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Evaluation database

Evaluation report

2018 Guyana and Suriname: Evaluation of the Guyana nursery education programme

Author: UNICEF

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 2’ of the report, and the executive feedback summary labelled as ‘Part 3’.


The evaluation of the Guyana Nursery Education Programme (GNEP), commissioned by United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Ministry of Education (MoE) brings out the findings of a four-month evaluation of the Nursery Education Programme in Guyana.

In 1976, Government of Guyana introduced an early stimulation programme for children ages three years nine months to five years nine months. This programme, known as the Guyana Nursery Education Programme, is offered nationally and free across difficult terrain and multi-cultural domains. The programme is implemented across all the Regions in the country.

After 40 years of the implementation of the programme, the Ministry of Education with support from UNICEF decided to undertake an evaluation of the programme to ensure that the goals and strategies for nursery education in Guyana are consistent with global frameworks; meet the equity agenda and respond to new research findings while maintaining its cultural appropriateness. It is envisaged that the findings of the evaluation will inform an analytical review of key achievements, good practices, gaps and constraints that need to be addressed, towards the overall improvement of the nursery education programme in Guyana.  The findings will also inform a revision of the existing curriculum and provide strategies for a more effective implementation of nursery education in Guyana.

This exercise sets out to evaluate the performance of the Guyana Nursery Education Programme as regards relevance, effectiveness, efficiency, impact, sustainability and cross cutting considerations. The evaluation probes into the last 10 years (2006-2016) of the implementation of the programme. The 10-year period has been chosen keeping the feasibility of the evaluation in mind.


 The objectives for conducting this performance evaluation are as follows: -
1. To determine whether the quality of the GNEP offered to children and their parents, over the last 40 years, has achieved their objectives and to what extent.
2. Based on the findings from objective 1, identify sources, facilitating factors and challenges encountered in the GNEP
3. Drawing on findings from objectives 1 and 2, compile lessons learned and elaborate their implications for the future of the GNEP


The evaluation followed a mixed method approach, using both qualitative and quantitative methodologies, to assess the performance of the nursery education programme. The exercise was guided by an evaluation framework, which was prepared jointly by the Ministry of Education and UNICEF during the inception phase.
The research team comprised of one international evaluator, one rapporteur, the evaluation supervisor – UNICEF’s Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist; a programme officer – Education Specialist in UNICEF and a Steering Committee of key stakeholders.
The different phases in the implementation of the methodology are as follows: -
Secondary Data Review and Analysis
Review of existing literature including government reports, tools, plan documents, data from MICS, 2014, pre-school non-academic norms, guidelines, curricula, workbooks and assessment books. The objectives for this phase were to understand the current situation of the implementation of Nursery Education in Guyana, to flag where there were notable inequities and to identify knowledge gaps to be addressed in the data collection phase.
Data Collection
The second phase was centered on data collection in the field. The main methodological choices were interviews at national and local levels with key stakeholders. These included Key Informant Interviews, Focus Group Discussions and Observation of classrooms - pedagogical practices and interactions in the classroom.
Data Analysis and Report Writing
The evaluation used the grounded theory method for data analysis which involved verbatim transcription of all FGDs and KIIs, coding of data, development of themes, comparison and contrasting of themes and recording of findings, and developing theoretical propositions. Quantitative data was collected as part of classroom observation, which was analysed to provide feedback on the quality of nursery education being transacted in the classroom context.

Findings and conclusions:

The scope and curricular approaches of the programme underwent a change post 2013, from play-based holistic domain-oriented approach to an academic approach based on improving numeracy and literacy outcome, thus leaving out the non-cognitive domains of child development (socio-emotional, personal, creative and aesthetic).
While the enrolment under GNEP has increased over the time period, a sizeable number of children are still not enrolled in the nursery programme. The country does not have estimate of out of preschool children. The GNEP is not a universal programme as it is non-compulsory and does not cover all children between three to six years in the country.
The grant funding from the World Bank towards ‘in-service’ training of 526 teachers has been a cost-effective investment and has positively impacted the efficiency of the programme because, prior to its implementation through this funding, ‘in-service teacher training’ was not in the programme design.
There is a marginal difference in the participation of girls and boys in the nursery programme. The majority of teachers in nursery are female as the understanding is that children are women’s responsibility. As a result of this, occasionally teachers tend to use colours, objects in day to day pedagogy which are biased towards girls rather than being gender neutral.
A significant percentage of children displaying mastery over literacy and numeracy skills especially children from hinterland communities. The achievement made by children over a one-year period (comparing pre-test and post-test) is attributed to the impact of the nursery education programme.
The supporting the quality interventions initiated under the GECEP, once the grant has ended, would require proportionate increase in allocations under government budget specifically for quality subventions under nursery education.
Implementation of the GNEP over the last 10 years presents a complex scenario of early childhood education in Guyana.


Planning and Technical Assistance
The Ministry of Education may consider analysing the current situation with regard to equitable access to nursery education in the country and execute an exercise in target setting to ensure the indicator is achieved in the course of 15 years (Sustainable Development Goal 4.2).
Standards and Benchmarks
The Ministry of Education should develop a comprehensive and progressive National Quality Standards for the nursery programme to provide specific indicators and guidelines to programme implementers and nursery schools and classes on quality improvement.
The Ministry of Education should field test and review the numeracy and literacy learning standards, which would ensure the standards are validated and contextualised to Guyanese context. Learning standards may be developed ancontextualised for other domains of development including the non-cognitive domains.
Programme Content
The MOE and its partners should develop a school readiness programme for children joining Grade One to ensure a smooth and seamless transition from nursery to the Grade One curriculum.
Teacher Training
The Ministry of Education should develop a written policy on compulsory and regular ‘in-service’ teacher training and develop appropriate strategies to implement the policy.
The MOE and its partners should develop a training strategy and programme for training of nursery teachers on working with children who have special needs and children with learning difficulties.
Monitoring and Evaluation
The Ministry of Education should review the different monitoring mechanisms and tools that are currently used and based on the review, standardise monitoring processes for results.

Lessons Learned:

Government of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana by ensuring all staff involved from the policy making level to the level of teachers in nursery programmes are permanent Government employees, guarantee the operationalization of the Guyana Nursery Education Programme for the foreseeable future.

Full report in PDF

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Report information

Year: 2018

Office/Country: Guyana and Suriname

Region: LACR

Type: Evaluation

Theme: Early Childhood Development

Language: English

Sequence #: 2018/001 

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