UNITE FOR CHILDREN

Devpro Resource Centre

The Philippines

Focusing on monitoring and evaluating child-friendly schools

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF/NYHQ2009-1446/Alquinto
A boy carries supplies through waist-high floodwater in Pasig City in Manila, the capital.

Context and challenge: Natural disasters and poverty create barriers to access to quality education; monitoring and evaluating child-friendly spaces is crucial

In September 2009, Typhoon Ketsana hit the Philippines with brutal force, killing 420 people and displacing thousands more. On 3 October, a second typhoon hit the rural region of Luzon, killing an additional 430 and destroying 55,000 homes. Natural disasters such as these continue to plague the Philippines, exacerbating the challenges caused by poverty and simmering conflict, and creating barriers to equitable access to quality education.

Although significant developments have expanded access to preschool and primary education during the past decade, there is still much to be done. Among 5-year-old Philippine children, only 6 of every 10 have access to preschool education. Rural children are especially disadvantaged.

Low scores in national achievement tests indicate a poor quality of education. Boys have lower rates of retention and levels of achievement compared to girls. And drop-out rates double as children reach secondary school – with around 11.64 million youth out of school. In addition, when natural disasters wreak havoc, children are deprived of the proper environment and tools for learning.

In 1999, the child-friendly school (CFS) project was piloted in 131 elementary schools, with the goal of improving education quality by transforming schools into healthy, tolerant, inclusive and protective learning environments. Over the years, the project has expanded to include 5,000 elementary schools and 61 secondary schools.

Policymakers in the Philippines were aware that simply implementing the CFS strategy was not enough: Without monitoring and evaluation, how would they know whether it was working? Without tracking and analysing the strategy’s progress, setbacks, achievements and challenges, how could they assess its effectiveness and efficiency?

With this in mind, the Philippines began participating in the CFS global evaluation.

Action: Monitoring and evaluating the Philippines’ child-friendly project

The global evaluation posed key questions such as: What is a child-friendly school? Do child-friendly schools work? And can the CFS strategy make a difference on a systemic level? In the Philippines, child-friendly school performance was evaluated by comparing learning spaces with their mainstream counterparts.

In 2001, the Philippines began implementing its Student Tracking System, a monitoring strategy that helps schools seek out and assist hard-to-reach, at-risk and faltering children. By organizing critical data about learners – including academic performance, cognitive skills and social background – the system creates a profile of the ‘whole’ child. In the process, it helps teachers and administrators identify children who need special attention, are at risk of being abused, or are in danger of failing and leaving school.

In 2003, the Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication, the Philippines’ Department of Education and UNICEF undertook case studies to document best practices in CFS implementation. The case studies aimed to provide a perspective on the successes and failures that child-friendly concepts and practices have produced.

In general, a comprehensive monitoring and evaluation process should be able to provide evidence for advocacy, national policy dialogue, investment, scaling up and mainstreaming. It should track and assess individual children in terms of inclusion, health, development, protection, learning achievement, barriers and special needs. In addition, it should help establish national standards and indicators for rights-based education; empower, enable and mobilize schools, communities and other stakeholders; and evaluate the cost of achieving these objectives.

Child-friendly school models are the means to support a dynamic, constantly evolving improvement in overall education quality. Therefore, it is inadequate and inappropriate to simply apply a set of standard monitoring and evaluation techniques to assess the model.

A wide range of data sources should be used in the monitoring and evaluation process, and this data must specifically assess child-friendly school principles and issues. The answers to key questions about the efficacy of a CFS strategy – such as, “Has enrolment and retention increased?” and “Are child-friendly schools providing learners with an environment that promotes their mental and physical well-being?” – must be incorporated into the design of the evaluation.

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF/NYHQ2006-1446/Bito
Girls write in their notebooks in class at San Antonio Primary School in the town of Pilar in Capiz Province.

Impact and opportunities: Retention and repetition rates have been lowered; school leaders need to be indentified and supported

Initial results of the evaluation of the Philippines’ CFS strategy indicate that its major success has been in improving children’s retention. Sixteen out of 24 areas had lower drop-out rates than their non-child friendly counterparts, and 18 out of 24 child-friendly schools had reduced repetition rates. These gains were strongest in small schools, where teachers were better able to follow individual learner performance.

In addition, the findings show that in 15 out of 24 of the monitored areas, child-friendly schools did better than non-child-friendly schools in achievement tests. As a result of implementing the Student Tracking System, schools in the Philippines reported improved teacher-student relationships, with educators more inclined to be patient and understanding of students with behavioural problems.

Another insight gained through the case studies created during the monitoring process was the importance of parents and communities taking action to protect children from child abuse and poor health.

Going forward, the global evaluation recommended that CFS programming could be improved by identifying strong school leaders and equipping them with greater skills and capacity to implement a CFS strategy. In addition, the evaluation highlighted the importance of developing and instituting strategies that will improve readiness for CFS implementation at the school and community levels.

For CFS strategies to become more mainstream, countries must monitor their successes and failures, share best practices and challenges, and continuously measure their progress. By monitoring and evaluating CFS strategies, policymakers in countries such as the Philippines can assess the efficacy of their programmes – thereby ensuring that vulnerable children have more equitable access to a rights-based education that has truly taken their unique needs into account.

13 March 2010


 

 

A focus on

Child-Friendly Schools Manual, Chapter 8, 'Monitoring and Evaluating', 2009 | PDF English

To learn more

UNICEF, Child-Friendly Schools Manual, 2009 | PDF English

UNICEF, Global Capacity Development Programme on Child-Friendly Schools | website

UNICEF, Resources on Child-Friendly Schools | website

UNICEF, 'Quality education and child-friendly schools,' Actions for Children Issue 5, March 2009 | PDF English | French | Spanish

UNICEF Philippines Country Office | website

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