Planning is the act of preparing a set of decisions or choices for future action in such a way that the available resources (human and material) will be properly used to achieve desired goals. Planning differs from policy, decision-making or administration.
The policy is a general statement to guide decision-making, decision-making is about choosing from among alternative courses of action and administration means using appropriate procedures to carry out decisions already made.
Planning covers both what can anyone do, by what implies, by whom, and for what goals. Planning implies chalking out a direction for future action to achieve pre-determined objectives through the optimum use of available resources. Planning is an anticipatory decision- making. It is a process whereby a system selects outcomes and courses of action in a series of interrelated choice situations that have not yet occurred, but which are envisioned t occur in the future.
TYPES OF PLANNING
There are two interrelated kinds of systematic planning, each of which has different purposes strategic planning and management planning. Each of these may be utilized for both long and short-range planning, as well as for comprehensive planning or planning concerned with some aspect of education.
(a) Strategic planning: which fosters and requires productive relations and linkages with public agencies and groups other than those directly responsible for education, should receive primary attention because it involves the determination of policies and the establishment of new or revised goals and objectives.
This concept should be of special interest to educational leaders who have a major responsibility for developing and implementing plans because, if properly utilized, it will help to ensure the commitment and support that is essential to facilitate needed changes.
(b) Management planning: On the other hand, it is concerned with the effective and efficient attainment of goals and objectives that have been agreed upon and accepted. It may, therefore, be conceptualized as that portion of the planning and til process that is implemented after the basic decisions relating to goals and policies bound have been made. Through appropriate management planning, those responsible for the implementation of the decisions should be able to ensure that all goals and objectives are achieved.
Everyone concerned with education needs to understand that strategic and management planning are interrelated in many ways and that. from a long-range point of view, the effectiveness and meaning of each will be determined primarily their effectiveness and meaning of the other.
Unless appropriate your goals and policies are identified and accepted through strategic planning, even the most yd to effective management planning will have limited significance. Otherwise, unless management planning ensures that the goals are effectively achieved and policies implemented, many of the potential dividends from strategic planning will be lost.
STAGES OF PLANNING
The educational planning process comprises several phases or stages. More important of these are:
The principal task in the pre-planning stage is the formulation of educational objectives and their approval by the appropriate authorities. The next steps would be: determining planning procedures creation of administrative machinery collection and analysis of relevant data.
The second stage in the process is planning. The main steps in the stage are:.
Ascertaining the adequacy of current educational programs and facilities. The purpose is to identify weaknesses and shortfalls in nature, magnitude, quality, and level of achievement of educational objectives. In particular, the diagnosis is based on the criteria of relevance to social aspirations; effectiveness in achieving national objectives; efficiency in the use of resources.
The diagnosis of the existing situation would reveal deficiency which needs to be removed with a view to enhancing relevance, effectiveness, and efficiency. Such a corrective action has to be based on the national educational policy spelled out by competent authorities.
Costing of future needs is the next step. It would help determine the magnitude of financial outlay which should be available if the determined needs are to be satisfied.
By extrapolating data pertaining to past trends, the educational planner sets targets and establishes priorities, of course, keeping in view the resources likely to become available in the future. He also examines alternative means of achieving the objectives.
The targets may be set according to the identifiable needs and the priorities assigned to them. But they have to be subjected to feasibility testing to ensure their consistency and achievability.
It is the preparation of brief, but adequate statements for:
a. enabling the appropriate national authorities to make decisions and approve
the program and
b. providing a blueprint for action and implementation.
Before an educational plan can be implemented, it has to be elaborated so as to clearly identify individual action units. The process of elaboration passes through:
It divides the plan into broad action areas each of which aims at accomplishing a specific objective. A program comprises activities usually supervised by the same administrative unit.
2- Project formulation
A project aims at achieving a specific sub-objective within the main objective of the program. Project formulation is working out the details of costs, time and capital schedule, etc. for various activities to be launched.
3- Plan Implementation
It is the taking up of individual projects for execution. Here the planning process merges with the management process. Based on the annual budget, the organizational framework is developed for various projects. The resources (men, money and materials) are mobilized to implement the projects of the plan.
4- Plan Evaluation
During the implementation of the plan, constant evaluation of the rate of progress and detection of deviations continues. This evaluation highlights the weakness in the plan’s unrealistic targets, inadequate financial provisions, improper phasing and throws up matters for necessary revisions. It thus provides the basis for re-planning.
A project is a planned undertaking, a unit of management that clearly specifies what is to be accomplished, over what period of time, and at what cost. A cluster of projects with a specific time phase for the accomplishment of intermediate objectives is contained in a program.
A program, in tum, is an intermediate activity which breaks down the strategic decisions of a plan into different components, or projects, which are technical and short-term in nature. A program is usually a part of a complex structure for plan implementation.
Thus a plan encompasses both the program and the project. The plan reflects organizational objectives while the program is a part of the plan designed to accomplish intermediate or carrying out of specific components of the plan according to the program. In a certain sense, because a project is an output-oriented activity.