learning as it is
note. practiced in the Balkans goes much deeper
than policy borrowing and that the resulting
Finally there is also evidence of learning knowledge consists of a great deal more
from past failures from the new Member than merely identifying which policies work
States (see Chapter 7). Some of this and which do not. A last point concerns
evidence is direct from the horse’s mouth. what motivates the learners to engage in
In Part 2, Slavko Gaber, a former such participatory processes and what do
Slovenian education minister, draws they hope to gain from it. Chapter 5
extensively on his first hand experience of provides some insight into this by looking
policymaking and highlights several at the opinions of different members of the
reasons why it was difficult to apply national policy task force. One declaration
lessons from other EU countries. in particular provides a good illustration of
the team’s motivation - “When we are
3.1.3 Learning actions and processes established by the presidential decree, it
will give us authority and influence, but also
Two processes – problem solving and a big responsibility”.
reflection – are to be found throughout this
collection of articles. Although both are The role of policy learning facilitators:
integral parts of the process of learning, Some general observations can be made
they are of a very different nature. on how the policy learning facilitator can
help establish a system to support the
Problem solving policymakers of partner countries in policy
learning. I would argue that almost all
Learning is embedded in complex, real-life chapters show that this system of support
situations: The learning occurs as an will only work if local teams are able to
attempt to solve a real-life problem. The take control over the policy development
needs to design (Kyrgyzstan), develop process. Therefore a successful
(Morocco) or evaluate policy (Turkey) are facilitation is one where the facilitator
what drive the policy learning process gradually relinquishes control. The
rather than the desire to apply abstract facilitator introduces the learners to new
concepts and principles. As Chapter 4 strategies for solving problems. He or she
shows, real collaboration calls for a shared asks questions that the team would not
task where the partners can work together otherwise ask, thereby encouraging them
to produce something none could have to expand their horizons. However several
produced on their own. chapters reveal clear tensions between
the role of facilitator and advisor. There is
Use of a wide range of communication and also a contradiction between the time
collaboration tools: These tools are needed for learning and development and
introduced by policy learning facilitators, the urgent need to develop policy in
experts and peers or are already available partner countries.
in the workplace or the learning
environment. These include scenario Reflection
building, computer-based policy analysis
(Kyrgyzstan), meta-plan tools and Exposure to different points of view and
objectives-based planning (Morocco) and broadening of own viewpoint: There are
self-study documents (the Balkans). several reasons why policy learning can
be seen as a thought-provoking exercise.
Taking part in social dialogue and As has already been mentioned, the
negotiation: The idea put forward by most process of policy learning encourages
of the authors of this collection is that policy people to question their preconceived


ideas by contrasting them with fresh ones. perspectives see policy learning as
Policy learning, particularly when it takes instrumental for policy change. For Raffe
place as part of a peer learning event, is a and Spours (2007), policy learning has an
matter of understanding other systems to impact not only on the policies themselves
better understand your own2. This comes but also on the way they are designed.
over strongly in Chapter 4; where the
authors affirm that paying attention to the As the following chapters show, it is hard to
type of policy to be implemented in a identify or quantify how much policy
particular country context and to the change is due to policy learning. However,
people involved in implementation I would argue that the evidence on how it
increases policymakers’ understanding of changes the way policy is made is much
how different aspects of policies, people clearer.
and places interact and combine in
particular ways to shape implementation n Kyrgyzstan: Chapter 5 provides clear
processes and outcomes. Feedback and evidence of changes to the method of
observations from policymakers from policymaking. In Kyrgyzstan, as in other
neighbouring countries on national policy former Soviet republics, there was little
issues in VET support self-reflection and experience of policymaking as this had
better understanding of the specificities of previously been done centrally in
their own systems. Moscow. As a result of policy learning, a
new VET policy task force involving new
Dismantling myths: Participants in the stakeholders was set up by the Kyrgyz
Balkan case see the policy learning government.
exercise as a way to dismantle the myth of n Morocco: In spite of the negative verdict
the superiority of EU VET systems and to on some of the political dimensions of
learn from neighbours. This was not the the work done, the depth of consultation
case of the Kyrgyz team who had access and cooperation established between
to “too many visions” when they drafted departments represents a major
their policy paper. In this case, as pointed achievement for the policy learning
out in Chapter 6, looking at too many initiative.
policies prevented them from seeing the n Turkey: The main conclusion of Chapter 3
characteristics of their own system “It starts is that policy moved, through the impact
and ends with visions and principles spiced assessment approach to a space – the
with different concepts taken from agora – where not only politics are
documents related to the EU VET policy important but practitioners’ actions and
framework, and fails to integrate and build research activities are too.
on available national evidence,” note the
authors. The present discussion is still ongoing.
This volume is based on a small number of
3.1.4 The impact on policy examples, some of which are still
underway. It is also true that more time
Bennett and Howlett (1992) believe the must pass before we can really assess the
impact of policy learning should be results of policy learning processes. What
measured in terms of change to policy. then is needed to reach a more definite
They note that most people believe that conclusion? I believe there are many
policy learning does not occur “unless grounds for suggesting policy learning
there is some kind of policy change which produces a better outcome than
results from that learning process” (p.285). conventional policy advice.
Other academics (Olsen and Peters, 1996
cited in Raffe and Spours, 2007, p.4) find it First, using a policy learning approach sets
easier to look at policy learning in terms of the scene for a collaborative model of
the outcomes of resulting policy and infer policymaking, as described by Raffe and
that successful learning has taken place if Spours (2007). Most chapters in this
these policies produce good results. Both volume highlight the ability of policy

2 As Goethe said on learning languages, “Who does not know a foreign language does not know anything
about his own language”, Kunst und Alterthum


learning to engage a wide range of between the time needed for learning and
stakeholders from the public sector the urgent need to develop policy and
(including policymakers and practitioners), between the role of facilitator and
the private sector and civil society in advisor. Several chapters call for longer
general. To varying degrees, all chapters timescales for policy learning or, as Raffe
share a view of policy learning as a and Spours (2007, p.226) put it,
collective enterprise which leads to a more “recognition that policymaking schedules
democratic process of consultation and should reflect the needs of policy learning
greater ownership. as well as political and administrative
Second, policy learning is also about
developing national capacity to lead As for the relationship between policy
reforms. Capacity building occurs through learning and policy change, the different
learning to use different instruments such chapters do not provide conclusive
as scenario building or impact evaluation. It evidence that participating in policy
can also draw in new stakeholders such as learning processes causes policy goals to
social partners, researchers or practitioners change. However they do describe clear
and help them move from the periphery to changes in the way policies are made.
the centre of policymaking (Lave and Among these are including new
Wenger, 1991). stakeholders, promoting more democratic
decision-making and collaboration and
Third, it would seem logical to expect that introducing new tools to support
an active learning process which policymaking.
encourages interaction, collaboration and
reflection will also promote a better Policy change is difficult to achieve and
understanding of policy issues and lead to difficult to quantify. The strength of policy
better designed policies. learning interventions in the cases
described was that in some cases it
encouraged stakeholders to get actively
4. CONCLUSIONS involved in steering the process and
develop their own understanding of policy
Policy learning processes are powerful issues. Using a policy learning approach
tools for promoting collaboration between paves the way for a new model of
different stakeholders and sharing governance. By promoting the kind of
experiences. As we have seen, they also active learning which is an intrinsic part of
encourage situated problem solving and a policy learning process, it also helps to
reflection. This is especially important build national capacities. It is clear that
when the aim is to develop national policy learning has plenty to teach us here
capacity to lead processes of reform. at the ETF and that we still need to further
explore its richness. It is also clear that it
Nevertheless policy learning inevitably can make a valuable contribution to
sets up different kinds of tension: facilitating the policy debate in partner
between the process and the end result, countries.

Gérard Mayen

1. INTRODUCTION A brief description of the Jordanian

education landscape and reform efforts is
“Policy learning refers to a ‘change in followed by a section on the increasing
thinking’, not just any change in thinking, role played by social partners in the
but a structured, conscious change in design of new policies in technical and
thinking about a specific policy issue.” This vocational education (TVET). Next, the
definition provided by René Kemp and ETF’s role as policy learning facilitator is
Rifka Weehuizen (2005) refers mainly to described along with a comprehensive
the process that governments (meaning picture of the work it is doing in Jordan,
the public sector) may develop to deal with particularly though the identification of
policy changes. critical factors and reflections on action
(Schön, 1983). There are several tensions
In this chapter, the term ‘policy learning’ is in the policy learning facilitation
understood as a process where processes, such as that between process
policymakers progressively learn to take and products, and between advising and
full and conscious account of the facilitating. The final part looks at the role
importance of their own role including the of the ETF in the landscape of donors
role of newcomers meaning the social intervening in Jordan.
partners, in the reform process. Hence, the
extent to which new stakeholders are
involved in the management of sector 2. THE TVET POLICY AGENDA
reform is a reflection of how policy learning IN JORDAN
is happening. ‘Policy learning facilitation’ is
taken to be the process in which Jordan is engaged in a set of policy initiatives
international assistance genuinely helps grouped under one policy umbrella, the
countries to develop and implement their National Agenda The Jordan we strive for,
own reform policies. which aims at modernising the public sector


and administration to make Jordan a that its drivers (particularly new drivers such
knowledge society able to cope with the as social partners) are where they belong: in
effects of globalisation. This ambitious reform the driving seat. Furthermore, to extend the
programme set targets for the period from analogy, they also need to have a suitable
2006 to 2015. driving licence.

The National Agenda identified, among other This poses two major challenges: first, the
issues, several labour market and TVET resistance of the public system to accept
challenges and targets that cover: the new stakeholders as drivers, and
(i) reducing unemployment; (ii) absorbing the second, their lack of capacity to take on
annual inflow of new job seekers (projected this responsibility. Both of these challenges
to grow at 4% per annum); and (iii) increasing have been considered and are now at the
the participation of women in the labour heart of the policy learning activities
market. This is combined with the need to initiated by the ETF in Jordan. These
develop the capacity of enterprises activities are carried out in the form of a
(particularly small and medium sized ones) to cascading participatory approach of
adapt to technological changes and provide stakeholders from a wide arena (public,
quality products in a globalised market. In this private, non-governmental sectors and to
context, the Ministry of Labour has been some extent, donors).
given the mandate to lead the employment
and TVET strands of the National Agenda.
In parallel, the Ministry of Education through PROCESS
the Education Reform for the Knowledge
Economy project (ERfKE) and the Ministry of Policy learning activities were developed to
Higher Education through the Higher serve the parts of Jordan’s reform agenda
Education Reform for the Knowledge that aimed at developing a knowledge
Economy project (HERfKE) are engaged in economy based on the quality of its human
wide scale reforms. Both ministries deal with capital.
the segments of technical and vocational
education within their jurisdictions. 4.1 Task forces

The first step in this process was to ensure

3. EMERGING NEW that participants would, as much as
GOVERNANCE MODEL possible, be those who have a direct
impact on institutional and sector policies.
In Jordan, the development of human capital Continuity was an important consideration
is now considered in a lifelong perspective. because understanding and knowledge
The main challenge of the reforms is the had to be shared by each party at every
development of individual competences that step of the process.
respond to the needs of labour market.
Leading the reform is seen as the collective The participatory approach had a twofold
responsibility of a large set of actors ranging objective. The first was to build
from policymakers, funders, employers and partnerships among people with different
employees, and training, information and backgrounds and views so that they could
guidance providers. learn to work together. The second was to
build a common vision on the basis of past
The core assumption is that human capital experience, new ideas and strategic plans.
development can no longer remain only in
the hands of public decision-makers. Hence, 4.2 Subjects and objects of learning
consensus among the main stakeholders
has been reached to pursue a TVET sector Together with the Ministry of Labour and
reform that gives more responsibility to the under its leadership, the ETF developed and
private sector and social partners. The delivered several forms of learning activities
argument developed is that a targeting different types of learners and
demand-driven TVET system has to ensure aiming at different types of learning.


1. Technical learning. These learning 2007 where stakeholders revised a strategy

activities have led to the development of that was prepared by the National Centre of
instruments needed to better govern Human Resources Development in the late
TVET sector reform (such as monitoring 1990s. Participants included donors and
indicators, a mid-term expenditure public, private and social partners who
framework and others), and awareness interacted in round table discussions.
raising about the sector-wide approach.
The primary targets were operational This exercise had a double objective: to
staff from the Ministry of Labour and provide stakeholders with strategic
system governors. information and regional and international
experiences in shifting from a supply-driven
2. Conceptual learning. This was directed to a demand-driven TVET model considering
at a very wide range of stakeholders. It employment as a key issue, and to
included the presentation of the major incorporate their views (thus strengthening
concepts and strategies needed to their ownership) in the development of a new
manage a sector reform where the vision in a participatory process.
private sector and social partners play
an important role. It helped learners to A team of ETF experts facilitated the technical
identify the crucial elements required by proceedings and the introduction of current
a strategy to create a quality-oriented reform concepts, such as quality assurance,
TVET sector. qualification frameworks and information
systems, which were rather new for some of
3. Social learning. This primarily targeted the stakeholders. However, policy learning
newcomers such as social partners facilitation involves more than this. It also
and, to some extent, private sector and involves linking these new concepts to a
public training providers who had to national institutional context. The ETF team
learn to take new responsibilities, adopt helped Jordanian counterparts to look at new
new ways of interaction, and become concepts in the context of their own national
familiar with policy approaches. system, assessing the role of stakeholders as
well as the technical processes and the
These different learning processes were implications of the envisaged change.
organised taking into account the main
principles of policy learning as applied by The following vision was elaborated:
the ETF. It helped partners in Jordan to
learn from their past experiences, learn
from other countries and learn from doing The vision for the Employment and
(Grootings, 2004). Technical and Vocational Education and
Training (E-TVET) sector is to raise the
4.3 Learning from the past to inform the efficiency of the sector in accordance
future with the government vision to develop
Jordan as a knowledge economy to meet
At the request of the EC Delegation in the needs of the labour market, to secure
Amman, in 2006 the ETF prepared a report the employment of the Jordanian
called TVET in Jordan, areas for workforce and to contribute to the
development cooperation (ETF, 2006). The development of Jordan’s human capital
purpose of this report was to assess the in line with lifelong learning principles.
system of technical and vocational
education and training (TVET) in Jordan, The overall objective of the E-TVET sector
learn from past experience, identify the main reform is to provide the Jordanian labour
challenges, and suggest priorities for market with the required competences to
external cooperation. Based on the findings support the growth of the economy and
of the report considered as a key enhance the competitiveness of Jordanian
background document by stakeholders, the enterprises3.
ETF facilitated a series of workshops in

3 Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Council,
Employment-Technical and Vocational Education and Training (E-TVET) Sector Reform Document, May


Subsequently, based on the same improves coordination and generates more

partnership approach and directly connected effective support to commonly agreed
to the strategy, a five-year sector reform priorities. As one example, the World Bank
action plan (2007-2012) was elaborated in and the Canadian International
the form of a logical framework. Development Agency4 have aligned their
activities to the sector reform action plan
4.4 Learning for the future which they had thoroughly contributed to
through the process explained above. The
Following the workshops, a Technical ETF’s role in sector reform is regularly
Committee composed of public and private mentioned in World Bank documents5.
representatives was formed which
reviewed in detail all expected sector
reform results and translated them into a 6. POLICY ADVICE AND
detailed action plan with a number of POLICY LEARNING
activities linked to each of the FACILITATION
stakeholders. The ETF supported their
work with regular review meetings that At the beginning of this chapter, the ETF’s
continually emphasised the implications of role was described as the facilitator of a
the new vision and action plans on the policy learning process. This does not
work of different institutions and cover the ETF’s work in Jordan entirely
stakeholders. The sector reform action plan though. A ‘companion’ principle was
was presented and approved by the TVET applied: the learning process was mutual
Council in August 2007. and, if policy learning activities have had
some impact on the system, the ETF as a
All public institutions then set-up their own whole has gained considerable knowledge
technical committees to translate the sector of the sectors, culture, society and people
reform action plan to their own situation. of Jordan.
One interesting result of the entire exercise
is the way in which the participatory The ETF team’s role in Jordan was heavily
process initiated by the ETF has taken hold influenced by earlier experiences working
in Jordan. It is now common to invite other alongside diverse ‘companions’ in different
stakeholders to review plans and actions, contexts. The basic assumption was that
while referring to the sector reform action ETF support should be inversely related to
plan has become second nature. The the competences of the Jordanian
social partners themselves are showing counterparts: the more difficulty they had in
increasing interest in discussing the issues achieving a goal or delivering a product, the
linked to human capital development, to the more ETF support was needed and vice
extent that two of them (the Chamber of versa.
Industry and the General Federation of
Jordan Trade Unions) have now asked the This introduces the interesting metaphor of
ETF for support in internal capacity ‘scaffolding’ that was first used by Bruner
development. (1985). He described scaffolding as a type
of support that enables an individual to
solve a problem, carry out a task or
5. DONOR COORDINATION achieve a goal which would be beyond his
abilities without assistance.
Donors are now asked to match their
planned support to the reference numbers Bruner proposed scaffolding as an
of the sector reform action plan. important tutoring function. Of course,
Encouragingly, they have appeared more policy facilitation is not tutoring of
than willing to do so. This significantly students, but nevertheless the concept of

4 The World Bank through the implementation of its Jordan Employer Driven Skills Development Project that
started early in 2008 and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) through the
implementation of the BEST project.
5 See Jordan Employer Driven Skills Development Project, World Bank preparation and pre-appraisal mission,
22 August-20 September 2007.


scaffolding has been used by several donors), and on the other hand staff in
researchers when analysing adult training charge of implementing the reform
(Mayen, 1999; Kuningel, 2007) and might process.
be an appropriate frame in which to
analyse the activity of ETF staff and This coincided with other ETF interventions
experts in charge of facilitating the through different projects such as the
learning process. Policymakers in partner Observatory Function, the National
countries can be regarded as policy Qualification Framework Project, Social
learners (Grootings, 2004) and policy Partnership, and MEDA-ETE6 activities that
learning can be facilitated by creating a all contributed to the policy learning process
relevant support system. Bruner et al. among stakeholders. The key challenge was
(2006) developed detailed descriptions of to apply the same principles of policy learning
an interactive system of exchange in to all interventions. This required the
which “the tutor operates with an implicit coordination of all activities as well as close
theory of the learner’s acts in order to communication with local and international
recruit his attention, reduces degrees of consultants working on behalf of the ETF.
freedom in the task to manageable limits,
maintains ‘direction’ in the By contributing to the development of
problem-solving, marks critical features, policy papers for the minister and preparing
controls frustration, and demonstrates conceptual steps to develop the new
solutions when the learner can recognise governance model mentioned above,
them” (p. 207). ministry staff became involved in all steps.
They also gradually became more involved
Bruner and his team (Wood, Bruner and in drafting the actual documents.
Ross, 1976; Wood, 1980) demonstrated
that where support is contingent on the ETF interventions looked at process and
activities of the individual and related to staff skills, as well as the constraints of the
what the individual is currently trying to do, policy agenda.
then considerable progress may be made.
The process aimed at creating a support
system for staff to help them to develop
7. POLICY FACILITATION AS A and master new concepts and develop
SCAFFOLDING PROCESS their capacity to manage teams to discuss
those concepts and turn them into action.
In addition to and in parallel with the The Jordanian staff have taken increasing
support provided to the participatory responsibility for the process including
discussions described above, the ETF presenting at and facilitating meetings. The
contribution to policy learning also included ETF’s initial role is now entirely in the
capacity building activities for Ministry of hands of the team members. A direct
Labour staff, developing a management positive consequence is the improvement
structure within the ministry to deal with the of staff skills in drafting policy documents.
reform process, contributing to policy
document preparations and participating in As an example, during a two-day
a large number of technical committees. Stakeholder Workshop in Aqaba in May
2008, several staff members prepared and
As agreed between the ETF and the made their own content-related
Ministry of Labour, an ETF staff member presentations to a high level stakeholder
(the author of this chapter) was seconded audience (including the minister), facilitated
to the latter as a policy advisor to share all workshops and reported back using
and transfer knowledge for the benefit of a computerised tools. Also by being invited to
wide range of audiences: on one hand high participate in donor missions, meetings and
level policymakers (the minister and stakeholder working groups, staff had more
secretary-general, but in practice also and more opportunities to deliver
executive staff of other stakeholders presentations, provide information and
institutions, key social partners and contribute to the knowledge building of

6 More information on these initiatives is available on ETF website:


stakeholders themselves – both on specific sector expected to be used by the E-TVET

concepts and general reform issues. Council as decision-making support tools. It
is expected to become a regular publication
A pressing policy agenda meant that that serves the decision-making process. The
learning activities were combined with the ETF now acts only as a supporting agent,
production and delivery of policy notes, with most of the work prepared by Jordanian
policy presentations and discussions both contributors.
with national stakeholders and international
donors. Again, the skills of the Jordanian
colleagues and the quality of the 8. THE EFFECTS OF POLICY
deliverables they produced improved to the LEARNING
extent that they became self-sufficient.
Evaluating the impact of learning activities
For example, one urgent and fundamental is always critical. This article has neither
task was supporting the ministry in defining the space nor the intention of doing this.
the new governance and sector reform Nevertheless, some elements give an
management structure, based on a indication of how the processes presented
process calling for more effectiveness in above have contributed to the reform.
decision making. This ranged from
describing the sector to defining in detail n Previously not considered new concepts
the mechanisms that govern the are now embedded in the strategy
implementation and monitoring of the documents, conceptually shared by
sector reform. This process required broad stakeholders and put into action. These
consultations with public and private include concepts such as information
stakeholders and donors before results systems, social partnership, quality
were presented to decision makers. assurance, entrepreneurship, a national
Throughout this iterative process, qualification framework, public-private
knowledge was shared with ministry staff partnership and centres of excellence.
regarding new concepts. Views of Their adoption is illustrated by the fact
stakeholders were seriously taken into that policymakers are openly
consideration to ensure that a smooth mentioning their willingness to
implementation of the process would be in implement them and better connect with
line with local traditions. A collaborative other actors (other ministries) at the
approach was initially adopted for certain same political level.
matters so as to gradually develop a body n Participatory methodologies introduced
of knowledge that eventually enabled the by the ETF are now in place in most
Jordanian counterparts to deal with policy institutions. This indicates the change in
issues in a more constructive way the way public institutions look at the
themselves. role of social partners and their potential
contribution to the reform process.
Another example concerns unemployment n Social partners are progressively being
data analysis followed by the publication of granted new powers in policymaking
a report that was co-published by the ETF and the implementation process.
and the National Centre for Human Nevertheless, they are not yet prepared
Resources Development7 in the context of a and lack the adequate support for their
project called the Observatory Function new roles. Moving from the periphery to
project. A permanent Technical Committee the centre of the reform process entails
has met for several years now and after several steps: they must learn to
having defined the indicators and collected conceptually clarify new concepts and
the necessary data, it finalised the develop their own (conscious)
above-mentioned report. The Technical representation of what they can
Committee is currently in the process of contribute. They also need to develop
finalising two reports on key indicators the instruments and mechanisms to
(quantitative and qualitative) for the TVET deal with this new mandate. A key

7 Unemployment in Jordan, by Gérard Mayen, Christine Guégnard, Xavier Matheu and Musa Shteiwi, ETF,


private sector social partner said that The purpose of this chapter was not to
his institution “had understood the portray the ETF as a lone advocate of
crucial role of human resources policy learning. The ETF is only one of the
development and its readiness to adapt contributors to this process. Policy learning
its structure to deal with it”. Another is a long-term process that has now been
example comes from a key launched and will be improved through a
representative from the General large variety of interventions and
Federation of Jordanian Trade Unions, mechanisms. Many other interventions
who questioned why his institution had contribute to policy learning and help
not been invited to the Parliament to Jordanian counterparts to build the human
discuss the TVET law. Both of them are resource development system that works
members of the Reform Steering best for them. Compared to technical
Committee and have participated in an assistance from donors, the ETF
ETF study visit to the EU to learn more contribution is very limited in terms of
about social partnerships. A final resources. Nevertheless, the ETF has
example concerns the awareness added value that few other institutions can
among social partners of the need for demonstrate: the broad expertise of its staff
further capacity building before a place and the thorough knowledge of EU policies
in the ‘driving seat’ can be legitimately in the sector.
claimed. It is illustrated by a request to
the ETF from three social partners to be
supported in building internal capacities. 10. CONCLUSION
In this chapter, ‘policy learning’ has been
9. LEARNING BENEFITS FOR considered as a process where
THE ETF policymakers have progressively learnt to
take account of the importance of their own
Policy learning is not a ‘one-way trip’. It is role including the role of new comers
about collective learning. It should aim to meaning the social partners, in the reform
be, and thought of afterwards as a win-win process. It has enabled the social partners
experience. A number of positive returns to move progressively from the periphery to
on investment for Jordanian stakeholders the centre of decision-making processes.
have been outlined above. For the ETF The effect of policy learning on
the learning process has been a rich policymaking processes has been
experience which provides a deeper described while the difficulties of such a
knowledge of the internal functions of a learning process both for government and
partner country TVET sector (the technical social partners has been highlighted.
learning). It has given an increased
understanding of strategy and Although identifying and analysing effects
coordination mechanisms among of policy learning on policies is difficult,
stakeholders and an indication of there are several indicators of a change in
subsequent levers to act on (the the policy goals through the linking of TVET
conceptual learning). It has and will help with socio-economic development and
to build initiatives with a good knowledge competitiveness. Furthermore, there has
of the cultural environment and also been a change in the way policies in
relationships (social learning). It also TVET are informed and led particularly
provides opportunities to support the through the systematic participatory
development of tailored solutions built on approach and increased involvement of
the latest and most advanced concepts. social partners.
It opens the door for new networks and
partnerships. Through the exchange of ‘Policy learning facilitation’ has also been
experience and conceptual confrontation described as the process whereby
the ETF is able to participate in the international assistance genuinely helps
development of models which are truly countries to develop and implement their
targeted to the specific needs of a own reform policies. Beyond suggesting
country. that support must be tailored to the needs


of partner countries, the facilitation role has carefully at the processes of policymaking
been portrayed using the scaffolding in Jordan and to pay attention to its role as
metaphor. Facilitators should regulate their policy advisor with the aim of helping
support in terms of their counterparts’ people help themselves. In the end, it is a
abilities and capacities. question of moving from the position which
acknowledges the need for policy advice to
It has been the policy learning approaches one which actively recognises the
which have led the ETF to look more importance of collaboration and learning.

Søren Nielsen, Outi Kärkkäinen,
Recep Varcin and Arjen Vos

1. INTRODUCTION innovative approach that combines a sharp

focus on the organisation of policy learning
Turkey has undergone tremendous platforms with the facilitation of wider
changes in recent years and the education learning processes around an evaluation
system in particular is undergoing radical activity may create enhanced ownership
reform. Many foreign donors are active in and horizontal network learning. It may
the country and there is a wealth of policy lead to a policy process that yields more
proposals available for policymakers and consistent follow-up decision-making with
stakeholders. But ongoing change stronger stakeholder involvement.
processes are so dynamic that valuable
achievements risk not being taken forward. The concept of policy learning was
The challenge for policymakers is to developed in a critical discussion about
establish policy chains that can transform more traditional approaches to policy
policies into new practice. The fundamental transfer and policy copying (Grootings and
question, however, remains: how do we get Nielsen (eds), 2005). It emphasises not
things to happen on the ground? only the involvement but the active
engagement of national stakeholders in
This chapter discusses whether new forms developing their own policy solutions based
of evaluation of major foreign on the understanding that there are simply
donor-financed projects can help to ensure no valid models but a wealth of
that reform achievements are consolidated, international experience in dealing with
taken forward, and translated into improved similar policy issues in other contexts. The
decision-making with a potential for concept has major implications for foreign
changed practice within a national policy assistance and in particular for the role that
learning perspective. It is argued that an individual and institutional policy advisers


can and should play in their cooperation arguments developed and lessons learnt
with colleagues in partner countries. for future work towards a more dynamic
and proactive use of project and
Policy learning is sharing experience from programme evaluations.
the past to develop knowledge for the
future. It also covers the distillation of
knowledge from other countries and 2. THE MVET PROJECT:
knowledge that is produced locally into new REFORM OF THE OVERALL
knowledge. It contributes to creating ORGANISATION OF
coherent system-wide reforms that fit into a VOCATIONAL TEACHER
local context and it facilitates system-deep TRAINING IN TURKEY
reforms of VET systems because it
enables all stakeholders to learn new roles As one among very few transition
and develop new working routines. countries, Turkey has perceived the reform
Developing concrete approaches that can of its vocational teacher training system as
make policy learning work in practice is a a central part of general VET reforms. A
challenging task. The ETF, working in a project focussing on general VET reforms
privileged position at the interface between (SVET) and the Modernisation of
research and practice, can take such Vocational Education and Training (MVET)
approaches forward as a mediating agency project sought synergy through a common
between the two fields. Targeted impact monitoring committee.
analysis could be yet another tool for policy
learning, if properly designed and The MVET project focused on the
conducted in a participatory approach. improvement of the quality and relevance
of vocational teacher training in Turkey and
Reform of the organisation of vocational was designed to address the following
teacher education is an essential part of needs:
overall VET reform in Turkey. The design
of such systemic vocational teacher n to strengthen cooperation between the
education reform offers many angles for employer of vocational teachers (the
discussion. For analytical purposes, we will Ministry of National Education) and the
approach the activity from two provider of vocational teacher training
perspectives. Both are central to the (the Higher Education Council in charge
argument developed here. First the of university education, known as YÖK);
innovative design and results of an impact n to ensure that vocational teachers have
analysis of the EU-funded vocational relevant pedagogical skills as well as
teacher training reform project, skills related to the world of work;
Modernisation of Vocational Education and n to link vocational teacher training to an
Training (MVET), is analysed. Then the overall framework for human resources
extent to which evaluations can provide a development in Turkey, including pre
meaningful and proactive contribution to and in-service training;
policy learning, rather than serving merely n to align Turkish vocational teacher
as accountability functions delivered post training more closely to the EU.
festum, is discussed.
The EU funded project, implemented from
The rationale behind the choice of the July 2003 to December 2006, had a total
evaluation model is examined, then the budget of €14 million.
specific impact assessment model is spelt
out in detail. Selected findings and The project had three key outputs. Firstly it
recommendations on vocational teacher produced ten occupational standards and
training policy are presented, leading to the modular curricula for pre-service technical
description and analysis of learning priority areas and a teacher qualification
platforms that are deliberately built into the framework based on five in-service
impact analysis design, along with an modules. Secondly, the staff of 14
assessment of their potential for policy vocational teacher training faculties were
learning. Finally, the chapter sums up the trained to introduce and implement the


Quality Assurance Framework for assessments of educational research

Vocational Teacher Training (QATT). pointing out that its relevance for practice
Furthermore, the project also contributed to and policymaking is often too modest
the development of the “policies and (OECD, 1995 and 2004).
strategies of vocational teacher training”,
which identified the need for significant Science and practice often don’t talk the
changes to the structure of vocational same language. They have different codes.
teacher training courses. The strategy Practitioners are mostly concerned with
recommends a move towards a one year practice, educational science is mostly
consecutive pedagogical course for concerned with theory, and therefore
prospective vocational teachers who have scientists and practitioners often find it
the minimum qualifications and experience difficult to communicate. The task of
identified by the Ministry of National scientists is to produce new knowledge or
Education. Moreover, vocational teacher new recognition – they seek the truth. The
graduate qualifications need to be clarified task of educationalists is to qualify lifelong
and linked to the labour market, because at learners who can master and accumulate
present only 5% of graduates get jobs as important and valuable knowledge and
vocational teachers. The paper also skills as defined by society. In practical
proposes reviving the ‘sleeping’ vocational terms, they seek to make things work.
teacher training committee as an advisory
body that should link the policies of YÖK Researchers, policymakers and
and the Ministry of National Education. practitioners share a common
commitment to developing more efficient
education systems, however they have
3. KNOWLEDGE CREATION distinct knowledge needs. Interaction
AND THE USE AND between and within the three
MEDIATION OF KNOWLEDGE communities is made complex by their
– A CHALLENGE FOR different priorities, agendas and time
EVALUATIONS perspectives. Practitioners typically look
for empirical evidence offering clear and
What really matters in countries in precise answers that can be applied.
transition is supporting and encouraging Politicians typically look for research
initiatives and organising change results that are presented in such a way
processes. Open approaches to that they can be used for politics and
understanding change are therefore decision-making8. In educational policy
important as these may better help us to and practice we need to reduce the
assess development oriented practices and ‘application gap’ that separates theory
design future policies that are adequate for from practice and devise new
the country in question. mechanisms for the implementation of
research findings by policymakers and
Traditional evaluation projects run by practitioners9.
external education or VET scientists will
not by themselves be of sufficient help in In recent years attempts have been made
the dynamic processes of transition if to overcome this challenge. In
they are based on linear thinking about “Re-Thinking Science: Knowledge and the
theory and practice. Indeed, the links Public in an Age of Uncertainty” (Nowotny
between scientific research, development et al., 2001) a distinction is made between
work and practice have been called into ‘mode 1’ – research corresponding to
question in recent years. During the last traditional scientific knowledge production
decade, the OECD has made critical and ‘mode 2’ – research which is a new

8 These key challenges to improve the relationship between research, policy and practice in education and
training within the European Union and to improve the effectiveness of the knowledge ‘continuum’ cycle is a
concern of all EU countries. See: Commission Staff Working Document, Towards more knowledge-based
policy and practice in education and training, SEC(2007) 1098.
9 Symposium “Knowledge for Action – Research Strategies for an Evidence-based Education Policy”,
28-30 March 2007 in Frankfurt/Main, during Germany’s EU Presidency.


way of producing knowledge. It is argued There is an echo of this approach in the

that the ‘mode 2’ concept is expanding evaluation experiences that derive from the
because of the increasing need for work carried out by the Tavistock Institute
interaction between science and other of Human Relations (Stern, 1989), which
social sectors such as economy, politics, has been described as ‘developmental
education etc. evaluation’. It seeks to carry out evaluative
activities in a way that can also contribute
‘Mode 2’ research emphasises the to the development of a particular scheme,
involvement of both researchers and programme or policy. The purpose of
practitioners in the knowledge production developmental evaluation is learning,
process. The authors argue that ‘mode 2’ improvement and development rather than
research is contextualised in a new generating reports and summative
public arena which they call agora10. judgments for external audiences and
Research has moved from operating in accountability12.
isolation to the agora – a place where the
market and politics meet and are mixed, A developmental approach to evaluation
and where private emotions and opinion involves a number of components. First, it
meet public opinion and political offers those evaluated a voice in shaping
consensus. Such contexts, which the the evaluation agenda. It is important that
authors call ‘transaction spaces’, have those directly involved are able to see the
many similarities to the field of contribution that evaluation can make to
educational research, and the concept their future development. Second, it
has also found considerable resonance involves an active feedback policy:
in education11. This ‘school’ is very feedback should be provided and
interesting for the ETF, as its main target discussed on a regular basis throughout
is not to produce new knowledge per se the evaluation process. Third, a
but to build on, communicate and developmental approach incorporates
increasingly ensure that knowledge is a implementation. Experience shows that
guide for practice. unless early decisions are made about
how to use the results, follow-up actions
It is argued that in many applications the cannot be taken for granted. Therefore,
former hard truth ideal of science is no the eventual implementation is considered
longer functional because today knowledge from the outset and built into the design of
production is distributed widely among an the evaluation. Fourth, it requires a
increasing number of knowledge commitment to action research, where the
environments. process of undertaking an evaluation is
itself seen as a legitimate subject for
From this it follows that a lot can be gained study, because the actual transactions
by stimulating local capacity for carrying out among evaluators and programme
‘accompanying’ research that is closely participants may often affect the findings.
related to policy learning activities. We will Patton (2002) argues that in many cases
have to accept the – in principle – the specific findings can be secondary to
open-ended nature of this research as a the more general learning that results from
consequence of the complexities of being involved in the process. He calls
countries in transition. Such research must this “process use” as opposed to “findings
be inclusive and involve practitioners as use”.
well as researchers in social learning
processes as they are all involved in Against the backdrop of this discussion, an
producing knowledge. agora model in line with ‘mode 2’ research
10 In the ancient Greek city-states, the agora was the place of public (political) assembly, typically a market
square or another central location.
11 Learning Lab Denmark is inspired by the ‘mode 2’ concept and its annual conference is called Agora.
12 Formative and summative are the most basic and classic distinctions in evaluation. “Developmental
evaluations” can be regrouped under formative evaluations. Formative evaluations, in contrast to summative
ones, serve the purpose of improving a specific programme, policy or product and aim at forming (shaping)
the thing to be studied. In developmental evaluation the use of the process of evaluation for capacity building
is given a particular emphasis.


will be developed and applied to a specific Another strategic choice agreed with
and concrete case, the Modernisation of Turkish key players and the EC Delegation
Vocational Education and Training (MVET) was to use the impact analysis as a
project in Turkey. In the efforts to enable learning platform for launching a policy
the use of new knowledge produced and learning activity by building the analytical
effective mediation, researchers, focus of the impact analysis on a ‘policy’
policymakers, practitioners, beneficiaries logic and not on the MVET pilot project
and donor agencies are brought together in logic.
the arena – the agora – where each has
something to learn and teach. Policymakers and practitioners in Turkey
pointed out that one possible hurdle was
the fact that the Ministry of National
4. THE APPROACH TO THE Education does not have a developed
MVET IMPACT ANALYSIS vocational teacher training policy. This
applied to the evaluation as much as it had
A fundamental question that affects many to the actual implementation of the MVET
evaluative assessments is: who is the project. The main emphasis therefore had
client? The approach to the impact to be put on the project’s policy and
assessment of the MVET project in Turkey strategy component (component 4).
was therefore carefully discussed with the
EC Delegation, key Ministry of National Key players in Turkey suggested
Education (MONE) actors and senior structuring the impact analysis around the
representatives from the Council for Higher policy and strategy paper, starting from the
Education (YÖK) at meetings in Ankara practical, pragmatic MVET white paper
between 7 and 10 May 2007. It was agreed recommendations and involving key
that the activity should be development policymakers and stakeholders in forward
oriented and focus on how MVET project looking discussions. The entire process
results can be taken forward by the was anchored around the Steering Group.
Ministry of National Education and YÖK in
their development of further policies and in However, a short, descriptive, analytical
ensuring that valuable results are actually and evaluative survey of the project design
implemented. and its achievements also needed to be
produced. This was mainly done by local
The approach was based on a policy experts who worked together with ETF staff
learning philosophy, where national using questionnaires, interviews,
ownership, fit into context and sustainability observations and semi-structured panel
are important. The current situation, the discussions. These tools were designed
next targets, and the kind of support and developed together with the Steering
needed to reach these targets were focal Group members, most of whom were key
points. Within the spirit of the agora as project beneficiaries in technical education
outlined above, the ETF and all project faculties. The data collection process itself
stakeholders and shareholders worked was also meant to constitute a learning
together step-by-step. arena where researchers, teacher trainers,
project implementation units and
To ensure national ownership, a Steering administrators put forward their ideas on
Group was set up that could link the the objective of the project and on the
assessment to other planned national future policy development and
vocational teacher training events, known implementation.
as VET TT events, such as the ETF
development project on teaching and
learning, the ETF Peer Learning Activity in 5. THE IMPACT ANALYSIS
Turkey and the development of a national MODEL
vocational teacher training network that
helps Turkey to play a stronger role in Education evaluation comprises different
Cedefop’s similar network. disciplines. It often has many masters to


serve and encompasses different often a major barrier to drawing reliable

approaches. Monitoring has a chronicling conclusions from evaluations which focus
and appraising function, while evaluating on single projects.
ex-post involves making a retrospective
judgment, measuring already existing Knowledge of what actually happened in a
phenomena. Impact analysis is a forward project is above all a resource for useful
looking activity based on retrospective input into its ongoing development. The
analysis with a prospective purpose. This is systematic follow-up of project results
a particular type of assessment whose (sustainability) and the programming of the
results are meant to be taken forward. next phase of activities (strategic planning)
are therefore clear priorities for Turkey.
The following understanding or definition of
assessment was used for the MVET The impact analysis approach can be
evaluation task: Impact analysis is carried illustrated in the following model:
out to determine the significance or value
of something by careful appraisal and What is the What are What follows
study. It is a development process that project the project from the
enlightens the specific policies, processes about? results? project?
and practice of its stakeholders and
Aims (needs Outputs Consequences
contributes to collective learning. indicators) (output (impact
Objectives indicators): indicators)
Two general objectives of assessments or (performance l Targets l Impact
evaluations can be differentiated: indicators) analysis
l Results
accountability and improvement. l Policy
Accountability relates to inspection l Products/
Deliverables learning
exercises, which seek justification for the options
activities undertaken. They should look at l Follow-up
whether best value was achieved for the
money invested and provide a measuring
stick for judging the activity. The objective Although they were covered, the MVET
of improvement, in contrast, aims to project impact analysis did not
provide the actors with a thorough review concentrate on the links between aims,
of the achievements against the potential of objectives and outputs. The main
an activity. An impact analysis aims at emphasis was on the links between
providing recommendations for further outputs and outcomes and what follows
activities and should promote instruction from the project.
and development.
The purpose of the activity was thus to
Turkish policymakers and practitioners register what differences the project
shared our view that the improvement results could produce in the future. The
dimension in this phase of rapid reform impact and sustainability aspects of the
was the most important. Whatever project were the main focus since the
excellent or disappointing results a project intention is to move from project results
or programme has yielded, policy to policy formulation in Turkey’s efforts to
development and reform must go on and reform VET and higher education
the added value of the project needs to be systems. The evaluative approach is
utilised in present and future contexts. based on a policy learning philosophy
Education in Turkey is indeed changing where national ownership and
fast in these years. A traditional evaluation sustainability are key to consolidation
of the MVET project would therefore be and defining the next policy steps.
complicated as a number of other projects
have simultaneously impinged on the same The specific objectives of the impact
set of institutions. Untangling the effects of analysis were therefore (i) to contribute to
these different programmes and assessing national policy discussions on the reform of
the effectiveness of just one of them could vocational teacher training in Turkey, (ii) to
be difficult. Interaction between projects is identify the next strategic policy steps in


this reform, and (iii) to enhance national puts the following issues on the agenda as
ownership and ensure the sustainability of policy options for Turkey13.
such reforms. This was achieved by
establishing a Steering Committee that 1. At the VET system level, the policy
would oversee the actual assessment, proposed to solve the problem of huge
organising meetings with university faculty vocational teacher overproduction and
staff, carrying out dissemination events, underrated employment upon
and presenting findings and graduation is two-fold: (i) restructuring
recommendations at a national event in university faculties into technology
January 2008. faculties providing the higher level VET
qualifications needed by the Turkish
labour market; (ii) a complete revision of
6. FINDINGS AND POLICY technical qualification levels to bring
OPTIONS FOR FUTURE these in line with European standards.
REFORM INITIATIVES It is proposed to make this part of a
national qualifications framework
Less than 5% of teacher training graduates development process and at the same
end up as vocational teachers. Graduates time provide an input to feed into the
are underrated when offered alternative restructuring of higher education in
jobs. Vocational teacher training faculties Turkey in the spirit of the Bologna
need restructuring to become technology process. Due to the fact that this
faculties as part of the higher education overhaul of qualifications and
reform. And the relations between YÖK restructuring of faculties has not yet
(the Higher Education Council in charge of been undertaken, it has been very
universities) and the Ministry of National difficult to reform vocational teacher
Education are problematic. These factors training in isolation.
set the scene for policy development, for 2. The relationship between the Ministry of
the ministry, for universities and for National Education and YÖK needs to
students. be reinforced. YÖK is responsible for
vocational teaching qualifications at the
The MVET project achieved most of its universities, while the Ministry of
objectives (Kiraz et al., 2007). The National Education is its client. This
recommendations on the components of situation is similar in many countries but
curriculum, teaching methodologies, in Turkey there must be a much
student-centred learning, pedagogical stronger interface between demand and
equipment and quality assurance pose a supply. The outcomes of the MVET
heavy menu for follow-up policy decisions. project and the development of
However, the in-depth interviews carried vocational teacher training can improve
out in 14 university environments through only through agreements at the highest
the impact analysis indicate that most of level. So a top priority is to establish
the activities can now be delivered by platforms and modalities for this
Turkish institutions and experts. cooperation. A revitalised national
Conceptual understanding and committee for vocational teacher
methodological expertise are available. training could be a potential institutional
Therefore, the move from pilot projects to home for such collaboration, if properly
systemic generalisation now mainly equipped with a professional
depends on policy decisions, allocation of secretariat.
resources, strategic organisation, local 3. Another strategic choice for the Ministry
experts trained by the MVET project, and of National Education is to set up a
incentives for change agents. vocational teacher training policy unit,
formulate a coherent teacher training
The MVET project identified a number of policy and set aside the necessary
systemic obstacles which need to be resources for implementation. The
tackled. Following the logic of the forward Ministry of National Education needs
looking strategy the impact analysis report the impact analysis documents to

13 The policy issues listed follow the findings of the impact assessment report (Kiraz et al., 2007).


change focus from a pilot project logic there are differences in capacity among
to a policy logic. According to departments and faculties. However,
policymakers and practitioners in among all MVET project components
Turkey, the Ministry of National we can identify the expertise
Education does not have a developed development needs at different
vocational teacher training policy and universities. Horizontal learning in
strategy and therefore finds it difficult to networks is recommended but needs to
cope with the implementation of new be structured. Therefore, YÖK should
donor-led initiatives while at the same develop initiatives to implement
time allocating the necessary funds for horizontal learning networks through
broader implementation. which faculty staff share experiences
4. There is a need to establish a and engage in capacity development
specialised VET centre in Turkey which efforts.
also covers vocational teacher training. 6. There is a need to open teacher training
There are 25 university-based in two directions: towards the work
vocational teacher training institutions, environment that will absorb the
but there is no institution that can vocational students and schools. To be
ensure that conceptual, methodological a professional, competent vocational
and organisational learning is teacher today means being familiar with
consolidated, institutionalised and taken the demands of the employment
forward in a routine way. Vocational system, having the necessary
teaching and learning is a rich research vocational knowledge and skills and
field that needs to be developed. understanding of how these may
International expertise is not optimally develop in the future. As far as links
used and institutional capacity has to be with schools are concerned, the
created to consolidate and cascade challenge for vocational teacher training
MVET outputs to accumulate new is to produce teaching competence that
‘home-grown’ expertise in the field. A is relevance for vocational schools.
national VET centre should accumulate While initiatives have been taken in
expertise and focus on research, some universities towards nurturing
innovation and development. Also in faculty-company links, this is not the
Turkey, there is a lack of didactical case with faculty-school partnerships.
thinking on vocational subjects which The easy solution for the Ministry of
can best be developed in centres of National Education would be to ask
expertise. A VET centre should be vocational school leaders about their
placed in one of the universities teacher competence needs and consult
involved in vocational teacher training. It with the faculties to see how they might
could start by taking the strategic lead in respond to these needs.
the broader implementation of the 7. There is a huge demand for in-service
MVET project results, accumulating all teacher training courses in VET. On
international and national donor-driven average, current courses only allow
project outcomes and serving as a teachers to attend one course during
policy learning and development centre. their entire careers. The existing model
5. The project documented that university for continuing teacher training is
faculty staff still need considerable supply-based. Provision procedures are
competence development, both in terms dictated from above and only partly
of vocational and technical skills, and successful. Continuing vocational
didactic and pedagogic skills. teacher training targets individuals and
Networking the 14 faculties and not groups and does not take into
supporting the continued professional account institutional and organisational
development of faculty staff should be a development needs. There is a need for
priority for YÖK in pre-service demand-led training that is delivered
vocational teacher training, and for the close to or within schools. Pilot projects
Ministry of National Education in could start immediately where, on an
in-service vocational teacher training. experimental basis, those faculties and
The impact analysis documented that others providing continuing vocational


training initiate the training process by platforms that enable key actors and
going to the vocational schools and, stakeholders to discuss future issues
together with teachers and principals, before, during and after the evaluation.
identify the actual training needs. The ´mode 2´ based agora model
Learning partnerships between training outlined earlier has enabled the effective
providers and vocational schools could creation of a participatory processes at
probably emerge. For vocational teacher every stage of the assessment. The
training faculties, feedback mechanisms following instruments were incorporated
would allow experiences to be in the impact analysis design. Under
channelled back and used as input into each heading we sum up possible next
ordinary teacher education programmes. steps.
8. In Turkey, as in most other countries,
the concept of continuous professional 7.1 National Steering Group
development of teachers is almost
exclusively seen as continuing training To ensure true national ownership, the
provided by centralised delivery MVET impact assessment set up a
systems. In reality, continuous national Steering Group that was
professional development is a much involved from the outset, taking part in
more promising strategy, it is much initial discussions of the evaluation
cheaper, and it re-establishes the design, monitoring the assessment
recognition of teachers as professionals activities and linking the results from the
and stakeholders of reform. It impact assessment with challenges for
introduces action learning principles, future policy design and implementation.
horizontal learning from each other, and The Steering Group included
on-the-job learning supported by representatives from the Higher
external consultancy. Such activities Education Council (YÖK), the Ministry of
can be coordinated by schools and can National Education, the Turkish
fit into individual schools’ year plans Employment Organisation (ISKUR), the
where time is set aside for these new Vocational Qualification Authority,
purposes. This will require a university faculties and the EC
decentralisation policy with more Delegation. They met in October 2007 to
freedom for schools to organise their discuss the design and organisation of
own staff competence development on data collection in university faculties, and
the basis of locally identified needs and in December 2007 to discuss preliminary
without central approval procedures. An findings and recommendations. The
approach along these lines could lead Steering Group members also took part
to innovative local initiatives which will in the final conference on 24 and 25
in turn foster professional development January 2008 and gave feedback on the
efforts. impact assessment. Important issues
were discussed at these meetings and
the findings were thoroughly analysed.
These included some serious institutional
7. ORGANISATION OF POLICY and political barriers determining various
LEARNING PLATFORMS AND stages of project implementation which
NEXT STEPS had not been fully covered. The Steering
Group did, to some extent, take
It is a foregone conclusion that policy ownership of the impact analysis.
recommendations like the ones
mentioned here do not just come about Next steps
by themselves. They would often
probably not even be taken into account The ETF was positively surprised by the
when an evaluation report is delivered. commitment shown by members and
This is the reason why the impact concluded that this model should be used
analysis design is built in ‘transaction more often in the future, as it enables
spaces’ along with an infrastructure for ownership, embeddedness and has the
policy reflection by establishing learning potential for enhanced sustainability.


7.2 Data collection initiating dialogue in on future policy actions. The workshops
all university vocational teacher training brought together the demand and supply
faculties sides of local vocational teacher training.
After a short introduction of the MVET
An initial assessment activity focused on project impact analysis, the future of
the review of all available project teacher training policy was openly
documents. A survey instrument was discussed in line with an agenda set by the
prepared, containing qualitative and key issues raised in the MVET policy and
quantitative questions. A draft of the strategy paper.
questionnaire was mailed to all
beneficiaries for comments. Then a site Next steps
visit schedule was prepared for 14
faculties at 11 locations, in all covering 36 Fundamental reform and changes to the
departments/training programmes that existing conditions are needed.
had been supported by the MVET project. Independent from (but inspired by) the
In each faculty two days were spent on MVET project, YÖK is in the process of
average. In each department, a joint reforming vocational teacher training
meeting was organised with faculty staff faculties. The graduate employment
explaining the purpose of the study. problem is broadly acknowledged. The
Rather than selecting a sample, the common view is that students who want to
assessment team carried out face-to-face be teachers should take a year or a year
sessions with 195 interviewees in the and a half of additional pedagogical
departments. training after graduation. Therefore, all
faculties should be involved in the process
The two days spent in each environment of change. Faculties claim that their
lead to in-depth discussions with numerous graduates are furnished with all the
staff members and, equally importantly, necessary credentials and have more
raised awareness among faculty staff of practical training, which in turn, increases
impending changes. their employability giving them a proper title
and job profile.
Next steps
7.4 Policy agenda setting
Due to the design of the impact analysis
the evaluators helped to create stronger The MVET impact analysis had a broader
interaction and networking between the focus than just consolidation of the
faculties. Such embryonic networking is a valuable results of the project. It was also
strong asset for Turkey and should be designed in a forward looking perspective
strengthened and better structured in the to influence the vocational teacher training
future, also in the areas of policy design, policy agenda in Turkey by singling out
implementation and monitoring. neglected or ineffective conditions or
programmes and by bringing new policy
7.3 Regional workshops options to the attention of policymakers,
providers of vocational teacher education,
During the policy impact assessment, school principals and teachers, students,
targeted workshops were organised at social partners and the general public. This
university faculties in Elazig, Ankara and focus on innovation and improvement was
Sakarya. Participants were faculty agreed with the national Steering
members (of both supported and Committee during the impact analysis
non-supported universities), social design phase. The ETF followed up on this
partners, vocational school teachers and ambition by organising presentations and
principals, students and local discussions of the key findings with the
administrators. The participation of local new President and Vice-President of YÖK
stakeholders in the regional workshops and with the Ministry of National Education
provided invaluable and insightful feedback Deputy Under-Secretary during separate
on the outcomes of the project as well as meetings in February 2008.


Next steps policy implications. The broad experience

from the impact assessment activity has
The ETF contributes to the Turkish shown its value as a vehicle for such policy
education system by offering public advice learning events. Especially high-level talks
regarding future policy directions. This between YÖK and the Ministry of National
advice takes the form of policy learning Education have been and are continuously
workshops, structured discussions with key facilitated. Partly as a consequence of our
policymakers, country analyses and an convening efforts, YÖK has initiated higher
annual country plan. The wider circle education reforms and embraced the
developed around the impact analysis – the significance of VET for producing
strategic learning platforms – has created a innovative and talented human capital as a
common language, understanding, and prerequisite for coping with the knowledge
departure point for future activities. society.

7.5 Dialogue among authorities The national Vocational Teacher Training

Committee met for the first time on 5 June
The MVET project was long and 2008. It is a unique platform where the
sometimes difficult before and even during Ministry of National Education, YÖK and
its implementation. Although it targets the social partners will discuss new vocational
modernisation of vocational teacher teacher training strategies. The challenge
training at higher education institutions will be to move from a discussion platform
which fall under the jurisdiction of the to action that will lead to changes in the
Higher Education Council (YÖK), the main vocational teacher training policy and
formal beneficiary is the Ministry of system. The ETF will monitor and where
National Education because it is the necessary promote progress.
prospective employer of vocational teacher
training graduates. The relationship 7.6 National conference with
between these two entities has remained international networking opportunities
weak but has improved during the project.
The Ministry of National Education is not in A national conference was convened in
a position to develop or implement higher Ankara on 24-25 January 2008. Its main
education policy. The project has helped to aim was to discuss vocational teaching and
open up dialogue. learning and the new role of teachers. It
centred around three questions: Where is
The ETF has tried successfully to gather Turkey now? What will be the next steps?
both parties around one table. It has How do we get there? The conference
proposed reviving the vocational teacher discussed challenges, such as the new
training committee as a tool to implement learning paradigm, and the current
the necessary reforms. The formal situation in Turkey, with findings from the
approval by the Ministry of National MVET project impact analysis of vocational
Education and YÖK of this committee is a teacher training reform. Next steps were
promising first step. discussed in functional working groups.
Network learning in national and
Next steps international teacher training networks,
such as the Cedefop and ETF vocational
The ETF takes advantage of its neutral teacher training networks, was on the
status to facilitate policy learning meetings agenda too, as was horizontal learning in
by periodically gathering major policy in-service vocational teacher training (the
actors, practitioners and interest group ETF Learn project). Strong participant
representatives around the table. These activity in the workshops produced
meetings are organised as ad-hoc events valuable new proposals.
and during missions to the country. The
purpose is to promote an open exchange Next steps
of ideas among policymakers and interest
groups in a setting where trust and Participants judged that, just after the
communication can occur without direct finalisation of the MVET project, the time


was right to join international networks. The It taught the lesson that impact analysis
Ministry of National Education supports this should not be carried out by a single
idea and will see how a national vocational evaluating body if it is to generate learning
teacher training network can be set up and opportunities. ‘Transaction spaces’ must
financed. In his final comments on the be established which involve researchers,
MVET impact analysis, now taken forward policymakers as well as practitioners in
by the conference, Dr. Abdullah Sönmez, the process. From the very start dedicated
Dean of the Technical Education Faculty of learning platforms must be designed and
the University of Gazi, summed up the set up that engage national key actors and
policy learning implications by underlining stakeholders in dialogue during and after
that MVET is much more than a project: it the assessment. This ETF impact analysis
has provided a new awareness and a new therefore incorporated instruments such
policy platform for Turkey, on which as a national steering group, data
ongoing discussions on the reform of collection as a collective learning process,
vocational teacher training can now take regional workshops, policy agenda setting,
place. Engaging the national Vocational dialogue among authorities, and a broader
Teacher Training Committee and the final conference as strategic learning
Turkish network linked to the EU-level platforms.
Cedefop vocational teacher training
network (VET TTnet) could become an This method worked well and has been
important ‘driver’ in shaping and instrumental in overcoming some of the
implementing the necessary policy reforms. barriers in the knowledge continuum cycle.
It has brought together policymakers,
providers of vocational teacher education
8. CONCLUSION as well as establishing a new platform for
vocational teacher training policy
This chapter has discussed an approach to discussions in and with Turkey in the years
impact analysis based on a policy learning to come. The Ministry of National
logic. We have tried to use the policy Education and the EC Delegation in
learning philosophy as a guideline for the Ankara therefore asked the ETF to
design of evaluations of donor-led projects. undertake a similar impact analysis of the
A lot of effort and money is spent on EU funded VET reform (SVET project) in
evaluations in transition countries and the 2009.
chapter has demonstrated that, rather than
just serving an accountability function, The approach to the analysis provided us
evaluations can be used to generate with much contextualised knowledge and
proactive contributions to policy learning. an array of policy options for VET reform in
Forward looking impact analysis which is Turkey. Its results confirm that new forms
organised as development evaluation and of evaluation of major foreign donor
has improvement as its main objective can financed projects can help to ensure that
provide national policymakers and reform achievements are consolidated and
stakeholders with a review of the main taken forward and that they may result in
achievements against the potential of an improved decision-making with a potential
activity and as such facilitate future for changed practice within a national
continuation of reform initiatives. The policy learning perspective. We believe that
specific example outlined in this chapter such a policy learning tool could be used
has been welcomed by the Turkish with positive results also in other transition
authorities and the EC Delegation. countries.

Margareta Nikolovska and Arjen Vos

1. INTRODUCTION n What are the specific features of the

ETF peer learning methodology and
In this chapter we reflect on the ETF’s which factors are important for the
two-year experience with the methodology policy learning process?
of peer learning and its impact on n How successful has the ETF peer
participants, national policy and policy learning approach been?
change. We argue that the ETF n Has the learning experience of the
methodology makes peer learning a policymakers, education and VET
powerful policy learning tool for the practitioners who participated had an
participants – policymakers and VET impact on their organisations or on
practitioners – and leads to greater policy change?
understanding of the policy process and its
impact on national policies for educational In 2006 the ETF decided to shift the
change and VET reform. Although it is emphasis from making policy
widely believed that the potential impact of recommendations based on peer review
peer learning largely depends on the (ETF, 2001) to policy learning based on
individual participants, it is important not to peer learning14. In 2002 and 2003 a first
underestimate national political priorities or, round of peer reviews took place in South
in a broader context, the presence of a Eastern Europe, where a group of
donor support framework or specific international experts met with a wide range
provision for policy-relevant work in the of key stakeholders to develop policy
countries concerned. We address a set of recommendations to strengthen their
key questions to guide our discussion: countries’ VET systems.

14 The reasons behind moving from the peer review to the peer learning approach are discussed in detail by
Grootings et al. (2006).


Evaluations of peer reviews (Gordon and concerned and also to ETF work on policy
Thompson, 2005) indicate that policy learning. The ETF is now in a better
recommendations are not much used and position to strengthen the links between
have little influence on the policy process. policy learning and ongoing policy
The same evaluations confirm that the processes in countries reforming their
learning experience of peers matters most education or VET systems.
– all participants concurred that individual
knowledge creation and the learning The ETF sees policy learning as an
process itself are the most important instrument to support stakeholders in
outcomes of the peer review project. The partner countries to achieve sustainable
ETF concluded that its peer reviews can change in their education and VET
still be a useful instrument for policy systems. Policy development, formulation
learning where there is a strong and implementation should be firmly based
commitment on the part of the national on broad ownership and fit within the
government and the reviews are carried institutional structures that allow the
out every four or five years. stakeholders to participate (Nikolovska,
2007). However, as the purpose of the ETF
The ETF peer learning methodology has programme is not simply to create policy
thus not been developed to replace peer learning environments for individuals but to
reviews, but as an attempt to find another enable them to formulate reform policies as
pragmatic and efficient tool that will build a result of their learning, there are at least
on existing local knowledge and capacities two issues to be addressed in this chapter.
integral to the specific environment of The first is the challenge of being able to
partner countries’ education reform retain an environment conducive to
policies, and to local education and VET learning for all participants as part of the
systems. Learning and policy are central to ETF peer learning methodology. The
this new approach15. second concerns the potential of the ETF
role as policy learning facilitator to make
Peer learning is a modest and flexible policy learning instrumental in policy
instrument which recognises that the change – and this is much more complex
learning process may be more effective (Grootings, 2007). Both issues are directly
than policy recommendations in report form connected to how the ETF can improve its
where the objective is to strengthen the knowledge of how to facilitate policy
capacity of policymakers and VET experts learning that will lead to sustained policy
to develop and implement policies. change.

The first ETF peer learning exercise in

2006 concentrated on the policy issue of 2. THE CHALLENGES OF
VET financing in Albania, Kosovo16 and POLICY LEARNING AND
Montenegro. Policymakers and VET POLICY CHANGE
experts from Albania, the former Yugoslav
Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo and Within the international community there is
Montenegro were brought together to no single definition of peer learning as an
discuss approaches to governance and instrument. Aiming to ‘strengthen mutual
finance. In 2007 another peer group, in this learning and deepen the exchange of good
case policymakers and school directors practice between countries sharing similar
from Albania, the former Yugoslav concerns, in order to develop common
Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo, understanding of success factors for the
Montenegro and Turkey, analysed the improvement of policy making and the
impact of education and training policies on implementation of reform’, the European
schools and school management in Commission has launched a series of peer
Albania, Kosovo and Turkey. These two learning activities in education and training
rounds of peer learning contributed to (European Commission, 2005). Similar
policy discussions in the countries activities are taking place within EU social
15 For more information about the ETF role in policy learning processes see Chakroun (2007).
16 Under UNSCR 1244


inclusion policies, where peer learning is Four main goals underpin current ETF
defined as ‘mutual learning processes activities in peer learning in the
based on the systematic evaluation of good pre-accession region:
practice and assessment of selected
policies or institutional arrangements n improved mutual knowledge and
coming under the various National Action understanding of VET systems, issues
Plans’ (INBAS/NIZW, 2005). and developments;
n promotion of networking, exchanges of
The framework of ETF peer learning experience and cooperation among
broadly follows the logic of the EU VET experts, stakeholders and
approach to the concept. However, given policymakers, leading to an analysis of
the fact that the ETF’s role in South policy options suitable for local systems
Eastern European VET reform is to and traditions;
facilitate policy learning by making n increased awareness and expanded
available instruments and sources for opportunities for learning from VET
education and training, and by assisting reform experiences in EU Member
and guiding stakeholders’ participation and States and (potential) candidate
interaction, ETF peer learning is based on countries;
the principle of a learning platform carefully n linking national policy reform initiatives
created and facilitated around major policy to the EU Instrument for Pre-Accession
issues of concern in the participating Assistance (IPA) programming cycle.
countries. By involving policymakers and
VET experts/practitioners as peers, The peer learning approach can be seen
conditions are created for better targeted as a tool to reinforce stakeholders’
capacity building around the policies in capacities to formulate and implement
place and policy outcomes. systemic education reform policies. The
added value of this approach is the
The direct involvement of both organisation of a concise regional learning
policymakers and VET experts was platform for country stakeholders, the
introduced in 2006, using the following enhanced potential for reflection on country
methodology: reform activities as well as a more targeted
debate on the EU Education and Training
1. A common issue for policy learning is 2010 agenda. The two rounds of ETF peer
decided in cooperation with the learning activities have focused on
countries involved. system-level problems – VET financing in
2. A country background paper is 2006 and policy impact on schools in 2007
prepared by the participants in the form – as experiments in both the process of
of a ‘self-study’ document. policy learning, and how policy learning
3. A thematic concept paper is elaborated can contribute to policy change.
by the ETF on the selected topic for
peer learning. Nedergaard, in an article on mutual
4. Peer learning events are organised in learning processes in which he attempts to
the participating countries. clarify the learning process in international
5. A cross-country synthesis report is communities, refers to policy learning as a
prepared on the state of the art and gradual process of realisation, where
findings of the peer learning exercise. cognitive categories are redefined on the
6. Dissemination activities are organised in basis of new knowledge. In addition, policy
various forms – articles, country learning often implies that the actors
workshops, regional conferences. (policymakers and other stakeholders)
involved are assumed to be learning
something (Nedergaard, 2006). The ETF
peer learning concept reflects this concept
of policy learning. The ETF concept notes
on peer learning17 make clear that policy
learning emphasises the active

17 ETF concept notes on peer learning, unpublished, 2006 and 2007.


engagement of national stakeholders in The first of these is the selection of the

developing their own policy solutions. This policy issue around which the ETF peer
assumption is based on the principle that learning exercise is structured. Usually, this
VET reforms in transition countries will only focuses on an important topic in the
be successful and sustainable if policy agenda of the participating countries, to
development, formulation and which ministries of education are
implementation are firmly based on broad committed. The VET financing topic in
ownership and fit within the existing 2006 was perhaps not given enough
country contexts and policies. attention in planning reforms, but
awareness of the need to link finance to
The ETF peer learning methodology new reform plans has increased. In 2007
assumes that learning is as much a social the focus was on the relationship between
as an individual process. The participating policy development, school practice and
group of selected policymakers and VET the effective transformation of policy
experts and practitioners benefit from proposals into practice. Early stakeholder
mutual insights and opinions. Although the involvement in policy design pays off at the
greatest impact of peer learning activities implementation stage. Both topics
has been on those directly involved in the attempted to advance policy dialogues that
ETF exercise, it is also important to were not, or not sufficiently, addressed in
understand the related aspect of the the countries concerned. At the same time
significant role that this methodology can these policy issues were of major interest
play in the policy process in partner in the daily work of the participating
countries, and how it can be embedded policymakers and VET experts. Their
into comprehensive policy learning learning could have an immediate effect –
strategies that include a series of mutual an important motivating factor.
knowledge sharing activities18.
A second element, the composition of the
To expand on this, we simply need to ask peer learning team, was carefully
to what extent the policy learning constructed in discussions between the
incorporated in the ETF peer learning ETF and partner countries. The core
methodology is likely to be used in the principle on which the team philosophy
policy cycle and for systemic reforms in the rests is, as mentioned earlier, that learning
countries that have taken part in the and knowledge creation is a social as well
exercise. To understand this we need to as an individual process. Each member of
delve deeper into the various aspects of the team is an individual with specific life
policy learning and policy change. and professional experience and
responsibilities. At the same time the
participants each represent part of the
3. ETF PEER LEARNING policy cycle. The selection of peers is
METHODOLOGY: ELEMENTS crucial. Policymakers need to have direct
OF THE POLICY LEARNING influence on or responsibility for policy
PLATFORM developments, but it is often difficult to
engage deputy ministers in a two-week
What are the major attributes of the ETF peer learning exercise. In most countries
peer learning methodology that bring we succeeded, in others we found good
knowledge creation and policy learning substitutes. For VET finance in 2006,
a step closer to the requirements of policymakers and VET experts were
partner country reform agendas? After brought together. Among the policymakers
two cycles of ETF peer learning it is there was one parliamentarian, and most of
increasingly evident that this tool helps the VET experts had experience in
policy learning to flourish within the international cooperation. In 2007
teams working on reform agendas. policymakers and school directors met.
A few of the elements integral to the Most of the directors had at least some
methodology bear this out. experience in implementing donor projects

18 Different aspects of the advantages and disadvantages of peer learning as a method for policy learning are
discussed in Part 2 of this Yearbook.


in their schools. A basic knowledge of context to another, gives dynamism to the

English was required for effective learning experience and shows that the
communication, although arrangements for context is very much coloured by the key
some translation within the team have stakeholders in the policy process.
been necessary19. Participants feel responsible, as the host of
a peer learning event, of trying to explain
The way in which the peer learning team the situation in their country, whereas in
interacts and the relationships that emerge other countries they are the ones with
between its members help to create a critical observations and questions. This
platform that unleashes some specific life combination gives them a strong
and professional experiences. To create an commitment to policy issues and peer
effective learning environment, trust and a learning, using comparisons between
certain level of informality within the peer countries as a crucial driver in the learning
team have to be built up. The members process.
have different experiences and different
perspectives on the selected policy issue.
Policymakers expect that new policy 4. IMPORTANCE OF THE
reforms will be implemented in the way POLICY ISSUE
they have planned them, whereas school
directors are inclined to implement reforms As mentioned above, the selection of the
according to the needs of their school. policy issue is crucial for linking peer
These differences in perspective play an learning to policy discussions in partner
important role in the creation of rich policy countries and for stimulating the interest of
debates. the peers representing different stakeholder
groups. The common denominator is the
Thirdly, the peer learning events in the rationale of ‘appraisal’ firmly embedded in
participating countries are the core of the practice. This is how the ETF peer learning
ETF peer learning methodology. Each methodology approaches the practical
country hosts a peer learning event, so the aspect of the policy process, observed
participants are successively hosts and through the lens of a problem which is highly
guests. The peer learning events are relevant to the policy agenda.
carefully planned and structured around
the concept of stakeholder involvement in This focused approach starts with the
the policy process in the country visited. development of a so-called self-study
The list of stakeholders in education is very document, which usually provides a short
long and includes the parliamentary overview of the major developments in the
education commission, ministers and country relating to the policy issue. The
deputy ministers, heads of department in intention is also to include a problem
the ministry, legislative bodies, teachers analysis, a stakeholder analysis and to
unions, social partners, companies, various identify the objectives and implementation
associations of parents, teachers, students, issues that are of most interest to the
etc. The question of how different participating country. The country peer team
stakeholders have treated the topic from has full ownership of this national
their respective positions is important to the background document, and they are
policy learning approach. In real life responsible for producing it in the form of a
situations, ministries of education do not ‘self-study’. The self-study should inform
operate on their own, or in isolation from peers about issues in the country concerned,
other interested parties. In a complex and in particular should provide a basis for
environment, stakeholders at different discussions during the peer learning event.
levels often have to make decisions quickly
against an already complex political and A peer learning event of three days would
managerial background. Peer learning not be fruitful without advance knowledge of
events in the different countries make it the facts and discussions on policy issues.
possible to experience this at first hand. Through systematic preparation, the peer
More importantly, moving from one country learning events can go below the surface of
19 The choice of participants and the problems associated with it are discussed in Part 2 of the Yearbook.


Box 1: Peer learning methodology in practice

In the 2007 ETF peer learning exercise, the policy issue selected was ‘Implementation
of education polices: impact on schools and school management’. This policy issue
has been applied in different contexts in relation to the countries involved, Albania,
Kosovo and Turkey. Each of these countries selected a country team of a policymaker,
two school principals (one from a pilot and the other from a non-pilot vocational
school), as well as a VET expert. The team consisted of peers from the three countries
and one ‘guest peer’ from the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and one from

The team moved from country to country and took part in the three day peer learning
events to observe and discuss the policy issue from different points of view. A deeper
understanding of how policies ‘travel’ up and down the various intermediary levels
between the centre (i.e. ministry of education as main ‘policy designer’) and the school
(major unit where policies are implemented), was the main topic for the 2007 ETF peer
learning team. A powerful way of understanding the implementation process was to
ask two related questions:

n How do reforms change schools?

n How do schools change reforms?

Other questions that guided the exercise included:

n How do school-level actors and stakeholders make sense of new policies, and how
do they interpret them?
n Do they faithfully implement policies that have been centrally determined to the
letter, or do they transform them, possibly by adapting them to suit the school
environment, the school’s institutional culture and the surrounding community’s
n What opportunities exist for school-based actors to contribute to the improvement of
the policies?
n Are there cases where school-based actors subvert policies that have been decided
at a higher level than the school? If so, how and why does this happen?
n Are such transformations and adaptations, accommodations and resistances
educationally sound, or are they problematic?
n How do new policies implemented in pilot schools travel to non-pilot schools, if at
n Who decides when a policy has been successfully implemented and disseminated,
and on what grounds?21

20 On the people’s role in reform see Sultana (2008).

21 These questions helped the team to stay focused on the selected policy issue. In addition, two ETF staff
members, the authors of this chapter, acted as facilitators of peer learning. An EU VET expert was also
involved whose task was to prepare a concept paper on a selected topic – in this case on policy
implementation issues in the education sector – but also to act as a resource person during the visits and
subsequent discussion sessions.


asking questions, while at the same time it beginning, not the end, of efforts to improve
builds up commitment on the part of the policymaking and support partner countries
hosts. The purpose of the self-study in formulating policies, there is ample
document is thus to have team members opportunity for the ETF to support the
analyse national policies, legislation or improvement of these self-study documents.
programmes that have been implemented.
It should identify the key problems, key
indicators and qualitative information, 5. POLICYMAKERS PLAY A
describe the formulated policy intentions, KEY ROLE
priorities, barriers and the effects of
implementation, and set out the most ETF peer learning has systematically
important tasks and decisions still pending. brought together policymakers and another
group of stakeholders, indicating that the
Although the self-study country report is an focus is on the transition from policy
essential part of the peer learning project, development to policy implementation, a
providing background information for the process that involves many stakeholders.
discussions and creating strong stakeholder The main idea of the approach is that the
involvement, the ETF’s two years of policymakers learn from the self-study of the
experience shows that the country teams do topic and from being part of a peer team, as
not always succeed in developing the paper well as from the visits to policy arenas in
beyond the level of a simple policy report and different countries. This approach may be
a (self-)critical analysis. The focus is normally considered as transitional, moving away
clear and targeted, but often the report is from an expert-driven knowledge-transfer
quite descriptive and too open about the model towards participatory forms of policy
challenges of policy implementation and learning in which policymakers and other
policy objectives. As policy analysis is the stakeholders consolidate their learning.

Box 2: The self-study approach

The self-study document in 2007 focused on ‘Managing the teaching and learning
process in schools: opportunities and barriers’ in participating countries. Each team
developed two case studies of recent VET policy reforms that have had an impact at
school level. For example, one of the case studies of the Albanian country team
focused on the modularisation of the curriculum, as one of the earliest education
reforms that still poses a challenge for implementation. Modularisation introduced new
VET concepts and practices in Albania, and possibly more than any other reform has
had important implications for the role of the teacher and the teaching/learning
process. Education policy and practice have also been influenced through the
introduction of protocols which have had an impact on the curricular structure, content
and methodology in several different areas.

The short and focused self-study aims at providing background information and
analysis that should stimulate the interviews and debates during the peer learning
events. In writing up these case studies, the teams provided information on the

n the broader context of the policy reform;

n the key actors involved;
n the process that led to the development of reform objectives;
n the changes in roles and new capacities required by school-level actors; and, most
n the current state of reform implementation, together with the factors and issues that
account for successful implementation or obstruct the reforms.


More effective policy design and In trying to solve these types of problem,
implementation may result from closer policymakers have little interest in
confrontation of policymakers with the discussing measures that have never been
realities of policy implementation in put into effect. The experience of seeing a
schools, as in the 2007 peer learning measure in effect elsewhere demonstrates
project. The ETF experience is that that it can be realised (Rose, 1993). Rose
policymakers are aware of the potential points out that in the effort to reduce
impact of their reform initiatives. At the dissatisfaction with existing policies,
school level, however, there are policymakers have three alternatives: to
differences in perception that affect the turn to their national past, to speculate
outcomes of the reform. Policymakers in about the future, or to seek lessons from
practice have to act, and the political current experiences in other places.
scene, especially in environments Learning involves scanning programmes
undergoing radical change such as elsewhere, producing a conceptual model
transition countries, does not always leave of a programme of interest, and comparing
much space and time for careful and it with the existing programme that has
gradual learning. On the other hand, caused dissatisfaction. Once this has been
policymakers need new learning, which done, various kinds of lessons can be
very often contradicts established drawn (Bennett and Howlett, 1992).
knowledge and routines. They have to
engage in daily political decision-making Therefore policymakers are increasingly
and, depending on their position in the looking across the borders, seeking
system, active engagement may often take information, examples of best practice and
priority. For them, perhaps even more so policy or peer advice, in order to launch,
than for other learners, learning is more develop or implement policies in the
than merely a cognitive process: learning is national context. One way of developing
practice. awareness on the importance of key issues
in education and training is to let
Policymakers, like everybody else, learn policymakers see, talk with and hear from
from experience. The importance that people involved in developing strategies for
they give to experience depends on their these policy issues or implementing them.
concerns about feasibility: Can a Attention to the type of policy to be
proposed policy be carried out? In reality, implemented in a particular country context
policymakers face two major problems: and to the people involved in
setting priorities for the interventions they implementation increases policymakers’
are going to make, and choosing the right understanding of how different aspects of
instruments for the implementation of policies, people and places interact and
priorities and interventions22. combine in particular ways to shape
Policymakers everywhere in the world outcomes (see Part 2).
often ‘take action’ to solve a problem, i.e.
they show dissatisfaction with existing It is important to take into account that
policies. They try to solve so-called those who are involved in ETF peer
ill-structured public policy problems23. In learning are seen in the double role of
the centre of any attempt to solve an learners and experts. While the expert role
ill-structured problem is the complex of policymakers is clear, the challenge is to
stakeholder relationship that exists in understand what they can learn from the
education and training. Even assuming peer learning exercise. The 2007 exercise
that the policymakers know what they should be seen as a process in which
wish to achieve, it is not always clear policymakers, together with school
how they can do so. directors, had the opportunity to learn from:

22 On the complexity of the education reform environment in partner countries see discussion on policy
tensions in Nikolovska (2007).
23 The ill-structured nature of a public policy problem refers to its complexity. Dunn (2004, pp. 75-76) points out
that policy problems are complex because they are interdependent, dynamic, subjective and artificial. These
characteristics make it necessary to structure policy problems carefully and with the participation of


n interaction with their school director discussions with central, regional and/or
peers in the team about their district-level education and local authority
perceptions of initiated or new reforms; officials, social partners, companies,
n feedback and observations from international donor representatives and
neighbouring countries’ policymakers visits to several vocational schools (formal
on national VET policy, which could act education sector) and adult training centres
as a mirror for self-reflection; (non-formal education sector).
n experience from VET reforms in other
countries that may be different or similar In 2007 both schools piloting the VET
to own country policy problems; reforms referred to in the self-study
n exchange of opinions among peers and documents were visited, as were some
direct feedback from others’ experience non-pilot schools. Interviews were held with
in VET reform; key policymakers, principals and teachers.
n reflection on the potential relevance of Separate focus groups were organised to
the policy/programme/problem encourage spontaneity in response to
elaborated in the ‘self-study’ document24. questions.

Debriefing ‘wrap-up’ sessions were held at

6.THE IMPORTANCE OF PEER the end of each day with each sub-group
LEARNING EVENTS reporting on the day’s events and
impressions, sharing insights and revealing
With growing importance attached to tacit knowledge underpinned by deeply
education, it increasingly attracts the (and often unconsciously) held attitudes,
interest of many different lobbies and beliefs and values, with a view to
parties. The days when education policies developing clear, explicit, reflexive and
were developed by the ministry alone and nuanced thinking on implementation. The
implemented by schools, teachers and fact that team members had experienced
learners are coming to an end. Policy reforms from different perspectives –
implementation is not a linear, rational policymaker, VET expert and school
process, but usually involves complex director – enriched the debate by
mediation between competing interests. approaching the themes from different
This is one of the main reasons why angles. As the interviews progressed, the
modern reform approaches are broader in analysis of the theme assumed a more
scope – they seek ways of involving comparative nature, as participants
various stakeholders. An important identified similarities and differences in the
conclusion from the ETF peer learning three territorial contexts observed.
experience is that the early involvement of
stakeholders in the development of policy The challenging tasks for the participants
strategies will lead to stronger ownership during the 2007 exercise, closely linked to
and therefore facilitate implementation. stakeholders, were to:
How stakeholders in various positions have
treated the issue of policy change is an n hold in-depth discussions at different
important question for policy learning. levels covering the wider policy issue;
n relate discussions to policy targets set
Addressing the diversity of the key by national policies as analysed in the
stakeholders of partner countries through a self-study documents;
well-balanced programme is therefore n analyse the teaching and learning
critical to the ETF peer learning approach. processes at school level from different
The country host peer team prepares the stakeholder angles;
learning event in close consultation with n identify policy and implementation
the ETF. Over the three days, participants issues that have an impact at school
have the opportunity to discuss the level and open them up for possible
thematic issue with a wide range of consideration by the countries where
stakeholders. The programme includes peer learning takes place;

24 The ETF facilitation approach of the peer learning discussion forums in particular tries to build in elements
that will actively stimulate reflection on the self-study document


n agree and formulate recommendations and ‘the impact of peer learning activities is
and specific policy guidelines for greatest on the individuals who participated
improvements to be presented and in them, but these are not always the
further discussed with national people who are involved in making policy
authorities. This is how the ETF decisions’.
attempted to strengthen the policy
learning part of the exercise, particularly The main aim of peer learning is to have an
linking the self-study document findings impact on policy development and
to findings on the ground. implementation; however, policies are
made by people and institutions. Taking
The interviews with stakeholders during the curriculum reform as an example, we
country peer learning events are a very stipulate that it implies policy choices about
important aspect of peer learning. new subjects competing for space in the
Stakeholders are part of the policy process curriculum, new knowledge and skills to be
– they shape, they lead, they retreat, they attained, new student assessment
chop and change the policies in sometimes methods, new textbooks and teaching
unexpected directions. Comparing the materials. Curriculum goals have to
opinions of different stakeholders on the accommodate national, regional or local
same topics helps towards a deeper priorities, a range of social concerns, and
understanding of the issue and their way of the demands of industry and other sectors
thinking. The impression is that the policy of employment. The new curricula should
process is ‘hidden’ and not very clear to meet the education needs and aspirations
outsiders. The complexity of the process is of teachers and students. Policy choices
greatly influenced by the complexity of the about curriculum reform ought to be the
stakeholders. Therefore it is very likely that result of compromises of various kinds and
a better understanding of the stakeholder reflect the assumptions and values of those
relationship in a given country context will who construct them. As a result, specifying
throw light on its policy processes. curriculum reform is a highly contested and
Although the ETF methodology pays complex process which involves a number
significant attention to stakeholders, this of key actors that are affected by the
aspect can still be improved. For example, reforms25.
the policy learning exercise could include
stakeholder analyses for each particular Implementation of these reforms is a very
country to give an impression of their challenging task – no other part of the
power relations and specific roles. policy cycle risks failure to such an extent.
Failure to implement a policy and therefore
to argue that certain selected policies have
7. THE IMPACT OF PEER no impact on solving a problem may result
LEARNING AND THE from different kinds of underestimations.
CHALLENGE OF POLICY Four key dimensions – policies, people,
CHANGE places and pace – have an impact on
implementation, both individually and in
The key questions about peer learning are interaction with each other. The unpacking
whether it leads to any change and what of elements in these four dimensions and
impact it has. The impact of peer learning consideration of how they interact in
is considered to be a weak point according particular ways, leads to a better
to the European Commission evaluations. understanding of how implementation
In its report on the implementation of the unfolds in education systems (Sultana,
Education and Training 2010 work 2008).
programme since 2006 (European
Commission, 2008), the Commission The position of the participants and their
states that ‘the impact of the outcomes on proximity to policy decision-making are
national policy development and policy determining factors in the potential impact
implementation needs to be strengthened’ of the peer learning exercise. The most

25 For a more detailed analysis of the tensions during the reform cycle between policymakers and practitioners,
which are emerging at school level, see Nikolovska (2007).


immediate and successful impact of peer the responsibilities of individual peers in

learning is on the individuals themselves. their own working situation. The intensity of
The project has allowed them to compare the peer learning events promotes a
practice and experience in different stronger ownership than normal study visits
countries and have discussions with a wide and therefore increases opportunities for
variety of stakeholders who might be action.
difficult to meet in their own countries. The
value of learning lies particularly in the The impact on organisations is a more
possibility of mirroring foreign experience in difficult matter. Above all, the organisations
the daily work of the peers. The wrap-up that peers represent are more likely to
sessions of the peer learning exercise benefit from the peer learning project than
concentrate very much on sharing views on other organisations. Again, it depends on
this. the individuals, their position and their
desire to share their learning with
In partner countries in which ETF peer colleagues and promote action within the
learning took place, policy formulation is organisation. Interestingly enough, some
seen as a prestigious task, reserved for organisations that have been interviewed
those with high status, in contrast to the gave feedback that the discussions and
much less prestigious task of questions raised during the visits were also
implementation. This is strengthened by of benefit to them and led to some self
the belief that there is an inherent examination. However, this impact should
resistance in schools against change and not be overestimated. Organisations
that, therefore, change is only going to participating in the dissemination
happen when decisions are in the hands of conferences may pursue as many issues
policymakers. Consequently, change has as they would in other conferences, with
usually been viewed by schools as perhaps the difference that national
something ‘done to’ them as opposed to representatives play a more important and
something ‘done with’ or ‘done by’ them, active role.
which, of course, has not encouraged their
commitment (Fullan, 2001). As the The direct impact of the ETF peer learning
composition of ETF peer learning teams exercise on policies is difficult to measure.
‘mirrors’ these confrontations, this has The 2006 ETF VET financing policy issue
created lively debates among the peers. certainly created stronger awareness of the
need to include financing in all discussions
Learning does not automatically mean that of the design and implementation of
individual behaviour will change, but reforms. In Albania it led to a feasibility
awareness of new issues is a condition for study on VET financing models,
initiating change. As one of the participants implemented through the EU CARDS
stated: ‘The sub-systems that we visited project in 2007. In Kosovo the results of the
are confronted with similar problems [to discussions were included in a project
those] my country is confronting as well; proposal for EU funding. The Kosovar
[but] the approach and the dynamics of the Ministry of Education finally decided on a
problem solving is different.’ Another said: different topic. The donors have picked up
‘In Turkey teaching staff are more involved on the issue, although this is not
in modular curricula, more motivated and necessarily the result of the peer learning
more interested to continue working in the project. It is important to point out that
education system than in Albania and decisions are influenced by a wide variety
Kosovo’. Where the first statement is an of factors (including ministerial values,
expression of the benefit of the learning experience and political judgement); which
process in general, the second may lead to means that even for individual policy areas
quicker action if the speaker is in a position peer learning must involve tools that will
to influence behaviour and action within the allow a wide range of policy options to be
organisation. The ETF can encourage peer developed, and must be detailed enough
influence, but it is impossible to control this for those options to stand up to intense
process closely. The impact depends on public scrutiny.


To increase the impact on policies, the ETF We have argued that the ETF approach
together with key stakeholders from the towards peer learning is a specific one.
countries has developed national action Each peer learning project lasts one year
points based on the outcomes of peer and brings together a group of 10 to 15
learning. During the final conference of peers from three or four countries of South
2007, a substantial amount of time was Eastern Europe. The focus is on a specific
spent on organising discussions between topic agreed with the countries, which is
national stakeholders on the conclusions relevant either because it has not received
and the next steps, and this was followed much attention or because it is of an
up during national dissemination events. innovative nature. Peer learning events
The impact of these events is difficult to take place in all the main participating
assess. It will largely depend on the quality countries. Each of these countries is
and relevance of the action plans, available represented by one policymaker and one
resources and commitments of the or two other stakeholders, such as VET
countries and donors, and on ETF country experts or school directors. The national
managers’ ability to use the results in representatives prepare for peer learning
cooperation with the partner countries. by drafting a self-study document
identifying key issues for discussion in their
Because the ETF peer learning project has country. They host a three-day peer
focused particularly on the development of learning event and in turn are guest peers
the methodology and on stimulating in the other countries. In each country
innovative debates in partner countries, the around 15 stakeholders are interviewed on
thematic cycle was limited to around one the topic. They represent national, regional
year. The following year there was a new and local authorities, specialised institutes,
topic. At the same time it has been argued schools, social partners and companies,
that to increase the impact, on policies in which allows views and opinions on the
particular, more knowledge-sharing issue to be compared from different angles.
activities and follow-up of the results of Each day ends with a ‘wrap-up’ session
peer learning should be undertaken. One where the participants share their
year is not enough. Therefore, the experiences and have in-depth discussions
conclusion can be drawn that the ETF peer on the selected topic. A cross-regional
learning methodology would meet with report is written at the end of the visits,
more success if it was embedded in a reflecting the findings of the participants
multi-annual project, where more time and presenting a comparative analysis of
could be devoted to selecting and practices in the countries concerned. The
networking the most appropriately conclusions are presented at a final
positioned peers and much more time and conference for around 100 stakeholders
resources to follow-up actions. from all South Eastern European countries
and proposals are developed for national
actions on the basis of the outcomes.
8. CONCLUSIONS These outcomes are finally presented in
national seminars to a wider group of
The ETF peer learning approach has stakeholders.
proved to be a powerful learning tool for
the participants, all of whom indicated in This approach has several strengths and a
the evaluation sheets that they learned a number of weaknesses. The main strength
great deal from discussions with peers, of the approach lies in the organised
sharing experiences from different preparation of the study documents. These
countries and meeting a wide variety of national studies often function as the
stakeholders. Most found significant starting point for reflections which are
learning benefits in the broader conceptual further developed throughout the peer
framework and better understanding of the learning events in the countries. For the
importance of the country context. They peers, they are a source of information and
were also ready to commit themselves to identification of the perceived key
knowledge sharing meetings in the problems. Another strength is that each
countries concerned. country ‘defends’ its education practice and


is challenged to give opinions on other flexible instrument that can enhance the
countries’ practice. This balance of ‘attack’ quality of policy development and
and ‘defence’ leads to discussions about implementation at partner country level. It
the local context. A very important third could be used in many circumstances
strength lies in the comparisons between where policy options are formulated. Its
countries. Mirroring experience from others use is not restricted to a particular phase
is essential for a better understanding of of the policy cycle – both in the early
one’s own national education practice. No phases of policy development, as well as
less important is the ‘stakeholder clash’ during implementation. Above all, it is
between policymakers and school directors about learning from the experiences of
or VET experts or social partners. This others, and it is therefore of greatest
brings different perspectives into the peer benefit when used in a multi-country
learning discussions, also allowing analysis setting.
of the dynamics of policymaking and
implementation in partner countries. The major weakness is that the impact of
peer learning remains rather vague. The
The role of individual peers seems to be extent to which individual peer learning
a decisive factor, but achievements will becomes collective or organisational
largely depend on their position and learning, or how much policy will change as
attitude. An influential and active peer will a result of peer learning, depends on
be in position to change policy, different factors. Although peer learning
organisation or behaviour more than can influence the actions of governments
someone with no decision-making power. or donors, this is not enough to make a
We have also mentioned that the firm, positive evaluation on the impact. This
duration of ETF peer learning is is one of the fundamental challenges for
approximately one year and as education the ETF in the future – given the fact that
changes are made slowly, the future peer learning is one of the ETF’s tools for
challenge for the ETF will be to look for policy learning, it is important to bear in
appropriate ways to further develop the mind approaches that can help to better
methodology as part of wider reform understand its impact on the policy making
initiatives. In this way sufficient time and process. This certainly has some
resources can be devoted to in-depth similarities with the EU’s Open Method of
analyses of a policy issue, in order to use Coordination. The Open Method of
peer learning for reflecting on policy Coordination largely depends on the policy
options while benefiting from others’ areas in which it has been applied, on the
experience. This would also allow for a different actors involved in the reforms and
more structured follow-up which would on the selection of a proper set of
substantially boost the potential impact of indicators for measuring the impact of the
peer learning. Finally, peer learning is a policy reforms.

Vaclav Klenha, Søren Nielsen and
Anar Beishembaeva

This chapter describes and analyses an 1. What can be learnt from a quite radical
ambitious attempt to facilitate structural attempt to make use of policy learning
VET reform in Kyrgyzstan through a policy approaches in Kyrgyzstan?
learning approach organised by the ETF. 2. What are the strengths and
It aims to provide evidence from which the weaknesses of the policy learning
ETF can draw lessons for future policy intervention strategy and how can
advice provision to partner countries. The tensions in the methodology be
case is set in the landscape of Kyrgyz overcome?
education and training modernisation 3. What have we learnt about the specific
efforts, focusing in particular on new demands on international experts in
knowledge and lessons learnt by all policy learning?
parties involved. The Kyrgyz reform
process, still full of uncertainties, is now The chapter starts with an introduction
gathering momentum thanks to a of choices made. Next there is a
combined endeavour by national and description of the context of VET policy
international actors. development in Kyrgyzstan, followed by
a section on how policy learning ideas
Against the backdrop of a description of and principles were applied on the
reforms towards a well-defined and ground. In the final section we sum up
nationally owned VET policy and strategy, the lessons learnt and set out some
we raise three substantial questions about guidelines for refining the ETF
the policy learning concept and approach.
methodology applied in Kyrgyzstan:


1. WHY DID WE APPLY POLICY the last decade and continuing in selected
LEARNING PRINCIPLES IN sub-sectors of VET. Though our target has
THE VET REFORM CONTEXT been facilitating the work of national
IN KYRGYZSTAN? stakeholders, the key international donors
are regularly updated on progress. They
VET reforms in transition countries often will play an important part in reviewing and
depend heavily on the presence and consulting the resulting strategic document,
contribution of international donors, which may finally become a gateway to
resulting in a mix of positive and less better coordinated donor assistance for
positive experiences. Especially in initial modernising VET in Kyrgyzstan. We are
phases of transition but sometimes also still in the middle of this process, at a
long afterwards, donors have played a key stage when the draft policy and strategy is
role in developing awareness of the need to be presented to the national VET
for VET reforms, influencing the reform community and to the donors active in this
policy agenda and providing resources for area.
strategy development and implementation.
In turn, many national policymakers were
more interested in receiving funds than in 2. NATIONAL CONTEXT OF
policy making. They were convinced that VET POLICY DEVELOPMENT
the key problem was the impoverished
state of their education infrastructure. They The political situation in Kyrgyzstan has
have often lacked the capacity to assess been volatile with frequent changes in
the appropriateness of donor proposals for government, including changes among
the institutional context of their own VET ministry officials. There is limited continuity
systems. among those attached to the policy
development process.
This mismatch of donor and recipient
expectations and behaviour has thwarted Although its economy is still weak and
the sustainability of many donor-supported vulnerable, the country maintained its
reform initiatives. Much of the earlier macroeconomic stability, improved the
assistance to VET reform in transition business and investment climate, and
countries was guided by principles of policy managed the growth of services and small
copying and policy taking (King and enterprises.
McGrath, 2004; Grootings, 2004, King,
2005; Ellerman, 2005). Stakeholders and The level of democracy is the highest of the
policymakers in transition countries have Central Asian countries, with general
not been able to learn much about their freedom of expression and a strong civil
new roles in a changing VET system, society.
although they may sometimes have
become experts on the systems of other Major social issues, like poverty, still need
countries. to be addressed. With a GDP per capita of
USD 542 in 2006, the Kyrgyz Republic
These are the main reasons why in remains one of the poorest of the CIS26
Kyrgyzstan the ETF argued for a new countries. In 2005 an estimated 43% of the
approach to VET policy reform. The key population lived below the national poverty
issues have thus become the identification line with 11% in extreme poverty. The
of priorities and strategic planning by incidence of poverty is higher in rural
national stakeholders themselves, with the areas. Unemployment and migration are
ETF acting as facilitator of the process serious challenges.
aimed at consensus building in support of
national ownership. The approach also Moreover, education is negatively affected
attempts to build on and integrate the rich by poverty. The social and economic
donor project experience accumulated over situation in the country has led to a

26 The Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) covers Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia,
Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, the Russian Federation, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and


noticeable reduction of funding for the 3. THE CHALLENGES TO

education system (only 3.6% of GDP in POLICY CHANGE AND
2006), which impacts on the budgets of REALITIES ON THE GROUND
education institutions and especially on the
salaries of teachers which stand at only In Kyrgyzstan, as in other transition
60% of the national average. countries, there is still little experience of
and a low capacity for national policy
An overall strategic framework is set by making. Policies used to be developed in
the Country Development Strategy (CDS) Moscow and Kyrgyz authorities
2007-2010, which is structured around administered them under tight central
four pillars: developing the economy, good control, with little freedom for policy
governance and financial transparency, initiatives. The centralised administrative
human and social development, and role of government is still more or less
environmental sustainability. Sectors with preserved, and the new and understaffed
economic potential are the energy sector, strategic planning units in the ministries
mining, the agriculture and processing have to cope effectively with their new
industry, small and medium-sized policy making role.
enterprises, construction, tourism, as well
as transport infrastructure. For human and Regional and local authorities are slow to
social development the priorities are change and so are schools. Former roles
poverty reduction, education and health and relations still tend to persist as they are
care, as reflected in the Millennium deeply rooted in old times. By and large,
Development Goals. Education itself is effective interaction between schools and
expected to provide outcomes in terms of their communities mainly takes place where
increased productivity and economic they have been empowered by donor
competitiveness. Basic, secondary and projects. Some schools do their best to
higher professional education have to innovatively engage with local businesses,
respond more flexibly to labour market partner organisations and potential new client
needs. This is to be achieved by groups but there is little capacity and
improving the status and performance of know-how in other schools. There is not
teachers and by combining increased much incentive for the low paid headmasters,
state funding with private resources. teachers and trainers to do so either.

Donors have played an important role in Institutionally, VET presents a fragmented

assisting the country’s development since it picture of two sub-systems: basic (primary)
gained independence almost two decades VET with its vocational lyceums (formerly
ago. A Donors’ Coordination Council prof-tech-uchilishte or PTU) administered
(DCC) has been established and a group by the new State Agency for Vocational
of five donors27 developed a Joint Country Education (SAVE)28, and secondary VET in
Support Strategy (JCSS) to align their technikums, now also called colleges,
approaches. under the overall responsibility of the
Ministry of Education and Science, but with
The International Advisory Committee for a number of line ministries running their
Education (IACE) was established in 2003 own secondary vocational schools. Both
by the Ministry of Education and Science systems are very impoverished, with
jointly with multilateral and bilateral run-down facilities and obsolete equipment
agencies working in the education sector. for learning. There are many relatively
Interrupted in 2005, IACE activity resumed small and isolated schools, left on their
in June 2007, and the Ministry of Education own in terms of additional funding,
and Science started to act as a donor methodological support and in-service
coordinator. training.

27 The Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), the UK
Department for International Development (DFID), the World Bank Group and the United Nations Agencies.
The EC and Germany, which had not initially been part of that strategy, took steps in 2007 that aimed at
joining the JCSS.
28 Until the beginning of 2007 the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection was responsible for basic VET.


After years of neglect VET is now in focus to around 10% of annual government
again, due to the sharply increased need for support to the entire education sector and
a skilled work force at medium qualification is more than the annual national VET
levels. There are six times more higher budget. The ETF itself has implemented
education students (with economy and law more than 30 projects since 1996,
as most favoured subjects) than students in including the establishment of the National
vocational education. This is seen as an Observatory for VET (which later became
obstacle to economic development, now an independent Forum of Education
emphasised by the government and Initiatives), over 20 seminars or workshops,
increasingly also by the employers and and study visits to nine EU countries. All in
entrepreneurs, who experience a growing all there has been quite extensive project
gap in the supply of skills. input, the outcomes and impact of which
are neither easy to trace, nor
Though employer representation is still systematically evaluated.
fragmented, it is becoming a potential
driving force in Kyrgyz VET reform. The The most significant donor initiatives today
trade unions are getting involved as well are the Asian Development Bank USD 10
while they work on a better understanding million grant project for primary VET, and
of their role and capacity. The growing the European Commission initiative to
NGO sector steps in as another social prepare a sector policy support programme
partner. (SPSP) in education. The former funds
practical immediate modernisation steps,
In addition to the split governance of VET, such as school rehabilitation and
there is a significant policy influence of the integration, curriculum innovation and more
president’s and the prime-minister’s flexible financing of basic VET. The latter
(government) administrations. Recently provides a new perspective of a major
also the Jogorku Kenesh, (the Kyrgyz innovation programme for the whole
Parliament) has shown increased interest education sector.
in VET through its Committee for Education
and Science. Amid the multitude of players
there is a growing sense of urgency but so 4. ETF VET POLICY LEARNING
far it is not clear who will take the political PROJECT IN KYRGYZSTAN
The ETF has run its Policy Learning
Development assistance is a major source Project in Kyrgyzstan since 2007. It helps
of funds for the reform of Kyrgyz VET. A the Kyrgyz authorities define VET priorities
number of donors have been active in the and identify policy options. The project is
area, with many achieving good results at designed as a social learning process
pilot school level (such as GTZ and where local actors gradually learn to take
Helvetas) but so far without system-wide over full responsibility and make
impact. They have now formed a round consensual decisions on the future of VET.
table (including the ETF) and produced a The project facilitates the learning needs of
common position paper (A Donors’ View of national policymakers.
the Kyrgyz Vocational Education
System29), and GTZ and Helvetas have The main principles of the ETF policy
taken initiatives to work on policy learning approach included tools and
development with national stakeholders. instruments, such as the logical framework,
According to a recent ETF review of donor scenario techniques, stakeholder analysis,
projects in VET, approximately USD 36 brainstorming, priority setting, IT supported
million was disbursed between 1998 and decision-making, and a review of past
2007 in VET-related projects. This is equal experiences.

29 Asian Development Bank (ADB), Eurasia Foundation of Central Asia (EFCA), European Training Foundation
(ETF), Forum for Educational Initiatives, German Technical Cooperation (GTZ), Helvetas (Swiss Association
for International Cooperation), International Labour Organisation (ILO), Intercooperation, InWent, Tempus,
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), USAID, University of Central Asia, World Bank Rural
Education Project.


While this was designed as a learning recently established strategy units and
process, the focus shifted to a product there is continuing tension between the two
orientation when the need appeared to bodies for a leading role in overall VET
feed into the planned EU Sector system administration. It is hoped that the
Programme in Education, to be started in Presidential Administration can build a
201030. Both the Commission and the bridge between them and possibly take up
Kyrgyz Government recognise and put the leadership role.
demands on the ETF-facilitated preparation
of a national policy and strategy for VET. Social partners, in particular employers,
It is part of an overall national policy and are expected to play a role in VET and
strategy for the education sector, which will even contribute to its funding. The
become the basis of the Sector Government would like the employers to
Programme. ‘order’ workers from the state and employ
those with formal VET qualifications, rather
Although the Sector Programme will cover than hiring people from the street. The
the whole education system, it will focus on employers argue that they have to be
development priorities as they will be guaranteed a return for their investment, in
defined in the overall education policy and the sense of getting productive VET
strategy. Thanks to the VET policy graduates with the right skills and
initiative, which was well underway when competences. Labour migration is another
the idea of the Sector Programme emerged factor that influences the funding of VET,
a year ago, VET became a major because well-trained people often leave
component of the preparation process. The Kyrgyzstan for better paid jobs in nearby
VET Policy Task Force, set up by the ETF countries.
and formally endorsed by a Presidential
Decree on 15 May 2008, is in a very good The perspective of vocational schools (and
position to ensure the integration of the of municipalities or regions as their
VET policy and strategy in the overall immediate administrators) is largely framed
education policy and strategy, and to help by the perceived opportunity to improve
VET to become one of the key priority their status in terms of physical
areas in the sector programme. infrastructure, better salaries for
headmasters, teachers and trainers, and a
more positive public image. They are less
5. THE POSITIONS OF concerned with their potential new role of
DIFFERENT STAKEHOLDERS opening up to serve different groups of
learners, becoming innovative and
Already in 2006 and with the help of the developing their staff accordingly. Regions,
ETF, the idea of a joint VET policy was municipalities, schools and teachers are
agreed between the basic and secondary still seen (and see themselves mostly) as
VET administrations. It receives a new implementers dutifully following centrally
impetus from the EU’s Sector Programme adopted policies and strategies, rather than
initiative and also from the increased as active stakeholders on whom the
attention of the president and government success of the reform depends and who
to VET after years of prioritising higher can contribute to policy development.
Individuals, such as students, their families
So far, neither the Ministry of Education and adult learners, who often bear a
and Science nor SAVE have taken an substantial part of the costs of education
effective lead in the joint policy and training, would like to see VET as a
development. Verbally the ministry agreed viable livelihood or career option, providing
to take the initiative but each party adequate returns in terms of better
continues to build reform strategies for its chances for (self)-employment. One VET
own sub-sector, even though the Country policy Task Force member quoted a rural
Development Strategy (CDS) speaks of parent: “I have sold my cow to be able to
one VET system. Both institutions have send my children to the vocational school.

30 Kyrgyzstan Sector Policy Support Programme in Education 2010.


I want the state to make sure that they schools and NGOs alongside the top level
receive a good quality training, which institutions. The national VET policy Task
would help them get well paid jobs”. Force, established in early 2007, consists
of the following key stakeholder
Donors are increasingly aware that the representatives:
outcomes of their aid should finally have an
impact on national policies. Kyrgyz officials n Head of Social and Gender Policy
are increasingly interested in having a Sector, Administration of the President
system-wide impact. The sector-based n Head of Department, Ministry of
approach, such as that adopted by the EU Education and Science
2010 sector programme now offers the n Head of Strategic Unit, Ministry of
perspective of a better coordinated effort, Education and Science
shared between donors and the Kyrgyz n Director of Kyrgyz Academy of
authorities, and among the donors Education
themselves as confirmed by their ongoing n Director, State Agency of Vocational
discussions about a proposed joint trust Education
fund for education. The VET donors round n Head of Strategic Unit, State Agency of
table initiative and the Asian Development Vocational Education
Bank in its current project may also n Head of Department, State Committee
positively influence VET policy and strategy for Migration and Employment
development, while the EU Sector n Director, Vocational Lyceum
Programme will give the Kyrgyz n Director, Construction College, Chair of
government a prominent role in Board of College Directors
coordinating donor intervention in the n Director of a private school and NQF
sector. Coordinator
n Head of Forum for Educational
6. KYRGYZ VET POLICY TASK n Head of Department, State Agency for
FORCE Tourism
n Vice President, Chamber of Industry
In the course of the past five years and and Commerce.
through different projects, the ETF team
has tried to familiarise its Kyrgyz partners This group, working for more than a year
with new concepts and developments, now, has gone through a development
support their understanding against the process, moving from individual and
background of their experience and the organisational self-protection and
national context, and mobilise their own defensiveness to active listening,
strategic planning capacity. This work is far understanding and sharing. In the box
from finished. below we list some of the noteworthy
points made by the Kyrgyz working group
In the process the focus was gradually members during the discussions at the
moved from the two leading institutions workshop in November 2007, which
towards a multi-stakeholder task force or illustrate their self-awareness and
working group, taking care to involve also perceptions of the task.

n “We are stakeholders with different backgrounds, which is healthy but quite new for
us – we need to share opinions, complement each other and agree on solutions.”
n “We need to move from our post-Soviet administrative system to a more liberal
model of flexible VET, the question is how quickly or slowly can we do that.”
n “When we are established by the presidential decree, it will give us authority and
influence, but also a big responsibility.”
n “Our group is now a team which can develop productive and creative relations and
we can work as partners with the help of consultants and experts.”
n “We need to focus on what is the product (result) of our education and training,
given that 80% of young people aged 17 enter the labour market.”
n “Our current laws are not a barrier to modernising education and training, changes
are needed in the legal regulation of lower levels.”


n “However, the entire legal base follows the old paradigm – it is input based, not
outcome based.”
n “We do not know how our economy will be doing and where we are going – a good
policy for continued uncertainty will be needed.”
n “We need to understand that if the schools and teachers remain poor, we will not be
able to do much.”
n “We do not want to destroy the current system, we aim at parallel developments.”

7. EXPERIMENTS WITH criteria, with statistical results displayed

GROUP DISCUSSION immediately after each round. Using the
SUPPORT SOFTWARE system required networked computers for
SYSTEM each of the twelve group members and
arrangements for using both Russian and
One of the tools used for policy facilitation English during the half day session
was an IT-based group discussion support (simultaneous interpretation, immediate
system used during the workshop translation of written outputs, and two
organised for the Kyrgyz VET Policy Task beamers – one for showing the results in
Force and hosted by the ETF in November Russian and one in English).
2007. The system takes comments from
individual participants, which can then be The results were achieved through the
rated by each participant using multiple following steps:

1. Identifying the most urgent issues of the Kyrgyz VET system = 46 items.
2. Rating the 46 issues, their sequence, their average scores and standard deviations.
3. Subjecting the VET policy building blocks identified to multi-criteria analysis and
arranging them on the basis of their average scores.
4. Combining the outputs of steps 2 and 3 in which process VET policy building blocks
were filtered down to nine priority building blocks:
VET policy building blocks Priority building blocks
Qualification structure Qualification structure
Professional teachers Professional teachers
Modern infrastructure Good curriculum and textbooks
Good curriculum and textbooks Involvement of social partners
Open exams Necessary information about labour market
Involvement of social partners Professional ministries, good coordination
Necessary information about labour market Management of the education system
Professional ministries, good coordination Motivated students
Open education system System of monitoring and assessment
Management of the educational system
Adequate financing
Motivated students
System of monitoring and assessment
Good legislation
General upbringing and education
Accreditation and state attestation
Social protection taking into account
regional interests
5. Generating the most important components and their rating for each priority block,
thus setting priority areas for action for each of the nine priority building blocks.
6. Discussing the outcomes.


The nine VET policy building blocks were considerably, decisions could be taken
processed in three smaller, mixed groups, quickly on much of the content by twelve
each producing drafts for three priority equally weighted voices, each and
building blocks, using the results of the everybody contributed to and
computer-supported brainstorming acknowledged the outcome which was
sessions. There were three rounds of seen as their collective result.
group work, each followed by plenary
feedback and discussion, producing nine However, such an exercise should be
strategic drafts, one for each building viewed with caution. Different groups in
block. The agreed structure of the drafts different settings can provide different
was as follows: outcomes – in our case we could assume a
certain validity of results because the group
1. problems related to the building block; was a mature one and the exercise was
2. what has already been done (or will be done in the middle of a five-day workshop,
done) to solve the problems; which allowed both conditioning the group
3. organisations involved (stakeholders); beforehand and proper follow-up. Still,
4. possible solutions/strategy, describing some of the ‘filtered off’ building blocks had
two options: to be restored later to keep the strategic
a) minimum solution, framework complete.
b) maximum radical solution;
5. time frame;
6. other related issues; 8. DRAFT VET POLICY AND
7. risks and obstacles. STRATEGY PAPER NOW
The exercise proved to be quite a
success. The group clearly enjoyed its By mid-2008 the draft policy paper became
high-tech innovative nature and gave it available and thus the Task Force had
top marks in the final satisfaction sheet. finished its work. The draft Kyrgyz VET
And indeed, the enormous field of policy and strategy (24 pages) follows a
discussion was narrowed down structure defined by the ETF.

1. Main issues common to basic VET and secondary VET (3 pages), using analytical
parts of existing documents and ensuring that the issues are all addressed in the
following sections.
2. Vision and principles of reformed VET (1 page), starting from the vision and
principles and elaborating these in agreement between the Working Group
members with a view to incorporating principles applied in donor projects.
3. Position of VET in an education system with a lifelong learning perspective
(2 pages), trying to outline a desirable structure of VET in terms of levels,
governance, types of schools, pathways, and links to general and higher education.
4. Strategy for developing VET (2 pages), describing briefly the strategic direction for
VET as laid out in the Country Development Strategy, including economic and
social development and their implications for VET, and subsequently broadly
outlining how the desired changes in VET towards the vision and principles can
happen in that particular framework.
5. Measures to be taken (12 pages), using the drafts produced through group work in
Turin on 26-28 November 2007 as a basis and detailing what, how, who and when.
This includes thoughts on what and how donor project experience can be used,
trying to foresee obstacles to the process and offering ways to overcome them.
Costs are also included, with suggestions indicating who could contribute what.


The drafting process, however, did not go This tension between process and product
as smoothly as had been expected by the is fundamental for understanding how
ETF. It revealed a number of tensions and policymakers in countries in transition
obstacles in the organisation of policy develop new policies in education and
learning arrangements which deserve more training. Indeed, for us policy development
in-depth analysis. We will make a is policy learning (see ETF Yearbook
preliminary analysis here and present 2004).
guidelines for overcoming some of the
barriers identified. Policymakers are not only policy learners,
they also have to act, and acting on the
While the Task Force members were political scene, especially in environments
excellent in their analysis, interaction and that are undergoing radical change, does
involvement, it was difficult for them to not always leave a lot of space and time
move from a research format to the actual for careful and gradual learning. But
formulation of the policy and strategy policymakers in transition countries
paper, in spite of the facilitating efforts of engage in systemic, radical reforms and
the ETF. We had to organise an additional are in need of new learning which very
workshop and help members to commit the often contradicts with established
main sections of the text to paper. After knowledge and routines. They have to
that, the ETF team had to shorten the text engage in daily political decision-making
and edit a considerable part of it to fit into and, depending on their position in the
the agreed structure and the format. This system, that active engagement may often
was considered problematic due to the risk take priority. For policymakers therefore,
of losing national ownership of the strategy. perhaps even more so than for other
learners, learning is more than merely a
cognitive process: learning is practice.
9. LESSONS AND Their learning, following Lave and Wenger
CONCLUSIONS FOR ETF (1991), is situated learning as it is an
FACILITATION integral and inseparable aspect of their
social practice.
What are the reasons for the discrepancy
between active and lively interaction in ä In its facilitating role, the ETF must
learning processes and hesitation when it realise that free learning spaces barely
comes to formulating products? Where are exist for policymakers and key
the barriers? stakeholders. Demands for concrete
results will have overriding importance
Policy learning versus product and such results must thus be ensured
expectations from the start of policy learning
The activity in Kyrgyzstan had been planned
by the ETF as an experiential learning Policy is new to participants
project (Kolb, 1984) with space for creativity
and an open horizon. Although not As we wrote in the first line of the chapter,
altogether neglected, the result orientation the policy learning activity defined in
was not so prominent. However, the Task Kyrgyzstan was highly ambitious. It was
Force members were high-level people and ambitious in the sense that in any country it
the policy dynamics in the country raised is very difficult to formulate a vision, define
high expectations about the outcome of the principles and give strategic directions for
learning activity. Expectations from national achieving stated goals. It was ambitious
authorities and stakeholders, the EC also when compared to other and more
Delegation and the international donor developed transition countries where this
community increased sharply during 2008 task is normally done by foreign VET policy
when a whole new education sector policy experts. Finally, it was particularly
was suddenly to be informed by the VET ambitious in the national Kyrgyz context.
policy paper. With the formal Presidential
mandate given to the Task Force in May In the area of policy development, even the
2008, the stakes increased even further. term as such may have been new to the


Kyrgyz participants. Instead of a VET policy cycle, including the final text formulation
and strategy there were only legislation phase. The group members contributed to
and decrees. Suddenly the new political the content of the document but there was
environment forced people and institutions no clear agreement in the group on how to
to change their thinking in the direction of divide responsibilities for delivering the final
designing policies rather than laws. version. We did not succeed in setting up,
as foreseen, an editorial team of two or
Apart from this shift from administration to three Task Force members who, together
management in ambiguous conditions, new with ETF staff, could finalise the policy
qualities became important such as paper. It has also been difficult to establish
subject-related excellence, perseverance, cross-sectional critical commenting on
courage and diligence. The ability to get other members’ work, and any justified
the others behind you and the capacity to criticism from the ETF team made the
steer a course suddenly became crucial group very unhappy. We need to
competences. Such issues are understand better the nature of this
encapsulated in the term ‘good resistance towards delegating (and
governance’, a phrase that was hardly accepting) responsibility, structuring the
heard 15 years ago. The word group and acknowledging criticism, which
‘governance’ comes from the Greek for was on a concrete text and not on people.
‘steering’. For a boat to be steered safely it Is this a fear of criticism, a high and polite
needs not only a good captain and crew. It respect for each other and an
also needs reliable measures and unwillingness to give and to accept
instruments to gauge its progress. But criticism? Or is it something else rooted in
exactly these tools were not available in a the Soviet past? Without a proper
country like Kyrgyzstan, where understanding, it might become a quite
policymakers suddenly faced a range of destructive barrier in a policy learning
players who all tried to influence policy: arrangement, because we put ownership at
national academics, politicians risk when we, in the final stage, had to
representing different parties, foreign pursue the quality and relevance that is
consultants, EU and World Bank officials, necessary for a text of this calibre and did
bilateral donors, teachers, parents and not get the full support of the learners.
employers all pulled in sometimes very
different directions. This was the political There is a challenge for inter-cultural
environment for policymakers and civil understanding which we will have to grasp
servants who had to cope with the better. Policy teams consist of experts and
complexities and tried their best to guide a specialists who bring their emotions,
policy development and approval process. dreams, values, norms and traditions with
them to the situation. We must understand
ä In its policy facilitation role, the ETF will them better and find ways to cope with the
have to dig even deeper into an reality in countries like Kyrgyzstan. It may
analysis of institutional dependency and be conditioned by a deeper layer of the
mental echoes of the past and always national culture and traditions. Whatever
reflect on the context in which policy the reason is, if we want to pursue these
formulation is to take place. It may be activities we need to know why such
on the right track as far as the problems arise.
organisation of learning environments
and processes is concerned, but it must ä In its policy facilitation role, the ETF will
be constantly mindful of the local policy have to develop a higher level of
formulation phases. intercultural competence in its
interactions with countries in transition.
Balancing local commitment with An immediate and direct lesson to be
intercultural understanding learnt is the need from day one to get a
‘psychological contract’ with participants
Throughout the process the Kyrgyz of policy learning groups and to agree
participants have shown an incredible on: (a) the result is a product of quality,
commitment to all stages of the project (b) the necessity to structure the group,


with an editorial responsibility clearly While the ETF methodology of facilitation

defined, and (c) the requirement to lay has been taken a step further and has
down some ground-rules for articulating proven successful for organising learning
comments from ‘critical friends’. The platforms and processes, we may risk
Kyrgyz experience demonstrates that having to pay a considerable price if we
this has to be written down in a don’t find convincing ways of ensuring
document that is repeatedly brought to national ownership, and thereby
the attention of participants to ensure sustainability, also of the final product if this
results. needs to be adapted to live up to the
demands on quality and relevance of a
Organise learning environments which national policy and strategy paper. The
train local analytical skills final stages of the work in Kyrgyzstan
demonstrated that we need to find
The experience from Kyrgyzstan shows solutions which can balance the quest for
that while there is no lack of vision and the organisation of huge social learning
interesting discussions, the realities in the processes with the concurrent production
country and the fit into context must never of substantial policy papers. This tension
be allowed to go out of sight. The different between process and product will need to
versions of early drafts of the VET policy be solved.
and strategy make clear that there is an
acute lack of analyses of the local context ä In its policy facilitation role, the ETF
and already existing policy documents and could probably capitalise on refining its
other available resources. It starts and facilitation of the final ‘result’ phases of
ends with visions and principles spiced with policy learning approaches by making
different concepts taken from documents use of didactic instruments developed
related to the EU VET policy framework, by educational science and practice in
and fails to integrate and build on available problem and project-based learning
national evidence. environments in higher education.
There are many similarities. We also
ä In its policy facilitation role, the ETF start from a joint identification of a
should invest more in training the ‘problem’ in a Task Force, and work is
capacity of policy learners to undertake organised as a ‘project’. We find it
analytical work based on the available difficult to bring the processes to a
national policy documents, thereby constructive result, so the question to
paving the way for embeddedness and ask is: which supportive didactic
sustainability. For the same reason, it mechanisms facilitate this task
may have to tone down the focus on elsewhere? In the next phase the ETF
advanced new concepts. As it is, should develop a set of guidelines to
participants can hardly see the local this purpose.
wood from the trees of these foreign
Didactic lessons for developing the ETF
policy learning facilitation role In the introduction to this chapter we raised
three questions:
The policy learning concept is important for
the ETF’s work in and for the countries in 1. What can be learnt from quite a radical
transition. One clear message from the attempt to make use of policy learning
facilitation of policy learning in Kyrgyzstan approaches in Kyrgyzstan?
has been that all participants articulated 2. What are the strengths and
the desire and need to acquire skills and weaknesses of the policy learning
competences themselves in order to take intervention strategy and how can
full responsibility for developing their tensions in the methodology be
education and training system. overcome?


3. What have we learnt about the specific and using their networks to build the
demands on international experts in information base, discuss and develop a
policy learning? final product. The consequence and partly
the weakness of such a strategy is the
From our work with the Kyrgyz VET policy vulnerability of results, and the huge effort
task force we learnt that our attempt to and input required in the short-term period
employ policy learning approaches can to develop capacity and organise relevant
lead to the expected result – a processes.
comprehensive strategic document
developed and owned by a group of The main lessons learnt for our policy
national stakeholders in the transition facilitation role are that we must be better
country context. Even though at one stage at calculating in the high product
we had to intervene to help structure the expectations, we must better analyse the
document, members of the group influence of the past and present national
generated and built upon their own contexts, we must further develop our
strategic thinking which is embodied in the intercultural competence, we must focus
material. more on training policy learners in
analysing their national policy environment
The strength of the policy learning rather than international approaches only,
intervention strategy was in drawing on the and we must make better use of didactic
knowledge and wisdom of key instruments from educational science and
stakeholders, building trust between them, practice.

Mounir Baati and Peter Schuh

1. INTRODUCTION ground. It explores the reasons for the limits

of such standard models when put to work
Reading policy learning literature, we can in a partner country context. It then goes on
identify two models of the relation between to look at the options for the further
policy learning and effective policy making. development of policy learning approaches
First, policy learning appears to increase the in the partner countries.
effectiveness of policies by incorporating
lessons that can be drawn from evidence
available to policymakers – it emphasises 2. ORIGINS OF THE POLICY
the influence of external and past LEARNING INTERVENTION IN
experience. Second, policy learning takes MOROCCO
place through policymaking processes with
the collaborative and active participation of Early in 2007, the Moroccan government –
different stakeholders – it emphasises the represented by the Ministry of Employment
impact of the participatory process. and Vocational Training (MEFP) – asked
the ETF for assistance in developing a
This chapter argues, however, that in some strategic plan aimed at expanding
partner countries there are factors within apprenticeship schemes in two sectors:
current policy making contexts that mitigate agriculture and handicrafts31. The project
against a model approach to policy learning. started in autumn 2007.
Based on an ETF intervention in Morocco,
this chapter highlights the gaps between the From the outset, the ETF team has had
expectations raised by a standard approach major concerns about the intervention: First
to policy learning and the realities on the of all, the time allocated to developing the

31 In Morocco, the term handicrafts covers so-called ‘production craftsmanship’ (carpenters, joiners, plumbers)
as well as arts (jewellery, decorated pottery, souvenirs).


strategic planning for the two selected outlined by Grootings and Nielsen (2005)
sectors was very short (September to which entail the active engagement of
December 2007). Second, the policy had national stakeholders in developing their
already been defined and specific and very own policy solutions based on the wealth of
ambitious targets for both sectors had national and international experiences
already been fixed. while taking into consideration the fact that
there are no ready-made models that can
Nevertheless, there were several simply be borrowed from abroad.
arguments in favour of ETF intervention to
support the Moroccan government in this A local team was formed by grouping
endeavour. These included the fact that the participants from the ministries and
ETF was already providing support for the associations concerned with the
involvement of new stakeholders in the development of apprenticeships32. This
policy making process in other sectors team was headed and coordinated by the
through the sectoral observatory function Head of the Work-based training
and that the new initiative would have Directorate33 at the Ministry of Employment
brought a more collective policy process. and Vocational Training.
Furthermore, it was considered that policy
learning could have led to a less politicised Before discussing the policy learning
policy process by highlighting the limits of process and outcomes we will briefly
top-down target setting and the importance describe the vocational education and
of the links with labour market needs. training system and the political context of
Third, and linked to this, the process the Moroccan request.
proposed by the ETF would have led to the
development of an implementation strategy
shared across the different ministries 3. CONTEXT OF THE POLICY
involved and would have provided the DEVELOPMENTS
necessary conditions for policy learning
which in turn would lead to a greater During the last decade, the Moroccan
degree of consensus through dialogue. vocational training system has evolved
from a system that was oriented towards
The ETF intervention was designed in social demand to a system more oriented
cooperation with the Ministry of towards actual labour market needs. This
Employment and Vocational Training. The reform has been supported by many
main objective was to support the donors, including the European Union, the
Moroccan authorities in developing their Canadian International Development
own strategy for promoting and expanding Agency (CIDA), the Agence Française de
the apprenticeship scheme. This meant Développement (AFD) and the Deutsche
that the activity would be led by the Gesellschaft für Technische
Moroccans, with the ETF playing a Zusammenarbeit (GTZ). The main pillars of
supporting role. The ETF would be the the reform were the introduction of
facilitator. competency-based training and the dual
system, both of which allow more
The design of the intervention took into involvement of employers in the design of
account the policy learning principles curricula and training delivery.

32 As specified in the ToRs, the Moroccan team included representatives from the following ministries and
• The Ministry of Employment and Vocational Training
• The Ministry of Agriculture
• The Ministry of Tourism and Hand-made Craft
• Office de la Formation Professionnelle et de la Promotion du Travail (the main public training provider)
• The High School for Clothing Industry
• Regional academies for education and training
• NGOs active in vocational trainings in the two sectors
• The training commission of CGEM (an employers’ organisation)
• Sectoral employers’ organisations
• The Ministry of Finance.
33 Directeur de la formation en milieu professionnel.


Training is provided in three main ways: national conference37 organised in October

2006 to assess the implementation of the
n residential, where the training takes charter’s recommendations identified a
place mainly in the vocational training number of causes. One of these was the
centre; high dropout rate38, which was blamed on
n the dual system where half the training poor equipment at training centres, and low
takes place in the centre and the other participation of enterprises probably due to
half in companies; and a lack of incentives for them to do so.
n apprenticeship, where apprentices
spend most of their time (up to 90%) in Another point was related to the
companies. management and follow-up of
apprenticeships. The many consulting
In terms of qualifications, apprenticeship bodies and commissions that were
leads to the two lowest levels of the established to coordinate apprenticeship
Moroccan qualification classification. These training were for the most part inefficient.
are ‘specialisation’ and ‘qualification’. The
latter is just a certificate issued by the Furthermore, the apprenticeship funding
training centre and is not recognised. scheme was mentioned as one of the key
hurdles. The government budget remains
Although the total capacity of the training the main source of funding for
system has increased by more than 50% apprenticeship training and it was reported
over the last six years34, it can absorb only a that current funding mechanisms are
small number of the students leaving school. causing a lot of problems in terms of
allocation efficiency.
In 2000, the Moroccan government
launched a national economic and social It was in order to respond to these critical
development strategy in which it prioritised observations that the Moroccan Ministry of
human resources development. It came Vocational Training requested ETF support
with a National Charter for Education and to develop a strategy for the development
Training (CNEF, December 1999)35. One of of apprenticeship training.
the main components of this Charter was
the development of apprenticeships and Given that the Moroccan government had
the alternance system to increase the already fixed binding quantitative targets
employability of trainees and improve the for the expansion strategy and that the
absorption rates of a large number of period of time available to develop a plan
school leavers. was very short (three to four months) the
planning procedure had to be very
This charter had the training of 50,000 effective. Under these circumstances, the
apprentices in 2005 as an objective, but ’planning by objectives’ (PBO)39 method
this was never achieved36. Participants at a was deemed to be the most promising as it

34 Etat et perspective du système d’éducation et de formation, volume 2 – rapport analytique, Conseil

Supérieur de l’Enseignement, 2008.
36 In 2007, the total number of trainees enrolled was 233,000. Of these, 20,000 were in apprenticeships, which
remained well below the original government objective of 50,000 apprentices in 2005.
37 Les premières assises nationales de la formation professionnelle.
38 Indeed, the education system is characterised by a high dropout rate. According to statistics of the Ministry
of National Education, 410,000 students from the primary and lower secondary levels left school in 2004/05.
The internal efficiency of the education system is low: only 76% of the students attending primary school (six
years) finish it successfully, while only 47% of the students attending the last year of the lower secondary
level succeed to enter the upper secondary level.
39 ‘Planning by objectives’ (PBO), in its original form, was developed by and for the American space programme as
a straight-forward and goal-oriented planning method. ‘Metaplan’, a variation on PBO, was developed by a
German consultancy firm as a collection of methods of effectively orienting group discussions towards
participation and consensus. The fact that today GTZ actually uses a new method of project planning (‘planning
by chains of intended effects’) does not indicate that PBO has proven its failure. In fact, the new method is quite
demanding. It requires discipline and persistence in planning workshops and a lengthy discussion process before
the final planning document can be passed. Neither of these two conditions could be met in this project.


is a very time-efficient method that n Workshops were organised with high

nonetheless emphasises broad ranking and executive staff from the
participation in decision making. sectoral ministries involved.
n Internal and external workshops were
Planning by objectives is certainly not the organised to validate the strategy plan.
only way of implementing a project using n A dissemination seminar rounded off
the policy learning approach but it is quite the process.
well suited to supporting national experts to
develop their own project. All steps of the
project development have to be worked out 4. THE PARTICIPATORY
by the national working group which always PROCESS
needs full internal consensus. This may
lead to lengthy discussions but it also leads The ETF and Moroccan partners agreed to
to solutions which everyone involved will organise a series of a two-day planning
have to be engaged in implementing workshops each month.
afterwards. The fact that all these
discussions are strictly oriented to The first planning workshop (October 2007)
formulating objectives and activities in a focused on the overall process to be
step-by-step and consensual way is one of implemented for the design of the strategic
the major advantages of the PBO method. plan, the ETF’s role in the process and the
It helps to avoid unstructured quarrelling analysis of current situation of
over details. apprenticeship schemes in various
economic sectors – not just the two sectors
Planning by objectives enabled the involved. While the main inputs to the
Moroccan team to reach a common discussion were presentations prepared by
understanding of the problems related to the different actors involved in the
apprenticeship training, establish management of apprenticeship schemes in
objectives, and seek possible solutions and Morocco, not all were based on
action plans in a participative way. The background analysis, studies and
method gives the facilitator (in this case the evidence.
ETF expert) the function to encourage the
group and to ensure that good It was only at the very end of this workshop
communication, cooperation and a high that participants, having become
level of mutual understanding are acquainted with the Moroccan situation in
achieved. apprenticeship, were asked to express
their opinions concerning the specific
However, the outcome of the planning shortcomings in the two sectors involved
process is, in its first stage, only a and to provide suggestions as to how to
suggestion of how to implement the improve them. The main problems and
strategy– neither more nor less. The main issues identified and addressed by the
reason for this is the difference of opinion participants were related to governance,
between those who take part in the funding, human resources (in vocational
planning process and those who will be in schools but also in the workplace),
charge of its approval and steering its regulation, involvement of enterprises and
implementation. the way in which they cooperate with
vocational schools, and quality.
To overcome this problem a tight feedback
process was agreed with the Moroccan The major outputs of the first workshop
team. were:

n The results of the planning workshops n a problem tree reflecting a shared

were regularly reported to the main diagnosis regarding the problems and
decision makers at the Ministry of issues facing the apprenticeship
Employment and Vocational Training. scheme in Morocco;


n a shared concern regarding the n indicators to measure progress towards

absence of evidence and key lessons these objectives;
from earlier policies and strategies; n results to be achieved;
n agreement among a selected number of n activities to be carried out.
participants (split into working groups)
agreed to explore local experiences Following this workshop, validation
particularly in the selected sectors seminars were organised with stakeholders
(agriculture and handicrafts) and in the from the ministries. The documents
related subjects: governance, funding, produced by the working groups were
human resources, regulation, presented at seminars attended by all the
involvement of enterprises and quality departments in the ministries that will be
of training. involved in the implementation of the
strategy plan as well as a couple of
The second workshop took place in institutions that will cooperate with those
November 2007 and was devoted to the ministries.
discussion of papers and analyses
performed by the working groups in the Finally, a seminar was organised in March
period between the two workshops. Among 2008 to validate the document with
the papers presented, a recurrent external stakeholders, particularly
argument regarding the negative impact of employers’ organisations. During the
regulation on the development of sessions the employers’ representatives
apprenticeships can be detected. Again, welcomed the involvement of the three
the arguments introduced were not ministries but they asked for support to be
supported by evidence and no conclusion able to play a more important role in
was reached on amendments to be apprenticeship training.
introduced into the relevant legislation. In
addition, new participants joined the group
and there was a need to explain the overall 5. POLICY LEARNING: DID IT
process, the objectives and the principles WORK?
of the policy learning approach. During the
workshop, a major concern of participants Failure of double loop learning
was related to the link between the
quantitative targets set by policymakers, Although the strategic plan was approved
labour market skills needs and the by the two ministries in charge of the
capacities of enterprises to provide quality development of apprenticeships in the two
training places. sectors, officials from the Ministry of
Employment and Vocational Training were
The major outputs of the second workshop less committed, arguing that it did not meet
were: their expectations, especially in view of the
fact that it didn’t provide a short-term
n a definition of a specific development solution to their immediate problems
objective for each sector; (identify a strategy for increasing the
n elements of the strategy plan; number of apprentices in both sectors).
n a reflection on the link between the They also argued that the strategic plan
quantitative targets set by policymakers addressed qualitative rather than the
and the needs of labour market. quantitative aspects. In fact, at this stage, it
is not clear if the Moroccan government is
The third planning workshop, arranged in prepared to go as far as reconsidering the
December 2007, aimed at producing a fixed targets (50 000 apprentices) and
preliminary overall planning document. promoting policy levers that will significantly
This document identified: strengthen the quality of apprenticeships in
the selected sectors and take into
n the specific objective of each sector in consideration the necessary balance
terms of the development of between economic demand and the social
apprenticeship training; driven approach.


In the following paragraphs, we discuss the If policy learning “includes ‘experiential

reasons for failure of a normative policy learning’ from history, learning from other
learning process through the following countries and learning from local
elements: relationship between policies innovations and experiments”42, then, for
and politics; the learning process; the many reasons (lack of relevant knowledge
policy learners; and the relationship base, few experiences from which to learn,
between policy learning and the policy weak research and reflective capacities,
process. etc.), major sources of learning were
missing and the activities undertaken within
Tension between vocational training the ETF intervention (presentation by
policies and politics practitioners and policymakers, introduction
of international and regional experiences,
As mentioned above, the first workshop analysis by participants of the few available
was dedicated to collecting information resources) to fill the gaps had limited
from stakeholders about apprenticeships. success.
The group did not manage to find any
documents, analyses or studies that could Nevertheless, the documents were
form the basis of reasonable objectives. produced by the Moroccan team without
Apprenticeship seems to be considered being pressurised by external experts. The
more as a response to the problem of overall quality of the documents depended
dropouts from the education system rather heavily on the capacity of the participants
than a way of providing skills to meet to analyse the system and produce
labour market needs. As an example, proposals. An external expert may have
according to a recent40 study carried out been able to produce a better document,
by the Ministry of Employment and but as it would be produced by someone
Vocational Training on the qualification from outside, the Moroccan colleagues
needs of the agriculture sector, it appears may not have felt ownership towards it at
that the qualifications required by the end of the process. Furthermore, the
employers are at technician level41 rather two validation seminars involving internal
than semi-qualified worker level towards and external stakeholders collected
which apprenticeship training is currently comments and observations in order to
geared and for which the expansion policy strengthen and broaden the sense of
has been established. This created a ownership.
difficult climate for the policy learning
process. Moreover, the time constraints Policy learners
meant that reflection and feedback from
local and international experience As mentioned above, the composition of
remained at a minimum. the Moroccan team was agreed with the
Ministry of Employment and Vocational
The learning process Training and was even specified in the
terms of reference of the project. For the
Our second observation relates to the first time ever in Morocco all stakeholders
scope of the policy learning exercise. The involved in the development of
support requested by the Moroccan apprenticeship schemes in the two sectors
authorities concerned the design of a were included. However, the composition
strategy for a policy which had already of this team evolved a lot during the
been decided. The government asked only workshops. Fortunately, the
for support to implement the policy in the representatives from the Ministries of
best way possible. The use of policy Agriculture and the Ministry of Tourism and
learning was related to the choice of Handicrafts participated actively in all of the
means to achieve politically determined workshops and showed continued
goals. commitment to the project activities.

40 Portrait du secteur de l’agriculture, Département de la Formation Professionnelle, Maroc, 2007.

41 Technicians in the Moroccan Qualification Framework correspond to levels 4 and 5 of the European
Qualification Framework.
42 Idem.


Another caveat is the fact that when meeting and found that the teams’
designing the project we expected that analyses of the current situation in
decision makers representing the different apprenticeships were relevant. This
ministries and departments would take part suggests that even though there is no clear
in the planning exercise. In practice this evidence of any links between the
was not the case, and we did not manage workshop outputs and recommendations
to get people of sufficient political calibre and the decision to undertake a labour
involved. This became particularly clear market analysis, there is evidence that the
during the internal validation seminar for labour market analysis developed as a
strategic planning in the handicraft sector result of the ETF intervention helped in
when we realised that the director in building a rationale for the collection of
charge of training within the ministry had relevant information.
not been informed about the project at all.
He did not take part in the external
evaluation seminar either. Thus, we have 6. CONCLUSION
reason to believe that only practitioners
already involved in improving the Having argued that the policy learning
vocational education and training system process didn’t meet all the expectations
learnt from this policy learning exercise, either in terms of process or outputs, we
rather than the policymakers. close this article with a discussion on
important issues to be taken into account
Connecting policy learning and the for future interventions.
policy process
In this chapter, we have explored the limits
With the support of the ETF, the Moroccan of a normative approach to policy learning
team succeeded in producing a strategy as mentioned in the introduction. We can
plan for the development of two selected come to a conclusion that in countries
sectors. The Director for work-based where the actual processes of
training at the Ministry of Vocational policymaking is complex and where policy
Training declared that he now has a clear learning is subordinate to the ruling political
idea on how to achieve the objectives set project, where policymakers and other
up by the government, both in terms of stakeholders have access to a limited
activities and in terms of responsibilities knowledge base and where the links
and resources needed. However, the between learning and policy development
working group did not manage to break is inhibited, a normative policy learning
down the overall quantitative objectives set approach is not effective. Of course the
by the government for each occupation and solution is not to return to the old
region. As mentioned above, this objective expertise-driven approaches but rather to
was heavily criticised during the identify barriers to policy learning and to
workshops. Moreover, the absence of adopt more realistic approaches and allow
information and analysis about the skills more time for policy learning.
needs of the market meant that the
participants were unable to obtain such a We have identified several barriers to
breakdown during the planning workshops. policy learning in our specific context.
Although we cannot pretend that these
Nevertheless, in line with the ETF barriers are easy to overcome, we can
intervention, the Department of suggest five considerations that might help
Employment and Vocational Training to produce better results in a similar
launched a huge study with a budget of situation.
€300,000 to provide a breakdown of the
potential apprenticeship places offered by Policy memory and evidence
region and occupation. The study was
performed by a local consultancy that If policy learning is about learning from
conducted several surveys and took part in experience, then any policy learning
one of the validation workshops. Their process should cover concrete actions for
representative was very active during the collecting and analysing evidence and


data. Documenting, analysing, evaluating policy memory, time to identify and

and drawing lessons from previous assemble relevant evidence and time to
experiences are crucial for informing new deliberate and learn.”
policies. Still, lessons may be very difficult
to draw due to political instability or limited Policy learning culture
local innovation. The experience from
which to learn may be inadequate and The need to develop conducive
capacities for research and reflection weak. conditions for policy learning entails
supporting a policy making culture that
Mobilisation of policymakers promotes informed policies is an
important and urgent task. It will depend
Policy learning processes mobilise many on progressive shifts that can be
people from different ministries and facilitated by international organisations.
institutions and are quite demanding in First, partner countries must be
terms of human resources. The supported in developing a greater
prominence of national stakeholders awareness about past and local
determines the quality of the policy learning experiences. Second, this should be
results, which depends both on their combined with an awareness of other
understanding of the vocational education systems that can encourage a deeper
and training system and the role they play questioning of policy options. Peer
in the policy making process. Policy learning and other initiatives that bring
learning interventions should take into together policymakers from different
consideration (and organise the policy countries can help them as individuals to
learning process according to) the reflect on their own national systems.
availability and time constraints of
policymakers. It should also focus on Policy learning and politics
developing their capacity both in action and
formal learning settings. The various symptoms of politicisation
(socially oriented targets, power games
Timescales and policy learning between ministries, etc.) and the ways in
which this constrains the policy learning
Longer time frames are needed for the process call for more reflection on the links
design and implementation of policy between policy learning processes and
learning processes. At the very minimum politics. Nevertheless, we can argue that
there is a need for recognition that policy policy learning is not entirely absent but as
making schedules should reflect the needs Raffe and Spours put it “ It is dominated by
of policy learning as well as political political learning derived from political
agenda imperatives. As Raffe and Spours experience and the need to ensure
(2006, p.227) put it: “Effective policy personal political survival within the higher
learning requires time to develop mutual echelons of government” (2006, p.20).
understanding and trust, time to develop Policy learning is subordinate to these
learning partnerships, time to accumulate objectives.

Jean-Raymond Masson and
Slava Pevec Grm

1. SUMMARY In the second part, the paper looks more

closely at the experience of one of the new
This paper discusses how ETF partner Member States which received EU support
countries can best learn from EU policies in throughout the 1990s and the early years
education and training. It deals with two of the new millennium. It draws conclusions
questions. The first is to what extent EU from the learning processes that were at
policy developments can inform work in Slovenia during this period and
policymakers in those countries and how tries to distil lessons from this which feed
they can contribute to effective reforms in back into a general conclusion and set of
education and training, particularly in recommendations for EU assistance to
vocational education and training. The VET reforms and for ETF work in general.
second question is what kind of activities
the EU and in particular the European
Training Foundation (ETF) should promote 2. INTRODUCTION
to support this endeavour.
Drawing on the lessons learned from ETF
As a stepping stone towards these experience with the use of EU tools in
objectives, the paper first looks at partner country VET reforms, a recent
common definitions used in EU policy paper (Masson, 2007) identified three
messages to overcome misconceptions complementary aspects that concern the
and ambiguities that could negatively EU messages and tools used in reforms,
influence the effectiveness of the EU the process of dissemination/
policy messages. implementation and learning processes.


n Messages and tools from the Europe neighbourhood’ policy”.

Copenhagen process and more widely Therefore, the ETF has a key role in
from the Education and Training 2010 supporting relevant exercises and
work programme have values outside dedicated approaches.
the EU. Indeed, most of them are quite
useful in countries that the ETF works
with as demonstrated through the work 3. MISUNDERSTANDINGS
done about transparency, quality BETWEEN THE EU CONCEPTS
assurance, counselling and guidance OF VOCATIONAL EDUCATION
and qualification frameworks in a AND TRAINING AND LIFELONG
number of countries. However, they can LEARNING AND THEIR USE IN
act as catalysts only under certain ETF PARTNER COUNTRIES
conditions. Since they all interact, they
should not be promoted in isolation. In 3.1 The definition of vocational
order to fully exploit their potential for education and training in EU policy
systemic impact, it is essential not to documents
detach any message from its global
strategy context and background. As defined by Cedefop (Cedefop, 2004)
n With regard to the process of and the European Commission (2007),
dissemination, the paper highlighted the “[...] VET comprises all more or less
difficulties of implementing such policy organised or structured activities that aim
tools and messages when they unsettle to provide people with the knowledge, skills
or even contradict the practice and work and competences necessary to perform a
routine of their administration. This job or a set of jobs, whether or not they
applies in particular to heavily politicised lead to a formal qualification [...] VET is
education systems such as those in the independent of venue, age or other
Western Balkans (ETF, 2007 and characteristics of participants and previous
Sultana, 2008). Fortunately, many level of qualifications [...] VET takes a
actors (often at intermediary level in the variety of forms in different countries and
administration), but also social partners also within a given country. It can be
and regional and local actors have a organised as prevocational training to
genuine interest in seeing reforms prepare young people for transition to a
introduced. Therefore, it is necessary to VET programme at upper secondary
involve a core group of key actors in the level [...] VET at post-secondary level
introduction of such reforms and also to provides access to higher skilled jobs and
associate a range of other actors, at all can also open the way to higher
levels and from a range of sectors, in education [...] Continuing vocational
setting up a learning community training takes multiple forms, ranging from
(Nielsen, 2008). Effective short training courses to participation in
decentralisation and greater autonomy advanced and longer programmes [...]”.
for local actors will be key to successful
implementation of the reforms. The Copenhagen declaration and the
n During reform, special attention should Maastricht and Helsinki Communiqués do
be given to the learning process of not provide a more precise definition. They
policymakers and actors. Although also refer to a broad definition of VET when
candidate countries can benefit from the they describe the impact of VET on
EU peer learning approach under the economic growth, employability and social
Open Method of Coordination (European inclusion. “VET constitutes a major part of
Commission, 2002), other ETF partner lifelong learning. [When] lifelong learning
countries cannot at this moment. But the covers learning in all forms and in all
Helsinki Communiqué43 promotes “the settings [...] VET is an integral part of this.
exchange of information, expertise and It plays a key role in human capital
results with third countries, particularly accumulation for the achievement of
those countries covered by the economic growth, employment and social
‘enlargement’ policy and by the ‘wider objectives. VET is an essential tool in

43 The Helsinki Communiqué, 5 December 2006,


providing European citizens with the skills, technical routes with general routes, while
knowledge and competences needed in the majority does not. This can lead to an
the labour market and knowledge based overestimation of the importance of
society. The fact remains that VET caters vocational education and to misleading
for a major part of learners in Europe and a conclusions about its impact on issues
significant share of the future workforce will such as early school leaving. It also
need vocational skills and competences”44. negatively affects the analysis of countries
in transition such as the new Member
These definitions are very broad and rather States (and the ETF partner countries)
vague and hide some key questions for the where changes strongly affect those
design and the implementation of routes, with rapid growth of enrolment in
education and training reforms in the ETF technical routes and even more rapid
partner countries: the differences between decline in vocational routes (ETF, 2005).
vocational and technical routes, the ways
those routes can prepare for higher 3.3 Post-secondary VET and higher
education, the development of education
post-secondary and short vocational higher
education, the levels of qualification Another ambiguity regards post-secondary
provided and more widely the role of VET VET. Although the definition of VET
in lifelong learning strategies. explicitly refers to secondary and
post-secondary VET in Cedefop’s analysis
3.2 Vocational and technical routes of the attractiveness and image of the role
of VET in fighting early school leaving in
A serious ambiguity in EU definitions of particular, the Maastricht Study and
vocational education and training comes Cedefop synthesis of it only consider
from the lack of a clear distinction between enrolments in VET at secondary level. Of
technical education and vocational course they complain about the lack of
education. Indeed not all EU countries relevant data and indicators which hamper
have three distinct routes (general, a more broad assessment of progress but
technical and vocational) at upper they fail to analyse the important changes
secondary level. Recent trends show and developments at post-secondary level
significant differences between technical and this contradicts with the broad
and vocational routes, with the latter definition given above.
leading predominantly to the labour market
while the former tends to lead to higher In fact, the entire definition of post-secondary
education. These differences are often VET is ambiguous and variable. As noted by
more significant than differences between McCoshan (2008, p. 88), “one of the key
technical and general routes. Trends also features of recent trends in the labour market
show considerable transfers between the is the emergence of demand for workers
routes, and an analysis of this is essential skilled to a level between upper-secondary
in order to correctly understand the and tertiary level, often taking the form of a
changes in the education systems and in demand for high levels of occupation-specific
particular the transition between VET and skills coupled to increased levels of
higher education such as in the new underpinning theoretical knowledge. The
Member States (ETF, 2005). ways education systems answer these needs
is often termed ‘post-secondary non-tertiary’
Few documents (Leney, 2005; Cedefop, (PSNT) education, but there are definitional
2004) identify this difference but their issues with how the educational world
analysis does not go into sufficient depth defines it [...] Thus, what some countries
because of a lack of relevant data. Eurostat classify as PSNT others classify as
statistics (European Commission, 2007) upper-secondary or tertiary”.
that try to show the breakdown of
participation of students into general and Indeed, higher education is also increasingly
vocational education are difficult to developing vocational pathways of short and
interpret. A minority of countries count longer duration, under bachelor and master

44 The Helsinki Communiqué, 5 Decembre 2006,


programmes45, and the distinction between education experts and stakeholders

post-secondary and non-tertiary, and short concerning EQF level 5 (Calleja, 2008).
higher vocational programmes is not always
clear. In total, it can be argued that borders 3.5 VET and lifelong learning
between VET and higher education are
becoming increasingly blurred46. However, Thus, the Lisbon Agenda and related EU
the implementation of the Bologna and the policy developments in education and
Copenhagen processes are not yet training have widely broadened the scope of
coordinated and may follow different logics. VET which prevailed during the nineties. VET
Furthermore, VET national stakeholders and is increasingly seen as a key component of
higher education stakeholders remain an integrated vision of lifelong learning.
separate in most countries. Therefore, more Moreover, as developed in the EC
and more questions arise about how to Communication (2001), lifelong learning is
ensure a smooth transition between both used with three different meanings: (i) as an
worlds while answering the needs of the objective for individuals and society, (ii) as a
labour market, and about the distinction policy objective for policymakers who have to
between medium and high level develop appropriate strategies and facilitate
qualifications. universal access to lifelong learning, and
(iii) as an analytical framework for education
3.4 Education and qualification levels and training policies set up by countries, as in
the context of the regular Joint Reports on
Other issues arise from the references to progress towards the Lisbon Objectives for
education and qualification levels. In EU education and training (Council and
documents, VET is often associated with Commission, 2008). This threefold meaning
medium level qualifications, while high level nurtures ambiguities, particularly since
qualifications are supposed to be provided countries may have lifelong learning
by higher education. But the broad Cedefop strategies even when lifelong learning is far
definition introduces the idea that VET, from reality for most citizens.
when developed at post-secondary level,
would lead to higher skilled jobs. This is of Another ambiguity comes from the fact that
course closely linked to recent trends in the the EU benchmark covering the participation
labour market noted by McCoshan (2008). of adults in education and training is
The ambiguity is about the way those new commonly called the ‘Lifelong learning
qualifications as well as the programmes benchmark’, thus promoting the idea that
preparing for them will be classified. lifelong learning is only about adults.

These distinctions are not just rhetoric. In total, although the EU has a broad
Rather than ambiguities, they reflect real definition of VET, this means a lack of
difficulties, since they are embedded in the precision as far as the different components
ways labour markets are structured and are concerned, some ambiguous definitions,
regulated, and differ among EU countries47. and real difficulties arising from the changing
Moving from the ISCED48 classification to demands of the labour market and recent
the EQF49 levels, EU policy towards trends at the borders between VET and
qualification levels is moving towards a higher education. The consideration of VET
mixed approach with some consideration of as a masterpiece of lifelong learning
labour market issues. There is already a strategies gives new insights and allows for a
serious debate between VET and higher better integration between all VET

45 One particular example is France which developed the licences professionnelles in addition to the academic
licences. Another example is Germany which set up the grade of Applied Bachelor in addition to the
Academic Bachelor. More widely, in France, apprenticeship is now a complete route parallel to the traditional
education route, going from the lowest to the highest qualification levels.
46 As advocated during the Cedefop agora on higher education and VET in 2007 (Dunkel and Le Mouillour,
2006) and more recently by the ‘Helsinki’ Study (McCoshan, 2008).
47 The strong distinction in the collective agreements in France between cadres and non-cadres supposes that
qualifications provided at post-secondary level and also in the context of short courses in higher education
remain at lower level than the ones provided at the end of (long) higher education.
48 International Standard Classification for Education.
49 European Qualification Framework.


components and between VET and the While VET reforms are on the political
whole education and training processes. The agenda in these countries and are supported
question is to know how far these elements by EU programmes and other donors as well
are taken into account in the ETF partner as by ETF policy advice and other projects,
countries when dealing with VET reforms. international donors, including the EU, follow
compartmentalised approaches that follow
3.6 VET and lifelong learning in ETF existing administrative divisions. This can be
partner countries observed in the Western Balkans today, just
as it could some years ago in the candidate
In fact, when ETF partner countries initiate countries that are now Member States. When
VET reforms they generally address only a policymakers (mainly at education ministries)
narrow part of it, typically just initial vocational design and implement such programmes,
education in secondary schools. In most ETF their first objective is to sustain and
partner countries, VET still takes in a high modernise what they call VET, but what is
percentage of secondary students and in fact most often limited to the VET component of
the differences between general, technical regular public secondary education.
and vocational routes are still very strong with
no or few pathways between them. Typically, these education reform
Post-secondary education barely exists. programmes start with the adoption of laws
Higher education is still very academically specifying the different components of
oriented with, again, pathways between education and training: general education,
secondary VET and higher education more VET, adult education, and higher
the exception than the rule. In the Western education. The VET component often
Balkans adult training barely exists, except in continues with the design of new curricula
the context of limited labour market training. in pilot schools supported by adequate
In general, businesses show little interest in teacher training and the provision of
skills development because very high levels modern equipment. This is complemented
of unemployment offer the possibility to hire by a national VET strategy, typically
cheap labour. In most MEDA countries, VET supported by a dedicated national VET
is not well developed and housed in specific agency and national VET council. Later on
institutions under specific ministries, or in parallel, a provision is made for
separated from mainstream education and its developing an adult education strategy,
ministry. again supported by a (usually separate)
dedicated agency.
More often than not, lifelong learning is seen
as training provision for adults, comprising In parallel, there are reform programmes in
labour market training for unemployed higher education and employment with
people, and adult education, to give adults provisions for labour market training. It is
access to the diplomas of the education important to highlight the fact that these
system. Formal education is considered as countries are fully involved in the Bologna
being provided exclusively by the public process which is now a well adopted
education system while qualifications benchmark for reforms in higher education,
provided by private training providers are while they follow the Copenhagen process
seen as non-formal. In addition, social through limited exchanges of information
partnership is often reduced to partnerships and practice with EU Member States. This
between ministries, demonstrating the lack situation potentially widens the gap
of interest among many policymakers for between approaches to medium and higher
partnerships with employers’ and workers’ qualification levels.
unions, and the lack of interest among those
unions in issues related to education and Furthermore, as a result of the high level of
training. Instead of seeing VET as centralisation that still characterises most
embedded in a broader lifelong learning of these systems, VET reforms are typically
concept and framework, several ETF implemented from the top down, with little
partner countries tend to view VET and consideration for the real needs and
lifelong learning as two parallel but separate situations on the ground and with little
concepts, mainly under the responsibility of partnership and cooperation with local
the ministry of education. actors.


4. RISKS AND NEGATIVE at broad objectives, such as lifelong learning

CONSEQUENCES and more specifically the recognition and
validation of prior learning or the
Thus, it seems that the ambiguities related development of better links with the labour
to some key EU concepts such as VET and market and the setting up of private training
lifelong learning may influence the ways providers, establishing a NQF risks
EU assistance to reforms is provided in the becoming an objective in its own right. Even
context of education and labour market if there is some added value in structuring
systems in transition countries. This can and designing existing formal qualifications,
lead to negative consequences in the there would still be a risk that a lot of energy
design and the implementation of and resources would be used for the
education and training reforms: development of a rigid framework which
might end up contributing to fragmentation.
n excessive focus on existing VET
components to the detriment of newly The same is valid when the EU approach
emerging VET profiles and providers; to quality in education and the Common
n lack of consideration for adult training, Framework for Quality Assurance in VET
particularly on the job training; are promoted in countries where VET is
n fragmentation and possible entirely detached from general and higher
contradictory approaches to curriculum education, administrative and political
development and teacher training; divisions prevent the development of a
n widening gap between VET and higher comprehensive lifelong learning strategy, it
education; is not possible to identify criteria for the
n inadequate response to the needs of quality of the overall system, and
the labour market; therefore, there is little consideration for the
n ineffective use of public resources. role of VET in the global education and
training system.
One example of this in the Western
Balkans is the design of modern curricula In fact, all EU tools and messages are
for new occupational profiles (in the context complex and demanding, developed over
of donor supported projects) to be years by teams of experts and practitioners,
implemented in four-year secondary based on the experience of numerous
technical routes when there is empirical countries, and aimed at contributing to overall
evidence that most graduates from those national and European education and
routes will continue into higher education training strategies. Furthermore, they were
afterwards. developed in the context of VET systems that
are firmly rooted in the cultures and
In such contexts, the impact of the socio-economic traditions of more mature
messages and tools from EU policy in market economies and political democracies.
education and training could be biased and In these countries, VET has reached a rather
limited and risks yielding only rhetoric, stable and secure role in the whole education
reinforcing existing administrative barriers, and training system. The situation is totally
and acting against the principles of the EU different in the ETF’s partner countries.
messages that are the basis of these tools.
Thus, several difficulties have to be met
Particularly problematic is the development and several obstacles have to be
of a national qualifications framework (NQF) overcome in the processes of designing
based only on the narrow provision of and implementing VET reforms in line with
secondary vocational training as is the case EU policy in education and training. They
in some Western Balkan countries, without have to be overcome first by national
having worked seriously with social partners policymakers, with the support of the
and employers on the development of experts familiar with EU assistance. There
alternative forms of learning and are interesting lessons to learn from
qualification, liaised with the world of higher experiences in the new Member States and
education, or the development of true particularly in Slovenia where a wide and
lifelong learning strategies taken into dynamic learning process towards EU
consideration. Instead of being a tool aimed policies has developed since the transition.


5. LESSONS FROM THE VET Training 2010 work programme. All new
REFORMS IN THE NEW Member States and the remaining
MEMBER STATES candidate countries, Turkey and Croatia,
participate actively in the peer learning
The new Member States have been process on education and training. Overall,
exposed to rather similar forces to those a significant learning exercise has
currently at work in the Western Balkans. developed since the beginning of the
VET reforms started in the first half of the transition process.
1990s through EU assistance following the
same kind of compartmentalised approach
as presented above. Although impact was 6. THE SLOVENIAN
significant in the pilot schools where APPROACH TOWARDS
programmes had been implemented, the LIFELONG LEARNING
overall assessment was often
disappointing because little dissemination The progressive approach towards lifelong
had taken place, support by ministries had learning in Slovenia can be seen as a
been insufficient and achievements only learning process where VET has become
rarely became embedded in national gradually integrated into the whole
policies (ETF, 2003b). Furthermore, EU system.
technical assistance had most often been
brought by EU experts who exported Four main steps can be identified:
different models with little consideration of
the suitability of new policies in the context 1. The education reform (1996): a strong
of partner countries (ETF, 2004). focus on horizontal and vertical bridges
in secondary education.
However, EU assistance in general and 2. National Vocational Qualification Act
ETF activities in particular exposed (2000): qualifications can also be
policymakers to the EU policy debate about acquired outside the education system.
education and VET. This was the start of 3. New VET Act (2006): more flexible
the development of policy learning in the and outcome-designed VET
ETF’s partner countries. The activities of qualifications and curriculum reform
the National Observatories which acted as (2001-2007).
clearing houses between the EU and the 4. Lifelong learning strategy (2007).
beneficiary countries in the field of VET
were particularly useful, as were the The education system has been inspired
seminars and projects developed involving by the underlying principles of lifelong
the ETF Advisory Forum (ETF, 2003b). learning since 1980. It was embedded in a
Even if the acquis communautaire in special type of ‘unified’ secondary school
education and training was limited to with the goal of offering all young people
issues linked to the recognition of common standards for further education in
qualifications for regulated professions and the first year and then supporting their
preparation for the European Social Fund orientation towards appropriate branches
(ESF), debates about the transparency of of technical and vocational education.
qualifications and lifelong learning had However, the unified basis of the system
been substantially promoted in the EU with was too demanding for some pupils, which
the involvement of candidate country resulted in low grades, dropouts and poor
policymakers in the debates. vocational qualifications (Pevec Grm and
Zevnik, 2008).
The situation changed dramatically after
2000 and the development of the Lisbon 6.1 First phase of the reform
Strategy. The 2001 Commission
Memorandum on lifelong learning was Independence in 1991 and the transition to
disseminated in all candidate countries a market economy gave a great impetus
after which they were gradually involved in for change. A conceptual plan for a new
EU policy developments in education and system of vocational education and training
training and fully associated with the was prepared (Mursak, 1992), which was
Copenhagen Process and the Education & summarised in a white paper (1995) and in


the reform of Slovenian legislation on 6.2 National Vocational Qualification Act

schools in 1996. It reflected research
efforts and debate from the 1980s among a The main objective of the National
large number of experts, where Vocational Qualification Act of 2000 was to
developments in other countries were allow for qualifications to be acquired
analysed. outside the education system. It enabled
adults without formal education but with
A key objective was to build strong proven knowledge and skills to gain a
horizontal and vertical pathways50. Thus, recognised national vocational
in secondary education, dead ends were qualification. This was a very important
systematically eradicated. Education step towards the creation of a more
pathways now enable advancement right coherent and comprehensive national
from ISCED level 2 up to levels 5 and 6. approach to lifelong learning.
As such, building a professional career is
now possible with full recognition of In fact, structural changes in the economy
earlier achievements. Different education after independence had caused
and training opportunities after unemployment to grow very quickly from
compulsory school were prepared with a 2.2% in 1988 to 14.4% in 1992. This,
choice between vocational training combined with the fact that 45% percent
programmes, more technically oriented of workers in the labour market did not
ones, and general education. Most have a formal qualification (Ivancic, 1992),
important was the option for vocational spawned a first set of projects (Ivancic,
education students to continue their 1995) that analysed the possibilities for
education in vocational-technical the development of a certification system
education programmes (+2 years) and which would enable the validation of
the possibility of obtaining a secondary knowledge and acquisition of vocational
school technical education certificate. qualifications regardless of the way the
Master craftsmen and foreman exams knowledge was acquired. The main
were introduced, offering the possibility to driving force behind these projects was
continue education in post-secondary the Ministry of Labour, Family and Social
vocational education programmes. Affairs. There were numerous debates
Bridging courses were introduced and many education sector
between the different pathways. A dual representatives warned that the
system similar to the German model was certification system would become a
implemented to enable students to parallel way of acquiring qualifications,
choose between two tracks: which could undermine formal education
school-based or dual, but it did not meet and threaten the transparency of
expectations. In 2001 only 3% of qualifications51.
students enrolled in the dual system.
In spite of these concerns, procedures for
Moreover, at the end of the 1990s, the the assessment and recognition of
whole VET system remained heavily non-formal and informal learning were put
centralised with little involvement of social in place between 1998 and 2000. They
partners, especially at the local level, and were supported by the Phare MOCCA
weak collaboration between vocational programme (Svetlik, 2000). The National
schools and companies. Vocational Qualifications Act governs the
50 The most important principles and goals were: initial VET for all, the development of alternative pathways,
setting up the complete VET vertical pathway up to post-secondary and tertiary education, the elaboration of
programmes that match the qualifications and the needs of the vocational field, social partnership,
comparability and greater compatibility of vocational education and training and its qualifications with
European systems, introduction of external examinations, and obligatory external monitoring of the new
programme implementation.
51 Validation of non-formal learning and work experience was already used in the Slovenian labour market in
the 1970s, but there were no pre-set common standards. This development had negative consequences for
the education system and labour market in terms of extremely high rates of educational mismatch of the
workforce in the beginning of the 1990s and mistrust – especially in the education system in any type of
recognition of non-formal learning and work experience. For more information see Pevec Grm, 2007 or
OECD, 2007.


procedures, bodies and organisations that n Schools and social partners were given
oversee occupational and assessment the right to determine 20% of the
standards, as well as conditions and national objectives and contents in the
procedures for assessing and awarding regional and local curricula.
national vocational qualifications. n The difference between programmes
used in dual and school-based
Integrating the validation of non-formal systems was abolished with a
learning into the national qualification minimum of 24 weeks practical
system was a long process. The MOCCA in-company training.
programme helped with background n A new type of financing was introduced
studies and pilot projects. Many to support increased school autonomy.
workshops and conferences were carried
out between 1998 and 2000 that were These principles became embedded in the
supported by the ETF and other partners. new VET Act that was adopted 2006. The
The National Institute for Vocational reform was given a strong impetus by an
Education and Training and the Slovenian increased involvement in European
Institute for Adult Education also played learning processes. In 2001, the EC
an important role. Memorandum on lifelong learning
(European Commission, 2000) was broadly
6.3 New VET Act discussed and disseminated among
different stakeholders. In 2002 Slovenia
The third key milestone was the adoption joined the Education and Training 2010
of the new VET Act in 2006, which work programme and became actively
followed the intensive pilot phase of the involved in the Copenhagen process. This
preceding years and was based on was an intensive period of learning,
national and international evaluations. embedding and mirroring national
New ways of preparing education developments in a broader context. The
programmes in lower and secondary transparency of the national system was
vocational education and secondary increased through the implementation of
technical education were adopted in 2001 Europass, the learning outcomes
by the Council of Experts for VET. approach, and quality standards inspired
by the Common Framework for Quality
n Social partners were included in the assurance in VET. Currently a credit
preparation of occupational standards accumulation and transfer system which
that became the compulsory basis of aims at bridging the different certification
all VET programmes. systems is being implemented.
n Programmes were modularised to
allow for more flexible and open 6.4 The Lifelong Learning Strategy;
curricula aimed at allowing individual new challenges
learning pathways for students and
adults. Finally, in 2007 a Lifelong Learning Strategy
n Learning outcomes were introduced in was prepared which provided an external
the national framework curricula. impetus to strengthening efforts, better
n Providers were given increased linking different initiatives and systems in a
responsibility for the preparation of the more coherent and comprehensive way,
school curriculum. They became and developing a platform for
involved in setting out the development inter-ministerial cooperation. A master
vision, establishing indicators, action plan is now being drawn up.
monitoring the process of
self-evaluation, and developing new The strategy is very much in line with EU
methods of teaching and learning. The priorities. Key points include the coherent
aim was to adjust programmes to linking of initial and further education, a
employers’ needs, keep common flexible and open system of vocational
minimal standards and enable curricula and technical education which enables
to change quickly when needed. the evaluation and certification of


knowledge acquired through different The links developed between VET and the
pathways, and a strong emphasis on labour market and the cooperation
learning in the workplace and motivating between ministries were at the heart of the
employers to invest in education and reforms in Slovenia. Moreover, the need to
training. recognise and validate qualifications
developed through professional experience
At present, the majority of students opt for was a key driver in the change process. It
technical qualifications which give access to offered a rationale for the development of a
both the labour market and higher qualification system which could become a
education. The number of students in framework that integrated qualifications
technical and higher vocational education is from both the education system and the
increasing but in the past five years, labour market.
enrolment in three-year vocational
education programmes has almost halved However, new problems also emerge
and 60% of those who do enrol continue from the difficulty to answer the
their education in two-year programmes. As immediate needs of the labour market
a consequence there is a lack of skilled and prepare for the knowledge economy
workers in many sectors, such as and society. As demonstrated in Slovenia
construction and manufacturing. Decreasing (and confirmed in all new Member
the gap between supply and demand will be States) rapid increases in enrolments in
a huge challenge in coming years. It is, higher education go in hand with
however, expected that through an increases in skills shortages in many
enhanced transition to the knowledge-based industries, particularly at the
economy, the demand for higher mid-qualification level. Here EU
qualifications will increase, particularly in the messages (such as those from the
field of information and communication Helsinki Communiqué) that plea for
technologies. The development of new increased participation in both VET and
attractive qualifications at the medium level higher education seem to be difficult to
in these sectors is therefore a challenge too. implement if we do not refer to the broad
Enhanced local and regional cooperation concept of VET as outlined above.
with companies is now taking place, as a
result of which common issues and Policy learning has developed throughout
challenges may be addressed in the years the Slovenian reform process, revealing
ahead. the importance of national debates based
in particular on research outcomes and the
role of the inter-ministerial coordination,
7. CONCLUSION particularly between the ministries of
education and labour. It reveals the
The analysis of the Slovenian case influence of labour market considerations
provides some lessons and raises new and the need to develop evidence about
questions. the results of reform projects, but also the
importance of viewing national experiences
Even in a country where lifelong learning in a broader international context. This
has provided guiding principles since the reinforces the key role of EU programmes,
1980s, VET reform has been a long, both in terms of assistance before
complex and indeed continuing process. accession and now the open method of
Many key issues still remain at stake. The coordination through peer learning and
lifelong learning perspective has been very benchmarking.
helpful in the design of more flexible VET
which is integrated in the education system
but the implementation of a comprehensive 8. LESSONS FOR THE WORK
strategy that follows the EU model is still OF THE ETF
pending. Some building blocks, such as
effective stakeholder partnership and The first section of this chapter shows that
student-centred learning are still VET reforms are too often designed and
insufficiently developed. implemented with a narrow orientation to


upper secondary education and with little A number of conclusions for EU assistance
consideration for adult learning. This in VET reform and ETF work can be drawn.
differs from concepts used in the EU in the
context of the Copenhagen process and n Ambiguities and misconceptions should
hampers the effective use of EU tools and be avoided as much as possible by
messages. But analysis of the new clarifying concepts and going through a
Member States indicates that the scope of comprehensive presentation of EU
VET is changing very rapidly in countries concepts, tools and messages,
moving from planned economies towards including presentations of policy
free market economies and democracy. contexts and practices.
It also shows that less and less VET takes n Exclusive work with ministries of
place at upper secondary level, moving education and their staff in charge of
increasingly towards post-secondary and secondary VET should be avoided.
higher education levels and adult A broader scope for work with VET in
learning. the context of lifelong learning52 must be
considered for reforms in close
It therefore is crucial not to limit VET to the partnership with all relevant ministries,
VET routes in upper secondary education including ministries of finance, social
and not to consider VET reforms in partners, and teacher and regional and
isolation from the whole education and local institution representatives.
training system. The different components n The involvement of the higher education
of the education and training system must community in the VET and lifelong
be identified, with their individual learning reforms, in order to create
characteristics and their internal comprehensive routes to vocational
relationships, and the focus must be qualification at all levels, making the
directed towards (a) horizontal pathways best use of integrated national
between general, technical and vocational qualification frameworks.
routes, (b) vertical pathways between n The promotion of a broad coverage of
secondary, post-secondary and higher labour market needs analyses and
education, and (c) transition pathways from forecasting, making clear the different
school to work and professional pathways contributions of the various components
through work and adult learning where of education and training systems and
effective counselling and guidance systems in particular the differences between
must develop. vocational and technical routes.
n The involvement of social partners and
In that perspective, the EU lifelong learning the business community with specific
framework has already lent strong support approaches linked to their own agendas
to reforms in countries like Slovenia. It is and linked to their need to understand
now a reference for all ETF partner how qualifications and competences are
countries, with the aim of analysing where changing and developing, and how they
each country is and identifying the obstacles should become drivers of the reforms.
and the steps to be achieved gradually. It This also means developing local and
needs substantial clarification combined regional approaches.
with an active promotion of changes in the n The development of evidence about
governance patterns, partnership and reform processes, outcomes and
cooperation approaches at all levels. This in impact, in particular by involving
turn requires decentralisation, increased national researchers and universities in
autonomy and a combination of top-down the design and the implementation of
and bottom-up approaches. VET reform programmes.

52 In reference to the broad definitions of VET highlighted in Section 3.1.


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Part 2

The main theme of this ETF Yearbook reform recommendations made by

revolves around the question: How do the international development agencies often
thinking and practices of education reform lead to confusion and undermining a
change in a globalised world? Part 1 country’s own opportunities and will,
presents examples of how the policy according to retrospective reflection by
learning approach works in situations Slavko Gaber. There are case studies and
where international agencies and experts vivid descriptions of efforts to transfer ideas
are helping governments to improve their or models for education reform from one
education strategies and practices. The country to another. Some of these
common conclusion is that helping officials examples will be discussed in the following
in education ministries and other chapters. Globalisation of information and
government institutions to craft their own ideas often promotes the transfer of
intentions, policies and reform plans is a education policies rather than the creation
demanding and complex task that often of situations where new ideas are shared
takes more time and resources than are and learned. Indeed, some countries suffer
available. Metaphorically, most from these same deficiencies through their
governments and international own fault, having devised home-grown
development agencies also find learning applications of international education
difficult in a similar way as students do. reform policies without proper research and
However, the policy learning philosophy modification to their own circumstances. A
promises improvements in the typical example of this is the tendency to
implementation of the necessary changes ‘standardise’ education systems using
as education reforms become rooted in the standards for teaching, learning,
soil of national culture and traditions. assessment, professional development,
school facilities and so on. Therefore, the
Educational change is a poor traveller, as global education development movement
Andy Hargreaves writes later in this part. today counts more on policy transformation
Supranational education policies and than on policy transmission.


The sector-wide approach, development essay explores the potential that learning
policy programmes and policy learning are communities offer for capacity building,
some of the most common alternatives to illustrating this with three examples. She
traditional education policy borrowing and concludes that the decision to develop
lending. policy learning communities requires formal
leadership that endorses values, promotes
This part of the Yearbook is a collection of and models collaborative learning, enquiry
essays by authors who each have a and knowledge animation, and builds
different perspective – often a combination networks to support learning connections
of academia, policy practice and across different policy areas.
educational change – on the world of
education policies and how to change Professor Andy Hargreaves (Boston
them. All but one are written by College) claims that the theory of change
distinguished university professors and should influence what is borrowed.
atypically to mainstream academic writing, However, readily available policies that can
all these chapters are short and offer a easily be borrowed often distort the
window to the personal view of the authors, theory-in-action that policymakers hold
often emotionally and passionately. about how people can be induced to
Authors in this section express their own change. He provides three examples of
views and not necessarily those of the lessons in change, concluding that the
European Training Foundation or any of transfer of policies between two systems is
the European Union institutions. difficult and often doomed to failure.

Professor Ronald Sultana (University of ‘Are governments and their policymakers

Malta) shares his personal experience as a really learning from each other?’, asks Pasi
consultant, researcher and expert on policy Sahlberg in the closing chapter of this
learning. He builds a bridge between hopes section. His essay, written in a form of a
and realities whenever policy learning letter to a fictitious new education minister,
principles are put into practice, concluding brings the metaphor of ‘policy epidemic’ to
that awareness of the challenges involved the discussion of policy change. His
in peer learning is critical in order to ensure conclusion is that the less we are able to
that learning targets are attained and characterise our education policy changes
benefits maximised. through the metaphor of an epidemic, the
more they resemble mutual learning, the
Former Slovenian education minister, closer we are the dream of understanding
professor and member of the Slovenian the primary problem of our education
Parliament, Slavko Gaber (University of systems.
Ljubljana), paints a portrait of realities of a
top-level policymaker. Using examples About the authors
from his own experience as a top level
policymaker, he insists that we should Ronald G. Sultana is professor of
thoroughly rethink our Eurocentric educational sociology and comparative
approach to education and try to see its education at the University of Malta, where
limits. He warns readers of fashioning he directs the Euro-Mediterranean Centre
individualism and favouring instrumental for Educational Research
orientation, putting work and market ( He is the
competitiveness at the centre of the author, editor or co-editor of 21 volumes,
education arena at the expense of critical and has published over 90 articles and
thinking, joy in exploring and knowledge, chapters in his main areas of research,
and becoming a member of the human which include vocational education and
global village. training, educational innovation, and
teacher training.
Professor Louise Stoll (Institute of
Education, University of London) invites Slavko Gaber is an assistant professor at
readers to consider leadership as an the Faculty of Education of the University of
important dimension of policy learning. Her Ljubljana. He has a background in teaching


and lecturing, specialising in the sociology particular focus on learning communities,

of education and holds a PhD in sociology. leadership and the relationship between
He has twice held the position of Minister research, policy and practice.
of Education of Slovenia and has been a
member of the Slovenian Parliament for Andy Hargreaves is the Thomas More
many years. Brennan Chair in Education at the Lynch
School of Education, Boston College. His
Louise Stoll is a past president of the most recent books are The Fourth Way
International Congress for School (with Dennis Shirley, 2009), Change Wars
Effectiveness and School Improvement, (edited with Michael Fullan 2009), and
researcher and consultant and Visiting Sustainable Leadership (with Dean Fink,
Professor at the London Centre for 2006).
Leadership in Learning at the Institute of
Education, University of London. She is Pasi Sahlberg is a lead education
interested in how capacity for learning is specialist at the European Training
created at all levels of systems, with a Foundation.

Ronald G. Sultana

1. INTRODUCTION intended outcomes were similar: policy

In this short paper I would like to reflect on
a number of peer learning events that I My aim in this paper is not to describe
have been involved in over the past these experiences with peer learning
decade as a facilitator, and sometimes as events in any great detail, but rather to
a participant. These experiences have examine some of the promises and
involved leading groups of policymakers pitfalls associated with them and to
and/or policy implementers from question some of their underpinning
developing countries to observe ‘best’ assumptions. Several of the issues
practice either in more industrially raised in this chapter reinforce points
advanced countries, or in countries at a made in Chapter 4, where some aspects
similar stage of development as their own. of peer learning are mapped out in more
In the latter case, despite sharing similar detail. My main argument here is that
constraints, the host country showcased while much learning may take place
initiatives which were deemed by the during such events, the outcomes should
organisers of the peer learning exercise to not be taken for granted. There are
have been sufficiently successful as to pitfalls that should be avoided. Examples
deserve wider attention and possibly from my involvement in peer learning
emulation. I have also led or participated events will be used to illustrate such
in peer learning teams made up of policy pitfalls, as well as other general points I
staff from a number of different EU would like to make. Peer learning has
Member States where, despite somewhat many forms – some of them may be
different dynamics, the process and different to those described here.



Most peer learning events are structured in
It is important to situate peer learning quite similar ways and, despite some
strategies in their broader context. The variations, are underpinned by a shared
earlier model of supporting policy understanding of how people learn. In
development in less developed countries some cases, the pedagogical elements of
through the direct transfer of knowledge the peer learning events are articulated in a
and expertise came into crisis in the more overt or theoretically sophisticated
mid-seventies (UNCTAD, 1999). By then, manner. However, even when the
many international aid and donor agencies assumptions remain tacit, a careful
had learnt that policies cannot be uprooted analysis of the peer learning experiences
from one context and transplanted into reveals a set of approaches to learning that
another since each environment is shaped are interesting, but also worth unpacking.
by a complex array of variables, each of What I will do in the next sections is to
which can interact with others in ways that outline briefly some of the features of a
significantly transform policy intentions peer learning event, taking care to
when attempts are made to implement problematise the different elements with a
them. The politics underpinning view to facilitating a deeper understanding
development had also changed, from a of the processes and dynamics involved.
rather brash assumption that industrially I will organise these different elements into
developed countries could show the rest of three sections: the preparatory phase, the
the world the path to prosperity, to a more peer learning visit, and the post-visit phase.
circumspect and prudent approach which
recognised that those most familiar with a 3.1 Preparing for the peer learning event
particular context were best placed to act
upon it in ‘ecologically’ sound ways. The In the preparatory phase a number of
role of donor and aid agencies increasingly choices are made that can have a major
became re-articulated in terms of offering impact on the peer learning event itself.
support to the process of development Four choices seem to be particularly
through capacity building, and through important: (a) the choice of thematic focus,
establishing North-South, and eventually (b) the selection of participants, (c) the
South-South knowledge networks that – at choice of countries and sites to visit and (d)
least in principle – left the beneficiaries in the choice of cases of ‘good practice’ to
the driving seat. In the best of cases, the focus on for policy learning purposes. In all
new model also challenged the notion of four cases, the organiser’s intention to
one-way knowledge transfer, suggesting create a powerful, experiential learning
that all those involved could in fact learn environment for the participants can easily
from each other. be jeopardised if certain considerations are
not taken into account.
Peer learning and knowledge networks
are two of the better known offspring of Let us first look at the choice of theme to
this newer approach to supporting policy be focused on by those taking part in the
development. The latter has had an peer learning visit. Education development
impact not only on countries in the literature is replete with examples of how
economic ‘South’, but has also been donor and aid agencies have thematic and
adopted as a key plank in the EU strategy policy priorities that fail to resonate with the
to enhance policy learning and achieve a target country. Such priorities may be
greater degree of policy harmonisation in chosen for reasons that have little to do
its Member States. Indeed, the so-called with what recipient countries want, or what
‘Open Method of Coordination’ relies they feel they need at a given moment in
heavily on peer learning activities to time. Indeed, such priorities may reflect
ensure that so-called ‘best practice’ is values, concerns, existing expertise,
shared between Member States (Dale, strategic niche and even economic or
2004). political interests of the donor/aid agency.


A case in point is the recent policy interest whether or not the latter had formal
in career guidance at the World Bank, the responsibilities in the thematic area or an
ETF and the ILO – a focus that was interest or expertise in it. Donor and aid
triggered by a high-profile OECD review of agencies are of course not unaware of
the field that started in 2000 (OECD, 2004). such dynamics, and some have developed
Policy and research networks, together diplomatic but firm ways of ensuring that
with policy entrepreneurs came together to those who join peer learning events have
influence donor and aid agency investment an appropriate profile. At other times,
in the field, even though several of the however, such control or discretion cannot
countries that were targeted had labour be exercised, seriously jeopardising the
market, socio-economic, political and learning outcomes envisaged.
cultural peculiarities that limit the relevance
of career guidance. If policy leaders from The choice of country or countries to visit
these countries do not see the theme as to encourage peer learning and emulation
relevant or as a priority, they may still opt to is also far from being a straightforward one,
play along with the promoting agency. They and the wrong selection can severely limit
may want to maintain good relations to the effectiveness of the whole exercise. If
ensure that they can benefit from other, peers consider that the resource gap
more appealing projects that may come between their countries and the host
along in the future. They may also see it as context is too wide, they may very easily
an opportunity for capacity building or for conclude that success can be explained
infrastructural resource acquisition, which away by the access that the showcased
they quietly transfer to areas and services initiative has to funds, staff, technology,
that are considered to be true priorities. and so on. They may fail to dig deeper to
Such dynamics and processes are easy to understand why others who have similar or
understand, and suggest that it is critical even more resources have nevertheless
that decisions about learning targets and failed to achieve the same results. They
priorities are made by both the peer may also remain unconvinced that
learning organisers and participants institutional cultures and work protocols
together. impact on motivation in ways that shape
outcomes, and may therefore be unwilling
Linked to this is the choice of participants. to see what lessons they can learn from
This goes beyond ensuring a suitable mix the visit. A less often mentioned obstacle to
which furthers the learning goals of the policy learning during peer visits occurs
peer learning exercise. If, for instance, the when participants are invited to consider
intended outcome is increased sensitivity the achievements of countries (or regions
to the dynamics of the policy in their own country) that they consider to
implementation process, it can make a lot be at the same or even lower levels of
of sense to have teams made up of economic development than themselves.
policymakers and policy implementers at South-South learning partnerships may
the different levels of the school system, thus suffer from a misguided sense of
possibly from both the state and non-state pride.
sectors. Problems arise, however, when
the agency organising the peer learning Finally, there are a number of issues to
event depends on ministries to select consider when choosing the practice that
participants. I have been quite surprised at will be focused on during the peer learning
times by the profile of partners joining peer visit. The trend is to showcase those
learning visits, as well as their motivation policies and practices which key
for doing so. In one case, for instance, it stakeholders consider to have been
became obvious that a senior staff member successful. Clearly, one can also learn a
from a minister’s policy unit was using his great deal from practices and policies that
privileged position to ensure that he was have been less successful — though many
first in line for several study visits abroad. ministries will understandably be reluctant
In another case, it was clear that ministers to be used as an example of what not to
were using study visits to reward loyal or do. Some countries or agencies are
favoured civil servants, irrespective of particularly aggressive in marketing their


policy ‘products’, often presenting an In some cases, participants have been

excessively positive picture of ‘best ‘primed’ for the visit through set reading
practice’ in the hope that visitors might tasks. They may have been asked to
‘buy’ the product and the services that go analyse policy documents or articles that
along with it. What constitutes ‘best provide a useful theoretical framework.
practice’ is also problematic, and indeed in They may also have had a say in the
such a complex field as education, where organisation of the programme of events
the appropriateness of action is determined or been given a template that helps them
by context, it is probably incorrect to refer structure their observations, thus keeping
to ‘best’ or ‘good’ practice (King, 2007). them on task and on target throughout the
What is successful and laudable in one different activities. The best peer learning
context may very well be inappropriate, visits make sure that the learning and
dysfunctional or even damaging in another. observations are articulated in ways that
In my view, policy learning (i.e. not policy render them subject to individual and
borrowing) is enhanced if the focus is on group discussion and debate, so that the
the process rather than the product. The deeper meaning of a particular policy, and
effort of participants to compare and the implications this has for practice, are
contrast what they see in another context made sense of and co-constructed
with what they are accustomed to helps between peers. Various methods are
them to imagine and consider policy used, including the keeping of reflective
alternatives, provides them with yardsticks journals, and debriefing sessions at the
by which to evaluate their own systems, end of each day.
describes what might be the consequences
of certain courses of policy decisions, and A major challenge and pitfall here is the
lays bare the complex dynamics that shape struggle to ensure that participants are
education systems. In short, it strengthens nudged from their epistemological,
the basis for intelligent problem solving. ideological and cognitive comfort zones.
The goal of building up such skills might be As cognitive and constructivist learning
easier to achieve in a ‘foreign’ context theory approaches have emphasised, we
because the peer visitors are not tend to approach new phenomena through
personally implicated in the change forces the lens of our prior knowledge, beliefs
and power structures that shape this and experiences (Coburn and Stein,
context. When such an exercise is ably 2006). We ‘read’ what we see in ways that
supported by facilitators, who help tacit sift out the cognitively unfamiliar and
assumptions come to the surface, and who challenging. Indeed, we actively transform
connect context-specific observations to the context in front of us to make it more
broader frameworks that deepen the congruent with our prior practices,
understanding of educational phenomena, routines and convictions. We tend to do
then policy learning is much enhanced. It is this by focusing on surface manifestations
also a good antidote to the depoliticising rather than deeper pedagogical and
and disempowering effect that the notion of educational principles. This is why it is not
‘best practice’ can encourage: when policy uncommon for participants to claim, when
options are presented as ‘best’, confronted with what is clearly innovative
irrespective of context, the underlying practice that contrasts with what takes
message is that local implementers are place in their own context: “But we are
exonerated from making difficult choices already doing this!” The ability of peer
from among the alternatives that are learning events to create powerful
present, or that have to be creatively – and environments that shift participants from
not infrequently painfully – imagined. Why previously held views depends on several
should they do this if international ‘experts’ elements, not least the skill of the
have concluded that a particular course of facilitators leading the group discussion.
action is ‘best’? Other contributing factors include the
knowledge that participants have of
3.2 The peer learning visit educational issues: as mentioned earlier,
it is not uncommon for policy staff to be
There are many issues that can be raised political appointees who have little
in relation to the peer learning event itself. technical mastery of the field.


3.3 Post-peer learning phase Resolutions made during relatively

peaceful peer learning visits often fail to
One important aspect of the post-peer survive into the hectic daily routines of life
learning phase is the evaluation that is back in the office. In most cases, the
carried out both by the participants, and by agency that invested in the peer learning
the hosts. Usually, such evaluations seem event pays little attention to ensuring
to be most effective and useful when they continuity, other than to perhaps making
are built into the group reflection and sure that the same people are involved in
feedback at the end of each day. This other, related peer learning events. I have
reflection not only enhances learning, it seen little evaluative research that strives
also encourages ownership of the peer to find out what remains after the peer
learning experience, which in some cases learning experience, and the extent to
can be flexibly shaped to respond to which new insights are indeed integrated in
emerging needs. Articulating perceptions of policy and practice. As a consequence, our
both the outcomes and the processes that understanding of the way good practice is
led to them can also develop important recognised, understood, and adapted in
insights among both guests and hosts. other contexts remains somewhat weak
and superficial.
Earlier we noted that both peer learning
and knowledge networks are strategic
responses to advances in the politics of 4. CONCLUSION
development. Indeed, peer learning events
that bring together policy staff from the Peer learning events hold much promise
same or different countries often have a in creating powerful, experiential learning
secondary aim: that of creating a group environments that help educators deepen
that gets to know each other personally their understanding of the complexity of
and professionally, developing a shared the policymaking process, and of the ways
vocabulary and understanding in relation to in which they can intervene in order to
specific policy issues. The intense bring about positive and meaningful
interaction during peer learning events can change. However, awareness of the
lead to the establishment of ‘epistemic pitfalls and challenges involved in peer
communities’ and ‘policy communities’ learning is critical for ensuring that
where participants commit to the learning targets are attained and for
continuation of the learning and sharing maximising the benefit from peer learning.
experience after the structured peer In the pre-peer learning visit stage a
learning event is formally over. The series of appropriate choices must be
organising agency may support such made in relation to the thematic focus, the
interaction in various ways. It may, for selection of participants, the choice of
instance, provide a communications countries and sites to visit, and the choice
infrastructure, or it may employ an expert to of cases of ‘good practice’ to consider.
animate a virtual community by adding Other challenges arise during the peer
value to the deliberations of the policy learning visit itself, with the likelihood of
consultation network. Some networks nudging participants from their
manage to remain functional over time, and epistemological, ideological and cognitive
organise virtual or face-to-face meetings on comfort zones being enhanced if they
a regular basis to ensure effective have been properly prepared for the
dissemination of ideas, to share policy event, and if a range of strategies are
experience, and to enhance mutual used to intensify and structure the
capacity-building. reflective process. Such learning can be
extended beyond the visits themselves if
In my experience, such staying power is these lead to the development of
rare: the attention and energy of policy staff ‘epistemic communities’ and ‘policy
are generally absorbed by the daily communities’ that nurture and
demands of office, where immediacy and organisationally sustain the powerful
crisis management determine priorities. notion of learning from peers.

Slavko Gaber

Change in education is a structured In the field of education, a group of

development. In Slovenia as a newly relatively young researchers and university
established country, it was a challenging, teachers had been invited to conceptualise
enriching, conflicting and demanding and take over the management of
endeavour. Looking back, sound changes education and initially the focus was
as well as misconceptions and illusions can specifically on the quality of education.
be viewed in a different light. With the
benefit of hindsight, many of the Enthusiastic and with illusions about the
misconceptions now appear as damaging – pace, time and financial resources
some even dangerous – in the long term. available, we started to implement changes
Yet some of them were needed and had in education in Slovenia.
their purpose.
In the present essay’s limited space, I will
Slovenia declared independence in 1991 and present a few personal snapshots and
struggled to be recognised. But when, in May reconsiderations related to these first years
1992, I became a member of the cabinet of education reform in Slovenia.
responsible for education, recognition was
only one of many topics on the agenda. We
somehow knew that in due course we would SNAPSHOT 1:
be recognised. Many other and often more CONSERVATIVE REFORMS
pressing problems were mixed and
intertwined: growing unemployment, striking From the very beginning we avoided the
workers, the loss of traditional markets in the word ‘reform’. For one thing, both citizens
former Yugoslavia, tens of thousands of and us were afraid of yet another
refugees pouring in from the former experiment in education. A fear of making
Yugoslavia and future-oriented projects. new mistakes made us opt for a careful


comparative step-by-step reform. One of meritocratic concept of education which had,

the hypotheses (which proved to be true) in the last few decades, reappeared in new
was that the existing system formed a clothes54: the notion that the global and
sound basis that we could develop further increasingly complex society and markets
without overly radical change. The old require educated citizens who can
regime had started Tocquevillean changes continuously learn and fight for their place in
some years before that we could build on. the labour market.
Teachers, school heads, universities,
chambers of trade and commerce began
with a number of innovative projects. One SNAPSHOT 3:
of the most important “projects” of the HEGEMONIC STRUCTURE
opposition to the former political leadership
was to re-establish formerly abolished Comparing reform in Slovenia with the
grammar schools (Gymnasium). reforms in the region – and even judging by
the country’s results in the OECD PISA
Although reform efforts took place in an studies – we were relatively successful.
environment which demanded change53, The questions are: why and how?
the changes that were actually launched
did not face a “lack of opponents to them, Experts dealing with reforms would usually
whether among politicians or teachers or blame conceptual incoherence, impatience
parents themselves” (European of the reformers, lack of money, and lack of
Commission, 1996, p.7). involvement of teachers and parents for
unsuccessful reforms that trigger reforms
of the reforms. Of course, all these factors
SNAPSHOT 2: are important but they matter very little if
WELL-INFORMED ILLUSIONS there is no consensus about concepts,
beliefs, values and interests – in other
Several demands beset us. Some were words, if a new hegemonic structure – is
conflicting. And it is fair to say that we put a not in place55. Without the latter, even the
number of them down to a lack of best informed step-by step reform, with
comparative knowledge and judgement. teachers invited to be genuine partners and
Some really stemmed from a lack of with sufficient financial resources is
comparative knowledge and judgement. Yet deemed to be a failure. In Slovenia this
today it seems obvious that changes in new hegemonic structure was in place. We
society – including “dramatic swings in wanted to become part of a free Europe
political ideology and leadership, [...] eroding with a high standard of living. We saw
consensus about societal values” education as an important tool to reach this
(Leithwood, 2002, p.8) – had raised goal. A combination of justified
expectations of the education system, which expectations and illusions – that were yet
by many was considered to be far more than to be exposed as such – provided a solid
just one small part of the solution to many foundation for the reforms. As the data
social and economic problems. Citizens had comparing trust in institutions in the country
their misconceptions, we had ours too. One demonstrate, huge enrolments in education
was that reform would run smoothly if it were thus producing hope for the future56 and
well-informed, inclusive and financially relatively successful reforms brought
supported. Our misconception was education to a high position on the ladder
profoundly biased by an over-rationalistic and of trust in Slovenia.
53 “Recent demands for changes in the education system in Slovenia had been expressed in evaluation studies
at the end of the 1980s. However, the change of the social system meant that changes in the education
system became a necessity. Thus at the start of the 1990s Slovenia joined the European trend towards
reforms of education systems.” (Svetlik and Barle, 1999)
54 For more about the changing faces of meritocracy and the concept itself, see Young (2001 and 2006),
Goldthorpe (2003), Tašner (2007).
55 “For it is no use trying to conceal the fact that [...] education finds itself intellectually disoriented between a
past which is dying and the future which is still undecided [...]” (Durkheim, 1977, p.8).
56 In the period of economic recession and unemployment that went from 1.3% in the time of socialism to more
that 13% in the mid-1990s, opportunities for a younger generation brought back hopes for better future.


The level of trust in institutions in Slovenia in 1991-2003 (frequency of “high level of

trust” and “substantial trust”57

1991 1995 1998 2000 2003

God 30.3 32.1 33.5 44.0 38.9
Education institutions 52.7 71.6 76.1 82.7 82.4
National currency 55.2 63.3 69.2 64.4
Enterprises 16.8 28.8 32.8 53.2 50.0
Family 87.9 89.7 89.0 93.6 94.1
President of the state 67.8 36.3 44.0 59.2 41.0

SNAPSHOT 4: Knowing that the field of education is at the

RECONSIDERATION OF THE same time specific and – as is true for
CONCEPTS other spaces in society – a field58 for
positioning and validating cultural and
Reform as an intentional and far-reaching symbolic capital, we overestimated the
process started with the reconsideration of common and general interest. The ideology
concepts. of meritocracy and the universal value of
knowledge became our ideology too.
Following a variety of theories and Today it is obvious that:
philosophies, experts had different views
even on some of the essential new a) the time of transition was a time of
issues, such as the introduction of relative openness;
compulsory education at the age of six. b) the euphoria of a new beginning was an
Svetlik and Barle (1999) suggest that “it opportunity for all;
was perhaps the euphoria following the c) a condition of national common purpose
changes in the social system that created existed in the general desire to join the
the illusion that it would be possible to European Union; and,
formulate a concept for reforms to the d) a relatively unstructured political system
education system directly from various and ideological divisions, together with
academic discussions and conferences political stability are to be credited for
involving a large number of experts, the relatively smooth and successful
educators and parents.” reform of education in Slovenia.

Looking back we can claim that At the end of the day, this was more
numerous academic discussions and important than the inclusive management
conferences with teachers, parents, and of the reform and the substantial increase
economic partners largely paid off and of public resources invested in education
were a necessary part of reforms. But at that took place in the decade of reform59.
the same time, strangely enough, our
misconception or lack of recognition of We began to reform education from the
the dependence of education on the perception that it was the most important
structure of society allowed us to way towards the prosperity of individual
conceptualise, legislate and implement a citizens and the country. Even when the
number of solutions that were not easily danger appeared that the ideology of the
accepted by all stakeholders in the Catholic Church would simply replace the
country. former Marxist ideology in state schools,

57 Summarised from Rus (2005, p. 346).

58 We are using here the concept of field in the Bourdieuan sense of the term.
59 The amount of public money invested in education increased from 0.7% of GDP to 6.1% between 1995 and
2005. A substantial part of this increase was for teachers’ salaries.


and even when members of parliament In the late 1980s, before representative
pushed for radical external differentiation at democracy, resistance resulted in the
the age of 12, we just followed the final general liberalisation of the field of
goal: modern, inclusive and competitive education. School control was substantially
education. reduced and inspection no longer
interfered with either the content or the
methodology of school syllabuses. The
SNAPSHOT 5: criteria of political irreproachability and
ENTHUSIASM WITH membership of the League of Communists
CONSERVATISM as conditions for taking the position of head
teacher disappeared. The victory of the
Enthusiasm for change combined with new approach was reflected in a number of
some kind of conservatism probably made areas. One of these was that in education
things easier. While some parts of the the preparations for the reintroduction of
system changed profoundly (such as the grammar schools started. In 1990, the
when state-financed private education Council for Education of what was still the
was introduced), others stayed as Socialist Republic of Slovenia decided to
untouched as cathedrals in a newly built reintroduce grammar schools.
city. This divergence points to the
pragmatic philosophy of the reformers and While grammar schools were left relatively
to the fact that parts of the Slovenian untouched in the years following
education system had been adequately independence, primary schools received a
reformed in the years before lot of attention. The experimental stage of
independence. In general, despite the new introducing nine-year comprehensive
codification of the entire education system primary education started in 1999. An
in 1996, important parts of today’s external baccalaureate was introduced in
education system derived from the 1995; vocational education changed
elements built into it before the transition substantially and the dual system of
from socialism to representative vocational education, combining German
democracy. Even dissidents, those who and Danish experiences, was introduced.
fought for systemic change, were aware of Adult education was restructured by
the changes that had taken place in the combining public institutions and a
last decade before independence60. market-oriented education supply. Higher
education, which grew very fast after
A typical example is the reintroduction of independence (from approximately 33,000
grammar schools – the gymnasiums. The students to more than 90,000) was
socialist authorities considered grammar restructured and programmes were
schools elitist and abolished them at the renewed. Salaries of teachers were
beginning of the 1980s61 and along with increased substantially, teacher education
them, the traditional matura school-leaving (both pre-service and in-service) changed
examination. Academic circles developed significantly. Curriculum renewal from
resistance which resulted in one of the pre-primary up to upper-secondary
most productive examples of establishing education took place between 1996 and
new structures inside old ones. 1999. During this period more than 75% of

60 In some respect Tocqueville’s deliberation on the necessity of the French Revolution can be applied to the
transition of Slovenia from socialism to representative democracy. The difference lies in the revolution in
France having occurred despite the fact that the new was already contained in the old and that it would have
surfaced even without radicalism and bloodshed, while Slovenia, with a great deal of luck and a bit of
wisdom, succeeded in undergoing a “velvet” transition to a new system. See de Tocqueville, 1967.
61 “The Board of Education [...] in February 1975 drafted the Theses on Careers-Oriented Education in the
Field of Secondary Education.” (Cimperle and Vovko, 1987, p.104). Within the concept of education which
should be connected with industry and prepare students for a vocation, the abolition of grammar schools
was the most discussed issue. The authorities at that time reproached grammar schools for their “elitist
character, causing dualism in the secondary school system, which takes away the possibility of further
education from vocational school students ” (ibid.). Elements of careers-oriented education were introduced
in the 1975/76 academic year for first-year grammar-school pupils. The abolition of grammar schools took
place in the 1981/82 academic year after the adoption of the Careers Education Act in April 1980. For more
on this issue see Milharčič-Hladnik and Šušteršič, 1986.


teachers responded to the invitation from a invited review teams (OECD) and experts
national commission to participate in the from France, England, Scotland, Germany
proposal and revisions of the proposed and Nordic countries for consultations.
subject curricula documents. This, indeed, During this process we learnt that while we
was profound reform with elements of needed permanent structures for the
conservatism. international transfer of knowledge and
good practice, only we ourselves could
raise the quality, equity and efficiency of
SNAPSHOT 6: education in Slovenia.
We drafted a White Paper on Education INSTEAD OF A CONCLUSION
while the modernisation of school systems
in Europe was guided by the UNESCO From the perspective of the present I can
paper of Jacques Delors, Learning: The see two major mistakes we made in
treasure within, and the European reforming education in Slovenia.
Commission White Paper entitled Teaching
and Learning – Towards the Learning First of all, in a time we considered as the
Society, both of which brought into play an end of history, we believed that Western
additional interest in making comparisons. rationalist concepts of society and
education were universal. Secondly, the
Both reports stressed the significance of market, competition and work-orientation
education for the future of humankind. The that aimed at inclusion in the European
UNESCO Commission emphasised “its distribution of labour received overdue
belief that education has a fundamental attention.
role to play in personal and social
development” (Delors 1996, p.13). Sticking only to the second, I have to admit
Learning: the Treasure Within focused on that we didn’t understand the opposing and
education as one of “the principal means mutually constitutive nature of instrumental
available to foster a deeper and (work and vocation-centred) education on
harmonious form of human development one hand, and non-instrumental
and thereby to reduce poverty, exclusion, (knowledge and joy-centred) education on
ignorance, oppression and war” (ibid.). The the other. Following the European Union
European Commission’s White Paper political mantra, which was formulated a
stressed in particular the importance of few years later as Europe as the most
education for Europe and its capacity to competitive knowledge-based economy,
face the rest of the world. It stated: “[...] the we wrongly tried to reduce or even
countries of Europe today have no other eliminate this inherent contradiction built
option. If they are to hold their own and to into education.
continue to be a reference point in the
world, they have to build on the progress By reducing education largely to a work
brought about through closer economic ties and market-oriented concept, we limited it
by a more substantial investment in to an important but incomplete part of
knowledge and skills” (Teaching and present and future realities. In the times of
Learning, 1995, p.15). the end of work (Rifkin, 2004) we are trying
to reduce learning and teaching to
Both elements – the first a reminder of the instrumental (useful), market-oriented
humanistic part of our being, and the forms. As such, it forces schools to
second a warning to prepare for increased struggle with additional unpopularity. As
competition – are also woven into the may seem strange, in this way not only
White Paper on Education in Slovenia non-instrumental but also instrumental
(1996). While not yet a Member State, we education (i.e. the work-oriented part) lost
wanted our education to “enable inclusion its call and potential.
in the European distribution of labour” (ibid,
p.165). To accommodate the transfer of the In the time ahead the contradicting and
newest European ideas, reform structures complementing elements of instrumental


and non-instrumental education should explore different and equally important

combine into an education that fields. This is something we did not
accommodates the demands of the global understand.
markets while paying due respect to
experience and knowledge that are We Europeans, when working in policy
essential for personal and social development with other countries, should
development. thoroughly rethink our own Eurocentric
approach to education and try to see its
Education that teaches us to compete – limits. Indeed, fashioning individualism and
to leave behind, to win, to change the favouring market competitiveness at the
way we tackle problems – can only centre of educational endeavours at the
benefit from parallel concepts that expense of critical thinking and joy in
understand ‘competition’ as a common exploring and knowing has its limits. By
search for the better. It will also benefit changing our approach we would come
from persistence of our traditions as closer to a just and fair system of
values which shelter us in liquid education. Despite democratisation and
societies. Effect-oriented education is increased enrolment rates at all levels of
what is needed. But competitiveness can education, there is still too much social
be enhanced by knowledge for the sake reproduction of inequalities through
of knowing – knowledge that will help to education in Slovenia today.

Louise Stoll

Over the last decade my research attention The quality of social learning is greater
and development energy have been when social capital is high (Mulford, 2007).
devoted to the issue of creating capacity My initial interest was in how school
for learning to support educational leaders create and develop professional
improvement. By capacity, I mean the learning communities: inclusive, reflective,
power to engage in and sustain the mutually supportive and collaborative
learning of people at all levels of the groups of people who find ways, inside and
education system for the collective purpose outside their immediate community, to
of enhancing pupils’ learning (Stoll, 2009). investigate and learn more about their
This includes policy learning. In this piece, practice in order to improve all pupils’
I explore the potential that learning learning (Bolam et al., 2005). But learning
communities offer for capacity building. I communities don’t have to be confined to
illustrate this with three examples. I then individual schools or organisations.
examine the processes involved and Broadening membership of learning
conclude by considering implications for communities facilitates the extension of the
leadership. available knowledge base. Involving
agencies from other public sectors brings
different professional knowledge that can
1. LEARNING COMMUNITIES support improvement (Cummings et al.,
2007), while parental involvement adds
Creating, developing and sustaining intimate knowledge of individual children.
learning communities lies at the heart of Connecting with colleagues in other
capacity building (Mitchell and Sackney, schools through participation in learning
2000; Stoll et al., 2006; Louis, 2008). networks adds to the existing pool of
Relationships are critical to social learning. professional educational knowledge and


builds wider commitments as colleagues practitioners involved in various meetings.

learn not only with and from each other but The stance was ‘evaluation for learning’;
on behalf of others (NCSL, 2006). Such maintaining an external, independent and
collaboration across schools and districts unbiased orientation, sometimes validating,
has been described as lateral capacity at other times challenging models of
building (Fullan, 2005b). If these working, but always with the intention of
colleagues’ schools are located in different supporting the Education Department in
countries, this brings opportunities for designing the most effective strategies for
intercultural knowledge. enhancing achievement and the leadership
and implementation of change. The
Core to the concept is the notion of collaborative process involved dialogue
community. The focus isn’t just on and inquiry as we explored intentions,
individuals learning but on learning within a actions and impact; offered feedback and
collaborative community context. sought suggestions from their experience;
Appreciation of diversity is particularly engaged in mutual problem solving;
relevant – it is recognised as essential for provided input into their processes of
new learning and development. Diversity monitoring developments; and, together,
pushes people to contemplate new ideas generated new knowledge. This was a
and possibilities and challenges them to two-way process; we, too, had to be open
stretch their repertoire beyond usual, to learning.
habitual, or comfortable ways of acting. It
often provides the dissonance necessary Example 2: The OECD Improving School
for learning. Leadership activity and development of
a related ‘toolkit’
How does the idea of learning communities
apply to policy learning? Let’s look at three The Improving School Leadership activity
illustrative examples. was third out of 29 most important activities
for the OECD Education Directorate’s
Example 1: The Rotterdam Programme Programme of Work in 2006-07, and 22
for Educational Underachievement education systems in 19 countries decided
(ROAP) to participate in this project. Its purpose
was to provide policymakers with
Local policymakers in the Dutch city of information and analysis to assist them in
Rotterdam engaged a team of international formulating and implementing school
experts to make formative evaluation visits leadership policies for improved teaching
twice a year between 2002 and 2006 and learning (Pont et al., 2008). In common
related to the Programme for Educational with many OECD activities, the objectives
Underachievement. As members of an were to: synthesise research on related
international team with diverse, carefully issues; identify innovative and successful
selected research and policy experience, policy initiatives and practice; facilitate
we had knowledge of education reform in a exchanges of lessons and policy options
number of countries, had been teachers, among countries; and identify policy
and were engaged in applied research, options for governments to consider.
working with policymakers and Conferences provided a forum where
practitioners. Some of us were also change policymakers shared and reflected on their
facilitators. Our role was to act as critical experiences, and engaged in dialogue
friends (Costa and Kallick, 1993), asking about key topics stimulated by
provocative questions, feeding in ideas presentations from experts. Connections
from research and our other experience at were formed and some policymakers made
appropriate points, examining the situation visits to colleagues in other countries to
through different lenses, while taking time learn more.
to understand the context of Rotterdam’s
work and the outcomes that policymakers Conventional outputs of the activity were
were seeking. Two policy leaders the country reports, final report, case
participated in all sessions, with other studies (drawn together in a further
policy colleagues, politicians and publication highlighting a common theme of


system leadership) and executive 2004 the Austrian Minister of Education,

summary. The final conference in April Science, and Culture founded this
2008 suggested that action had been, or academy in association with the
was being, undertaken or planned in Universities of Innsbruck and Zürich. Its
several countries. But how do countries go initial intent was to prepare school heads –
about designing, promoting and who had recently acquired autonomy but
implementing reform based on a set of had little experience in operating outside a
recommendations in a lengthy report? hierarchical, bureaucratic structure – with
Discussions with policymakers showed that the capacity to act more independently,
securing the support of colleagues and take greater initiative, and steer their
practitioners with the findings of such schools through a stream of government
reports frequently proves a challenge. This reforms. The benefits of involving a wider
was the basis for my proposal to the OECD group of participants became apparent
to develop a learning resource (Stoll and very quickly and the Leadership Academy
Temperley, 2008) to aid the process of (LEA) began including district inspectors,
engagement. It would enable policymakers staff of teacher training institutes, and
and practitioners to explore reactions and executives from the national and provincial
responses to the findings in ways that education authorities. These participants
connect with their own experience, practice learn together in four forums, where a
and context. It would also help them to range of creative pedagogical techniques
debate implications of the findings, introduce them to research on leadership
prioritising amongst these for their own for learning, school development and
policy formulation and/or practice personal capacity. They are invited to
development. Finally, it would help them to explore this and reflect on it. They also
identify possible steps for action. select a learning partner and a collegial
coaching team and work with these in and
A ‘toolkit’ has now been developed. between the forums, focusing on a
Although this term suggests simple, development problem that each brings to
mechanical action, the collaborative the group. The change in relationships,
learning processes involved are obviously attitudes, and orientation to leadership for
intended to be significantly deeper, the vast majority of Academy participants
involving frameworks for analysing and has produced a groundswell at the various
contextualising report findings, questions levels of the system where people have
promoting reflection and discussion, been involved – schools, districts, regions,
activities to explore implications, and teacher training institutes, and parts of the
writing and thinking frames for planning ministry. Ministry leaders who have
future development. The emphasis is on participated generally find the programme
understanding and analysis, self-diagnosis and experience powerful and some
and auditing, prioritising and taking action, particularly value the connections they
and communicating and connecting. One make with school and inspector
country, for example, is planning a colleagues. The involvement of the head of
conference in which key stakeholders from one ministry directorate had a particularly
across the policy and practice spectrum will powerful effect on the system when he
work together using the survey in the toolkit followed up his participation by replicating
and other materials in a learning process LEA learning processes with all of his
leading them towards consensus on policy, directorate’s staff.
procedural and practice-oriented priorities.

Example 3: The Austrian Leadership 2. KNOWLEDGE ANIMATION

An example of innovative practice in
leadership development that was one of In the examples, policy learning occurs
the Improving School Leadership activity through a community-based approach. The
case studies was the Austrian Leadership community also extends beyond the
Academy (LEA, 2007; Stoll et al., 2007). In policymakers concerned. This is important.


Learning occurs as a result of engaging I describe this process of making

with external ideas and people from connections as knowledge animation. The
different contexts. Many of the ideas in the focus of knowledge animation is on helping
examples are research-based but they are people to learn how to use knowledge
generally not ‘delivered’ through the usual generated elsewhere for creating their own
channels of a heavy report or a keynote new knowledge. Knowledge animation can
speech. Policymakers often get frustrated be seen as a way of making knowledge
when research does not appear to be accessible and mobile so that people can
relevant to their government’s concerns. make the necessary learning connections
Even when it is relevant, it can be that help them to put knowledge to use in
presented in such a way that learning from their own contexts.
it is difficult, inhibiting the implementation of
potentially valuable findings. Research is The purpose of knowledge animation in
usually ‘disseminated’ – the term often education is to improve policy and practice so
used is knowledge transfer, suggesting a that it will lead to enhanced pupil learning and
one-way flow of knowledge and a social outcomes. The intermediate outcome
transmission style that we know doesn’t is collaborative knowledge creation: new
make for powerful learning. We need ways ideas generated that will help solve the
of bringing knowledge to life so that specific problems that need addressing. To
policymakers can engage with research in achieve this, a range of strategies must be
a way that helps them locate it within their developed that aim to bring researchers,
context and in relation to prior experience policymakers and practitioners closer
and learning, make it meaningful, and together and that help policymakers and
construct new knowledge out of it. This practitioners engage with research findings
learning is also social as learners test the and generate new ideas and strategies to
veracity of their own beliefs and knowledge improve learning in their schools and
by comparing them to the beliefs and systems. Knowledge animation, as illustrated
knowledge of others around them and in the above examples, has several
together they relate this to other external interconnected features and processes.
knowledge, processing it jointly and
thereby creating new knowledge. A model a) The focus is on learning, mutual
of three fields of knowledge from England’s learning indeed, which means that the
National College for School Leadership’s process involves the co-construction of
Networked Learning Communities knowledge and respect for the
programme (NCSL, 2006) captures this perspective and context of those who
relationship. I have adapted it here to apply might traditionally be seen as the
it to a policy learning situation (see diagram). recipients of knowledge (Levin, 2007).

Policy Knowledge Public Knowledge

The knowledge of those The knowledge from
involved – policymakers’ theory, research and
and context knowledge best practice

New Knowledge
The new knowledge
created through collaborative Three fields
work and enquiry of knowledge


b) Interdependence. Without a connected Lieberman and Wood, 2003). Formal

approach, less can be achieved, along leaders create the conditions in which
with a genuine desire to collaborate. learning communities thrive. They model
c) External knowledge is an essential learning themselves and ensure that the
feature. It includes high quality culture and structures are supportive of
research, best practice and new trends collaborative learning. Furthermore, they
presented in different ways to stimulate value enquiry that embodies the knowledge
possible areas of development. animation features and processes outlined
d) A diversity of perspectives, based on previously. As such, formal leaders must
mutual respect, will lead to more find time, space and resources to support
powerful learning as well as bridging learning community development and
social capital between key partners in activity, which should include knowledge
the education reform. animation, and pay attention to monitoring
e) Dialogue, as a process of connecting and evaluating the development of the
that involves the suspension of learning community. The distribution of
judgement, openness and flexibility, is leadership ensures that those with
essential. expertise lead different aspects of the
f) Joint enquiry is a collaborative process community’s development, and that
with questions at its core that are opportunities exist to build the leadership
underpinned by a need or desire to capacity of many individuals who influence
know and to dig deeper for greater others towards improved practice by
understanding, avoiding short-term animating their knowledge, experimenting
shallow solutions. with new ideas and strategies, and
motivating others yet again. Building
leadership capacity throughout and
3. WHAT DOES THIS MEAN between organisations by distributing
FOR LEADERSHIP? leadership is a powerful way to ensure the
sustainability of learning communities. It
This chapter’s title is Leadership and Policy also helps to engender the collective
Learning Communities. While the three responsibility that is a key characteristic of
examples focused on leaders or learning communities, so that members are
leadership, they do not explain how not just concerned about their own learning
leadership might relate to policy learning or piece of the puzzle. Instead, they focus
communities and the knowledge animation on everyone’s learning and help to put all
process. Kotter (1990) distinguishes the pieces of the puzzle together to
leadership from management in arguing promote system-wide improvement and
that management is about producing order transformation.
and consistency while leadership is about
generating constructive change. Most What does this imply for leadership and
definitions of leadership emphasise that it policy learning communities? The decision
involves direction setting and the process to develop policy learning communities
of influence that helps to lead people in the which seek out knowledge animation
desired direction (Yukl, 1994). What does opportunities is a leadership decision that
existing research tell us about leadership cannot be left to chance. It also depends
and learning communities? on informal, distributed leadership that
helps deepen learning in specific policy
All the signs suggest that the challenges of areas, underpinned by the willingness and
educational change are too great for any desire not only to learn with and from
one leader to handle alone (Ancona, 2005). others, but also on behalf of others so that
This is endorsed by the findings of wider benefits of policy learning may be
research on professional learning achieved.
communities within schools and networked
learning communities between schools In a spirit of promoting collaborative
where both formal and distributed reflection and enquiry, I conclude with
leadership are important (Hargreaves and questions for you to consider with
Fink, 2007; Earl and Katz, 2006; colleagues.


a) What examples of policy learning e) Are you a leader of any policy learning
communities exist in your system? communities?
b) Who do they involve? Is anyone f) How is leadership distributed in your
excluded? policy learning communities?
c) What conditions facilitate their g) What are the most powerful forms of
existence? knowledge animation you have come
d) What are the barriers that inhibit the across? Why are they powerful?
development of policy learning h) How might you extend these to other
communities in your context? How can policy areas?
these barriers be removed?

Andy Hargreaves

Education policies are developed to benefit predicated on more or less explicit beliefs
children and other learners, advance the and assumptions about how people
learning that it is believed society will need change and what induces them to do so.
to secure its future, respond to crisis, Reality TV shows that turn around failing
appease special interests and satisfy the restaurants or ineffective parents involve
electorate. Education policies should initial evaluation, public humiliation,
promote prosperity, equity, inclusiveness coaching and practice, more humiliation
and cohesion as well as the capacity for and final success as people progress
continuous improvement, human through the stages of imposed change.
betterment and the ability to deal with Policies that emphasise failure more than
change that outlasts any particular party or success, and that impose stringent
coalition in power. Whatever the emphasis, performance targets for improvement,
all policies are based on a theory of action follow a similar pattern.
of how people change and are borrowed in
whole or in part from another time or place. Less spectacular efforts to improve are
Ideally, the theory of change should also based on theories-of-action about how
influence what is borrowed; but people change. Identifying exemplary
unfortunately, readily available policies that schools or programmes assumes that
can easily be borrowed often determine people can copy the best. Network-driven
and distort the theory-in-action that change assumes that change spreads like
policymakers hold about how people can a benign infection that people catch from
be induced to change. each other. Advocates of scripted curricula
and imposed performance targets assume
that people cannot be trusted to improve by
1. THEORIES OF CHANGE themselves and need others to monitor and
micromanage their actions in detail.
All efforts to bring about personal, Highlighting exceptions of schools or
organisational or social change are districts that perform against the odds


either assumes that if one can be masters degrees from Finland or lesson
exceptional, anyone can; or that study from Japan can seem more
conversations with those who are practical and promise to be more
exceptional can spread modified changes implementable too, but tearing them out
around a system. Technology buffs of context usually undermines their
imagine that gadgets alone will alter how eventual impact.
people learn and teach. Coaches suppose f) Policymakers can find sources of
that people trying new practices require inspiration in other sectors, such as
support and also supervision in order to performance indicators in business,
succeed. And leadership theorists either evidence-based practice in medicine or
search for charismatic heroes who can zero tolerance for failure in the high
bring about miraculous change or invest in reliability organisation of air traffic
wider distributions of leadership that are control.
able to sustain change over time. g) Last, ministers and prime ministers
have been known to draw on their own
How do we choose between different decades-old experiences of schooling
theories-of-action in developing new as students to use policy as an
policies for improvement and change? instrument for nostalgic revival or for
purging biographical demons.

2. SOURCES OF CHANGE Transpositions of policies often simplify or

idealise the times, countries or sectors
There are many ways in which from which they are drawn. They fail to
policymakers appropriate changes from grasp that past educational experiences
past experience or other arenas. are outdated and partial, that doctors and
dentists use craft knowledge as well as
a) Policymakers can be drawn to adopting hard evidence to guide their practice, or
strategies from systems that are seen that providing masters degrees for all
as ideologically compatible, as in the teachers may reflect the high calibre of
spread of the market-driven reforms people a country is able to attract rather
across many countries and through than being a way of creating that level of
international organisations in the 1990s. quality. Similarly, running a school or
b) Some are connected to countries that classroom is more like operating a complex
are culturally, socially or linguistically travel service or geriatric clinic for
similar: the Nordic countries vulnerable people than being specifically
communicate closely about policy concerned with the life and death moments
strategy, as do Anglo-Saxon nations. of plane landings or brain surgery.
c) Comparable capacity in terms of
financial resources and teachers’ levels
of training often draws many 3. CHANGE TRAVEL
less-developed nations to, for instance,
the relatively stable and successful Reform is like ripe fruit. It does not usually
context of Chile and the promising travel well. In a classic set of studies, Mary
example of South Africa but, for K. Stein and her colleagues (Stein et al.,
ideological reasons, less to the high 2009) have examined the destinations and
literacy performer of Cuba. destinies of successful reforms originally
d) High performing exemplars on designed for New York District 2 in the
international tests such as Japan, 1990s. With a tight and detailed design
Singapore and Finland have received a focused on specified literacy instruction,
lot of attention, though some, like learner-centred leadership, intensive
Belgium, have proven baffling, and coaching and a relentless preoccupation
others, like Russia, too ideologically with results, a successful reform in New
divergent from the Western democratic York District 2 was transposed, along with
norm. some of its architects and implementers, to
e) Attempts at selective appropriation of the city of San Diego. After some initial
particular policies such as teachers’ increase in measured attainment, the


attempt to impose an instant solution on literacy attainment (OECD, 2007; Levin and
San Diego that had been developed over Fullan, 2008). The ready-made solutions
many years in New York was then declared that are advocated by international travelling
a failure. The researchers identified many consultants seem to be going in search of
reasons for this, including: problems or making up ones that aren’t
there, rather than local problems giving rise
a) Military-based and larger San Diego to their own solutions.
was more conservative yet had less
local capacity than smaller District 2
within high-capacity, chutzpah-like New 4. CHANGE LESSONS
b) San Diego’s reforms were imposed in This does not mean that we cannot or
two years, whereas New York’s had should not learn from other contexts. But
been developed over a decade. we should do so intelligently in relation to
c) Large and complex secondary schools clear principles, sensitively in relation to
were included in the San Diego reform, differences in context, and interactively
unlike District 2. through dialogue among educators at all
d) As San Diego’s reform mill became levels within and across the respective
increasingly gruelling, resentment grew systems. I will provide three examples with
against the interlopers responsible for which I have been closely involved by way
its implementation. of illustration.
e) Understandings of literacy and
instruction that had taken a decade to 4.1 Finland
develop in District 2 were interpreted
more superficially in the fast-track Finland receives a lot of international policy
reform environment of San Diego. attention. It ranks No. 1 on most PISA62
assessments, has the narrowest
Stein and colleagues go on to document achievement gaps in the developed world
that a little less was lost in translation with and is a world leader in corporate
a further attempt at implementation in transparency and economic
Philadelphia as implementers tried to be competitiveness. In 2007, I took a team
more sensitive to differences of context. there for the Organisation for Economic
Cooperation and Development to examine
Despite these documented difficulties, the relationship between leadership and
reasons of ideological compatibility and school improvement. (Hargreaves et al.,
cultural affinity, along with the physical travel 2008). Drawing on our evidence and on
of a very small number of international the growing body of other literature on the
consultants, have led to other reform Finnish experience (Sahlberg, 2006; 2009;
initiatives being exported impulsively. One Aho et al., 2006; Castells and Himanen
key instance concerns the transposition of 2003; Grubb, 2006), this is what we
national policy strategies from England to concluded.
other English-speaking countries. These
policy strategies centre on setting imposed a) After being one of the most backward
targets in tested literacy and numeracy at economies in Europe in the 1950s and
different age points along with curricular and after an international banking crisis, the
training emphases in these core subjects. loss of its Russian market, and the
Strangely, while England ranks relatively escalation of unemployment rates to
poorly on international tests in literacy, and almost 19% in the early 1990s, Finland
while the record of its literacy strategy has consciously connected economic
been labelled as unsuccessful, contrived, or transformation towards being a
stuck, the country’s emphasis on testing and creative and flexible knowledge
targets has been eagerly adopted by both economy to the development of a
Ontario and Australia, even though they significantly more decentralised
already rank among the world’s leaders in education system.

62 Programme for International Student Assessment – a triennial world-wide test of 15-year-old students’
scholastic performance coordinated by the OECD.


b) This effort has been coordinated at the h) Assessment strategies are largely
highest political level where CEOs from diagnostic forms of
leading companies like Nokia meet assessment-for-learning and internal to
regularly with university presidents in a the school. External accountability is
science and technological development confidential and undertaken on a
committee chaired by the prime minister. sample basis for monitoring purposes
c) The coherence is not merely only, not as a census of everyone.
bureaucratic and governmental, but i) Principals are seen as being part of a
visionary and inspirational. Finns have a “society of equals” in their schools, not
common vision that connects their as line-managers. They are often
creative high-tech future to their past as recruited from within their schools and
creative craftspeople. There are more they engage in considerable informally
composers per capita in Finland than in distributed leadership with their
any other developed country, and all colleagues. Principals may not be
young people engage in creative and recruited from outside education, and
performing arts to the end of their many principals teach for at least two
secondary education. hours per week. Teachers say that if the
d) This vision is shared at every level principal is indisposed or ineffective,
among Finns since teachers create their they take over the school as it belongs
country’s future as a creative and to all of them.
inclusive nation. Though paid only at
the OECD average, teaching in Finland Some market-oriented advocates dismiss
is highly competitive with only a the high-performing Finnish example as
one-in-ten chance of acceptance. simply too different (New American
Retention is high among Finnish Commission, 2007). Or they highlight
teachers because conditions are good weaknesses such as Finland’s impending
and trust is high. All Finnish teachers generational crisis of leadership
are awarded masters degrees. Finns succession, as a way of occluding the
control quality at the most important strengths (Fullan, 2008). Or they choose
point – the point of entry. single items such as awarding teachers
e) Within broad guidelines and with masters degrees, that are applied and
minimal steering by the state, highly imposed in isolation and disembodied from
qualified teachers create curricula the democratic and inclusive context of the
together in each municipality for the rest of the system and society (Barber and
children they know best. Curricula and Mourshed, 2007). Or they overly celebrate
pedagogy are not separate – they are in how the system succeeds without
a common tradition of what continental Anglo-Saxon systems of standardised
Europeans call “didactics”. The sense of testing (Sahlberg, 2006).
delivering a curriculum devised by
others from afar is utterly alien to What might more intelligent engagement
Finnish educators. with Finnish strategies look like? The most
f) In small classes rarely larger than 24 transferable (but not necessarily most
students, and with generous definitions ideologically amenable) aspects are the
of special educational needs, the push broad principles of developing an inspiring
for quality is driven largely by quietly and inclusive mission that attracts into the
lifting all children up from the bottom, profession high calibre people capable of
one at time, through knowing them well creating curriculum together for children
in small classes, having specialist they know well in smaller classes.
support as needed, and not having to
deal with excessive paperwork and Without an inspiring and inclusive mission,
endless external initiatives. other less successful measures such as
g) Principals work across schools, sharing market incentives have to be used to
resources where they are needed, and attract and retain highly qualified
feeling responsible together for all the professionals. Without highly qualified
children and young people in their town professionals, teaching cannot be trusted
and city, not acting competitively only so much, which increases the argument for
for the children in their own school. external accountability, standardised


curriculum and government intervention. In terms of general principles, this policy

But these measures then destroy nations’ initiative points to the success and promise
capacities to be competitive and creative of a professionally peer-driven strategy of
knowledge economies. Last, without small the strong helping the weak in cultures of
classes in which teachers know their committed and transparent improvement.
children well, individual knowledge of At the same time, it also shows that where
children’s needs has to be developed in legacies of standardisation continue to
other ways, through batteries of data on linger in the surrounding policy
standardised tests. environment, lateral network activity
focuses disproportionately on short-term
At the same time, contextual differences improvements in delivering existing
must also be considered. For instance, it is learning rather than long-term
easier to recruit principals externally and transformation in teaching and learning.
develop most curricula locally in societies of
relative low internal mobility such as Finland, Again, in terms of intelligent policy
compared to those with higher geographic engagement this project points to the
mobility. However, the more general case for power of lateral professional peer
paying more attention to succession planning interaction and collaboration as a way to
and more decentralised capacity for bring about large-scale improvement. It
curriculum development among highly also highlights the strengths as well as
qualified professionals applies everywhere difficulties of combining short-term and
where this calibre exists. long-term perspectives in improvement
efforts. And it signals the danger of
4.2 Raising Achievement/ Transforming committing to innovative efforts within
Learning (RATL) in England unchanged standardised systems. It does
not, however, demonstrate the power of
With Dennis Shirley, I recently evaluated professional networks in general as a
the performance of more than 300 simplified theory of action – for RATL has a
secondary schools in the Raising very specific network architecture of
Achievement/ Transforming Learning strategies and supports, which took its
(RATL) project of the English Secondary evaluators many months to decode.
Schools and Academies Trust (SSAT).
Two-thirds of the schools improved at 4.3 Performing beyond expectations
double the rate of the national average
over two years by: Alma Harris and I are currently examining
unexpectedly high performance in other
a) schools helping schools in peer-driven sectors and its implications for education
networks of lateral pressure and support; improvement. One of these sectors is
b) combining outside-in knowledge of sport, which we are investigating with
experts at conferences, with inside-out team-member Alan Boyle.
knowledge of successful and
experienced practitioners; Sport has started to undergo a revolution in
c) offering mentor schools to lower evidence-based improvement. In
performing peers (rather than Moneyball, Michael Lewis (2003) describes
mandating them) in cultures of strong how the Oakland Athletics baseball team of
expectation for improvement within the 1990s managed to outperform most
transparent lateral systems of competitors, even after its financial backers
involvement; had pulled out by paying relentless
d) supplying modest amounts of additional attention to the statistic that best predicts
resourcing to facilitate these season-long high performance: on-base
improvements and interactions; percentage (the percentage of times a
e) providing clear, practical menus of player can reach first base from the plate
short-term, medium-term and long-term where he bats). “The most important,
strategies for improvement and isolated offensive statistic is the on-base
transformation with proven success percentage”, Lewis notes (p. 58). So
among experienced administrators. Oakland Athletics set about recruiting


players who had a high on-base for increased test scores are imposed on
percentage and batters were urged to teachers who take their own extra little steps
attend to it – to do anything it took to get on such as teaching to the test, in order to
base, even drawing a “walk” or being hit by produce the necessary numbers.
a pitch. Systematically attending to this
single statistic throughout the club’s By comparison, the Championship club
selection, organisation and playing Prozone director invites players in to
strategies, got it into the playoffs season discuss their data. At first, only a trickle of
after season, despite falling levels of players come to see him, but as players’
investment. Before, coaches had recruited subsequent performance improves, their
players who reminded them of themselves peers take notice and are very soon
– big guys who could hit a ball hard. Now, following in their team-members’ footsteps
Oakland Athletics had some of the most to join this intelligent community of soccer
peculiarly built players in baseball, but what learners who analyse data to improve
they could all do was get on base performance together. Whether they
consistently! concern individual student achievement, or
comparative international performance, the
The parallel in football is Prozone. This is most productive uses of data in education,
not the latest banned substance of sporting similarly occur not by imposing unwanted
preference! Prozone is a computer targets that lead to unnecessary
program that can track players’ expenditures of energy on superfluous
performance throughout a game – extra steps, but by building intelligent
monitoring and measuring energy levels, communities of professionals and
areas of the pitch covered, and number of policymakers who look at data together in
successful and unsuccessful passes made shared commitments to improvement.
– backwards, forwards and sideways.

An English Championship football club we 5. CONCLUSION

have been studying employs a single
Prozone Director. Many Premiership clubs All policies start somewhere but most of
have entire Prozone analysis teams while at them travel poorly. The past is a foreign
the other end of the scale, one low ranking country and too much nostalgia or amnesia
Second Division team’s Prozone analyst fell about it impairs the intelligent immigration
off the floodlights in a rainstorm while of its policy strategies into the present.
recording the game with his camera! The Other countries and other sectors that
Championship Prozone director we seem to show exemplary success can be
interviewed, who made the program the sources of disappointment if their
subject of his MBA, described how multiple strategies are adopted inflexibly and
cameras are typically positioned around the simplistically because of cultural familiarity
ground to track players during each game. or political plausibility.
Individual player patterns and profiles are
subsequently compiled from the accumulated Policy principles are much more
data. The key question, though, is how are transposable and transportable if they
the data used to improve performance? are interpreted intelligently within
communities of practice among and
In the extreme case, our interviewee between those who are their bearers and
described how some managers had tried recipients. Indeed, it is these
installing electronic chips in their players’ communities of practice and the ways
boots to measure the number of steps they they engage with past policies and
took per game as an indicator of energy comparative policies elsewhere in order
expenditure. Some managers then set to make committed and sincere efforts to
“step” targets to increase the energy that improve together, that will prove to be the
players used. However, players got around ultimate test-bed of effective as well as
this by taking extra little steps off-field when sustainable policy development and
they were retrieving the ball and the camera implementation. Seeds travel better than
couldn’t follow them. The same kind of ripened fruit and so does the germination
cheating occurs in education when targets and cross-pollination of policy change.


July 2008 With this letter, I feel compelled to do more

Dear Minister, than simply wish you a successful term of
office. You are in a key position to make a
As a frequent visitor to your country and difference. Friends of mine have warned
an admirer of its cultural richness, I was me that there are more productive ways of
delighted to read of your recent spending my time than writing this letter to
appointment as minister of education. In you. It is wildly optimistic, they told me, to
your previous job, you often voiced your imagine that an education minister would
concerns about the state of your country’s take the risk of publicly acknowledging that
education system. I have also read your there are major problems with the
writings where you call into question old education system. Instead, they urged, I
ways of thinking about education and are should seek out your advisors and let them
highly critical of how education policy has know my thoughts.
been put into practice in your country. In a
recent interview you spoke passionately of Ministers, like many of us, are
your sense of frustration and even anger well-meaning individuals, but experience
that past efforts to improve the education has shown that good intentions are not
system for your country’s young people always enough. It is also clear that
have achieved so little. You also improving an education system is not just a
expressed your concern that international question of money. If it were, surely the
cooperation has not helped find lasting billions already spent would have
solutions to the most pressing problems in stimulated measurable improvements by
education. now. Money has rarely been the solution to

63 I was inspired to write this fictitious letter by my old friend, Seymour Sarason, who wrote a collection of
letters to a fictitious future president of the United States. I also owe him the story about the man who went
to the doctor which he told on one of his visits to work with me in Helsinki. You can read these letters in his
book Letters to a Serious Education President, Corwin Press, 1993. The idea of the policy epidemic is from
another friend, Benjamin Levin, presented in “An epidemic of education policy: (what) can we learn from
each other?” in Comparative Education, 34(2), 131-141. Any lack of clarity, errors and omissions in this
chapter are entirely my responsibility.


the problems of education systems; has spent the best part of his life working
ironically, it is often a part of the problem. for educational change, told me a story that
So let us look at your time as education I find very relevant to the question of how
minister openly and courageously, while to heal an education system. It goes like
recognising past educational this:
“One day a normally fit and healthy man
In my time, I have met many people in your felt unwell. He soon started to feel so
situation. As you will soon see for yourself, bad that he went straight to his doctor
institutions, interest groups and individuals, and told him that he was losing his
among them your colleagues, students, strength and finding even the basics of
teachers and parents, will all come to you daily life very tiring. The doctor could
with their suggestions about what you not see any signs of illness but gave
should do. Some will come bearing him a check-up anyway. Everything
promises of political or financial support for seemed normal and he told the man he
your work, others will offer to help you fix was perfectly healthy. But this was not
those parts of the education system that what our man wanted to hear. He knew
work improperly. Then there are those who he was unwell and asked the doctor to
will want your support for their own political examine him again. The doctor,
agendas. somewhat annoyed at having his
professional judgement doubted, took
I know you are probably well aware of this. another look. Again, he found no signs
However, allow me to say that you may not of illness but the man continued to insist
be aware of the sheer variety of ideas on on treatment. After thinking for a while,
education you will encounter during your the doctor said: “I want you to do the
time as minister. Two considerations may following routine six times a day for the
help shape your response. It is vital to be next two weeks. Take off all your
absolutely clear about the exact nature of clothes, stand in front of an open
the problems facing your education window and breathe deeply for 20
system. In your previous job, you declared minutes.” “But doctor, it is January and
that “education is not just an important freezing cold outside,” said the man, “if I
issue, it is the issue because the future of do as you say, I will surely catch
our people and our culture are at stake.” pneumonia.” The doctor replied “In that
But giving education top priority does not case, come back and I will cure you
constitute a diagnosis. You may find it because I know how to treat
useful to think about the education system pneumonia!””
and its problems in the same way a doctor
thinks about a patient. If someone has a For me the irony of this story is not the fact
serious illness, diagnosis is not always that this is so often what happens in real
easy even for the most experienced of life. It is the fact that in the world of
doctors. A correct diagnosis often begins education reforms we so often end up
with the realisation that the patient is not doing what we can do rather than what we
suffering from one ailment but rather a should be doing. But we can only do
complex mix of ailments. There is no need something about the real issues if we have
to worry about how complex these understood what they are in the first place.
problems are, but you must avoid being Clearly I am not telling this story to illustrate
influenced by the urgent nature of the the failings of the medical profession. For
problem so that your diagnosis misses the me, this story poses an important question:
real cause of the sickness and ends up how can you go about identifying what is
only treating the minor symptoms. the biggest issue facing your education
system? This first question raises more
Your opposite number at the ministry of questions such as – how well equipped is
health can tell you better than I can how your administration to understand the real
doctors treat their patients but the nature of the problem? How willing are you
relevance of this analogy to the education to rein in the instinct to adopt “solutions,”
sector is obvious. A friend of mine, who including those put forward by your


international colleagues, if they are not knowledge to helping them learn to

relevant to your main problem? To what solve problems and deal with real life
extent will you and your team be influenced situations.
by fashionable ideas on education reform 2. Education reforms in many countries
that have become common currency at aim to improve education for all, not just
international conferences and workshops? for some. This principle has become
Will you be able to convince your partners, more important as social and cultural
and your own citizens, that the problems of diversity in many countries has
your education system cannot be solved by increased. Equality of opportunity in
simple “solutions,” like fixing a broken education, as you point out in your
window? What do you think a good interview, is a good way of building
education system should look like? How do social cohesion and stability. Policies
other education ministers go about that give priority to equity tend to
gathering evidence and making decisions advocate having the same schools and
that will improve their schools? classes for all, using unified curricula
without ability groupings and moving
Discussing these issues with colleagues students up a grade automatically rather
from other countries may cause you to holding them back as a cure for poor
conclude that many themes of education performance.
policy are the same from one country to the These are all welcome changes, but
next. This might lead you to believe that there are others which are less so.
governments learn how to reform their 3. Believe it or not, schooling in many
education systems from each other. How countries is becoming like a market
else it can be that two nations as different commodity. This trend is based on the
and distant from each other as Canada and assumption that competition and
Britain have chosen to implement information are the primary drivers of
education reforms that are identical? In the improvement. The logic is very simple;
same way, education reforms in many competition is the driving force behind
Eastern European countries look very efficiency and economic growth,
similar, focusing as they do on educational therefore competition between schools
standards, assessment systems and and students must be the best way of
information and communication improving student performance. In this
technology. emerging education marketplace,
parents are free to choose which school
Before giving my opinion on whether the they send their children to. In order to
spread of common themes in education do so, parents need comparable data
reform is really the result of mutual learning on student achievement and school
between governments or the result of performance, based on a national
something else, I would like to offer some curriculum. As a result of this thinking,
personal observations about some of the education systems in many countries
current trends in education. There are have been ‘standardised’ by creating
many ways to describe global education common standards for teaching and
policy trends; I will highlight only a few learning and for teachers and heads of
major ones, both desired and worrying schools.
ones. 4. An economic rationale and the
preparation of individuals for workforce
1. Education policies in many countries, on and international competition are
paper at least, value learning over commonly cited reasons for education
teaching. Many countries have reform. Education, as you well realize,
redesigned school curricula and the is, indeed, an important driver of a
content of qualifications according to country’s economic welfare. But an
descriptions of the knowledge and skills interesting shift in education policy
students must acquire rather than what discourse has occurred over the last 30
teachers must teach. There has also years. Social promotion and individual
been a change of emphasis from well-being appear less often than before
requiring students to master specific in contemporary education policy


agendas. Education reforms still aim at countries are adopting a similar approach
equity goals, and social mobility is to education reforms. But a closer look
mentioned, but not as they were once. shows this is not necessarily the case.
And reforms are, to be correct, also What actually happens is that ideas are
based on other points than just borrowed from one education system then
economic arguments. If I, or better still, applied to another as though the culture,
you, examine education policies in people, teachers and pupils were all
randomly selected countries, we would interchangeable. A friend who served as a
both readily note a change in how the deputy education minister once told me
need for education reform is expressed. that rather than carefully selecting the most
appropriate blueprint for reform, his
So if education policy themes are common ministry seemed to be suffering from a kind
to many countries across the world, is this of policy epidemic.
the result of a process of mutual learning? I
would suggest a different metaphor to Although this may seem distasteful, there
explain the global transfer of education may be similarities between how education
policies. But first, let me explain why I think policies and diseases spread.
learning is difficult for governments, and Epidemiology uses three terms – the
even more so, dare I say, for individual agent, the host and the environment – to
ministries as they suffer from specific describe how severe infections move from
problems that often prevent them from place to place. People become ill as a
learning from others. result of interactions between all three. Not
everyone gets infected, even though they
You, and certainly your advisors and may have been in the same place as
technical experts, have access to global someone who actually caught the disease,
education data and to some of the most because some people have more
brilliant researchers on education. You also resistance to the same agent than others.
interact with other ministers and their
advisors and researchers. But at the end of Just for the sake of interest, may I invite
the day, you are dealing with political you to consider how the global education
issues, since most education reform is all reform movement (or germ) behaves like a
about politics. Technical rationality and germ in an epidemic. Just like diseases,
problem solving – familiar to anyone who education policy ideas spread quickly
works in public administration – rather than around the world but whether they “infect”
posing problems take up the time of most governments or not depends on the needs
ministers and their staff. However genuine for reform and the level of awareness of
learning thrives on the exchange of ideas, the education expert communities in each
innovation and opportunities for reflection. country. Several governments may be
A second problem is that access to infected by the same germ, but the severity
superficial information and ideas through of the infection will vary greatly.
the media and the internet often acts as a
substitute for real learning. I would like to offer you two moral
imperatives you may find useful in your
The way education policies emerge around work and these are prevention and repair.
the world, I have concluded, is not best What I mean may become clearer if you
described as a process of mutual learning. think about these two words in the context
In your statement of intentions as of an epidemic. When you are worried
education minister, you suggest that the about your child’s health in the midst of a
work of your predecessors with the dangerous flu epidemic, the first thing you
international education community, think about is how to prevent him or her
especially with foreign consultants, has not becoming infected. Only if the worst
always helped your fellow citizens happens do you look for a cure, namely the
understand the fundamental problems repair. Simple enough. But I dare say that
facing education. Indeed, they may even up to now, education policies in both your
have triggered new ones, as you claim. country and mine have concentrated much
Seen from afar it can look as if many more on repairing than prevention. With


health care reforms, in contrast, the idea of But there is another, even better, strategy –
prevention has long been seen as a becoming a serious leader in education,
cheaper and more effective alternative to someone who can show the way and install
the cure. I feel sure you will agree with me an authentic passion for getting involved in
on this. education reform in your citizens. You may
wonder – how do I go about energising
What you need to know as you move the public thinking on education to strengthen
emphasis from repairing to prevention in its “resistance to infection” by policy ideas
education reform is that prevention has two that may be popular but are not effective?
separate but interconnected strands. First, What I am suggesting, to be sure, is not
education policies must effectively prevent easy. However, encouraging participation
your schools, teachers and students from by your citizens can only make your
getting into serious trouble, such as education system stronger and more
students dropping out due to lack of responsive.
motivation or good teachers leaving their
jobs due to poor working conditions. I also encourage you to engage in mutual
Second, you must be sceptical and learning with your colleagues in other
question the policy ideas and information countries. As you have stated many times,
that the global education reform movement there is no point in blindly copying policies
will bring to you and your staff. The best and ideas from other education systems.
preventive strategy, in my modest opinion, The less your education policy changes
is ensuring that your best technical resemble an epidemic and the more they
education experts available are constantly are the result of mutual learning, the closer
advising you and collaborating with you – you will be to the goals you have set
and, of course, that you carefully listen to yourself.
their suggestions.
In his famous speech “Beyond Vietnam: a
The aim of this letter is to wish you good time to break silence” delivered at
luck in this important mission. It is also to Riverside Church, New York City, in April
provide some ideas on how to be well 1967 Martin Luther King Jr. said, “a time
equipped to receive, process and act upon comes when silence is betrayal”. But all too
the flood of education policy advice that will often those who speak truth to power come
reach you through many channels. You to regret it. The way I see it, time is now.
may view policy development and With these thoughts, let me wish you good
education reform in your country through luck once more and assure you that I will
an epidemiologist’s eyes; an awareness of be following your leadership in education
the role of agents, hosts and environments with great interest.
related to improving the performance of
your education system. Another strategy Yours faithfully,
might be to work like a medical doctor who
diagnoses already-occurring illnesses and Pasi Sahlberg
set about to cure them. Education reformer

Peter Greenwood

This book closes a cycle of reflection and vocational education and training to
development on the concept of policy developments in the general and higher
learning which began in 2003 and which education as well.
has been a consistent focus for our work
since then. The conclusions and lessons in The new mandate is also likely to confirm
this book and the commentary from the that the ETF should support its partner
international experts in Part 2 are countries principally by:
particularly timely as they coincide with the
initiative taken by the European Union 1. providing information, policy analysis
institutions to amend the ETF’s mandate. and advice on human capital
Through this process, our remit is expected development issues and their links with
to evolve from the current exclusive focus sector policy objectives in partner
on vocational education and training (VET) countries;
to the more encompassing concept of 2. supporting relevant stakeholders in
human capital development in a lifelong partner countries to build capacity in
learning context. human capital development;
3. facilitating the exchange of information
In practice, the broader mandate and experience among donors engaged
recognises that VET should not be in human capital development reform in
considered in isolation from other partner countries;
sub-sectors of education and the labour 4. supporting the delivery of Community
market. This change in perspective is assistance to partner countries in the
expected to have a significant impact on field of human capital development;
the policy dialogue which the ETF holds 5. disseminating information and
with its partner countries. From an encourage networking and exchanges
exclusive focus on the specificities of the of experience and good practice
VET sub-system, over the next three to between the EU and partner countries
four years, the ETF’s support to partner and amongst partner countries on
countries will increasingly link reform in human capital development issues;


6. contributing to the analysis of the overall It is perhaps understandable, given the

effectiveness of training assistance to precondition of contextualisation of reform,
the partner countries at the request of that this book does not provide a single
the European Commission. standard definition of policy learning.
Indeed, one of the most repeated lessons
The amendment of the ETF’s regulation across the different chapters is that it is
can be considered as recognition of primarily the process of structured policy
changes in the agency’s external reflection by the partner country community
environment and lessons learned through supported by insights from the international
the ETF’s own operational work presented community which leads to the most
in this book. While the changes to the valuable new knowledge, rather than the
ETF’s regulation will set the ETF new resulting formal policy document. This
challenges, they will provide the volume is, at least to me, particularly
opportunity to build on the experiences helpful in systematising the process and
gained through its action research into identifying its specific added value in terms
policy learning to become a more effective of the new knowledge that can be
support for the partner countries, contribute generated through self-assessment and
to EU assistance and operate as a peer review of a vocational education and
technical reference for the international training system illuminated by insights from
community. other systems and experiences.

This book contains lessons for the ETF’s A number of practical steps in the
primary function of policy analysis and preceding chapters are suggested: one
support. Although the chapters in this proposal calls for measures to enhance the
book do not provide a common definition impact of peer learning on the national
of the term ‘policy learning’, the reform process – appealing for
contributors are unanimous in advocating consideration not only of policy design, but
that the fundamental approach to policy also of policy implementation. Similarly, it is
support which gives the partner country important to avoid normative approaches to
policy community the lead role goes in policy learning that would lead to identical
the right direction. While frustratingly policy development procedures in different
hard to measure and evaluate, a policy countries. These lessons provide a
learning approach is essential for the stronger framework for our future work.
ownership of the process and the
relevance of the final product, as This book is both a timely and useful
emphasised by many authors in this source of learning for us and our partner
book. Alternative approaches based on countries and together we will apply its
short term policy borrowing – even of lessons in the years to come.
recognised EU policy frameworks – are
seen as counter-productive with a high Peter Greenwood
risk of failure. Head of Operations, ETF


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