2002 NMB: AGEI/Namibia Mid-Term Evaluation: Kavango Girls' Education Project and Omaheke San Education Project
Author: Sarti Malone, T.; Haihambo-Muetudhana, C.
In response to the unequal number of girls excluded from education systems, UNICEF introduced the African Girls' Education Initiative (AGEI) as a means towards Education For All (EFA). The current AGEI phase started in April 2001 and ends in April 2004. Country-level, mid-term evaluations are taking place during October-December 2002 to assess the quality of interventions, and to provide an early warning of problems in implementation, operation, and outputs.
Under the AGEI, UNICEF/Namibia supports two regional projects, which differ in target groups, strategies, implementing agents, and implementation phase - the Omaheke San Education Project and the Kavango Girls' Education Project.
In early 1999, WIMSA/Namibia created the Omaheke San Trust (OST) to represent the San?s interests in Omaheke. Under the education component of the OST, a partnership with UNICEF/Namibia was created to develop and implement the Omaheke San Education Project (OSEP) as part of the AGEI. The extremely marginalised status of all San children in Omaheke has meant that the project, while initially formulated with girls in mind, has instead targeted all San children in Omaheke. The project aims to develop the capacities of parents and community leaders so they can participate and support their children throughout the education process.
The Kavango Girls' Education Project (KGEP) started with a lengthy project preparation phase (May 2001?May 2002) consisting of stakeholder workshops, data analysis by the Rundu Regional Directorate, a field assessment, and a stakeholder workshop. This culminated in the development of a work plan to address the low retention of girls, particularly at senior secondary level.
Purpose / Objective
- To examine how the experiences of AGEI/Namibia, at approximately its mid-point, can be used by relevant stakeholders to improve the Omaheke San Education Project (OSEP) and the Kavango Girls' Education Project (KGEP) as well as the corresponding monitoring and evaluation activities
- To provide a systematic and in-depth review of progress in relation to original AGEI/Namibia objectives and expected results, as well as to identify and make provisions for mid-course adjustments in the key elements of the project design
- To assess whether modification in the AGEI/Namibia objectives, strategies, and content is warranted as a result of the experience obtained during the first half of the programme cycle
- To derive major lessons learned so as to improve the quality of programme implementation and review the possibility of extending the projects to other regions
The evaluation involved qualitative research methods and a longitudinal review of the EMIS database. The social research methods included over 50 formal interviews representing over 130 people. These interviews included semi-structured, open-ended questions and representative, focus group discussions. Also, many informal discussions occurred in both regions. An extensive desk review of relevant project documents, regional and international literature, and government policy was also undertaken.
Both Omaheke and Kavango samples were provisionally selected by UNICEF/Namibia staff members, and then amended and approved by primary project partners in each region.
For the OSEP, the following interviews and discussions were held: 4 community focus groups (included parents and children); 4 community mobiliser interviews; 3 principal interviews; 3 pairs of teachers from lower primary phase; 3 hostel matron interviews; and 7 project partner interviews (included MBESC Regional Education Officer, WIMSA, OST, UNICEF/Namibia, and On-the-Way Training Centre). Three sites in Omaheke were selected to represent varying situations found across the project's ten sites. These sites represent a mixture of learners from communal areas and from commercial farms.
One major constraint in Omaheke was the recent termination of the project agreement between the OST and UNICEF/Namibia due to financial irregularities. The timing was such that the main staff members working on the project had all since left the OST. There was a lot of frustration during the early stages of each interview since all interviewees supposed the evaluators were enquiring about the financial management of the project. After it was established that the focus was the project?s implementation and activities, interviewees relaxed and were quite forthcoming and excited to share their ideas.
In Kavango, the following interviews were held: 3 learner focus groups with school Girls' Clubs (all girls); 3 principal interviews; 4 teacher interviews (from junior and senior secondary phase); 1 hostel matron interview; and 16 project partner interviews (included MBESC Regional Education Officers, UNICEF/Namibia, VSO, NANAWO, FAWENA, and a religious leader). The Kavango schools visited represented a variety of settings from the region. Two of the schools visited are senior secondary schools (Grades 10-12) while the third is a combined school (Grades 1-9). The two senior secondary schools vary as one is in Rundu and the other is 10 kilometres outside of town. The combined school is over 50 kilometres from Rundu.
Key Findings and Conclusions
Omaheke San Education Project
Our research findings generally came from one of three categories: Communities, Schools, and Project Partners. A noticeable contrast between social and academic situations became apparent through the interviews. Often, those in the social sphere (community) attributed reasons for failure to the academic sphere (school). And, when visiting informants in the academic sphere, they responded that the main difficulties with San children are due to the social sphere. Interviews with project partners moved across both spheres, thus highlighting their role as liaisons between communities and schools. They saw themselves as the key to relevant, timely communication between communities and schools.
We found that most, if not all, respondents agreed on these key points regarding San education in Omaheke:
1. San children?s access to, and enrolment in, schools has improved in Omaheke.
2. Many San children still need to be enrolled in schools.
3. Parents want to participate in their children's education but do not yet know how.
4. Schools and MBESC officials want parents to participate but do not yet know how to accomplish this.
5. Community mobilisers are extremely valuable.
The key findings presented suggest that much has been done in regards to establishing a strong base from which to build the Omaheke San Education Project. The project has made great strides in getting community-based workers into the schools to enrol and retain marginalized learners, even though much of this is based on anecdotal information.
The findings highlight the following:
· OSEP-facilitated enrolments represent a 43% increase from 2000 to 2002.
· Without information regarding who is not in school, gender-specific interventions will be difficult to develop and implement effectively.
· Dropouts and runaways were "chased after" in the early stages of the project and, later, community mobilisers shifted to visiting hostels and schools in an attempt to prevent runaways and dropouts.
· Effective retention cannot be judged on current data but needs to be a second and equal focus of project activities.
· Mobilisers are effective forms of communication between schools and communities though parents may become dependant on mobilisers, unless they (the parents) engage in direct communication with schools.
· Children and parents still report that corporal punishment is used as a primary discipline method. They also report that this is traditionally an ineffective method to use with San children.
· The lack of documentation of key distribution interventions makes it difficult to support the widely-held belief (in Omaheke) that provision of "the basics" encourages learners to remain in school.
· Communication between the OST and UNICEF/Namibia is at a project low.
· Community mobilisation efforts with San communities, principals, and hostels have been effective.
· Mobilisation efforts with teachers and non-San communities have not occurred in any comprehensive manner.
· Principals, teachers, and hostels do not understand the project equally nor the specialised roles they are expected to play.
· The use of EMIS as the primary evaluation tool does not allow timely, evaluative assessments towards project objectives.
· No detailed progress matrix currently exists in regards to OSEP project objectives.
· UNICEF/Namibia and the OST should continue to work together towards an Omaheke San Education Forum and/or a Sub-National EMC Task Force.
Kavango Girls' Education Project
Consistently, we found the following points:
1. Lack of dedicated staff in the Regional Office has slowed down project development and implementation enormously.
2. Lack of communication and understanding is a major obstacle to KGEP development and implementation.
3. The dedication and leadership of participating Girls' Clubs is extraordinary and is a valuable asset to the further development of the project.
4. UNICEF/Namibia has spent a great deal of time pushing project partners to act. While the process has been slow, this has created a sense of ownership within the MBESC.
The process, participation, and implementation of the KGEP, which is detailed above, establishes that much has occurred in regards to the KGEP, albeit rather slowly. Many needs in regards to further implementation as well as future participation of key stakeholders remain. The key findings are summarised as follows:
· Current MBESC staffing capacity is greatly lacking in regards to the project.
· The in-coming volunteer will need a clear job description that emphasises capacity building and institutional development. This must be explained clearly to all project partners to avoid confusion over her duties.
· Steering committee meetings occur infrequently. This does not provide ample time and attention to the project and is reflected in the slow project start-up phase.
· All regional officers do not understand the project nor do they consider girls' education a priority at this time.
· Clubs do not understand their roles within the project as a whole but are eager for guidance as well as flexibility.
· Support teachers need more guidance/support in regards to Girls' Clubs as well as Gender and Education as a whole.
· Like the regional education officers mentioned above, many teachers (particularly males) and hostel workers do not understand the objectives of the project nor the initial school-based interventions.
· Project partners have contrasting understanding of the project and what is expected of them. A communication gap currently exists between primary project partners (MBESC Regional Office and UNICEF/Namibia) and other stakeholders. Communication within these groups is also lacking.
· UNICEF/Namibia and MBESC officials have frequently met together and with other project partners, but many still do not understand their roles within the overall project.
· Data forms for monitoring and evaluation are numerous while directions for their use, distribution, and collection are limited. Current indicators proposed are more than ample for effective monitoring and evaluation activities.
Omaheke San Trust
- Implement and further improve OST Business Plan & Data-gathering Instrument
- Train teachers to adopt alternatives to corporal punishment, with attention to punishment methods acceptable to San children
- UNICEF and OST should develop a progress matrix as an evaluation, monitoring and reporting tool for project objectives
- Mobilisers should phase themselves out in the chain of communication to allow direct parent/community and schools collaboration
- Alternative San-specific contributions to children's education should be identified and recognised, in view of inability to pay school fees and school development funds
- Cultural and social exchanges between San and non-San parents should be introduced to help sensitise non-San communities
- Income-generating activities should be explored to help parents meet their children's basics
- Teachers should be trained on MBESC policies regarding EMC and on special approaches when dealing with san children: pastoral care/counselling, learners rights, etc
- Forums for sharing lessons learned among principals working with San learners should be set up to promote and disseminate MBESC policies on EMC
Monitoring and Evaluation:
- Distribution interventions should be documented to enable evaluation of the provision of basics
- Establish a responsive database for timely monitoring activities
- San-specific data should be gathered in a suitable manner without embarrassing or shaming the San learner
- Use PRA approach to gather data to improve community participation and save time
- Identify reasons for dropout and track runaways/dropouts longitudinally, and track dropouts who re-enrol at other schools and why
- Establish number of Sans employed by schools (as principals, teachers, cleaners, etc.) to see if having Sans employed in school environment will have a positive influence on San learners
- Collect baseline data on: number of San children not in school in each relevant region by gender, age and reasons why not in school
Kavango Girls' Education Project
- The advisory teacher should have some normal duties relieved to continue her valuable work on the project;
- The expatriate volunteer should focus on capacity building for stakeholders to ensure integration of project within existing MBESC structures in Rundu; a local female volunteer should be recruited to work with the expatriate volunteer and take over the work once the expatriate leaves
- Steering committee should meet regularly, document all such meetings and include project objectives' monitoring/evaluation on the agenda
- Circuit inspector meetings/workshops should be used to sensitise activities in regards to gender and education
- Define school principals' role in the project to stimulate their commitment to gender in education
- Develop a Guide to Girls Club in Kavango to guide clubs and especially support teachers
- Include hostels in outreach activities to ensure common understanding between girls and their hostel caregivers. A hostel handbook to girls' education could be developed, explained and distributed by local partner NGOs
- Develop and pilot data collection forms to assess ease of use, indicating which data come from the Educational Management Information System and which are available at MBESC regional office
- Spell out on data collection forms, the methods for collecting data, frequency for submission and who should return them and to whom
Full report in PDF
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