Project Description

Picture: courtesy of M. Nikravech


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.


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.