Adolescent-led Review of the Magic Classroom Project and Community Preschool Programme Playgrounds
A mixed method-approach to the evaluate the educational capacity of the Magic Classroom, and the lasting environmental impact of the programme on target communities.
This United Nations Children’s Fund in Cambodia (hereafter referred to as UNICEF) internal review of the Magic Classroom and community preschool playground activities, using the adolescent-led evaluation approach, occurred from June to August 2018 in Cambodia. These early childhood education and health, nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene activities were implemented in Kratie, Ratanakiri and Phnom Penh in 2017 and early 2018. The review was conducted by 12 adolescent evaluators with training and support from an enabling adult team, comprised of the UNICEF Evaluation Team and an external Youth Evaluator and Translator. In addition to reviewing these activities, this was also a piloting of the adolescent-led evaluation approach.
The review found that both activities were well-received in their communities. Where Magic Classroom sessions were held, the respondents (approximately 68 individuals) were quite knowledgeable and reported positive behaviour change, but not everyone could implement changes because of a lack of materials, such as soap or latrines. For the playgrounds, the parents all cited their importance for development and education and the children expressed their love of playing. However, the playgrounds were not always effective in keeping out animal faeces and other risks, such as rubbish, because of a lack of fencing and/or oversight. Overall, the activities were effective in meeting their goals of increasing knowledge, changing habits and providing a place for children to play and reap the benefits from it.
The review has recommended providing further support for communities where Magic Classroom was implemented to ensure that people are able to practice the new habits. The team also recommended creating posters or pamphlets with the same messages. In reference to the playgrounds, the team recommended ensuring that the playgrounds were well placed with a monitoring plan in place for their upkeep and that proper infrastructure exists to keep out animals and other health risks.
Finally, the review was also piloting the adolescent-led evaluation approach and found that it is an effective means of both engaging young people and gaining important insights on programme activities. The team recommended extending the amount of time available for working with the young people so that they have more time to gain skills and practice them.