This article has been published in Enabling Education 11
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Title: EENET: Looking to the future
Author: EENET
Publisher: EENET
Date: 2007

EENET: looking to the future

As well as celebrating our 10th birthday this year, we have been doing lots of thinking about where we want to be in 5-10 years time. For the last decade EENET has been proud to be an ‘organic’ and inclusive network – constantly evolving and changing to reflect the information and networking needs of its users. However, even a fluid network like EENET needs to have some sort of formal plan to help guide its development and attract donors! This article will briefly outline some of the key points in our latest five-year plan.

Creation of the plan

EENET’s previous plans were mostly developed through a process of consultation with members of the network’s steering group, and other ‘critical friends’. These plans have now formed the basis of the strategic plan for 2007-2011, which also draws on many of the recommendations made in the evaluation.

In January 2007 we held a 10th anniversary seminar in London. Participants were asked to comment on a draft of the strategic plan. However, rather than asking them to read a document, we gave them picture cards (some of the 30 cards are shown here). Each card contained a photo or cartoon, with a few words, outlining one of EENET’s proposed objectives. Participants were then asked to arrange the cards on a sheet of paper to show which objectives they considered high or low priority. They were also asked to explain why, and to think about how they or their organisations might be able to support EENET in achieving the objectives. The plan and the picture cards were also sent to EENET’s regional networking partners for comment. All of the feedback received was considered when deciding on priorities for objectives.

Our plan

“EENET will develop, maintain and expand its information-sharing activities. It will encourage, advise and support national or regional inclusive education information-sharing networks.”

  • continue to prioritise the development of our main networking tools – the newsletter and website
  • redesign the website in line with feedback from the evaluation
  • support regional networks with their planning
  • make at least one support visit to a regional network each year
  • manage an email discussion group/South-South support system so regional networks can share ideas and experiences on effective networking
  • develop a guidance resource for regional networks, drawing on experiences from existing partner networks
  • support one major regional networking activity (e.g. an event or publication) each year
  • be more active in supporting UK and European international NGO networks on inclusive education.

“EENET will increase the capacity of grassroots workers to document their work and share information, knowledge and resources to promote inclusive education initiatives.”

  • continue to promote, and offer guidance on, action research and image-based approaches to documenting experiences
  • identify and produce, and/or assist network users to produce inclusive education training materials
  • increase the quality and quantity of ‘repackaged’ material (i.e. seeking out promising documents or training materials and re-editing and redesigning them to make them more accessible to EENET’s users)
  • improve our editing approaches, to improve the accessibility of materials that we share
  • improve our approach to ‘mentoring’ inexperienced authors who wish to write articles for the newsletter
  • seek new volunteer translators who can provide high quality translations of inclusive education materials in a range of languages
  • plan and implement a ‘children’s voices’ project – via printed and internet materials – so children and young people have more chance to talk about inclusion/exclusion in education. We are seeking donors for this project, so if you are interested, please contact us!

“We will use EENET’s grassroots knowledge, skills and experience to add value through influencing national and international policy-makers and donor agencies.”

  • continue to promote debates on: the importance of learning from difference; rights of marginalised groups in education; and the links between inclusion and human rights/social justice
  • provide information, advice, contacts, etc, to help regional networks and EENET users generally to advocate and lobby on inclusive education
  • prepare guidance materials to help EENET users to make more effective use of information that already exist (e.g. EENET newsletters), when they are preparing advocacy initiatives
  • develop greater clarity on EENET’s own messages and positions on key issues – but without dictating our position to others.

Structuring the network
“We will increase/maintain EENET’s human resources, capacity, infrastructure and funding to ensure the network continues to develop and support regional networks effectively.”

  • develop an annual fee-paying membership scheme for international NGOs wishing to support EENET. Income from this will cover core operating costs. This scheme has now started, so if your organisation might be interested in joining, please contact us for details
  • increase staffing levels from one part-time Co-ordinator to at least three staff (not necessarily full-time)
  • redevelop our steering group to improve systems for governance and accountability
  • review the benefits of housing EENET within the University of Manchester
  • continue fundraising for EENET projects
  • review our approach to selling materials to North-based/funded organisations, with a view to increasing this income
  • develop a list of consultants and a system whereby EENET receives a ‘finders fee’ or a percentage of the consultancy fee for assisting other organisations to find suitable consultants
  • develop an internship scheme to provide additional staff support on key projects, while offering interns valuable work experience.

What do you think?

Ours plans are never ‘set in stone’. We want them to evolve to reflect the needs of the network’s users. We therefore welcome feedback on EENET’s five-year plan. Are we doing what you thought we would do? Are there any activities you thought we would do that have not been mentioned? Could you or your organisation offer any financial or practical support in achieving any of the objectives (e.g. help with translations)? We want to hear your views!

c/o Educational Support and Inclusion
School of Education
The University of Manchester
Oxford Road
Manchester, M13 9PL, UK
Tel: +44 (0) 161 275 3711
Fax: +44 (0) 161 275 3548