2012 Gambia: Evaluation of the Girls Education Project of the Forum for African Women Educationalists - The Gambia ( FAWEGAM)
Author: Adelaide Sosseh
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According to the CSR (2010), poverty is the most discriminatory factor and only 3% of children from the poorest quintile complete secondary school as against 38% of the wealthiest quintile. When combined only 1% of the poorest rural girls complete secondary school against 43% of the richest urban boys. Costs of schooling create a significant barrier to schooling as Gambian households spend almost 46% of their income on education and many cannot afford this. Most of the girls from these poor households drop out before completing the primary level as 60% access grade 1 but only 15% reach grade 6. There are marked regional disparities as the further East one goes up country, the lower the access and completion rates. The primary completion rates (PCR) in Regions 5 (CRR) and 6 (URR) are as low as 24% and 18% respectively. Region 6 is further characterized by under enrolment of just 14% at the Upper Basic level.
Addressing gender inequalities in education is a major challenge for the MoBSE. There are still pockets of resistance to formal education and many see it as alienating to traditions and culture especially for girls. Entrenched socio-cultural values and norms and gender stereo-types still place girls and women in the home. Marriage is de-facto and every girl is expected to get married and in some communities as early as puberty resulting in early marriage and early pregnancies which takes the girls out of school sometimes before completing an education cycle.
It is against this backdrop that the FAWEGAM in collaboration with UNICEF is supporting the MoBSE to improve the status of girl‟s education in The Gambia nationally and in specific regions such as URR where the enrolment rates for girls is lowest when compared with other Regions.
As set out in the Programme Cooperation Agreement (PCA), an evaluation of the overall project was to be conducted at the end of the 2 (two) years to provide information on the success of the project and or constraints and challenges that remain. The findings of the evaluation will (i) assist FAWEGAM in building on successful strategies undertaken as part of the project and to fill any gaps or overcome any constraints that they may have encountered during implementation; (ii) the MoBSE will be able to use these findings in strengthening its policy on girls‟ education and the implementation of the Programme for Improved Quality Standards in Schools (PIQSS) and (iii) will inform UNICEF in the planning and implementation for the forthcoming Country Programme 2012-2016.
The objectives are:
- To what degree has the TUSEME method enabled girls to speak out on the problems confronting them in their education (e.g. early marriage)To establish the benefits of the Take Our Daughters to Work activity, Girl Camps and Science, Mathematics and Technology Clubs (SMT).
- To gather information on how knowledge, attitudes and practices of Mothers‟ Clubs Members related to Girls Education have changed positively as a result of the training received.
- To establish whether the provision of seed money and skills training facilitated the fundraising and sustainability of the clubs and whether this has resulted in any positive changes in girls‟ attendance and retention in schools.
- To assess the functional value of the Mothers‟ Club Training Manual, FAWEGAM Newsletter, the AGM, and the IEC materials on retention and attendance of girls in school.
- To determine the efficiency of the Project in terms of the use of the total financial resources of D2, 907, 945.00 (Two Million, Nine Hundred and Seven Thousand, Nine Hundred and Forty Five Dalasis), and assess its sustainability in the absence of external funding.
A desk review of existing literature was undertaken to get the necessary background information that would inform the evaluation.
Purposive random/judgmental sampling was used to identify the communities and schools that participated in the quantitative and qualitative data exercises.
A combination of quantitative and qualitative tools (annexes 3-5) were developed to collect data from primary sources. Questionnaires were developed for the Key Informant Interviews (KIIs) and Focus Group Discussion Guides for the participatory evaluations.
Field Visits were undertaken to schools (6) and communities (11) in the URR, CRR and Greater Banjul Areas (GBA).
Findings and Conclusions:
Knowledge is critical to making informed decisions as it impacts on how people perceive and do things. Knowing about FAWEGAM, what it does and how and why it does it are critical ingredients to acceptability of its work and to the adoption of positive behaviours in support of this work.
Respondents in the GBA and URR had very high knowledge about FAWEGAM, 95% and 92% respectively whereas only 42.3% of respondents in CRR knew about the organization.
In comparison only 79% of respondents in the GBA, 75% in URR and 37.50% in CRR know about the Project.
Knowledge is higher in the GBA and the URR as FAWEGAM has worked longer in these areas than in the CRR. In addition the institutions and experts that work with FAWEGAM such as the Gender Education Unit of the MoBSE and the Tuseme clubs are concentrated in the GBA and the URR.
The majority of the respondents in the GBA and URR 88%, 83.33% respectively and 50% in the CRR regard the project as important; 72%, 83.33% and 43% of respondents in the GBA, URR and CRR respectively regard it as relevant and 76%, 83.33% and 43.75 of respondents respectively in the GBA, URR and CRR areas regard it as appropriate.
The Project supports innovative strategies such Mothers‟ Clubs, Tuseme Clubs, take Our Daughters to Work, Science Mathematics and Technology Clinics which are regarded as effective by 68% of respondents and efficient by 52%.
Gender as a vehicle for social change is acknowledged by 68% of respondents in the GBA, 54.16% in the URR and 23% in the CRR respectively.
UNICEF is to provide the financial resources to scale up good practices- the Mothers‟ Clubs, Tuseme Clubs, Take Our Daughters to Work and SMT Clinics which are not only innovative but also cost effective. Strengthen the Mothers‟ Clubs by providing them with resources such as labour saving devices. Support the conduct of tracer studies to (i) determine the number of children enrolled in Lower basic school in 2010 in the URR and CRR who complete the cycle; (ii) the girls who attend SMT clinics and actually continue their studies in these subjects and take up employment in related job areas (iii) the girls who participated in the Take our Daughters to Work and what type of work they are employed in.
Provide institutional support to FAWEGAM to enable it carry out its duties effectively.
FAWEGAM is to scale up good practices particularly the Tuseme Clubs, Take Our Daughters to Work and SMT Clinics.
Strengthen the existing Mothers‟ Clubs instead of creating new ones. Promote learning and sharing between the Mothers‟ Clubs through study visits to strong clubs and to Child Friendly Schools. Such learning will inspire the emulation of best practices
Involve the men and the boys. Expand the outreach to include religious, traditional and opinion leaders and male members of the community. They can be useful allies in breaking down the myths and conceptions related to girls‟ education.
Provide scholarship schemes for girls that want to pursue their studies in the SMT subjects and mobilize resources from non-traditional partners to support the scholarship programme.
Conduct tracer studies to (i) determine the number of children enrolled in primary school in 2010 in the URR and CRR who complete the cycle; (ii) the girls who attend SMT Clinics and actually continue their studies in these subjects and take up employment in related job areas (iii) the girls who participated in the Take our Daughters to Work and what type of work they are employed in.
Motivating, engaging, leading and supporting skills and knowledge transfer for sustainability has been a main feature of good practices that were employed in implementing the project. The good practices in girls‟ education implemented by FAWEGAM are contextual, relevant, practical, and cost-effective, based on a needs assessment of issues and provide evidence of impact. These practices are easily applicable, eliminate discrimination against girls and ensure girls‟ empowerment, target specific groups and gender relations, and are gender-responsive. They are participatory as they involve a wide range of stakeholders involving within and outside the school-the teachers and school management, the community, the girls and boys.
Good practices go hand-in-hand with good policy. The Education Policy 2004-2015 and the Master Plan for Education 2006-2015 ensure gender mainstreaming and rights based approaches to education. FAWEGAM‟s strength lies in unique and direct links with MoBSE, funding partners and a wide array of education stakeholders. As a strategy to reach more girls within the disadvantaged regions of the country FAWEGAM continues to form strong partnerships with organizations and agencies at the local, national and continental level.
Partnerships have broadened FAWEGAMs geographical spread, reach and visibility. Some are high-profile partnerships such as the CCM and the LEG, partnerships with the Women‟s Bureau and other NGOs and CBOs have strengthened FAWEGAMs pursuit for gender equality. The harnessing of synergies and pooling of resources and working on EFA in a gender sensitive way has enabled FAWEGAM to achieve these goals.
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