In 2009, at the request of the Ministry of Education, an international study to assess the Secondary School Modernisation Programme was carried out by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The assessment focused directly on the work of Parque Escolar, E.P.E. in the scope of the programme.
The conclusions were presented by the OECD in an event in February 2010 held at Pedro Alexandrino Secondary School, at which the following positive points were highlighted:
Impact of the programme on the quality and suitability of the school buildings
According to the study, the Modernisation Programme has been carried out with determination and effectiveness by Parque Escolar, E.P.E., and has been based on international benchmarks and best design practices. It reflects the perception that good architectural design can contribute to improving the quality of the teaching/learning process and that the physical space of the school is also an educational tool.
Compliance with strategic objectives for secondary education
The Modernisation Programme is designed to guarantee that the existing school facilities respond to the projected demand, develop purpose-appropriate solutions and enable the introduction of new technologies for use by pupils and teachers.
Rationalisation of the Secondary School Modernisation Programme
Benefiting from its independent status, Parque Escolar, E.P.E. has achieved a considerable rate of execution within a very short period of time. This can be attributed to the organisational capacities it has demonstrated, which are reflected in the technical know-how the company has acquired, which is fundamental for anticipating situations and opportunities that arise and responding to them rapidly in a proactive, innovative and agile manner.
The scale and importance of the Modernisation Programme are more than enough to justify and support the size of the infrastructure set up to manage it. As long as the active building period continues there will be no need to modify the way in which Parque Escolar E.P.E. and the Modernisation Programme are managed.
In the future some issues will emerge that will require study, financial analysis and political determination. It may become necessary to identify other ways and procedures for managing the maintenance and operation of the modernised schools. It will therefore be appropriate to extend the procedures developed to all secondary schools and perhaps to all other state schools in general.
Another possibility to consider would be the evolution of the Parque Escolar’s role from that of an entity specialised in project management to that of an entity specialised in school infrastructure management, with responsibilities in the areas of research/study, financing negotiation, contracting and coordination.
Governability of the programme and institutional relations
The model for setting up Parque Escolar E.P.E. was developed taking into account other international practices and financing programmes in which systems based on public-private sector partnerships have been tested. It was also based on other domestic experiences and on methods of combining public and private sector practices so as to achieve the best results.
The current structure is well organised. It is managed with enthusiasm by a team that has acknowledged skills in the fields of architecture, engineering, finance and project management, so that it could constitute an internationally applicable model.
At the level of the school community, the report highlights the positive way in which Parque Escolar E.P.E. has interacted with the various partners in information actions and consultation meetings before and during the construction process. The meetings held by the Parque Escolar, E.P.E. teams involving teachers, pupils, school management, non-teaching staff and parents and guardians to present projects and gather feedback are an example of this. The local partners are satisfied with the outcome of these meetings and feel that they are participating in some way in the projects and process.
The funds invested were found to be adequate. The report also found that the funds have been allocated in the most efficient way over time, building on the experience gained from execution of the first projects in the Modernisation Programme. However, there are 140 secondary school excluded from financing, some of which unquestionably suffer from deficiencies identical to those for which the Modernisation Programme was called into being. For these schools it will be necessary to find identical forms of financing. Likewise, it will be necessary to improve the schools that provide basic education.
The negotiation of the Modernisation Programme financing required political commitment, professional competence, inventiveness and opportunity. It also benefited from the definition of unique political priorities. The way in which such a significant injection of funding into the Modernisation Programme was achieved is to be praised.
The allocation of funds to guarantee the maintenance and upkeep of the 332 schools is an admirable feature that is perhaps unique to the Modernisation Programme. It constitutes a possible model for international application.