Logistical constraints in school construction

School construction can be hindered due to logistic constraints, such as lack of capacity, topographical issues, management issues, corruption, and the unreliable distribution of funds. The issues can often be anticipated or mitigated during the planning, implementation, and coordination phases of the construction projects. Comprehensive and thorough planning and preparation to prevent these problems can include a national school construction stock-taking exercise, and a well-developed school construction delivery strategy. During the actual project implementation, monitoring and evaluation activities should be continuously carried out to identify obstacles requiring attention, and to modify the program as needed. If sufficient capacity for does not exist, then technical support should be commissioned. In the case of contract management, capacity support can be achieved through delegating contract management to a designated agency, and/or decentralizing contract management to lower government bodies or to the community. If more binding supply constraints are present, such as the lack of available land, then alternative strategies to school construction should be explored.

Promising policy options

During the planning phase

In order for construction projects to have the required resources for successful implementation and to address any constraints that arise, there needs to be adequate political support from the government and support from development partners, as well as available technical professional assistance. Meetings between key stakeholders at the beginning of the school construction process will help facilitate cooperation between partners and bring in any additional required expertise.

Additionally, in order to adequately scope the country’s primary schooling infrastructure requirements, Ministries of Education can conduct a national stock-taking exercise, to assesses the current state of school infrastructure, anticipated future needs, the current national planning processes for school construction, and lessons learned from past projects. This exercise facilitates effective project planning and financing and promotes a harmonization between norms, management, and implementation arrangements.

Some key elements of a stocktaking exercise include:

  • Current status and future needs: Data on the school-age population, enrolments, retention and drop-outs rates, pupils per classroom ratio, geographical distribution and inequities between regions, buildings’ infrastructure status.
  • Planning and financing: Norms and standards for school construction, targeting mechanisms, responsibilities in planning processes, financing sources, expenditures on maintenance.
  • Context: Decentralization arrangements, water, and sanitation policy, construction sector, public procurement arrangements, environmental issues, transport.
  • Past program elements: Norms and standard designs, management systems, implementation mechanisms, maintenance, unit-costs, and cost-efficiency.
References
Theunyck, S. 2002. School construction in developing countries: What do we know? Washington D.C.: The World Bank. Retrieved from: https://humanitarianlibrary.org/sites/default/files/2014/02/Theunynck%2520(2002)%520School%2520Construction%2520in%2520Developing%2520Countires.pdf

Design a school construction delivery strategy

A school construction delivery strategy lays out all the features that will be addressed prior to and during the construction process and is a fundamental tool to facilitate effective project implementation. The strategy should be developed collectively, involving all relevant stakeholders for the construction project, which could also include professionals who can offer technical expertise.

The following is a list of important elements that should be included in a delivery strategy, (according to Bonner et al., n.d.) or that should be covered in some dimension in the school construction planning process:

  • Rationale, scope, and objectives of the program. Based on national standards and policies. Inclusion of how infrastructure will connect to other educational programmes, as well as other sectors.
  • Data and information. Data needed to identify the location, amount and state of existing building infrastructure, assess what additional infrastructure is required, correctly target resources, and economically plan new construction.

If data is not already available, then the strategy should determine how it will be collected and analysed (school mapping can be used as a method for example). This involves:

  • resource targeting, which involves the identification of criteria for the selection of regions and schools included in the infrastructure programs through a transparent process;
  • site selection, which involves an express need for a new school, that students will not travel excessive distances, that the site is in a suitable location and that the site located away from environmental hazards;
  • the procurement of data, which includes the proposed procurement system, justification for choice, and its alignment with national policies and standards, any additional capacity requirements for procurement system, and the requirements for developing contracts and documents;
  • involvement of schools and communities, which refers to the role of school and community in the process and how they will be supported;
  • risk management, monitoring, and evaluation. The main risks of the construction project and proposed strategies to address risks, how management will be assessed, how the program will be monitored, and how the final impact will be measured;
  • quality control, which touches the strategy for addressing quality control throughout implementation, the budgeted proposals for supervision, and the role of community members in maintenance and monitoring;
  • targets, budgets, and timeline, which should be as realistic as possible, should reflect timeframe and implementation arrangements, possible constraints, and needed preparation, and have a budget based on independent cost baseline;
  • financial planning and management, which should involve a general strategy for how financial planning and management will be undertaken, the risks of the proposed procurement and how they can be addressed (should be budgeted), how guidelines will be developed for community contracting (if that is chosen method), and an assets management strategy.
  • roles, responsibilities and capacity building, which includes delineated roles and responsibilities at each level of government, and for non-government actors, assessments of existing capacities and what is required to fill capacity gaps for effective project implementation, with a clear plan and budget, and assessments and budget for technical assistance needs.;
  • school planning and design, which should include national standards, and any modifications needed, proper sanitation system and toilet facilities, access to potable water and electricity, safe and secure classrooms, mitigated risks from hazards, durable spaces, with adequate levels of light and heat, and the identification of any expected issues related to the environment;
  • asset management, which involves how the program will support national policies on school facility maintenance, and the approaches for improved school maintenance including anticipated costs and capacity needs;
  • disability: Ensuring facility design is inclusive and accessible, as well as provides adequate support for those with disabilities; and
  • environmental and social assessment: Delineate what environmental and social assessments are required, who is responsible and key issues to be addressed.
References
Bonner, R.; Das, P.; Kalra, R.; Leathes, B.; Wakeham, N. n.d. Delivering cost effective and sustainable school infrastructure. TI-UP Resource Center. Accessed 1 April 2018: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/67620/del-cost-eff-sust-sch-infra.pdf

Ministry of Education (Rwanda). 2009. Child Friendly Schools and Infrastructure Standards and Guidelines. Retrieved from : https://www.preventionweb.net/files/15377_ rwandachildfriendlyschoolsinfrastru.pdf

During the preparation phase

The delivery strategy establishes which aspects of the project need to be developed before actual construction can begin. This preparation phase is instrumental in ensuring effective implementation and is often a 6-12 month process, which should be accounted for in the overall project timeline. Preparation activities will vary depending on the project but can include:

  • gathering data and school mapping exercises;
  • creating capacity-building materials;
  • developing financial and planning management procedures;
  • preparing the construction implementation program; and
  • reviewing national policies and standards.
References
Bonner, R.; Das, P.; Kalra, R.; Leathes, B.; Wakeham, N. n.d. Delivering cost effective and sustainable school infrastructure. TI-UP Resource Center. Accessed 1 April 2018: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/67620/del-cost-eff-sust-sch-infra.pdf

During the implementation and coordination phases

Thorough planning and preparation are essential for successful implementation and coordination, however even with effective planning, there are still issues that need to receive continued support, and that may need to be modified over the project cycle. The following are areas that should be continually addressed during the actual construction process and that require particular attention:

  • Monitoring and evaluation: From the beginning of project implementation there should be an established, transparent system of monitoring, evaluation, and reporting. Monitoring should be based on reliable data with clear indicators. Some countries use a monitoring scorecard to communicate the progress of tracked indicators to the public and concerned parties. Such a system was used effectively in a Nigeria Community Driven Development Project in 2008 (Theunyck. 2009). The evaluation system can use financial and technical audits that provide information about cost efficiency as well as beneficiary assessments, that give feedback from everyone involved in the construction project.
  • Risk evaluation: Risks that were identified in the project planning phase should be continuously monitored and assessed, with clear plans on how to minimize these risks.
  • Regular fund disbursement: The unreliable disbursement of funds is a major cause of the delay and disruption of construction projects. Late payments can prevent contractors from having sufficient resources to continue the project and if funds are not disbursed as promised, there is an increased risk for corruption and poor project execution. Governments must, therefore, work to provide regular and planned fund disbursements.
  • Capacity building and technical assistance: If there is limited management capacity within the Ministry or the body overseeing the construction process, then technical assistance should be provided, which could involve delegating contract management to other organizations (see below: addressing weakness in procurement and contract management). Capacity building exercises, especially in community-based approaches, should be on-going throughout the project. This could include the dissemination of manuals and handbooks and targeted training of community organizations in project management and procurement. Experienced NGOs and local experts can be useful in providing expertise for capacity-building programmes.
  • Limiting corruption: In general, practices that facilitate corruption include centralized procurement, direct contracting, large packaging with limited competition among a small number of contractors, and lack of transparency and accountability mechanisms. To limit corruption, therefore, approaches should be pursued that utilize transparent arrangements, competitive procurement, accountability of the management team to the community, transparency of funds, and audits with publicly shared findings. It has been suggested that community-based approaches may be significantly less corrupt, as they include many of these approaches in their implementation.
  • Community involvement: Community based construction programmes have been proven to be highly effective, but it is essential that are adequate accountability mechanisms in place, which includes clearly defined roles of all players, and transparent information through established monitoring and evaluation systems (see Monitoring and Evaluation above). Community members also need to be effectively organized and empowered, which in some countries is approached through creating a Community Development Committee (CDC) who acts legal body and is responsible for funds, and a Project Management Committee, which is responsible for logistics like procurement and on-site project management, and is accountable to the CDC.
  • On-going program adjustments: Throughout the project cycle, the program should be adjusted as necessary, informed by findings from monitoring and evaluation processes.
References
Bonner, R.; Das, P.; Kalra, R.; Leathes, B.; Wakeham, N. n.d. Delivering cost effective and sustainable school infrastructure. TI-UP Resource Center. Accessed 1 April 2018: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/67620/del-cost-eff-sust-sch-infra.pdf

Theunyck, S. 2002. School construction in developing countries: What do we know? Washington D.C.: The World Bank. Retrieved from: https://humanitarianlibrary.org/sites/default/files/2014/02/Theunynck%2520(2002)%520School%2520Construction%2520in%2520Developing%2520Countires.pdf

Addressing supply and capacity constraints

Address the lack of available suitable land. If there is a lack of suitable land to build new schools, then other strategies utilizing existing infrastructure can be explored, in lieu of new construction.

*For more on this subject, see Policy page Insufficient budget.

Address weakness in procurement and contract management. If there is a need for increased contract management capacity for school construction projects, management can be delegated to various agencies, including CMAs, NGOs, and Social Funds, which are described below along with their associated advantages and weaknesses.

Contract Management Agencies (CMAs) are agencies that specifically created to manage the construction of social infrastructure. Often contracted directly by MOE or donors, they bring a private-sector approach, simpler, flexible procurement methods. They can usually provide independent technical and financial audits, and procure construction services from SMEs on behalf of the community. However, they are not isolated from the negative behaviour of the environment of the public sector, and while effective in filling capacity gaps, they often operate in urban rather than rural areas.

Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs) may be international, national or community based, private organizations. They use private funds or donor or government funds devoted to management delegation and often have expertise in reaching rural areas. They typically supply materials, and train community members to construct the school and are effective in filling short-term capacity gaps, but reliance on NGOs is not a long-term solution.

Social fund agencies have non-profit status, independent of government. They use bottom-up, demand-driven approach, with targeting mechanisms to reach the poorest, have well-developed administrative structures to work efficiently in poor and remote areas, and may act as CMAs, procuring construction services on behalf of communities, or may direct resources straight to communities. They are effective in quickly and efficiently delivering small-scale infrastructure, with higher proportional benefits to the poorest populations, but only have a cost advantage when they receive support from the community during the implementation.

Centralized planning can result in poor classroom allocation and weak monitoring capacity. Decentralizing or delegating duties to lower levels of government or directly to communities can improve planning and implementation arrangements. (*Note that decentralized implementation methods can be combined with contract management delegation, for example, implementation can be decentralized to the local government, who then delegate management to CMAs. For all possibilities of implementation schemes (see Annex 1). )

Deconcentration to the local Ministry of Education offices can expand the capacity to manage smaller contracts. However, the delivery may be slow if offices have weak construction management capacity. Likewise, a delegation by the Ministry of Education to interact directly with communities can increase production, and result in lower construction costs, but sufficient capacity support should be available for communities.

A delegation of contract management to local government can improve basic service delivery, as is locally based, can be direct implementation, whereby local governments hire and manage contractors; delegation to CMAs; or delegation to local communities.

Finally, community contracting can be successful when local materials are used, construction techniques familiar to the community are implemented, the design is based on safety and durability, and there are clearly delineated responsibilities.

*Consult and implement the Abidjan Principles if and when applicable.

Annex 1

Summary of the Various Implementation Schemes

Source: Theunyck, S. 2002. School Construction in Developing Countries: What Do We Know? Washington D.C.: The World Bank. Retrieved from: https://humanitarianlibrary.org/sites/default/files/2014/02/Theunynck%2520(2002)%520School%2520Construction%2520in%2520Developing%2520Countires.pdf

References
Benyon, J. 1997. Physical facilities for education: What planners need to know. Paris: IIEP-UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0011/001184/118467E.pdf

Bonner, R.; Das, P.; Kalra, R.; Leathes, B.; Wakeham, N. n.d. Delivering cost effective and sustainable school infrastructure. TI-UP Resource Center. Accessed 1 April 2018: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/67620/del-cost-eff-sust-sch-infra.pdf

Gershberg, A.I. 2014. Educational infrastructure, school construction, & decentralization in developing countries: Key issues for an understudied area. International Center for Public Policy Working Paper 14-12. Retrieved from: https://scholarworks.gsu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1020&context=icepp

Leathes, B. 2009. Briefing note: Key factors in the cost effective design and construction of primary school facilities in low income countries. TI-UP Resource Centre. Retrieved from: https://www.humanitarianlibrary.org/sites/default/files/2014/02/Briefing%2520Note%2520-%2520Classroom%2520Costs%2520Final%252023%2520Jan%252009.pdf

Practical Action. 2009. School buildings in developing countries. Warwickshire: Practical Action. Retrieved from : http://www.worldwidehelpers.org/wwhweb/uploads/files/School%20Buildings%20in%20Developing%20Countries.pdf

The Abidjan Principles. 2019. The Abidjan Principles on the human rights obligations of States to provide public education and to regulate private involvement in education. Adopted on 13 February 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.abidjanprinciples.org/en/principles/overview

Theunyck, S. 2002. School construction in developing countries: What do we know? Washington D.C.: The World Bank. Retrieved from: https://humanitarianlibrary.org/sites/default/files/2014/02/Theunynck%2520(2002)%520School%2520Construction%2520in%2520Developing%2520Countires.pdf

Theunynck, S. 2009. School construction for universal primary education in Africa: Should communities be empowered to build their schools? Washington D.C.: The World Bank. Retrieved from: http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/109291468007863249/pdf/488980PUB0prim101Official0Use0Only1.pdf

UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). 2009d. Child friendly schools manual. New York: UNICEF. Retrieved from: https://www.unicef.org/publications/files/Child_Friendly_Schools_Manual_EN_040809.pdf

Policy options for improving Equity and Inclusion

Gender-responsive policies

All of the previously recommended policy options and strategies apply.

Mainstream gender during the planning phase, throughout the design of a school construction delivery strategy, during the preparation phase, during the implementation and coordination phases as well as while addressing supply and capacity constraints, so as to ensure that all of the policies are inscribed within a global strategy meant to build gender-responsive, inclusive education systems.

Policies for children with disabilities

All of the previously recommended policy options and strategies can be geared towards tackling down logistic constraints which may hinder the construction of accessible and inclusive schools. Therefore, ensure that the perspectives of inclusion and accessibility are integrated within the entire decision-making process: during the planning phase, throughout the design of a school construction delivery strategy, during the preparation phase, during the implementation and coordination phases as well as while addressing supply and capacity constraints.

Policies for displaced populations and host communities

All of the previously recommended policy options and strategies apply: during the planning phase, throughout the design of a school construction delivery strategy, during the preparation phase, during the implementation and coordination phases as well as while addressing supply and capacity constraints.

*see Annex 2 for an example of School building proposal for Displaced population.

Annex 2

Source: European Commission. 2018. Action Document for EU Trust Fund to be used for the decisions of the Operational Board . Retrieved from : https://ec.europa.eu/neighbourhood-enlargement/sites/near/files/madad_action_document_7th_ob_schools_construction_in_jordan_06122017.pdf

Policies for minority populations

All of the previously recommended policy options and strategies apply: during the planning phase, throughout the design of a school construction delivery strategy, during the preparation phase, during the implementation and coordination phases as well as while addressing supply and capacity constraints.

Updated on 2021-08-09

Related Articles

Back to top