Author: Pfaffe, J.F.; DeYoung, A.J. Institution: Proman SA
The Global Education (GE) Project was planned by the Faculty of Education, University of Plymouth, England, for the UNICEF CARK (Central Asian Republics and Kazakhstan) Area Office as a 78-month project. At the planning phase, it involved five countries – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan,
Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan – but took off in 2003 in the first four countries only.
The project involves a partnership among the Ministries of Education of the concerned countries, UNICEF CARK, universities and non-governmental organizations in the region, and the Faculty of Education, University of Plymouth, England. Academic faculty and graduate students attached to the International Institute for GE (IIGE) of the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto, Canada, have also been involved on an individual basis as were faculty of the College of St. Mark & St. John, Plymouth, England. As from 2005, UNICEF has put emphasis on the attainment of ownership through the National Core Teams (NCT) for GE.
The project cycle is in the status of three years piloting. A mid-course (formative) evaluation of the GE Project was considered timely in order to give recommendations for future directions of the project.
The findings and recommendations of the evaluation of the GE Project are intended to inform the annual programming of the UNICEF Country Offices in CARK. Specifically, they will be used during the mid-term reviews of the five CARK Country Programmes planned in 2007, and will inform
possible modifications of the Country Programmes for the remaining part of their programme cycles (mid-2007 - end-2009).
The objective of this formative evaluation is twofold and comprises (i) an assessment of the potential of the project to be replicated and scaled up, and (ii) the formulation of recommendations depending on the outcomes of the first objective. Three options should be investigated, i.e.
possibilities of the project being (i) completed (with possible corrective actions), (ii) phased out, or (iii) terminated with the reconciliation of successful elements.
The approach for this formative evaluation has been based on the principles of participation and cooperation. It thus combines local and international expertise and cross-fertilizes academic expertise with field and project expertise. As severe experience has taught, projects work only if beneficiaries feel concerned and have ownership of their proposed intervention. The evaluation team therefore met and consulted with as many stakeholders as possible, both at school level as well as at policy level.
Also, the evaluation team regarded this evaluation exercise very much as a joint initiative and thus continuously liaised with the different key players, such as representatives at UNICEF Regional and Country Offices, other development partners, local and international NGOs, local consultants, Ministry officials and school staff. In order to gain different perspectives on a common issue, views were sought from those involved at both a strategic and operational level.
Findings and Conclusions
Relevance of the GE Project
GE is implicitly linked to global education goals (EFA Dakar Goals, MDGs) as well as to CRC. There is need to focus on MDG 3 (promote gender equality and empower women) as this was not referred to in the project proposal. GE pilot schools fit well into the UNICEF concept of Child-Friendly schools. Overall, the project is well embedded in within the priorities of national and international partners in the educational context of CARK.
Effectiveness of the GE project at school level
GE has provided professional growth to teachers at an individual level. However, due to several reasons (political environment, mindset of teachers), it has not yet attained the status of an 'integrated concept'. The big challenge remains the degree of support through the inspectorate systems that do not always approve of lively classes, and might even discourage the teacher from applying different methodologies despite the teacher's knowledge about them.
Efficiency of the GE project
Compared to international benchmarks, UNICEF's contributions for the GE project are rather small. It will be important to liaise with other stakeholders to create synergy effects. Also, the project has been heavily dependent on international expertise. Hence, there is a clear need to create local structures that can absorb the project into the mainstream system.
Sustainability of the GE project
Three strong assumptions have been laid out at the planning phase of the GE that ignore the reality and, therefore, placed GE outside the reality situation of school and society. Despite those assumptions and severe shortcomings during the initial planning stage, the evaluation team feels that there is a mutual understanding for the need to take the experiences of the pilot phase to the policy and system level for future integration, and that concrete action plans with milestones and indicators can be mutually agreed upon as outlined in the recommendations for future directions of the GE project.
A period of up to Dec. 2007 is proposed during which the GE project will continue with a new focus and prepare for its integration into the “Child Friendly Schools” framework, simultaneously and increasingly acquiring local ownership and pro-actively seeking exchange with other projects and initiatives.
At policy and system level, GE-implementing CARK countries need to aim at infusing core outcomes of the GE pilot project into the larger policy debate. Likewise, efforts need to be made to integrate GE-related methodology into the local pre-service and in-service training structures for both student teachers and teachers already in service.
The evaluation team highly recommends to gradually move away from the rather confusing and undefined term “Global Education”since it also triggers negative connotations within the contextual notion of “globalisation”, which have never been intended by their original authors.
At school and implementation level, there is need to focus more strongly on the pragmatic content of GE and not so much on its theoretical dimensions. The pragmatic content, i.e. the direct outcomes for the target groups, revolve around four core issues: (i) participatory and interactive learning; (ii) the contextualisation of the learning content (thus ensuring relevance); (iii) the acknowledgement of the specific importance of the learner in the teaching and learning process, i.e. the child-friendliness and child-centredness of the teaching and learning interaction (in GE referred to as the “inner dimension”); and (iv) the inclusion of parents and communities in the schooling process.
A shift from primarily school-based training (of teachers) to the training of methodologists at pre-service and in-service training institutions is recommended.
At UNICEF institutional and organisational level, the national project coordinators (of all UNICEF projects) need to prepare for the integration of the GE project into the CFS approach by the end of 2007.
The annual CARK Education Forum should increasingly be utilised to discuss modalities for mainstreaming GE, in order to merge the debate at the Forum with discussions at the overall policy level. UNICEF should take the lead in encouraging development partners, particularly the development
banks, to actively contribute to the Forum.
At a country-specific level, different strategies will be called for in order to implement the three-levelled overall approach, with a country-specific focus on areas that contain possibilities for regional cooperation through exchange of information and experience.
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University of Plymouth, University of Toronto; officials from respective MOEs, pedagogical institutes, etc.; donors; other partners in the field of education in Central Asia