The Program

sidebarGVisionary political leadership is the most crucial factor in realizing prospects for economic progress and sustainable development.

The Harvard Ministerial Leadership Program is designed to stimulate transformative vision, enhance leadership effectiveness and political acumen, and develop planning and execution capacity among Ministers.  It supports them to pursue ambitious human development goals, particularly where these leaders represent geographies that are experiencing large growth in their child and adolescent populations.

The Ministerial Program provides an environment of constructive challenge and peer interaction. It supports leaders to reap the full benefits of a healthy and productive population to better realize their country’s prospects for a demographic dividend.


Program Structure

The Program combines ministerial level support with customized technical facilitation and capacity development tailored to the specific needs and priorities of participating countries.

Led by senior Harvard faculty and experts, together with a distinguished group of former and long serving ministers, the Harvard Ministerial Forum aims to enhance ministerial and political leadership, encourage bold priorities, inform understanding of options for sustainable financing, optimizing efficiency in budget utilization, and strengthening service delivery and outcomes. The Forum is not an academic exercise. It is a practically-focused interactive discussion informed by case studies and international experience, as well as the insights of the participating ministers. The Harvard Ministerial Leadership Program provides a unique setting for ministers to explore possibilities for a transformative legacy in government and develop a road map for accomplishing far-reaching policy goals with the aim of optimizing economic opportunity.


Approximately 10-12 serving education, health and finance ministers from Africa, Southeast Asia, and Latin America are invited annually to attend separate Ministerial Forums at Harvard University designed to address specific, as well as the overlapping interests of each. Ministers are invited based on their demonstrated leadership and supportive national political environment.

Since its inception in 2012, 123 ministers from 57 countries have participated in the Program.


Program Features

Ministerial Forum at Harvard University

The Ministerial Forum at Harvard provides a non-official space, the time and expertise for ministers to reframe and redirect their policy and leadership goals; to refresh their vision and commitment; and to adapt new ideas and international experience to their nation’s conditions.

The curriculum concentrates on four main themes: leadership effectiveness, priority setting, sustainable financing and policy implementation.

The Forum for finance ministers convenes each year in April and education and health ministers in June.

In-Country Follow-Up

Fostering shared priorities and closer collaboration among education, health and finance ministers for accelerating human development and realizing economic growth is a key goal of the Program. Institutionalizing more effective and efficient approaches to education and health resource utilization to improve standards of delivery and outcomes is the core of the Program’s approach. Following the Forum, a subset of participating countries is selected for more intensive technical support in developing country-specific plans. Harvard, together with other partners, works with senior-level education, health and finance ministry teams, to enhance capacity for coordinated planning, strategy development and implementation management. We help facilitate and monitor implementation of the country plans over 18–24 months.

Peer Networking

A unique benefit of the Program is peer networking. In addition to on-going electronic information sharing, all Program alumni are reconvened annually to sustain discussion and provide support for progress in achieving their legacy goals. Additionally, the program continues to foster a network of both current and former ministers who are an important resource for serving ministers.