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Implementation Completion Report (ICR) Review - Aftkl: Sn Distance Learning Center - Lil

1. Project Data:   
ES Date Posted:
Project Name:
Aftkl: Sn Distance Learning Center - Lil
Project Costs(US $M)
 3.32  2.95
Loan/Credit (US $M)
 2.1  2.05
Sector, Major Sect.:
Information and communications
Cofinancing (US $M)
L/C Number:
Board Approval (FY)
Partners involved
Closing Date
06/30/2004 06/30/2004
Prepared by: Reviewed by: Group Manager: Group:  
Helen Abadzi
Catherine Gwin Alain A. Barbu OEDSG

2. Project Objectives and Components:

a. Objectives
The main objective of the project was to increase access to high-quality, up-to-date and cost-effective training for public and private decision-makers and implementers so as to increase their capacity to design, plan and manage economic and social development policies. A secondary objective was to establish a center of excellence in the region for distance learning and exchange of information and experience.

b. Components
(a) Distance Learning Center Retrofitting (US$1.1 million): (i) Building facilities on the site of the National School of Administration for the establishment of the Distance Learning Center that would include a videoconference room with a 30-person capacity; a computer room outfitted for 30 computer stations (hardware, software and Internet hook-ups); a technical and administrative center; and installation and/or upgrading of electrical and telephone wiring and other structural requirements. (ii) Equipment of the distance learning center to include: a very small aperture (VSAT) satellite communication terminal; video, telecommunications and microprocessor equipment; office and classroom furniture; as well as other items needed for the operation and security of the distance learning center.

(b) Support for the Distance Learning Center(US$1.0 million) so that it could begin operation and become financially viable: (i) financing operating costs on a decreasing basis over the first three years of operation; (ii) purchasing a vehicle to facilitate transport and marketing of center services; and (iii) technical assistance for the training of Center staff, periodic evaluation of Center operation and management effectiveness, and establishment of financial accounts and their annual audit.

c. Comments on Project Cost, Financing and Dates
The 3-year project was a LIL (learning and innovation loan) to test the sustainability of distance learning in the Senegalese context. It closed on time, and US$43,050 was canceled.

3. Achievement of Relevant Objectives:

Objectives were mainly achieved, as follows:
(a) Access to high-quality, up-to-date and cost-effective training for decisionmakers (partly achieved). The project increased access to high-quality, up-to-date and cost-effective training for public and private decision-makers and implementers to increase their capacity to design, plan and manage economic and social development policies. Over 50 providers offered training, conferences, seminars, and roundtables (including World Bank Institute, HEC-Paris/Centre d’Etudes sur le Blanchiment et la Corruption, Institut International d’Administration Publique de Paris, Ecole Nationale d’Administration de Paris, Institut FORHOM/BDPA de la Rochelle in France, Centre d’Etudes et de Recherches sur le Développement International de l’Université de Clermont Ferrand International, Centre de Formation de la Profession Bancaire de Paris, Centre d’Etudes Financières, Economiques et Bancaires de l’Agence Française de Développement, etc). The physical facilities mainly functioned satisfactorily, and the number of clients steadily increased. Through opinion surveys that were made after each training event, trainees expressed interest and satisfaction in the quality of the courses and utility for their work.
(b) Distance learning center support (achieved). Training was carried out through video conferencing, E-learning, and local training in addition to the use of the multimedia room for internet connections. When all types of training were included, the number of trainees enrolled was 8757, far above the 2500 expected. The number of student-days logged was nearly double the appraisal targets: 6582 versus a target of 1000 in Year 1; 6950 versus a target of 2500 in Year 2; and 8757 (from January 1, 2003 to April 30, 2004, closing date)versus a target of 3750 in Year 3 and 5000 in Year 4 (full year basis); 63% of the trainees came from public sector agencies, 28% from private companies, 5% from NGOs, and 3% from international organizations.

4. Significant Outcomes/Impacts:

The ICR states that the center established itself as a provider of quality training in Senegal and served as a model for videoconferencing training and a model for distance learning centers in Mali, Malawi, Madagascar, Kenya, and Burkina Faso. During project implementation, the center recovered course expenditures at the rate of 36% in year 1; 61% in year 2; 76% in year 3 (ending April 30, 2004); and 98% as of October 31, 2004. This is compared to the projected appraisal rates of 20%, 50%, 75% and 100% as of December 31, 2004.The 50% reduction in the cost of technology is contributing to the financial viability of the center. Facility utilization was 91% by year 3 compared to the 60% originally envisaged. The success was partly due to the strong performance of the director and the staff of the center. The Bank closely monitored the implementation as well.
- Clients expressed satisfaction in surveys. When asked how they used their GDLN experience, 57% reported that they transmitted new knowledge or skills to others in their organization, 47% applied what they had learned to develop plans and continued to work with others at learning events, and 41% formally implemented approaches/strategies learned.

5. Significant Shortcomings (include non-compliance with safeguard features):

-The ICR rated quality at entry unsatisfactory. The project was prepared on a fast-track basis on an international template, and the goal of improving the quality of decisions was too ambitious for this 3-year LIL with challenging technological activities. Appraisal of the physical facilities was inadequate, and technical problems arose during operation because inadequate voltage and power failures were affecting training sessions. However, the problem was eventually solved.
-Despite increasing profitability, revenues (US$1.3m) amounted only to 56% of expectations. After two years of operation, the business plan was revised and courses were offered more towards mid-level private sector managers rather than senior government staff and from policy-making to policy implementation. Thus, the objective of training high-level decisionmakers towards improved decisionmaking was compromised.
- In the GDLN strategy, there was no financial support for recapitalization of the centers (needed for replacement of damaged hardware and obsolescence). The equipment of the center was upgraded before project end, but will require external financing for the constantly needed future upgrades.
- No monitoring and evaluation plan was designed, and only output indicators were available. There was no firm evidence establishing the high quality of the courses (aside from participant ratings), and it is unclear why those courses were offered and what demand they satisfied. The PAD (key performance indicators) specified that biennial surveys of trainees and those with whom they work would be used to measure increased in civil servant productivity, quality of policy formation and implementation, timeliness of economic and sector strategy implementation, but it is unclear that these were undertaken after project end . Research conducted by WBI on the impact of courses offered through GDLN over the period covered by the project has revealed little or no capacity enhancement among managers at the national level.
-A misunderstanding regarding the institutional affiliation of the Distance Learning center initially created a conflict; it was resolved by making the institution autonomous.

6. Ratings:ICROED ReviewReason for Disagreement/Comments
SatisfactorySatisfactoryIn principle, senior decisionmakers had access to high-quality training, but it was not possible to demonstrate a positive impact on public or private institutional capacity.
Institutional Dev.:
LikelyNon-evaluableThe viability of the center is dependent upon the availability of new government and/or donor agency funding allocations which are not assured; senior decision makers may not participate in sufficient numbers and occasions to make the Center sustainable for its original purposes.
Bank Performance:
Borrower Perf.:
Quality of ICR:

7. Lessons of Broad Applicablity:

- Preparation of high tech projects in low-income countries requires careful attention to the adequacy and stability of electrical and telephone systems; poor system quality can lead to system dysfunction and failure;
- Effective capacity building systems need to be conceptualized at the country level and include local needs assessments, long-term plans, efforts to improve incentives for institutional change, and evaluation systems which emphasize learning outcomes and impacts. Without these features, training programs, even those popular among trainees may have little institutional development impact.
- For a distance learning center to be effective, management must be strong. Cost recovery, in particular, largely depends on financial management. Close Bank supervision is also important in the case of innovative and new projects.
- Distance learning centers must respond to local demand and adjust strategy according to the business and knowledge needs of the users. New target audiences and potential markets must be sought for this operation to remain viable. However, market needs may dictate institutional arrangement that are more appropriate and sustainable than the Global Distance Education Network.

8. Audit Recommended?  No

          Why?  The project could be included in a cluster audit because of its innovative nature and its technological success in a country whose educational projects have been problematic.

9. Comments on Quality of ICR:

The ICR had a satisfactory level of detail, but it did not address the main question of the impact of the center on management effectiveness.

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