2011 Egypt: Formative Evaluation of United Nations Girls Initiative
Author: Dr. Gihan Shawky
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The Ministry of Education, in Egypt, aims at increasing enrollment rates to achieve the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) related to achieving universal primary education. The MOE’s Strategic Plan (2006/07-2011-12) put education of girls and out of school children as one of its priorities.
Net enrolment rates (NER) in Primary Education reached 89.16 and ratio of gender gap reached -0.09 (2008/2009) . Higher disparities still remain in pockets of resistance particularly in rural areas of Upper Egypt (BeniSweif, Minia, Assiut, Fayoum, Sohag, Beheira, and Giza) where gender gap ranges from 10% in Minya to 7% in Fayoum . Dropout rates are increasing specially for deprived and most poor Governorates in Upper Egypt.
In response to the United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative (UNGEI) that was launched in April 2000, National Council for Childhood and Motherhood (NCCM) incorporated Egypt’s Girls Education Initiative (EGEI) as part of child-rights developmental package that was implemented alongside programs targeting Female Genital Mutilation and early marriage.
EGEI aims to decrease the gender gap in primary education enrollment rates by 2007 in the villages of the seven governorates targeted by the Initiative by 60% of its value in the year 2002. In October 24th,2000, top-level policy-makers from various ministries, the UN country team as well as Aid and Donor agencies, led by NCCM, officially established EGEI under the leadership of NCCM to coordinate the initiative in seven Governoratesnamely Giza, BeniSuef, Fayoum, Menia, Assuit, Sohag and Behira. EGEI was implemented through three phases; preparatory (2000 – 2002), implementation (2003 – 2007) and mainstreaming (2008 – 2012) phases. Three key structures were set up to manage the initiative follow-up to the above mentioned workshop, namely the GEI National Task Force, the UN Task Force, and the GEI Secretariat. However Partnership in the EGEI was established at three levels, namely: the national task force, the local task force and education committees.
The purpose of the formative evaluation of UNGEI is to establish the extent to which the UNGEI partnership is achieving its intended outcomes at country level, and the extent to which the global and regional efforts are contributing to the effectiveness and efficiency of the UNGEI partnership. The evaluation is anchored on a common monitoring and evaluation framework, which highlights the following key outcome areas of UNGEI:
• Policies that promote girls’ education and gender equality are in existence;
• Best practices in facilitating girls’ education and gender equality are known and institutionalized; and
• UNGEI facilitates an effective partnership for girls’ education and gender equality.
The methodology of this evaluation adopted a qualitative approach with an intensive participatory aspect that focused on the involvement of stakeholders at different levels Data collection methods included: formal desk review, in depth interviews as well as Focus Group Discussions and direct observations of activities and their outcomes. During field work three governorates where the EGEI is fully functional were visited. Targeted were Ministry of Education officials, members of the EGEI in The National Council for Childhood and Motherhood, some of EGEI partners, some members of local task force, education committees, facilitators, students and their parents from selected GFS who participated in this evaluation.
The evaluation passed through different stages starting from the preparation of an Inception Report which included a documentary review of available information on girls’ education in Egypt and records on the EGEI as well as preparation of field instruments. This was followed by field work and data collection that took place between May 5th and June 16th, 2011 and ended by report writing and sharing with partners.
Since it is always difficult to attribute results to only one source of inputs, actions or actors, to the extent possible, the evaluation will try to outline EGEI’s contribution to overall results through a contribution analysis. Contribution analysis focuses on identifying changes that took place, and how different inputs contributed to the changes.
Findings and Conclusions:
The conclusion assesses the partnership’s activities and achievements:
- EGEI’s activities and objectives:EGEI focuses on a particular identified gender issue at primary level. While successful in addressing this particular need, the partnership has not been effectively engaging in wider gender issues in education and is not seen as a forum for discussion on girls’ education and gender equality issues. In general, the partnership took the shape of successful coordination rather than a comprehensive partnership that fulfills all the aspects required. On the other hand, limited efforts were made in the area of monitoring EGEI activities at all levels in spite of the attempts exerted by EU project in 2009.
- Promoting girls’ education in Egypt:EGEI has provided a good model for promoting high quality girls' education in remote and marginalized areas. Parents also demanded increasing the number of GFS because they consider them the optimal model for girls' education in rural areas that lack primary schools within the village. In addition to this students benefit from these schools, as they better achieve in education and show positive changes in their behavior.the increased demand put pressure on policy maker.
- Relationship with Regional level of UNGEI: There was a relationship with the regional focal person as EGEI was documented and disseminated by the UNICEF Regional Office. There was also a relationship between the regional focal person and NCCM as she was in the education section of UNICEF – Egypt at the start of EGEI.
- Relevance, effectiveness and efficiency of EGEI: The EGEI is relevant in the Egyptian context because it contributes to Egypt’s efforts to meet the MDGs 2 and 3 and Education for All (EFA) goals of achieving universal access to basic education and reducing gender gaps in education in target governorates. Egypt is signatory to both agreements and is exerting efforts to issue and implement policies to achieve these goals. EGEI complements these efforts. EGEI implemented a model for promoting girls' education and gender equality that has contributed to: adoption of gender-sensitive education; increases in female enrolment, slight decreases in the number of early marriage in target areas. 1167 FGS were established in target areas, with partial contribution of private sector and communities. Thus, different groups rallied to make progress in this track. In addition, almost 2500 job opportunities were created for facilitators and supervisors in the target governorates as well as for members of the Technical Secretariat of the NCCM. Capacity development achieved return on investment for those who had different responsibilities in the EGEI. 34,160 students were enrolled in GFS and numbers of girls are constantly increasing. Awareness among girls and their families was better enhanced in various topics related to children's rights such as right to education and health, freedom of expression and drawbacks of FGM/C, early marriage and child labor. Hence, Contribution of EGEI is limited to the model being promoted by EGEI (GFS), this model is relevant, effective and will be efficient when the cost of girl's education is reduced.
1. Sustaining UNGEI
• Intensive efforts have to be made to effectively Institutionalize EGEI partnership with an appropriate Governance structure and decision making process. Partners need to completely fulfill requirements for a sustained mechanism and smooth dynamics and interaction amongst them. In order to achieve EGEI goal, partners need to adapt ToRs that clearly specify roles and responsibilities vertically amongst partners and horizontally from senior management to mentors and facilitators in schools. Decision making process has to be equally diffused between NCCM and MoE to ensure sound governance. In addition, an annual work plan with specific results has to be put and periodically reviewed. Finally, a monitoring system with explicit indicators for achievement is recommended to be applied.
• Operationalization of partnership has to be shifted from the kick off phase to the sustainability phase. Number and functions of the GEI secretariat and field supporting staff has to be restructured. Numbers have to be reduced, functions have to be based on technical assistance and monitoring rather than direct implementation, capacity building for community mentors based on new functions, and operational resources have to be rationalized to ensure efficiency and cost effectiveness.
• To ensure broader coverage for children especially for girls in school age, MoE has to provide high quality and attractive education in formal schools. This includes applying active learning approach, in primary schools while taking the following into consideration:
- Reducing number of students in class to be appropriate.
- Each class should have two teachers (facilitators).
- Teachers should be trained in active learning general and specific strategies, turning scientific contents into activities, innovation, and production of educational aids and preparing assisting teaching materials that are gender sensitive.
- Financial incentives targeted at reducing barriers to girls' education such as exempting parents of any costs, like school fees or uniforms or stationary should be put in place.
• MoE has to adopt education Policies favorable for quality and universal education for girls. To ensure equity and to narrow disparities especially in rural and deprived areas, the MoE should further expand the program of girl-friendly schools in needy areas, by allocating finances in its budget to the Department of Community Education. To maintain quality education in GFS, a uniform system is to be adopted equally inall target Governorates to support facilitators holding medium degrees in the methodology of English language, Math and Science for both the fifth and sixth primary stages.
2. Monitoring of UNGEI Activities
• EGEI management should put in place effective information and documentation system for keeping records. This would serve in evidence based policies at the central and local levels. This would also ensure transparency and easy flow of information amongst partners.
• EGEI management is also recommended to consider establishing a solid and results based monitoring and evaluation system. That will definitely lead to tangible outcomes and better impact on the fulfillment of girls’ rights in education.
3. Scaling Up UNGEI to Non-participating Governorates
• Girls’ Education and gender equality in most vulnerable governorates have to be promoted through different strategies. Advocacy campaigns and initiatives are recommended to be implemented by NCCM and civil society partners. This includes conducting research on gender issues in education, activating community mobilization initiatives, advancing gender equity policies, and constructing skilled volunteer local task forces.
• Efforts should be invested to guarantee scaling up of UNGEI and expanding it to non-participating governorates. EGEI different partners should assist the MoE in ensuring and securing financial resources for the establishment of the 13,333 schools targeted in the National Strategic Plan for Pre-University Education Reform in Egypt (2007/2008 - 2011/2012). This will be based against the current MOE database prioritizing and targeting the neediest places.
4. Expanding Funding Sources
• Partner international organizations are recommended to coordinate their efforts and partial funding till EGEI is completely independent. Considering the current situation in Egypt, it is a bit early that EGEI sustains itself without international support (both technical and financial).
• UNGEI should link up with its partners to support the countries where they operate by encouraging exchange of knowledge and cross learning and providing best practices and lessons learnt.
Lessons Learned (Optional):
Around girls’ education: Lessons include:
- Girls’ education is a key strategy that has its great impact on narrowing disparities with its different drivers; gender, geographic location, economic level, and other related problems such as child labor and early marriage.
- Advocacy efforts invested by local communities, local task forces, education committees and CSOs contributed to influencing families to enroll their girls in primary education. Since advocacy is optimally achieved through strong partnerships, the latter is considered vital for promoting and enhancing the adoption of gender sensitive education programmes.
- The availability of evidence is important for setting right policies and relevant planning. Examples of this evidence are completed databases and updated information at all levels, especially the lower ones such as villages and helmets.
- The capacity-building and empowerment strategies are main success elements of any developmental project. However, implementation of what is learnt is even more important for sustaining human and institutional development.
- Gender equality is hardly achieved without up-scaling and expanding girls’ education.
- Active learning approach leads to higher education quality, and hence would encourage enrolment of girls in formal education.
For the partnership, lessons are:
- Assessing the needs of beneficiaries, bottom-up planning, community participation, spread of volunteerism culture, capacity building and empowerment are the main success elements for any developmental project.
- Coordination between all partners; governmental, non-governmental, private sector and international organizations, can contribute to solving numerous problems in the community that form an obstacle to achieving sustainable development.
- Division of role amongst partners is a must to ensure clarity of authority and accountability as well as better coordination of benefits for target schools.
- It is good to have a strong party leading the partnership; however balance of power has to be maintained, this is to ensure good governance and participatory decision making.
For UNGEI globally, the main lesson is:
- The efforts of all partners unite in an integrated system which is complementary to the efforts of Ministry of Education and introduce an educational pattern suitable for cultural, social and economic circumstances of targeted groups.
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