2012 Occupied Palestinian Territory: Evaluation of the Child-Friendly Schools
Author: OPTIMUM for consulting and Training
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The aim of the evaluation is to measure the outcomes/impact of the UNICEF-supported CFS projects in the 190 schools -supported between years 2003 and 2006- and their sustainability, within the framework of the oPt-specific criteria for Child- Friendly Schools (CFS). The Evaluation was planned to be both summative and formative in nature i.e. looking into the question of accountability for results, and the issue of learning lessons respectively, to help the Ministry of Education & Education (MOEHE), UNICEF and other stakeholders in the education sector to learn useful lessons that can help in the achievement of the rights of children to education.
Palestinians living under Israeli occupation continue to encounter a “human dignity crisis” as specified by the UN, characterized by the erosion of livelihood systems, the continued denial of basic human rights and a forced dependency on international aid. Around 3.8 million Palestinians in the oPt reside in the West Bank ( around 2.35 Million) including East Jerusalem and the Gaza strip (1.42 Million), 54% of whom are children who are facing daily measures restricting use of their own resources, land and water. The emergency status of the oPt overburdens the Palestinian families and children and is affecting inclusion and protection of children, it reflects on the education system and increase the MOEHE challenges to carry out its responsibilities, it affects the sustainability of the CFS concept as:
- with the separation wall near some of the schools, other schools are behind the wall with special permits requested and regulations to enter the area, settlements or settlement-roads are near other schools are situating other schools in non-safe, susceptible to attack, environment.
- The internal split and the two governments in the West bank and Gaza Strip, and hence the existence of the two ministries, and the resulting change in schools trained teachers and directors on political grounds have affected the CFS concept in most of these schools (to a larger extent have affected Gaza schools).
- The challenges faced throughout the years of 2006 till end of 2007, and the freezing of most donor support to the ministry has delayed enhancement of schools infrastructure and implementation of related projects to the concept. On the other hand the new project of supporting 10 schools (6 from the ministry and four from UNRWA) has revived the concept at the ministry and directorate level.
- PA-MOEHE can’t reach or serve schools in J1 in Israeli annexed Jerusalem, the education status there is suffering due to a lack of schools and classes affecting the Palestinian children access to education in Jerusalem.
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The evaluation is based on the “Rights Based Approach” as the conceptual frame for analysis. The Approach used the “Child-Friendly Schools” main concept based on children’s rights including education as every child’s right, considering the holistic approach to child’s well being, and identifying pre and post school intervention. The evaluation used the five key dimensions- used for evaluation of CFS as per the TOR- and its related indicators as the core domains for assessing Child Friendly Schools, and for examining effectiveness of the program, within the oPt set criteria, the five key dimensions are:
- The Quality environment
- The environment that is Effective for learning
- The Healthy environment that is protective of children
- The Gender sensitive environment
- The environment that is involved with children, families and communities
The methodology used is Rapid Participatory Approach (RPA) methodology for collecting data and carrying out the assessment, where more than 860 persons were consulted as part of the evaluation through interviews and focus groups with teachers, students, parents, community and directorates representatives at the school level, community level, directorate and governorate level, in addition to those done at the ministry level, and interviews conducted with UNICEF and key informants. In addition; 1129 questionnaires were filled out by school boys and girls from different grades between 6th and 11th grades, from 35 sampled schools of the three stratums (29 CFS schools under evaluation, 2 of the CFS new phase and 4 control schools). 35 class observation and school observation forms were also filled out in one of each in every school. Multiple methods used as planned in each school, within Nablus, Jenin, Tulkarem, Bethlehem and Hebron governorates in the West -Bank and Gaza Strip, desk reviews of primary data was also carried out, including the collected project and CFS related information and procedures.
Extensive analysis of the qualitative and quantitative data was conducted afterwards, with triangulations, and reports prepared. Evaluation was conducted during the period Nov2009-Jan 2010, with the participation of a competent team formed by OPTIMUM and lead by Randa Hilal and Khawla Shakhsheer. There were multiple challenges and limitation the evaluation related to many reasons including the context and the timing.
Findings and Conclusions:
Evaluation has found that implementing the CFS program has impacted teachers, principals, counselors, families, communities, having impacted other schools and most importantly have impacted children and still is. Its impact on enhancing teachers teaching methods and techniques as mentioned in detail by teachers was apparent in students’ evaluation of the effective education domain achieving higher results than the control schools. Its impact on principals and counselors was apparent in sustaining the model and spreading its effect, were it has increased their awareness, and commitment to children’s rights and enhanced principals leadership ability to implement.
Families stated that the project has assisted them in dealing with their children's behavior problems, academic achievement problems, and in raising their awareness towards their children’s rights. It has engaged them in school activities and support and in their children’s progress at school. Communities became more active in supporting the school, more active in supporting children’s rights and enhancing school environment, and were able to use facilities of the school for the community.
Impact on children was apparent as teachers and parents have noted enhancement of their life skills capacities, their academic abilities, and their commitment to school. 73% of Children have mentioned that they like school, over 85% wished that CFS is implemented at all schools. CFS school children were achieving better impact on the set indicators. When analyzing further the reason of not liking the school by the students at the CFS schools, or questioning the result that percentage of students who likes the school are similar percentage to the control students (72%) It was found that impact was variant according to grade, and that students at higher grades are less likely to like going to school, 45% at 10th grade compared with 96% at 6th grade, this was noted also in school respecting rights, and enjoying the topics they learn at school, (figures 8.1-8.8) and that the following reasons were the main challenges to the impact: 1) violence practiced against children specially by teachers, 2) teachers and teaching materials and study pressure 3) discrimination against certain students (figure 8.9 and 8.10). Reasons for discrimination are listed but were mainly due to ability, economic status, gender, residence and others.
Hence measures directed towards school to overcome challenges to impact should be taken; there are various relevant recommendations in the document, including confirming the need for the UNICEF-MOEHE efforts to have a public law against child abuse. The students at upper grades, especially boys, should be given high priority for ending abuse and upholding their rights.
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The evaluation has revealed that implementing Child-Friendly School projects have promoted an increase in respect of children’s rights, increased inclusiveness, increased equity, but further efforts are needed for protection within and outside the school environment. It was noted that various domains of the CFS was affected positively , increased child-centered and democratic learning increased engagement of children in school activities, increased family and community participation, enhanced hygiene and health environment, enhanced exclusiveness of different groups and promoted gender equity.
Over 85% of all students wanted the CFS concept to be implemented in all schools, the adoption of the concept on the policy level through the MOEHE strategy, presents the ideal situation to spread the CFS concept to other schools. The belief of the various policy makers at MOEHE and directorates, that CFS is a concept and a way of thinking to develop schools, would be the driving force for its spreading. Hence recommendations are presented along two axis:
1. First axis would be to “Spread CFS model to other schools through using established current models and lessons learned from the evaluation”.
2. The Second axis of recommendations is to “Sustain and Enhance the CFS in the 190 school”. Through enhancing elements affecting sustainability, effectiveness and impact.
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