Toolbox 6.1: Make a Consultation Plan, and Revise Policy and Masterplan Based on Feedbacks
Organize consultation meetings
Consultation is essential prior to the approval of the masterplan.
Consultation meetings aim to: i) Raise people’s awareness on the masterplan; ii) Validate the contents of the masterplan, if the proposed programmes are acceptable to the people or not; and iii) Generate support from people to ensure there will be no major problems during implementation.
Consultation is especially important for those who will be directly affected or involved. When people don’t understand what they are supposed to implement, they will oppose it and prefer the status quo.
- Consultation process for the ICT in Education Masterplan in Singapore
- Masterplan Consultation in Singapore
Before submitting the whole plan to the MOE senior management for approval, the MOE will organize a feedback session on the draft plans. School principals, school ICT department heads and relevant personnel from other organizations are invited to attend a day’s session on the draft plan. During the sessions, participants will be divided into groups and they will look at the proposed parts of the draft plan. They will give feedback, provide suggestions and raise issues on the feasibility of the plans. This is a useful exercise as it shows that the process is consultative, and that principals have a stake in the future execution and implementation of the plan. The draft plan is then refined based on feedback from the participants and it will then be submitted to the senior management for approval.
Source: Transforming Education: The Power of ICT Policies, Chapter 3: Case Study: Singapore, p.57
The Planning Team needs to determine how many meetings to organize to consult majority of stakeholders? These meetings can happen at different levels such as national, regional, provincial, district and schools. In some cases, consultation meetings target specific interest groups such as donors, private sector, teachers and principals, and even parents.
The decision on the number of consultation meetings has several implications. Is there a budget set aside for the consultation meetings? Meetings involve costs such as paying for the venue and food for the participants. There is also travel cost for the Planning Team members and education officials to be present in the consultation meetings. There is also scheduling consideration especially for education officials who are busy attending to other work in the ministry.
It is important to anticipate the needs to make consultation meetings effective and efficient. Determine dates and venues of the meetings ahead. Prepare the agenda, list of target participants, and invitation letters. And lastly, send the draft masterplan in advance to give participants time to read and prepare their comments. This will make the consultation more productive as participants will come with their questions and comments prepared.
During consultation meetings, immediately present the draft masterplan to allocate more time for discussion and open forum. It is important not to be defensive especially if there are criticisms. Explain if necessary to clarify participants’ misconceptions or misunderstanding on the masterplan. Remember, the objective is to listen and generate comments and suggestions from the participants.
The Planning Team needs to record all feedback including the person and organization that provided the comments or suggestions. If time is not enough, participants should be allowed to send their comments by email.
Revise the masterplan
After finishing all consultation meetings, the Planning Team will deliberate on all feedbacks, comments and suggestions collected. The Planning Team will decide which comments and suggestions will be considered in revising the masterplan.
After revising the masterplan, the Planning Team communicates with all participants who attended the consultation meetings. The message is to thank them again for their inputs during the consultation. The message identifies which comments and suggestions have been considered in the revised masterplan. Returning to the participants and explaining what happened to their inputs generates trust with the stakeholders. This trust is important because eventually the masterplan will go back to them during implementation and the same stakeholders have the power to support or ignore the masterplan when they are supposed to implement the activities.
- Invite implementation partners and stakeholders to participate in the planning meeting.
- Use the template to plan for the consultation meetings.