Project management in schools: two case studies

Last week I wrote about what the PMI Educational Foundation does. One of the missions of PMIEF is to build project management skills in young people and teachers, better equipping students for the future. How exactly does it do that?

At PMI’s EMEA Leadership Institute Meeting in Dublin in 2011, two volunteers spoke about their involvement in their local schools.

The Polish Experience

Poland Chapter's project management workshops
Photos from the Project Management Workshops

Magorzata Kusyk, PMIEF Liaison for PMI’s Poland Chapter based at the Gdansk branch spoke about their ‘Project Management At Schools’ project. The Chapter has run three pilots, using the project management Toolkit for Youth.

First, they had to translate the Toolkit into Polish. Then they used it as the basis for a 12-hour project management course: six lessons, each of two hours. The course included mentoring, materials, templates and group exercises. A ‘real life’ project manager was invited along to at least one of the sessions, so the students could see how the skills they were learning translated to the world of work.

One of the pilots was run as part of a summer camp for girls from an orphanage. Eight girls took the course, aged from 14 to 19. Their project was to organize four hours of activities for the 40 younger girls participating in the summer camp.

The girls produced a work breakdown structure, a project charter, a schedule and a budget. Their stakeholder register included the teachers, other children and the camp organizers. They produced a communication plan which included a daily briefing to everyone at the camp about how the plans were going. The outcome was a quiz and some sports activities.

The point of doing all this was:

  • To build awareness of project management in Poland, as this is currently low
  • To encourage students to use project management techniques on a daily basis
  • To encourage students to work effectively at school and outside school
  • To gain publicity for the Chapter
  • To help the volunteers learn how to teach project management.

The pilot schemes were successful so the Gdansk branch is moving ahead with doing it again this year. The plan now is to train more teachers and run more workshops in schools, using a ‘train the trainer’ model, so that the materials can be used by a much wider group. There are also plans to develop a shorter course for 10-13 year olds.

Schools in Jordan

Dr Hazem Zeitoun, President of PMI Jordan Chapter, spoke about what his Chapter was doing to promote project management in schools.

Jordan’s population is 6 million, with 1000 PMPs and 200 paid-up PMI members. A third of Jordan’s income comes from people working outside the country and sending it back home, so there is not a lot of money spare for advanced educational facilities.

He told us about the Madrasati initiative, led by Queen Rania. This initiative aims to close the gap between the community and school, helping the government transform schools into community hubs. It aims to improve the overall learning experience in 500 public schools. In order to do this they need quality learning tools, and the project management skills to implement the initiative locally.

Summary of the Madrasatri project by a graphic recorder
Madrasati Project Summary

Jordan Chapter has decided to partner with an existing initiative because Madrasati has links with the education sector already, plus experience in dealing with the bureaucracy. PMI, and project management, is not widely known in Jordan, so partnering with Madrasati will help build credibility and also open some doors to individual schools to pilot the project management learning sessions.

The Chapter is still a way off from fully participating – there are lots of administrative hurdles to jump through. They have made a presentation to the Ministry of Education and are currently awaiting the outcome. Ministry support is essential in order to be able to access teachers and use the same ‘train the trainer’ model that Poland is using.

Both the Jordan and Poland initiatives are run by volunteers who truly believe that project management skills can help their communities be more effective. Good luck to them both!

Image credit: YGLvoices on Flickr