Fiji’ General Election 2018 is around the corner, and the Fiji Government is conducting various Post Budget Road Shows on 2018-2019 at various educational institutions. Thus analysis of educational sector becomes paramount as large numbers of young voters will vote this year. Their feedback on educational themes is highly beneficial for strategic planning. The most valid step under strategic planning is ‘SWOT Analysis’, which will be studied in this article.
This article makes a review of the ‘SWOT Analysis’ in respect of Strategic planning in education; and also highlight the strength and the weakness of SWOT analysis in educational planning
SWOT stands for ‘strengths’, ‘weakness’, ‘opportunities’ and ‘threats’ of a structural planning scheme that evaluates the element of any particular project, course of action and policy of an organization.
SWOT analysis is identified as primary element of the strategic management/planning process that consist of analysis, decisions and actions of an organization.
Thompson et al. (2007) described SWOT Analysis “is a simple but powerful tool for sizing up an organization’s resource capabilities and deficiencies, its market opportunities, and the external threats to its future”.
Role of SWOT Analysis in Stability of the Educational Planning Process
Educational Planning in broadest term is defined as “the application of rational, systematic analysis to the process of educational development with the aim of making education more effective and efficient in responding to the needs and goals of its students and society” (Coombs, 1970).
When strategic planning model is applied to education, it begins steps such as the plan to plan; forming mission/vision; goes on to situation analysis [SWOT and Data collection]; statement of Goals; selection of strategies; developing the Strategic plan; implementation; and monitoring and evaluation (Tokai, 2005). This planning depends on the actions of key stakeholders, so it is impertinent to have consultation and participation of stakeholders in every planning step; as they are likely to support and contribute to implement if they are involved in steps of planning for positive impact. Strategic planning promised educational leaders to help the schools to think and act strategically, develop effective strategies, clarify future directions, establish priorities, improve organizational performances, build team and expertise and efficiently deal with changing environment (Cook, 1990). R.J. Jasparro’ research concluded that strategic planning has been beneficial in some sectors of education while not in all, in terms of effective process for conducting school reforms; it is not a “quick fix” to solving contemporary complex educational reforms as it depends on the varied school environmental factors (Jasparro, 2006).
It is believed that educational planning process evolves from different stages of planning, i.e. long-range planning, budgeting, educational sector strategic planning and strategic management (Hax and Majluf, 1984). SWOT analysis in educational planning framework, assist in fulfilling the strategically planned objectives with the help of reliable data. This is a method through which there is a transformation of problem into objective which helps analyzing some existing problems into main agenda by examining the cause-effect relationship and assist in improvising of collective methods of systematic study of the educational planning (Chang, 2006).
In modern day changing scenario, SWOT analysis played vital role in assessing the external and internal environment to enhance opportunities and minimize threats after demarcating the weakness and strengths in educational context for enhancement of future positive outcomes (Robinson et al., 2003).
Strengths and Weaknesses of SWOT Analysis in Educational Planning
Strategic planning is unique to each organization, but it needs involvement of people especially in implementation; this should be a top down, bottom up and horizontal process. SWOT Analysis as an analytical tool in general perspective to give general solutions; although specific detail issues are not the focus of SWOT analysis. Educational planning is based on positive relationship between performance and planned activities.
Scholar suggest that SWOT Analysis is a popular and versatile tool but it involves a lot of subjective decision making at each stage, thus one should use it as a guide rather than iterative process. One needs to be mindful, that there is no definitive SWOT analysis for every educational institution. This method is valuable as decision making tools that support the notion of the organizational strategic planning formulation, implementation and evaluation efforts. It makes a macro evaluation possible, which provides the opportunity to focus on positive and negative aspects of internal and external environment of the organization. It uncovers the opportunities to take the advantage; and by understanding weaknesses, threats can be managed and eliminated (Gurel and Tat, 2017). This process substructures the strategic decisions as limit the agenda in the steps of information gathering and interpretation.
SWOT analysis promotes group discussion about strategic issues and development, that includes creative participatory technique of group meetings and brain storming that enhanced knowledge. It is based on discussion of future and setting goals of the organization by thinking beyond daily problems. SWOT Analysis is related to identification of strategic factors that could enhance the strengths, lead to improvement in the identified weakness and limit the existing threat and exploiting on the basis of available opportunities (Dyson, 2004).
Strategic planning weakness is that formal planning does not produce effective strategies and spending too much time and energy in advance planning has every chance of fallibility. SWOT Analysis does not clearly depict the interrelationship between the internal and external factors. Sometimes it fails to provide appropriate solution to strategic planning and analysis as this analysis is only the beginning and fail to provide efficient ending solution. Framing the strength of the organization on paper is easy task in comparison to testing them in practical. In the changing and dynamic environmental the testing of SWOT Analysis become difficult. Scholars have listed the SWOT analysis as “strengths may not lead to an advantage. An organization’s strengths and capabilities, no matter how unique or impressive, may not enable it to achieve competitive advantage in the marketplace…SWOT Analysis focuses on environment which is too narrow. Strategist who rely on traditional definitions of their industry and competitive environment often focus their sights too narrowly on current customers, technologies and competitors… A key weakness of SWOT is that it is primarily a static assessment. It focuses too much of an organization’s attention on one moment in time.” (Gurel and Tat, 2017).
Since last fifty years, SWOT Analysis framework has assist the educational planners in identify the approaches that are pivotal for achieving goals. It aims to identify and analyze the strength, weaknesses, threats and opportunities that the educational planning requires.
Educational sector helps in developing human capital that will contribute in the production of goods and services, thus it become vital for planning and control. Educational planning develop the educational opportunities, introducing curriculum in respect to prospective economic values, creating government support for educational sector, preparing strategic plan for education for all, raising the quality of education, assessing the sustainable education and develop future educational programmes to enhance quality of delivery of education. SWOT analysis can be applied to different analyatical levels: individual, organizational, national and international. SWOT Analysis consists of determining the objectives of educational planning and to identify the internal and external factors that assist in achieving the set objectives.
Disclaimer: Dr Sakul Kundra is an assistant professor in history at the College of Humanities and Education of the Fiji National University. Ph.D History from Jawaharlal Nehru University, M.Phil History, MA History, PG Diploma in Journalism, PG Diploma in Book Publication and PG Diploma in Education (Dec 2018). The views expressed are his own and not of this newspaper or his employer. For comments or suggestions, email. firstname.lastname@example.org