Best Practices in Educational Facilities Investments

Project background and objectives of study

In early 2008, the European Investment Bank (EIB) approached the OECD Centre for Effective Learning Environments (CELE) about undertaking a joint project on good practice in investment planning for large-scale school construction projects. Since 1998, the EIB (www.eib.org) has been appraising educational infrastructure projects and encouraging countries to conduct school mapping exercises to ensure that countries make best use of EIB financing. The CELE (www.oecd.org/edu/facilities), founded in 1972, in an international network for analysing educational facilities’ policy and practice. CELE works with its 22 member countries to assist them to design, construct, manage and evaluate facilities with a view to improving educational and operational effectiveness

This joint OECD/EIB project on "Strategic investment planning for educational infrastructure" sought to harness the expertise of OECD/CELE and EIB to improve the process(es) by which decisions are made relating to the planning, design, construction and management of educational infrastructure investments. Its objective is to develop guidance material for strategic investment planning that identifies how countries can plan for and evaluate their educational infrastructure needs, for new and existing school building stock, taking into account not only educational considerations, but also physical, cultural, environmental, health and economic ones.

This Database of Best Practices in Educational Facilities Investment is the principal output of this project. You will find material that was presented at the meetings described below, in addition to other material collected over the last decade by CELE, EIB and others.

The project has been guided by a small project team, the Project Advisory Committee (PAC). The PAC is composed of leading experts in the field of strategic planning for educational infrastructure. To date, there have been three meetings of the PAC, including one workshop (http://www.eib.org/about/events/strategic-investment-planning.htm).

First Meeting of the Project Advisory Committee, 3 July 2009

On 3 July 2009, EIB and OECD/CELE organised the first meeting of the Project Advisory Committee (PAC), which was composed of experts from Belgium, Canada, Ireland, Portugal and UNESCO. The PAC agreed on the project development plan, covering:

  • Basic principles of guidance, which should seek to improve decision-making through practical guidance, be flexible, consider planning for the present, future and the unforeseen, build capacity in countries and improve accountability.

  • Structure of the guidance: Context (structure, opportunity, constraints etc.), Facts (standards, situation, etc.) and Questions (needs and possible options to meet these needs).

The group also noted the dearth of existing data on the topic, so it agreed to work with the OECD/CELE and EIB secretariats to formulate a short questionnaire to collect information on planning and decision making processes for capital planning projects, and principal guidelines or regulations used to inform the planning process. The questionnaire was developed, eight countries responded and a summary of responses was prepared.

Second Meeting of the Project Advisory Committee, 18 November 2009

On 18 November 2009, a second PAC meeting was held in Paris involving a larger group. The objectives of this meeting were to:

  • Review the quality and coverage of information provided by countries in the questionnaire described above.

  • Start to develop guidelines for best practice in investment planning for educational infrastructure.

  • Assess progress made during the meeting and plan the next steps for the project.

Although survey responses were reviewed, and the broad principles and processes for effective investment planning were mapped, the group agreed that discussion was too theoretical. In order to develop useful guidance, a greater understanding was needed of the issues and challenges facing countries involved in the early stages of implementing large-scale education infrastructure projects. The group therefore agreed to organise a more practical workshop involving some countries to which EIB are currently lending for educational infrastructure projects.

Third Meeting of the Project Advisory Committee, 28-29 June 2010

Building on the suggestions from the second PAC meeting, the third PAC meeting was organised as a Workshop on Strategic Investment Planning for Educational Infrastructure. It involves the enlarged PAC group and other representatives from national, local or regional ministries in countries to which EIB is currently lending. The objective of the workshop is to finalise the guidance for strategic investment planning.

Three themes were explored through a series of presentations by key international experts in the field and parallel workshop sessions:

  • Optimising the planning process using principles of good governance. This theme explored factors that enhance good governance, thus ensuring that projects will run safely, smoothly and according to budget and schedule, for example the existence of a clear decision-making authority, process and system of accountability; clear roles and responsibilities of principal actors; knowledge of competing projects and priorities, and how they should be ranked; and an understanding of project risk.

  • Collecting critical information to assist planning: Developing inventories and conducting property condition assessments. This theme explored how inventories and assessments of property condition and quality can be conducted in different contexts with different capacities. It also explores the data and information that can most effectively serve capital planning projects, and how inventories and data are used in priority setting, decision making, monitoring capital planning projects, and gaining the support of stakeholders.

  • Developing an effective "educational brief". An "educational brief" outlines a school’s educational objectives and planned activities in order to inform spatial requirements and design. Spatial requirements may be expressed as space standards, or as broad performance-based standards, interpreted at the local or school level. This theme explored the purpose of an "educational brief" and how it is developed, implemented and reviewed, with a view to facilitating the capital planning process.

    Keynote presentations and minutes from the conference can be found at http://www.eib.org/about/events/strategic-investment-planning.htm.