Capacity development and sustainable results are the key objectives of all European Commission assistance to partner countries, but traditional technical cooperation is not the default route for getting there. In India, the EC delegation found an alternative way to respond to government demand.
After the Indian government rejected repeated offers of technical cooperation in the form of technical assistance to the country's education sector, the EC delegation in India decided to take a new approach and launched discussions with the government on what support they could provide instead.
As Shanti Jagannathan explains, the government of India felt it did not need the help of international consultants as they believed they had sufficient capacity already. What they lacked, however, were lessons learned from international success stories.
"We asked the question how did they see the [potential] value addition from international cooperation? And we heard that they were interested in having access to international best practices of things that have worked elsewhere in the world. How practitioners have addressed the same set of issues, and found solutions to them," said Jagannathan.
"That gave rise to an idea: Why don't we simply do that? Introduce a component of an exchange of international best practices that we bring to India - to its practitioners and policy makers - which is not driven by consultant support but providing access to success stories."
To hear more from Ms Jagannathan, click on the audio icon below.
After listening to their partner's needs, the EC India delegation revised its education sector support programme, removing the traditional technical assistance element. Instead, the EC provided the bulk of the 3 million Euros needed to make international good practice available in teacher management, school management and leadership and inclusive education.
The EC delegations have issued a "Call for Proposals" from not-for-profit organisations that can collaborate with the government of India to realise this exchange. These organisations will work with the country's existing systems to find additional knowledge and practice from outside India that would benefit the existing national education programme.
The Call for Proposals was launched in 2009 with activities scheduled to being in 2010.