C4EDC4ED

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Ethiopia | Alternative basic education

Picture: courtesy of M. Nikravech

Background

On behalf of UNICEF and the Ministry of Education of Ethiopia, we are conducting an impact evaluation in order to assess the effectiveness, relevance, and sustainability of the Alternative Basic Education (ABE) program. The study aims to provide lessons learnt, best practices, and challenges that will inform the future programming and implementation of ABE.

ABE stems from the effort of the Ethiopian government to provide better access to quality primary education for out-of-school and hard-to-reach children from pastoralist and agro-pastoralist communities. By the year 2014-2015, the number of ABE centers in Ethiopia reached 3,932 and has still been increasing since. ABE offers a flexible education environment – in terms of adaption of times of learning to accommodate local conditions and needs of learners and parents – in order to meet the learning needs of pastoralist and agro-pastoralist communities in Ethiopia.

Evaluation

The evaluation strategy is based on a mixed-methods approach. It first involves a quantitative quasi-experimental impact evaluation based on “matching”, using primary data collected during a large scale household and school survey. The qualitative approach is based on qualitative field interviews and focus group discussions. To perform the matching approach, we artificially created a control group using a random sampling approach stratified by primary education program (either government ABE or primary school) which have not yet benefited from the UNICEF-supported ABE program. We then compare the performance of children of this control villages to children of randomly selected “UNICEF ABE-treated” villages (treatment group), matching each village and household from the control and the treatment groups based on various characteristics (socio-economic characteristics of villages and households as well as parenting skills of parents). Therewith, both the modalities and the general impact of the program are assessed. In addition, the study comprises a review of secondary data and documentation. The regions of investigation are Afar, Somali and Oromia.

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India, Pakistan | Adolescents empowerment program

Picture: courtesy of Kazi Ahraful Alam

Background

In cooperation with UNICEF in India and Pakistan, we assess the impacts of a large-scale program that target adolescents, their families and community stakeholders in both countries. The program objectives include an increase in adolescents’ empowerment and a reduction in early marriage and teenage pregnancy, among others.

In many countries, children and youth’s rights still fail to be respected. For instance, in South Asia, including Pakistan, large proportions of youth are deprived of education. Moreover, child and early marriage is a widespread practice, which is illegal and often happens without consent. Empowering youth, especially young women, is one way of fighting these practices. It is key to achieve inclusive development and has a phenomenal multiplier effect across all development areas.

Evaluation

UNICEF with support by the IKEA Foundation launched a multiyear adolescents’ empowerment program that holistically integrates adolescents, their families and community stakeholders in India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. With a strong focus on empowerment, the program aims to enhance adolescents’ decision-making power and sensitize their families and communities regarding the fulfillment of adolescents’ rights and entitlements. Ultimately the program seeks to increase enrollment in education facilities, reduce early marriage and tackle teenage pregnancy.

With the impact evaluation design being integrated early on, along with the planning stages of the programs of UNICEF India and Pakistan, a rigorous evaluation has been embedded directly into the program in order to learn what works for adolescent empowerment. The impact evaluation will also support UNICEF in understanding how positive masculinities could play a role in empowerment.

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Ethiopia | School meals program

Picture: courtesy of A. Avdeenko / A. Bohne

Summary | Background 

In Ethiopia we have conducted an impact evaluation of the extensive School Meals Programme (SMP). SMP was led by the United Nations World Food Programme Ethiopia (WFP) as a part of Ethiopia’s Education Sector Development Program (ESDP).

A sufficient and well-balanced nutrition is crucial during childhood and is linked in several ways to children’s cognitive performance, school attainment and enrollment. The regions of Afar, Amhara, Oromya, SNNPR, Somali and Tigray are plagued with chronic food insecurity, lower enrollment and higher gender disparity.

Impact | Evaluation

The analysis measured the impact of school meal provision on children’s school enrollment, regularity of attendance, dropout rate and school performance including concentration span and cognitive development in food-insecure regions of Ethiopia. More specifically, the impact study involved an ex-post evaluation of the SMP and relied on treatment and comparison schools as well as children in food-insecure districts in 4 of the 6 regions. All together it covered about 200 schools. The mixed-methods nature of the study could shed light on the challenges, gaps and lessons learned in the course of implementing SMP to inform the design and development of future programs.

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Ecuador | Primary school education for street working youth

Picture: courtesy of Roberto (Bear) Guerrera

Background 

Together with the Centro Integral de la Niñez y Adolescencia (CENIT) and ViaNiños e.V. in Germany, we support an innovative primary school for working youth in Quito, Ecuador. In Quito many children and youth are forced to work from an early age to support themselves and their families. While initial primary school enrollment has recently increased in Ecuador, it is especially difficult for working street children and youth to continue their education. Older children that did not attend, or only partly attended, primary school have almost no chance to return to the regular public school system. As the case in many countries, the education system offers little flexibility to children and youth who have not attended part of the curriculum. This poses a high risk of losing these children for the rest of the educational process and foregoing high returns to education for the individuals and society.

Evaluation

In this project CENIT offers a specialized primary school “ESTAR” geared towards older youth who wish to retake their primary school education. Being the only school of its type in Quito, ESTAR offers these students a three-year version of the regular six-year primary school curriculum. This allows the adolescents to attend a regular high school upon completion and/or undergo vocational training. This is a step towards giving them the skills and knowledge to earn higher income and break the cycle of poverty. C4ED, together with ViaNiños e.V and the implementing partner CENIT, is dedicated to evaluating this project in a rigorous manner. In this first pilot project implemented in the South of Quito we will focus on ex-post evaluation using a mix of quantitative and qualitative methods.

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Cambodia | Pre-school education

(Picture: courtesy of Kazi Ashraful Alam)

Background 

In cooperation with the Cambodian Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport (MoEYS) and the World Bank, we evaluate the Cambodian Government’s “Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD)” program. The impact evaluation will shed light on the best practices in designing and implementing ECCD programs in low-income areas.

Education is one of the most powerful investments for inclusive and sustainable development. However, large disparities still exist with regard to education. Pre-schooling, despite proven high impacts on later cognitive attainment, remains the privilege of few.

Evaluation

The objectives of the ECCD interventions of this project are to assist the recipient to expand access to quality Early Childhood Education (ECE) for the three to five year olds through construction of facilities, provision of material, training of staff, as well as building demand for ECCD services among families from disadvantaged backgrounds, along with parental education to maximize the impact of ECCD services on child cognitive and psychosocial development, with a focus on primary school readiness. The project design strongly aligns with the Cambodian Governments Education Strategic Plan 2014-2018 (ESP), which seeks to promote equitable access to quality education. Despite the remarkable overall progress in educational access in recent years, important disparities in provision still remain, particularly at the ECCD level. Major gaps have thus been identified at school readiness level, which is critical for later success. The project’s special emphasis on promoting demand measures for ECCD services is intended to reduce socio-economic inequalities in accessing ECCD.

The evaluation aims to  an easily scalable and affordable early childhood education policy  that can guide the Cambodian Government in national policy matters.

Scientific evidence on the importance of early child development in improving schooling and later life welfare outcomes is strong. There is also a small but growing literature on the importance of school readiness for school success. However there is limited rigorous evidence on how to effectively deliver early child education services at scale in low-income and low-capacity environments. Therefore the work will have global scientific relevance with respect to how governments in such environments can make early child education available to large parts of the population.

The program evaluation measures changes in enrollment, retention rates, children cognitive and psychosocial development, and primary school readiness. The randomized research design allows for testing of different variations of the program. More specifically, it permits the measurement of additional effects of demand-side interventions, such as parents’ sensitization, through door-to-door visits and village-level advocacy. The impact evaluation is therefore expected to contribute rigorous evidence on how to effectively make quality and affordable early child education available to large parts of the population.

 

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Egypt | Pre-school nutrition

Picture courtesy: R. Megally

Backgound

In a randomized control trial led in Upper Egypt we implement and evaluate a nutrition and health intervention targeting pre-school children. Health and nutrition status during childhood are crucial for child development and health and have lifelong impacts on a range of factors. They play a role in future earnings and future health but also, more immediately, on educational outcomes such as attendance and cognitive development. Malnourishment, stunting and micronutrient deficiency (iron and vitamin A) are prevalent among preschoolers in the intervention area and are being addressed via supplementary feeding and parents’ education.

Evaluation

In the first phase of the impact evaluation, a pilot study was conducted to test the intervention and evaluation feasibility and improve the validity for the randomized controlled trial (RCT) on the big scale. The small sample size comprised six nurseries. After this piloting phase the project was scaled up to about 75 pre-schools located in various governorates of Upper Egypt. The intervention is two-fold and comprises a school nutrition intervention in which food supplementation is distributed to pre-school children aged 2 to 6 as well as health campaign delivered via phone to parents. Both parts of the intervention follow a randomized control trial design. The aim of the evaluation study is to evaluate the impact on the cognitive development and health (including iron deficiency) of the preschool children and how the provision of supplements at school level interacts with information provision to parents.

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South Africa | High school entrepreneurship education

Background 

In cooperation with the International Labour Organization (ILO) South Africa, we conducted an impact assessment of the entrepreneurship education program in high schools of the Free State Province, South Africa.

Youth unemployment is a major concern in many countries. Globally, the youth unemployment rate was 13.1 percent in 2013 with 74.5 million youth (aged 15-24) being unemployed according to the International Labour Organization (2014 figures). In South Africa, youth unemployment figures exceed 30 percent and even reached nearly 50 percent in the Free State province (South African SME Observatory, 2013). Only 1 percent of the youth in South Africa are formal entrepreneurs, which is significantly lower than in most other African countries. In countries where youth unemployment is so high, entrepreneurship education is increasingly considered as an important strategy towards tackling the unemployment challenge.

Evaluation

StartUP&go, an innovative entrepreneurship education program implemented by the International Labour Organization South Africa, was introduced in the business studies course for students in grade 10, 11 and 12 in high schools in Free State Province. Its overall objective was to foster a more entrepreneurial mindset among young men and women. The desired outcomes of the project encompassed: a) improved attitudes towards the merits of entrepreneurship, b) increased entrepreneurial intentions and c) more young people starting formal enterprises, i.e. higher levels of entrepreneurial activity among youth. The new program was based on experiential learning methodologies, such as entrepreneurship games and business simulation exercises, which had been fully aligned with South African curricula for business studies.

Based on panel data collected among 16,000 students, the entrepreneurship education module was evaluated with regard to its impact on school performance, attitudes towards entrepreneurship and employment status. A quasi-experimental approach (difference-in-difference estimation) was taken, since the 60 treatment schools were not permitted to be randomly selected. The evaluation was based on a type of quadruple differences approach; exploiting the fact that treatment was only introduced in some classes of 10th cohort, whereas the other classes, the 11th and 12th graders as well as the 10 control schools serve as control schools, thereby also permitting various types of pseudo-treatment tests/placebo treatment tests, coupled with an analysis of sample selection to ensure the robustness of results. The short-term results of the impact evaluation indicated an increase in the number of students wanting to start their own business after completing high school and in the number of students thinking that starting their own business would be a good career choice for them.

Ethiopia | Alternative basic education
India, Pakistan | Adolescents empowerment program
Ethiopia | School meals program
Ecuador | Primary school education for street working youth
Cambodia | Pre-school education
Egypt | Pre-school nutrition
South Africa | High school entrepreneurship education