2013 Egypt: Meshwary-My Journey Project - Final Evaluation Report
Author: Dr.Magda Ghonem(Team leader);Hossam Hussein(Project Manager);Deena Khalil (Researcher) Rana Medhat (Research Assistant)
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The report represents the final evaluation of the UNICEF Egypt Meshwary Project. In particular, the evaluation measures the extent to which planned and unintended results were attained during the implementation of the Project.
The Project is a result of a global partnership between Barclays Bank and UNICEF Egypt. Meshwary is a fundamental part of UNICEF efforts to fulfill young people’s need for certain lacking information and skills crucial for their active participation in the labor market. This is particularly significant as according to a March 2013 UNDP report, the unemployment of youths (15-24) in Egypt became the highest in the Arab region at 54.1%.
The Project was implemented in 10 Egyptian governorates, representing urban and rural areas in both Upper and Lower Egypt. The Project aimed at increasing knowledge, skills and experience among young people and adolescents (13 – 24 years) to empower them economically and socially to make strategic choices about their future. Young people in rural and impoverished urban areas were primary targets, while over half of the beneficiaries were from governorates with the lowest human development indicators. Over 50% of the beneficiaries were female.
The project components included:
1) A skills development component building life skills, entrepreneurial and employability skills of adolescents and youth through peer education activities.
2) A career guidance component providing support and referrals for young people through counseling centers.
3) A work placement component providing placement opportunities at Barclays Bank branches.
4) A micro-enterprise support component supporting young people in establishing businesses by referring them to microcredit institutions.
5) A skills-sharing component through which Barclays employees shared their knowledge and basic skills.
6) A monitoring and evaluation system that relied on key indicators and a baseline survey to measure the achievements of the project.
The evaluation measures the extent to which planned and unintended results have been attained during the implementation of the Project. It assesses the changes in the capacities and skills of the target groups, assessing the contribution of the project’s training activities, and sharing with all partners the lessons learned that would improve future activities.
Relying on the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development/Development Assistance Committee (OECD/DAC) criteria, the evaluation team assessed the project's
1) Relevance: addressing the concordance of the project with government’s national plans and priorities, MDGs, human rights, UNICEF objectives and commitments as well as the needs of the beneficiaries.
2) Effectiveness: addressing the degree of realization of project objectives at outcome level as well as the factors explaining success/failure.
3) Efficiency: addressing the relationship of input to results and objectives in terms of time and cost.
4) Sustainability: addressing a) the ability to continue project activities relying on national and community capacities and b) the financial sustainability.
The evaluation of the Meshwary Project was based on two approaches: 1) secondary data review; and 2) primary data collection.
The Secondary Desk Review included a review of all relevant project documents and reports to 1)provide direct information for the evaluation report; and 2) insights about issues to be raised and/or confirmed during primary data collection.
As the documents were reviewed, they were mapped in terms of their direct contribution to the measurement of indicators and interpretation of results, and in terms of identification for key informants, evaluation questions and research tools. Moreover, the direct project beneficiaries were identified and the sample for the FGDs and interviews was selected.
Primary Data Collection relied on the Evaluation Team developing qualitative tools to collect the data needed for the evaluation. This comprised the following:
Key informant interviews: Opinions and factual data were sought from primary and secondary stakeholders through semi-structured interviews.
Focus group discussions: Opinions were sought from a variety of primary stakeholders (beneficiaries). This provided qualitative and detailed insight into the reaction of beneficiaries to the support they have received, and their own recommendations for improvements.
In view of the diversity of the research population in term of size, geographical location, and type of support, the Evaluation Team relied upon interviews and FGDs as mentioned above in the methodology section. Thus, a small sample of the project population was included in interviews and FGDs from various governorates. From this sample, the team retrieved qualitative opinions on the relevance, effectiveness, efficiency and sustainability of the project from the perspective of each group and with reference to their interest.
Findings and Conclusions:
Key findings indicate that:
1.The Skills Development component of the Project exceeded its targeted number of both peer educators (832 out of a target of 500) and adolescents end-beneficiaries(16,645 adolescents out of a target of 10,000) reaching 166.4%. The number of youth trained on entrepreneurship, employability and life skills was 8,875 out of a target of 10,000 (88.75%). The counseling centers did not reach their target numbers (19,980 out of target 25,000).
2. The Project is in alignment with UNICEF’s main mandate to “Advocate for the protection of children's rights, to help meet their basic needs and to expand their opportunities to reach their full potential”. It is also aligned with UNICEF’s strategic objectives, its mid-term strategic plan, and its MENA strategy on adolescents. It is also relevant to Egypt’s national development priorities (sixth five-year plan from 2007-2012).
3. Many adjustments are required to render the counseling centers more effective. The centers are important and respond to real needs. Their performance varies from one site to the other, since individual differences between counselors play a significant role. This is true for psycho-social counseling.
4. The curricula for the skills development training proved successful in influencing the participants' character, attitudes and behavior within their families and communities. The curricula contributed to preparing participants for careers by increasing their employability skills.
5. The training for the establishment of micro and small enterprises is generally successful. Its rationale and content require some revision. Some experience and knowledge gets lost in the chain of transmission by peer educators. The level of knowledge and skills is sufficient to start a micro-enterprise, but not a small enterprise which require more human and financial capital.
6. The project also achieved high efficiency managing to train large numbers at a very low cost.
Key Strategic recommendations include:
1. It is recommended that the two main project components, i.e. skills development and counseling centers, should be maintained, while their geographic scope should be expanded as much as funding capacities allow. It would be more feasible to target fewer participants in each governorate in benefit of more intensified focus, better services and follow-up.
2. The share of adolescent beneficiaries should be increased, since they represent more considerable potential for affecting life skills and views on entrepreneurship at an early age.
3. The tasks and targeted outcomes and the tasks of the two main components ( skills development and counseling centers), should be redistributed. The former is responsible for the capacity building of soft skills and general occupational skills of adolescents and you, While the latter is responsible for specific occupational skills and the investment of all skills gained in a concrete work context.
4. A formula whereby a governmental and a nongovernmental partner are integrated will constitute a vital and driving asset to the project, allowing it to benefit from both partners’ comparative advantages. Partnership agreements should be standardized and formalized in long-term cooperation protocols, with focus on private sector and training institutions, micro and small credit institution and vocational education institutions. A plan to improve and organize the project’s outreach in order to increase the likelihood of identifying and selecting more adequate implementing local partners should be developed.
5. A comprehensive and flexible database should be established for each project activity, recording including main data and information about partners and beneficiaries as well as facilitating and organizing monitoring, evaluation and documentation.
6. The project components should be more integrated and synthesized in order to achieve higher effectiveness and efficiency.
Key findings and recommendations of the evaluation were considered in planning and implementing phase II of the Meshwary Project
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