Author: Keri Culver, Kathryn Brand, Felipe Tejeda, Thomaz Alvares de Azevedo
The Go to School (GtS) Initiativecomprises the MoE’s range of reform activities, and UNICEF acts as the conduit for multi-donor collaboration with the MoE. Focusing on expanding access to quality teaching and learning, promoting gender equity and strengthening institutional development, the GoSS has directed its programmes toward meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Education for All (EFA) targets. These include universal primary education, improved educational quality, and the promotion of gender equity and the empowerment of women and girls. The Initiative was launched in 2006 to support the GoSS and MoE in their efforts to reach these goals.
The overarching goal of the evaluation was to enhance UNICEF’s ability to support education reform efforts in Southern Sudan so that these might increase educational opportunity in Southern Sudan. The Initiative supports this effort to date and will continue to do so with refined and improved methods based on evaluation findings and other research.
The evaluation methodology was with a mixed-method programme evaluation approach, using qualitative and quantitative data collection design to triangulate findings from multiple sources. The design includes data collection at the school level, in payams and counties, state level and national level. A targeted convenience sample was derived from detailed discussions with regional UNICEF and state education officials, including each of the ten states of Southern Sudan, and a mix of urban and rural sites.
Findings and Conclusions:
Effectiveness: achievements and implementation
SCHOOL LEVEL - GEM initiative has brought girls and boys to school, english language training is in high demand. Materials distribution has had mixed results, but some are quite positive. Teacher training appears to have provoked gains in the literacy assessment results, but teacher instructional practices are generally the same at GtS and comparison schools.
MINISTRY LEVEL - System building efforts have been extensive, as with EMIS and payroll systems. But transfer of skills has not happened. The MoE must internalize management, operations and funding for these functions.
Relevance - Initiative design shows commitment to girls’ education, inclusive education, and range of learner needs, as in AES. But funding and logistics in remote areas present serious challenges to achieving relevance.
Efficiency - EMIS and informatics systems increase efficiency and provide general education data, But intervention data are not tracked or aggregated. Cost data should also be monitored and structured more efficiently and attentively. Technical Assistance (TA) should always include systematic skills transfer to the MoE. Construction work has been inefficient: some contractors failed to deliver, costs increased exponentially, and only a fraction of targets were met.
Viability of partnerships and coordination - There is a coordination system in place (ERDF); though not always active, it provides a forum for stakeholder voices and avoids duplication of effort. State MoEs have coordinated fruitfully with implementers in their areas. Joint monitoring visits to project sites encourage collaboration and on-site monitoring.
Prioritize comprehensive capacity building at the Ministry.
Construct a plan with definitions of necessary TA, skills transfer, and create progress benchmarks.
The evaluation results call for adjustments to GtS priorities.
Teacher professional development (TPD) must be a high priority.
Create a system for tracking and aggregating outputs, outcomes and expenses at all levels.
Prioritize the remote and rural schools of the country for GtS interventions. Phase this strategically and realistically, because costs will affect roll-out .These are the hardest-to-reach, most disadvantaged groups, and returnee populations will likely swell and outstrip gains made to date. Follow with more easily accessed central and urban areas as MoE capacity is institutionalized.
The Ministry must take ownership and responsibility for the donor coordination function. Create a unit or champion within the MoE that progressively assumes greater responsibility.
Solutions to the problems in the educational system in Southern Sudan will continue to face the enormous scope of need. Funds available will not stretch to resolve all the issues, but an empowered and well-financed Ministry can prioritize based on locally defined needs and goals. Southern Sudan is entering a new period in the coming months. Strategic planning will make a difference in the Ministry’s effectiveness, supported technically by donors and the locally available expertise from NGOs, research groups, the university and other interested education stakeholders. Adequate and targeted monitoring will give internal actors the data they need to make decisions, and will give external audiences confidence in the use of potential funding to make a difference.
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