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Evaluation report

2011 Ghana: Evaluation of UNICEF's Early Childhood Development Programme with Focus on Government of Netherlands Funding (2008-2010) - Ghana Country Case Study Report



Executive summary

Background:

As the first country to ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Republic of Ghana has a record of attention to children’s rights and development. More recently, the Government of Ghana has declared its commitment to addressing the developmental needs of children and achieving Millennium Development Goals through policies and plans including the National Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) Policy, adopted in 2004. This policy provides a framework for government and other stakeholders to promote survival, development, and protection for children from birth to age 8, emphasizing integrated and coordinated services among other strategies for achieving this goal.

Key indicators have in recent years shown improvement in young children’s education, health, and social welfare status in Ghana. Increases in pre-primary education attendance have been substantial and have exceeded national goals. However, rates of maternal and child mortality, malnutrition, and lack of access to adequate water and sanitation remain high, and substantial disparities in these areas remain across income groups and geographic regions.

UNICEF’s ECD Focus in Ghana
UNICEF’s longstanding commitment to improving the lives of young children and its work in multiple sectors and with many partners at the global, regional, national, and subnational levels have positioned it well for supporting holistic ECD in developing countries, including Ghana. UNICEF’s collaboration with its country partners to enhance ECD in Ghana includes three main strands, each encompassing a distinct set of activities, outputs, and outcomes:
1. Capacity building and support for implementation of the national ECCD policy. These activities focus on increasing the skills of regional and district-level ECD teams in the areas of advocacy, planning, and monitoring through the provision of training.
2. Enhancement of KG education. Activities to enhance KG education include development of a quality KG model and pilot implementation of this model in two districts, Afram Plains in the Eastern region and Savelugu-Nanton in the Northern region.
3. Promotion of ECD through health; nutrition; water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH); and child protection initiatives. Activities in this strand address health, nutrition, WASH, and child protection aspects of ECD, although they are not explicitly designated as ECD interventions in country programme documents.

The case study analysis focuses primarily on UNICEF, government, and partner activities prioritized for investment of the GoN funds—specifically, those in the first two strands of programming (capacity building for policy implementation and enhancement of KG education)—and completed as of September 2010, the end of the study period. Where possible, the report presents information on other activities related to ECD, including those addressing health, nutrition, WASH, and child protection; however, the case study was designed to use the GoN investment as a lens for analyzing ECD in Ghana. Thus, it emphasizes such services as KG education. The report also provides findings and conclusions about the role of the GoN funding in strengthening and catalyzing new and ongoing ECD programming.

Objectives/ Purpose:

This report presents the results of a case study of programming to promote early childhood development (ECD) in Ghana. The evaluation team conducted the study as part of an evaluation of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)–Government of Netherlands (GoN) Cooperation Programme on ECD, 2008-2010. The programme emphasizes three strategic objectives: (1) capacity building, (2) knowledge generation and dissemination, and (3) the mainstreaming of ECD into policies and programmes for young children. It also focuses on cross-cutting issues, such as use of a human rights–based approach to planning and providing ECD services as well as to pursuing gender equity and reaching the marginalized.

Methodology:

For the Ghana case study, in July 2010 the evaluation team conducted eight days of in-country data collection, including field visits to locations where ECD projects are implemented in the Afram Plains district of the Eastern region. Primary data sources included (1) interviews with members of the UNICEF country office (CO) staff, representatives of national ministries and regional and district offices involved in providing services related to ECD, staff from key partner organizations, kindergarten (KG) teachers, and school administrators; (2) observations of KG classrooms in four schools; and (3) two focus groups with parents of children enrolled in KG. In addition to these primary data sources, a range of secondary sources were reviewed, including reports and draft policy documents, data from surveys, and results of external studies.

The evaluation team employed two main qualitative methods in analyzing case study data: (1) thematic framing, and (2) triangulation. The analysis was structured around a logical framework for ECD programming in Ghana (Appendix A) and a case study matrix specifying questions, outcomes, and indicators (Appendix B) to establish a structure for thematic analysis. Triangulation confirmed patterns and identified important discrepancies across data sources and respondents participating in interviews and focus groups.

Findings:

The report presents case study findings in nine areas.
Appropriateness and Alignment with National Goals and Priorities
ECD programming is appropriate for promoting holistic ECD through through capacity building related to policy implementation, but promotion of integrated services has not been consistently addressed. Current ECD activities have supported implementation of the National ECCD Policy through such activities as orientations to sensitize decision-makers on ECCD issues; capacity building for national, regional, and local ECCD committees; support for strategic planning and intersectoral communication at the national level; and a range of efforts to promote quality in early childhood services, especially KGs. Some steps have been taken toward more comprehensive, coordinated services in local areas—for instance, provision of hearing and vision screenings for KG students, which was observed in Afram Plains. However, it is not evident that ECD programming has consistently encouraged the development of integrated services. Other opportunities for service integration, such as inclusion of messages on young children’s psychosocial development in health and nutrition interventions, do not appear to have been pursued.

ECD programming under the Government of Ghana-UNICEF Programme of Cooperation is aligned with priorities for pre-primary education as expressed in national policies and development plans. Activities focusing on KG are in keeping with national priorities related to increasing the accessibility and quality of pre-primary education, as expressed in the Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy for 2006-2009, the Education Strategic Plan, and national education reforms. Current programming does not appear to fully address priorities expressed in national strategies and plans related to inclusion and service access for marginalized populations, including orphans and vulnerable children (OVC), however.

Effectiveness: Increasing Access and Coverage
KG enrollment rates have risen substantially in the past four years and have surpassed national goals. KG enrollment among 4- and 5-year-olds has increased markedly in Ghana in recent years. The gross enrollment ratio (GER) grew nearly 12 percentage points between 2005-2006 and 2009-2010, to 93 percent. Since 2003-2004, the GER has grown over 40 percentage points. The current net enrollment rate stands at 63 percent, according to data from UNICEF Ghana (2010a). The substantial increases in enrollment have surpassed the national goal for pre-primary enrollment established in the Education Sector Strategic Plan for 2003-2015: 75 percent by 2015. Respondents attributed these increases largely to policy changes. Specifically, education reforms that incorporated two years of KG into the free and compulsory basic education system and introduced capitation grants appear to have had a considerable influence on families’ decisions to send children to school. Comments from parents participating in focus groups suggest that many are aware of the potential benefits of KG in preparing children to enter primary school.

Increased access to pre-primary education has been facilitated by growth in the number of KGs, but insufficient availability and barriers to attendance remain problems in some areas. A key strategy for increasing access to KG in Ghana has been the government requirement that all primary schools have a KG attached. The pace of growth in the number of KGs was higher before 2006-2007 than after, possibly as the result of an early focus on rapid infrastructure development in more accessible areas. Although a count of the current number of primary schools with KGs attached is unavailable, 2008-2009 Education Management Information System (EMIS) data indicate that public KGs numbered 11,827, while public primary schools numbered 13,510—which suggests a gap of about 12 percent nationwide. Despite increases in the number of KGs, key informants noted that access remains difficult in some locations, particularly in rural or remote areas, where young children may have to travel long distances to attend school.

Coverage levels of KGs that meet quality standards are unknown. The quality KG model supported under the Government of Ghana-UNICEF Programme of Cooperation is in a pilot phase in two districts and has not been fully implemented nationwide (although some training opportunities and materials have been offered outside the pilot districts). It is unknown what percentage of KGs nationwide currently can be considered of good quality, or whether changes have occurred in coverage of quality services. This appears to be a result of unclear standards and limited capacity to collect relevant data. The Ministry of Education (MOE) does gather information related to some aspects of education quality, such as the percentage of formally trained teachers in schools and pupil-teacher ratio. However, comprehensive standards for KGs have yet to be developed or assessed systematically, which makes determining coverage levels for quality KG difficult.

Most KGs have access to drinking water, but access to sanitation is less extensive.
In 9 of Ghana’s 10 regions, the majority of KGs have access to drinking water, according to EMIS data. (In the Upper West region, just 42 percent of KGs have access.) Toilets are found less commonly in KGs, however: in only 5 regions do over half of KGs have toilets. These data suggest that WASH programming has been more successful in enhancing access to drinking water than to sanitation facilities among KGs. One possible reason for this gap is that sources of clean water may be shared between primary schools and attached KGs, while KGs are likely to require dedicated toilet facilities because of students’ relatively young ages.

Effectiveness: Building Capacity for ECD
Stakeholders report that capacity for implementing National ECCD Policy has grown. Members of the national ECCD coordinating committee noted that infrastructure and skills for implementing intersectoral policy has grown since the adoption of the National ECCD Policy in 2004. Among the specific accomplishments highlighted in interviews and documents are an increase in the number of ECCD teams at the district level from 37 pilot teams to 130 (of a total of 138 districts), implementation of annual review meetings and interagency meetings on ECCD, and increased skills for six individual members of the committee who have attended the Early Childhood Virtual University Programme of the University of Victoria.

The strength of the institutional framework for coordination on ECCD at the regional and district levels varies. The evaluation team interviewed one regional ECCD committee, which appeared to be operating successfully. Members indicated that the committee had created annual work plans, initiated public education campaigns targeting parents, and conducted monitoring of early childhood centers for children aged 0 to 3. Information from other key informants suggests that the accomplishments and functioning of committees at the regional and district levels vary widely, despite the provision of training at all levels. The presence of people who can take active leadership of the committees was reported to be a key factor in their successful operation.

Capacity within MOE/Ghana Education Service (GES) for planning related to pre-primary education appears to have been enhanced at national and district levels. The activities and knowledge of MOE/GES administrators interviewed at the national and district levels suggest that capacity for planning on pre-primary education has increased since the announcement and implementation of education reforms in the past three to six years. The ECD Unit and the Curriculum Research and Development Division have initiated and managed efforts to enhance KG quality and produced curricula, training, and assessment materials as part of this undertaking. In addition, national strategy documents on education reflect detailed work plans related to expansion of access to KG. In the district visited by the evaluation team, GES administrators were well informed on issues of KG coverage and gaps related to infrastructure and teacher training. It appears likely that UNICEF’s ongoing collaboration with MOE/GES officials at the national and local levels has contributed to increased capability for planning and implementing KG services.

Some KG teachers report increases in skills related to specific teaching methods, but weaknesses exist in processes for comprehensive in-service training at the school level. Teachers noted that their ability to use teaching and learning materials (TLMs)—poster books and visual aids—for lessons in their classrooms had improved after they received training and TLMs. Some teachers have also received training in conducting child assessments, although use of the assessment tool remains in the pilot phase. In general, in-service training sessions for teachers tend to focus on narrow methodological topics or specific resources, according to key informants. This may be because there is no comprehensive in-service training agenda or syllabus for KG teachers. It could also be related to weaknesses in training followup.

Institutions for teacher training have been established, but only a small proportion of teachers are formally trained.
A supportive environment for ECCD has helped promote the establishment of formal programmes for training early childhood educators. The University of Education, Winneba, offers the opportunity to obtain a degree in early childhood education. Seven Colleges of Education also offer a diploma in basic education focusing on early childhood. Students can take courses on early childhood education at the University of Cape Coast as part of their education degree. Furthermore, the National Nursery Teacher Training Center organizes an eight-week in-service training programme that offers a certificate of participation. However, less than a third of teachers in public KGs nationwide (31 percent) have received any type of formal training in education, according to 2008-2009 EMIS data.

It is not known whether parents’ caregiving practices have been enhanced through ECD programming.
The evaluation team did not identify clear evidence of improvements in parents’ caregiving practices, particularly those related to psychosocial development. KG parents participating in focus groups reported infrequent individual interaction with teachers; therefore, opportunities for addressing parenting practices in this context may be rare. In addition, parents did not report specific changes in caregiving practices that may have resulted from exposure to other services for families with young children. Some information on child development has been delivered to parents through radio and public information campaigns, according to key informants, but the effects of these campaigns have not been measured.

Capabilities regarding ECD programming appear to be high within the UNICEF CO, but conceptualization of ECD as a cross-sectoral issue remains a challenge.
Key UNICEF Ghana staff members demonstrated knowledge and expertise regarding ECD and a commitment to supporting the National ECCD Policy. Some staff members, however, expressed uncertainty regarding the organization’s definition and priorities in this area. Staff members also indicated, for example, that ECD tends to be construed narrowly within the CO as an education issue. This narrow conceptualization of ECD among some staff members may inhibit coordination among various components of the country programme to advance holistic ECD and integration of services.

Effectiveness: Generating Knowledge for ECD
Systems for gathering national and local data on pre-primary education are established, and this information is used in planning. EMIS data collected by MOE provide longitudinal information on enrollment at all levels of the basic education system, including KG, and have been collected since the late 1980s. The range of data elements collected currently also addresses such areas as teachers formally trained, presence of drinking water and toilets in schools, pupil-teacher ratios, and availability of textbooks and classroom furniture. Plans exist to enhance data collected on KGs to reflect additional areas of interest, such as the type of play equipment available and whether teachers have received training in early education. However, current EMIS data provide limited visibility regarding KG enrollment among disadvantaged groups, such as OVC, as enrollment data are not sufficiently disaggregated.

Early learning and development standards (ELDS) for 4- and 5-year-olds have been created and applied.
Ghana’s ELDS and indicators were successfully developed over several years after adoption of the National ECCD policy. MOE/GES has applied the ELDS in revision of the KG curriculum and creation of assessment tools for KG students, so that these resources are aligned.

Data on children’s developmental progress and rigorous evidence on the effects of KG participation are unavailable.
Although standards for early learning and development have been defined for 4- and 5-year-olds, data on developmental indicators have not been collected to determine whether children are meeting these standards. This gap limits the ability of planners to assess whether current ECD interventions are having the desired results. Some progress toward data collection on developmental indicators has been accomplished through the creation of student assessment tools for use in KG classrooms; these tools might be employed in gathering data on developmental progress. However, resources for training all teachers in use of the assessment tools and planning and conducting systematic data collection do not appear to be available at present. In addition, evidence of the effects of KG on child outcomes is unavailable.

Gaps remain in knowledge regarding the costs and financing of ECD services.
Studies have not been conducted of the fixed and recurrent costs of providing quality KG, and only limited guidance appears to be available to support ministry budgeting for ECD services. In addition, the overall level of government and donor spending for ECD across sectors in Ghana, as well as changes in this spending over time, remains unknown.

Effectiveness: Mainstreaming ECD in National Policies and Services
Progress toward ECD mainstreaming is evident in intersectoral policy, education policy, and local governance. The content and implementation of the National ECCD Policy and education policies offer the clearest evidence of ECD mainstreaming in Ghana. Within the framework established by the National ECCD Policy, roles and responsibilities of a range of ministries, departments, and agencies have been established at the national, regional, and local levels, and structures for cross-sectoral communication and coordination have been established. Mainstreaming of ECD has also been achieved in the education sector, which has implemented planning and scaled-up services focused on 4- and 5-year-olds. Finally, strategic planning and budgeting undertaken by district assemblies address ECD, particularly as it relates to financing for education infrastructure.

Current policy and plans related to OVC note the importance of ECD but do not specify strategies for addressing the developmental needs of young disadvantaged children.
The National Plan of Action for OVC, for example, includes statements regarding the need for protection and care of disadvantaged children, including those with Human Immunodeficiency Virus/Acquired Immune-Deficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS). It also acknowledges that ―specific attention to children 0-8 infected or affected by HIV/AIDS is rather minimal‖ in current services and supports (Ministry of Employment and Social Welfare and UNICEF 2010). However, the plan does not outline goals or strategies that specifically address the developmental needs of young children. Similarly, the National Policy Guidelines on OVC do not present implementation strategies that appear to be tailored to young children and ECD.

ECD services targeting parents and children 0 to 3 are limited.
Parents of children below the age of 4 do not appear to be reached consistently with services addressing ECD. A small proportion of children 0 to 3 years old—about 8 percent—were enrolled in crèches or nurseries in 2008-2009, according to EMIS data; it is not known whether care provided in this context supports holistic ECD. Some families are also reached by High Impact Rapid Delivery (HIRD) interventions that focus on maternal and child health, although these interventions do not address psychosocial development. (HIRD coverage data were not available to the study team.) In general, ECD-related support for parents of children at this age seems to be scarce and short-lived. Parents participating in focus groups reported, for example, that their interactions with pediatric health care workers tended to decline after children finished sequences of initial immunizations at age 1.

Efficiency and Quality of ECD Services
KGs observed during the country visit were affected by quality problems related to overcrowding, poor infrastructure, and an insufficient number of teachers with training in early education. Many teachers observed by the evaluation team during school visits demonstrated an ability to engage students, work interactively with them, and develop lessons based on the KG curriculum and teaching guides. However, they faced formidable obstacles to providing quality pre-primary education in the form of large class sizes and poor classroom conditions. In addition, observed classrooms were generally poorly ventilated and lit, and their limited teaching materials were rarely accessible to children. (Teachers expressed concern that giving children access to the restricted supply of poster books would result in damage to the materials.) An additional obstacle to provision of quality KG education in the district visited by the evaluation team was the small proportion of formally trained KG teachers.

The efficiency of KGs may be diminished by problems with targeting enrollment to right-age children.
The national GER for KG is substantially higher than the net enrollment rate (NER) in Ghana: 93 percent compared to 64 percent, according to 2008-2009 EMIS data. It is not known whether underage or overage children are more likely to be enrolled, but the difference between the GER and the NER suggests that nearly a third of children in KG are not in the expected age range. This circumstance presents a challenge to the efficiency of the KG system, as resources are diverted to children outside the target group.

Processes for Programme Planning, Management, and Coordination
Expected results for key elements of ECD programming have been defined. However, current monitoring processes do not address all stated indicators. The Government of Ghana-UNICEF Country Programme Action Plan for 2006-2010 specifies targets to be achieved by 2010 for activities related to KG quality enhancement: (1) 70 percent GER/50 percent NER for KG, (2) 70 percent of primary schools with preschools attached, (3) 70 percent of KGs meeting nationally accepted standards, (4) 80 percent of children showing development in line with national standards, (5) 100 percent of KG teachers trained, and (6) 100 percent of districts with an up-to-date database on preschools. EMIS data provide information on many of these indicators. However, processes for measuring achievement of KG standards and child development goals have not been implemented.

Within the UNICEF Ghana CO, coordination on ECD across sections appears to be narrowly focused.
Interviews with UNICEF staff indicated recognition of the need to address ECD but also suggested that it has been conceptualized largely as an educational intervention. There was some evidence of ECD-related collaboration across sections—for instance, WASH efforts to improve school facilities and hygiene, and the participation of nutrition staff in supporting the ELDS development process. However, no evidence was found of systematic efforts or processes to coordinate programming or consistently promote integrated approaches to ECD. In addition, it was noted that funding for programming related to intersectoral coordination on ECD was generally perceived to be the responsibility of the Education section, since the preschool programme operates within it.

Incorporation of a Human Rights–Based Approach to Programming and Strategies to Improve Equity and Participation of the Disadvantaged and Marginalized
ECD activities have been inclusive of parents and other local stakeholders. ECD activities have emphasized participation in planning and service delivery among a range of stakeholders. Capacity building has been provided to Parent-Teacher Associations (PTAs) and School Management Committees (SMCs) to encourage parent support for KGs and involvement in school planning. District-level ECCD committees have received support to promote their role in bringing local-level stakeholders together for planning and communication related to ECCD policy services. In general, it appears that UNICEF has attempted to be responsive to local priorities in working with district-level officials to implement ECD projects at that level.

At the national level, gender parity in KG enrollment has been achieved.
Half of students enrolled in KG nationwide are girls, according to EMIS data for 2008-2009. Across regions, the percentage of enrolled female students in public KGs ranged from 49 percent in the Northern region to 51 percent in the Upper West region.

Women hold key national policymaking positions related to ECD but appear to be less represented in such positions at the local level.
Although the case study team did not identify independent data sources on the representation of women in government positions in Ghana, the team observed that at the national level, women occupy several key leadership roles related to implementation of the ECCD policy, KG planning and curriculum development, and education administration more generally. Positions occupied by women include (at the Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs) Director of the Department of Children and National ECCD Coordinator and (at GES) ECD Unit National Coordinator and Director of the Curriculum Research and Development Division. At the district level, on the other hand, most policymakers interviewed were male.

Available data indicate that the poorest families do not have equitable access to ECD services, and there is no evidence for access among OVC. Data from the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey show that the poorest children in Ghana are less likely to enroll in KG than children from higher-income families. The absence of coverage data disaggregated by population group makes it difficult to determine precisely what types of families are not enrolling children. However, data do suggest that families in rural areas are among the least likely to have children enrolled in KG. It is also likely that small proportions of children in other disadvantaged groups, such as OVC, are being reached with ECD services, particularly KG. Stakeholders interviewed noted that inclusion of the most disadvantaged populations has not been emphasized in implementation of KG expansion. Ghana’s cash transfer programme targeting the poorest families and OVC does make receipt of cash assistance contingent upon children’s school attendance. However, it is not clear that these provisions are enforced, or whether they have had any effect on attendance among targeted groups. It also appears that no other specific strategies are in place for facilitating access among disadvantaged families and children or for ensuring their continued participation once enrolled.

Sustainability and Scale-Up of ECD Services and Initiatives
Key government policies—including the addition of KG to basic education and the introduction of the capitation grant—and decentralized governance have supported scale-up of pre-primary education. Substantial and rapid increases in KG enrollment followed education reforms that expanded the free and compulsory education system to include two years of KG. The abolition of school fees in 2005 through capitation grants has also facilitated a rise in enrollment in pre-primary education, according to policymakers and key informants. The presence of a decentralized infrastructure for implementing education reforms—in the form of the GES and district assemblies—also appears to have enabled a rapid reaction to policy shifts. With responsibility for school monitoring and infrastructure positioned at the district level, plans to implement policy changes could be responsive to local circumstances and needs.

Limited policy and planning focus on families with children ages 0 to 3 has hampered development and scale-up of comprehensive services for this group.
Review of the existing service structure and of the perspectives of key informants suggests that initiation and expansion of holistic services for families with children under age 4 have not been pursued aggressively. While access to pre-primary education has expanded for 4- and 5-year-olds, along with interventions to improve young-child survival and nutrition practices, initiatives addressing psychosocial development for children up to age 3 do not appear to have been prioritized by government or development partners. ECD programming conducted under the Government of Ghana-UNICEF Cooperation Programme does not appear to have prioritized comprehensive services for children 0 to 3 years old. Most UNICEF resources allocated for ECD programming have been directed at efforts to enhance KG education, which may constrain advocacy for initiation and expansion of services that address the holistic ECD needs of families with children under 4.

Insufficient funding for policy implementation poses risks to KG sustainability, particularly in deprived areas.
Regional and district-level policymakers and administrators interviewed by the evaluation team noted the challenge of supporting service quality in KG while increasing access, particularly in a context of limited resources. The availability of funding for implementing policies to promote enrollment has not kept up with demands created for increased school infrastructure and staff. As a result, the quality of KG education in some areas appears to be undermined by overcrowded classrooms in poor condition and instructors with limited or no formal training in early childhood education.

Existing structures to engage parents and community stakeholders in pre-primary education promote sustainability; however, the vitality of these structures appears to vary widely among communities.
PTAs and SMCs offer potential vehicles for parents to support local schools and to build a constituency for continued access to KG education. By facilitating communication between parents and schools, and by providing concrete opportunities for parents and others to contribute to school improvement, the organizations may create a sense of community ownership and investment that is necessary for promoting and sustaining quality KG. Comments from PTA and SMC members interviewed during the evaluation team’s country visit suggest that the characteristics of communities in which these entities operate influence their potential for promoting sustainability. Members in one community referred to disagreements among village chiefs that discouraged active participation in organizations that cut across village lines, such as the PTA. Other research on the functioning of PTAs and SMCs in Ghana suggests that the effectiveness of PTAs is linked to the nature of local leadership and the clarity of parents’ understanding of their roles in supporting schools (Chapman and Austin 2006). Differences among communities in this regard will affect the capability of PTAs and SMCs to advance sustainability for pre-primary education.

Leadership continuity affects sustainability of ECCD policy structures at regional and district levels.
Key informants reported that some regional and district-level ECCD committees became less active or discontinued meeting when key leaders departed. Although committees have been established in most districts, their ability to fulfill the objectives of the ECCD policy at the local level appears to depend on the presence of people with the commitment and skills to create a functioning intersectoral group.

Conclusions:

The evaluation team drew conclusions about progress that has been made and ongoing challenges faced by Ghana and its partners as they continue to develop ECD policy and support programme implementation and scale-up.
Appropriateness and Alignment with National Goals and Priorities
 Current programming strategies appropriately promote holistic ECD through support for implementation of the National ECCD Policy, and by addressing multiple aspects of ECD. However, programming does not emphasize the mainstreaming of ECD across sectors, or the advancement of integrated services for ECD.
 ECD programming in Ghana is aligned with national priorities, particularly in the area of pre-primary education. Activities conducted under the current programme of cooperation also address national priorities related to maternal and child health, such as implementation of the HIRD package of immunization, disease prevention, and nutrition interventions.

Effectiveness: Increasing Access and Coverage
 KG enrollment rates have risen substantially and exceeded national goals; attention is needed to increase access in rural and remote areas and to increase coverage of KGs that meet quality standards.

Effectiveness: Building Capacity for ECD
 At the national level, capacity to implement the ECCD policy has increased; at the regional and district levels, the capacity of ECCD committees is variable.
 Systems for teacher training—including national plans, curricula, and institutions—are not yet available to adequately prepare early childhood educators.
 Additional capacity building is needed to assess and further develop programming for parents that results in changes in their behavior.

Effectiveness: Generating Knowledge for ECD
 Data-gathering systems exist for tracking pre-primary school enrollment and a limited set of quality indicators, but disaggregated data for disadvantaged groups, such as OVC, are needed to monitor equity in access.
 The ELDS and related curriculum and assessment tools have the potential to strengthen programme monitoring and support for programme improvement.
 Knowledge gaps remain regarding information about the effectiveness of KGs based on rigorous evaluation, as well as costing and financing studies for scaling up services that meet quality standards.

Effectiveness: Mainstreaming ECD in National Policies and Services
 The ECCD, education, and local governance policies establish Ghana’s commitment to ECD; policies for OVC also emphasize the importance of ECD, but implementation plans have not yet been developed.
Efficiency and Quality of ECD Services
 Strengthening monitoring and programme support is needed to improve KGs’ adherence to quality standards and to target enrollment of right-age children.
Processes for Programme Planning, Management, and Coordination
 Comprehensive KG standards and measurement systems, as well as indicators to assess children’s development, are needed to monitor progress toward national goals.
Incorporation of a Human Rights–Based Approach to Programming and Strategies to Improve Equity and Participation of the Disadvantaged and Marginalized
 Although disaggregated data on pre-primary enrollment are not available, evidence suggests that children from the poorest families, children in rural areas, and OVC may not have equitable access.
 Likely reasons for the persistence of regional and income disparities in service access include insufficient targeting of resources for infrastructure development and the absence of specific strategies to encourage enrollment of children from marginalized groups.

Sustainability and Scale-Up of ECD Services and Initiatives
 Key government policies have successfully supported rapid scale-up of KG.
 Lack of focus on programming for families with children ages 0 to 3 years old limits scale-up of services for this group.
 Risks to sustainability include insufficient funding, as well as variability in engagement of parent and community stakeholders and leadership continuity.

Role of the UNICEF-GoN Funding
 The UNICEF-GoN Cooperation Programme has provided important support for national- and district-level capacity building activities related to implementation of the National ECCD Policy, for development of elements of a KG model including assessment tools, and for training of KG teachers and supervisors in targeted districts.

Recommendations:

To enhance ECD activities in Ghana, the evaluation team offers separate recommendations for the Government of Ghana (focused on intersectoral collaboration and service implementation) and for UNICEF (focused on advocacy and provision of technical support). [see full Recommendations table at page xix].

Lessons Learned (optional):

Ghana’s experience designing and implementing programming to promote ECD offers lessons in the areas of service scale-up and quality, implementation of intersectoral policy, and assessment and monitoring of children’s developmental progress. Key lessons:
Policy changes can support rapid progress toward coverage targets for ECD services. However, they may have the unintended result of undermining service quality if not adequately funded. Education reforms have been enormously successful in increasing national KG enrollment in Ghana. However, in at least some areas, the pace of enrollment has not been matched by resources to support expansion or upgrading of physical infrastructure, teaching staff, and materials. This imbalance results in overcrowded classrooms, teachers with minimal training on educating young children, and lack of water and sanitation facilities—all of which reduce the quality of the service provided and create the risk that positive outcomes will not be achieved. A phased approach to scale-up may help address this imbalance, so that resources are available to provide KG services of adequate quality as the number of enrollees grows.

ECCD policy implementation must facilitate service coordination and address obstacles to service integration if that is an objective. Ghana’s National ECCD Policy appears to have been influential in raising the profile of ECCD in the country, ensuring that policies affecting children address ECCD, and facilitating increases in national and local capacity on early childhood issues. Numerous objectives and strategies are outlined in the policy, including establishing mechanisms for coordinating services and promoting integrated services. Currently, it is not clear that services are consistently well coordinated or integrated across sectors—although some examples of successful cross-sectoral coordination exist, such as national campaigns on health and birth registration and health screenings for children in KG. Three possible challenges to coordination of services include (1) the difficulty of altering established patterns of sectoral planning and implementation, (2) an emphasis on communication rather than service coordination across sectors, and (3) a lack of clear examples of successful provision of coordinated services. There appear to be opportunities for action by the National ECCD Secretariat in all these areas.

Monitoring of children’s development on a broad scale requires both concerted efforts to develop instruments and resources to address data collection. The GES and its partners have taken important steps toward increased capacity for monitoring the developmental progress of children. These include creation of ELDS, development of assessment tools for the KG level, and pilot-testing of these tools. These standards and instruments lay a potential foundation not only for monitoring student progress at the school and classroom level, but also for expanding the range of indicators for assessing ECD nationally. However, resources do not yet appear to have been allocated for developing and implementing systems for collecting data on such a large scale.

Structures can be established to channel parent engagement in early education, but ongoing capacity building may be necessary for these structures to fulfill their potential. Ghana’s system of PTAs and SMCs appears to provide a useful example of conduits for increasing parent involvement in schools and thereby promoting sustainability and accountability. The ability of these organizations to fulfill their potential depends in part on understanding among parents and administrators of specific ways that parent involvement in schools can benefit children, including ensuring that schools remain responsive and accountable. According to one key informant, in a context of policies and funding streams that result in increased availability of education, a challenge may be overcoming the impression among parents that their involvement is no longer necessary to secure equitable access to quality services. What appears to be needed is a consistent effort at communicating accurate messages to parents regarding the role they can play in improving services for their children.

Stakeholders must be alert and responsive to opportunities for addressing the holistic developmental needs of very young children and their families. Existing services and initiatives in Ghana for children ages 0 to 3 years old appear to focus on survival and nutrition. The crèches and nurseries that do care for this age group serve only a small number of families. Broader efforts to address the developmental needs of this group appear to have been overshadowed, to some extent, by a focus on public pre-primary education for 4- and 5-year-olds. Opportunities may be available to augment health-focused interventions for children birth to 3 years old with components that address psychosocial development for infants and toddlers, or to design and pilot-test community-based interventions which ensure that practices among parents of children in this age group promote ECD.

The most disadvantaged may be unintentionally excluded from services if strategies for expanding access do not specifically address them. Although many poor children have benefited from the increased availability of pre-primary education in Ghana, data indicate that access among the poorest families is not commensurate with that of other groups. In addition, stakeholders and policy documents suggest that providing OVC with ECD-related services continues to be challenging. These groups may face access barriers related to remote location, stigma, and state capacity. Additional effort appears to be necessary to define and tailor strategies to address obstacles and deliver services to these groups or make existing services more inclusive.



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