Mr Jogai Isaac, a statistician in the Planning, Research and Statistics Department at the State Ministry of Education, Kaduna.
Jogai Isaac says the education sector Medium Term Sector Strategy (MTSS) is a great achievement. “It has taught me evidence based budgeting and activity based costing. I can now help to set targets for my department and work towards achieving them.”
The UKaid through its Education Sector Support Programme in Nigeria (ESSPIN) is focused on improving the overall planning and management of education activity. This is being done by assisting the Kaduna State Ministry of Education to develop properly prioritised and costed 3-year rolling plans, known as the Medium Term Sector Strategy (MTSS). There is a history of ‘plans’ in Kaduna within the last 15 years, but many of them have failed to be implemented, being wildly optimistic. Inaccurate costing has contributed to this level of unreality.
An MTSS requires inputs from education officials at different levels – for example, overall policy guidance will come from the commissioner and senior management staff; while specific strategies and the phasing of targets will be determined by the permanent secretary and departmental directors. Inputs from junior technical staff within education departments are essential for each activity to be properly costed and the plan to be realistic.
The current MTSS process supported by ESSPIN is empowering staff to understand the importance of detailed planning and budgeting. One such official is Mr Jogai Isaac, a 40-year old middle technocrat who works in the Planning, Research and Statistics Department of the State Ministry of Education. “I used to work with statistics that were out-of-date and often wrong. We didn’t have the proper information for planning,” he recalls.
But now, with access to relevant data and up-to-date unit costs, he and his colleagues are able to work out detailed and accurate cost estimates for all activities. This may not be the most exciting or glamorous work, but it is vital if the MTSS is to be legitimate. And, with ESSPIN’s help, Jogai can declare “I now enjoy costing!”.
The impact of Jogai Isaac’s work is not apparent in a short-term, obvious and easily quantifiable sense, but with accurate costing work an MTSS can be realistic, and sustainable improvements in basic education service delivery are possible. The potential long-term impact is therefore substantial.