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Evaluation report

2017 Ethiopia: An Impact Evaluation of Alternative Basic Education in Ethiopia

Executive summary

 With the aim to continuously improve transparency and use of evaluation, UNICEF Evaluation Office manages the "Global Evaluation Reports Oversight System (GEROS)". Within this system, an external independent company reviews and rates all evaluation reports. The quality rating scale for evaluation reports is as follows: “Highly Satisfactory”, “Satisfactory”, “Fair” or “Unsatisfactory”. You will find the link to the quality rating below, labelled as ‘Part 3’ of the report, and the executive feedback summary labelled as ‘Part 4’.


The ABE program is an intervention that resulted from a study conducted in 2000 by the Ministry of Education called “Alternative Routes to Basic Education" that recommended a focus on enhancing the ABE program as articulated in the ESDP II (2002/03 – 2004/05). The ABE program was developed under the leadership of the Ministry of Education. UNICEF supported and implemented the program in partnership with the Regional Education Bureaus in the four regions of Afar, Somali, Oromia and Benishangul Gumuz. The ABE intervention aims at providing opportunities for out-of-school children, especially in the age range 7-14, to have access to good quality basic education.

To achieve this goal the program supported the construction and equipping of the Alternative Basic Education Centres (ABECs) addressing the educational needs of hard-to-reach children in pastoralist areas in Ethiopia. Over the last ten years UNICEF supported the setting up of 1,678 ABECs, enrolling over 276,777 students (45% girls) in the marginalized communities. In this time-period UNICEF spend about around 10,000 Birr per ABEC and 17,306,000 Birr in total on the establishment of ABECs and 588,000 Birr on rehabilitation costs. In addition, approximately 5,000 facilitators/teachers of ABECs have received training to enhance their instructional skills.


The evaluation addressed four specific objectives which included the following:

       1) To assess the impact and effectiveness of ABE;

       2) To Assess ABECs’ relevance;

       3) To assess efficiency the of ABECs by probing and;

       4) To assess sustainability the of ABECs by inquiring:


The evaluation applied a mixed-method approach including, a large quantitative data collection, in-depth qualitative interviews and structured analysis of secondary / administrative data. The impact evaluation design was based on non-experimental methods. This entailed the selection of a group of control villages, where no ABEC was established, and using households, parents and kebele data to account for the initial differences between the ABEC villages and the control village types. The impact was then assessed by comparing the performance of the children in ABEC villages to the ones in non-ABEC villages.

Multivariate regression models were used to control for heterogeneous student backgrounds, such as different household, caregiver and village characteristics. Throughout the evaluation process great efforts were made to generate high quality data and credible evidence considering the time, budget and (Somali, Oromia and Afar) the findings of this study cannot be generalized for the whole country.

Findings and Conclusions:

•The average net enrolment rate for children between the ages of 7 and 11 was 71 percent in villages with ABEC in comparison to an enrolment rate of 74 percent in villages with primary schools and 50% in villages without any primary schooling facility. Regional effects showed larger enrolment rates in Afar (75%) than in Oromia (66%) and Somali (55%). In terms of the gender, it was the largest in the Somali region (45% for girls vs. 62% for boys), followed by Oromia (60% vs. 66%). In Afar no gender gap could be observed.
•UNICEF supported ABECs and other ABECs, no significant differences in terms of children’s cognitive performance could be found.
•UNICEF supported ABECs have better infrastructure than non UNICEF supported ABECs, but at the same time had teachers with lower qualification and less experience. This pointed out the need to focus on improving the quality of the facilitators. Since all ABECs are run by the government and not by UNICEF, the lower teacher qualification can only be explained by UNICEF’s mission to reach the most vulnerable children and remote communities. These communities faced great challenges attracting qualified teachers. This had a negative impact on learning outcomes.


•Extended support to ABE facilitators should be prioritized via adequate teacher training on active teaching methods, professional assessment and supervision and experience sharing among teachers;
•Provide context-specific incentives for the ABE facilitators. This can include, for example, the opportunity to upgrade to formal teachers;
•Improve the physical environment of the ABEC as per the standard, making schools child friendly in all aspects;
•Upgrade some selected ABEC from lower primary (level 1-4) to upper primary (level 1-6) as many ABECs end at level 4. This situation makes it difficult for children to find places for further learning. Upgrading will make the learning place close to the children’s home. This will enable pastoralist children to complete primary education easily and be prepared to start their secondary school learning;
•Contextualization of the ABE curriculum should be continued based on the formal primary school curriculum together with a consideration to develop a distinct ABE curriculum extending to the second cycle of primary school. Contextualization should include local implementing partners, representatives of communities, and ABE teachers/facilitator. Local education research institutions should be included to add research evidence to demonstrate how a child- and context-sensitive curriculum can be developed, meeting the quality of the formal primary education.

Full report in PDF

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Report information






Mannheimer Zentrum fur Evaluation und Entwicklungsforchung MZEEF of Germany


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