Working Group on Education Sector Analysis (WGESA)

In today’s context of considerable challenges and limited resources, African education decision makers are required to make informed decisions based on a sound knowledge of the situation of their education system. The demand for this has become even greater under the pressure of international development agencies and end-users, i.e. students and their parents, communities and teachers. All are calling for accessible, affordable, and equitable quality education for all, throughout the continent. In this context, education sector analysis has come to play a critical role for African policy developers and implementers. It has demonstrated its utility for African decision makers and international development partners in their continued effort to help countries expand and improve education.

The Working Group on Education Sector Analysis, WGESA, is contributing to the production of knowledge that is tailored to current African needs. It has participated in strengthening African institutional and technical capacities. The working group has also facilitated the dissemination of relevant information and good practices, and played an important role in expanding networks of African institutions and their members. Drawing lessons from its past experience, WGESA is now focusing on country-level activities with sector analysis as a tool for policy dialogue. It is providing tailor made support to African educational systems to facilitate decision-making and policy implementation. 

What is the Working Group on Education Sector Analysis (WGESA)?

Founded by ADEA in 1989, WGESA brings together representatives from African ministries of education, international agencies, research institutions and universities, and non-governmental organizations. Its activities are directed by a Steering Committee with representation from the same constituencies. The lead agency is UNESCO/IIEP, and it is coordinated from IIEP.

What are the objectives and strategy of the working group?

The working group's main goals are:

  • to promote awareness of the techniques and use of sector analysis, as it pertains to policy dialogue at the national level and with development cooperation institutions;
  • to strengthen national policy-making processes through improved quality, use and accessibility of education sector analysis; and,
  • to promote African capacities for designing and carrying out sector analysis. 

This includes promoting country-led education sector work in order to

  • develop a body of knowledge on sector analysis that suits the contextual challenges of African educational systems;
  • strengthen African expertise and contribute to the development of African capacities in educational reforms using a sector approach;
  • promote a deeper understanding of the usefulness of ESA for informed decision-making and implementation through information sharing and advocacy; and
  • contribute to networking and policy dialogue between stakeholders at different levels including ministries of education, civil society, development agencies and the research community.


The working group began its work in 1989 with global inventory and analytic overviews of education sector analysis. Three such overviews have been produced: (i) on sub-Saharan Africa (1989); (ii) on South Africa (1995); and (iii) on Africa in general (1996).

National reviews of education sector analysis ?

Since 1996, WGESA has supported country-based and country-led reviews of education sector analysis undertaken by national teams in different countries in Africa. A pilot study in Zimbabwe was completed in 1997 and its findings published by the working group in 1999. Similar reviews, in Ghana, Lesotho, Burkina Faso and Mozambique were published in 2000 and in 2001 The reviews provide: inventories of education sector studies in the particular country; a critical analysis of their process and content; suggestions for improving the process of education sector analysis; and strategies to enhance the use of sector studies in policy-making and for continued dialogue and cooperation in sector analysis. The sector analysis reviews have revealed considerable knowledge on the ways reforms were initiated, the ways reform activities were conducted, and the bearing of such reform initiatives on learning and teaching processes. They have identified opportunities and hindrances that these countries had to deal with during the last two decades.

Pilot initiatives undertaken and/or funded by external agencies ?

WGESA makes its expertise in education sector analysis available to national governments and external agencies who initiate or support education sector projects in specific countries. Inputs have so far been made to the European Union pilot study on the coordination of analytical work in the education sector in Ethiopia under the Horizon 2000 Initiative; the Southern African Development Coordination Conference (SADC) initiative in educational policy development, planning and management; and the Mozambique/Dutch/Nordic joint initiative in education sector analysis in Mozambique. The results of the pilot study in Ethiopia were published by the working group in 1999. The report of Mozambique was published in 2002.

Analytic work and skills development?

In addition to the country-based activities, members of WGESA regularly contribute to international gatherings and publications. The working group also undertakes studies in the broader area of education sector analysis and policy development. One such study was initiated as the working group contribution to the ADEA Biennial meeting in South Africa in December 1999. It focuses on the relationship between ministries of education and development partners in Burkina Faso, Ghana and Mozambique in the context of the development of education sector programs. The Mozambique partnership study is available both on line and in print. 

More recently, the working group has begun work on a state of the art overview of current practice and use of sector analysis. It is conducting peer review of national educational systems, consonant with the announced policies of the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD). The Group is also involved in Formative Research, using an approach successfully implemented in a number of European and Asian countries to bridge the gap between policy making and research.

In partnership with other groups and institutions, WGESA has developed a number of short interventions targeting different levels of stakeholders, from parents\' associations, parliamentarians and teachers\' unions to high level decision-makers in ministries of education. The latest of such programmes was conducted in Dakar and Bamako and targeted policy decision-makers from a number of French-speaking West African countries. Other implemented training activities conducted in Dakar, Windhoek and Cotonou focused on the middle level managers, in charge of implementation at both the ministerial and decentralized levelsThe process of developing national sector analyses as well as the distribution of publications in this field have contributed to a greater awareness of the tools and activities of sector analysis. It has been an important factor in raising the level of dialogue among partners involved in sector analysis.

A webpage located at hosts a number of the research documents including country sector analyses.