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Evaluation database

Evaluation report

2018 Gambia: Final Evaluation of the Programme for Improved Quality Standards in Schools (PIQSS) in The Gambia (2012-2016)

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 Gambia school system structure has four tiers; Early Childhood Development (ECD – 4-6 years), Lower Basic Education (LBE 7-12 years), Upper Basic Education (UBE – 13-15 years) and Senior Secondary Education (SSE – 16-18 years).  Post-secondary education covers Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) and higher education. The National Education sector has undergone considerable improvements over the last 15 years in all its sub-sectors, including ECD, LBE, UBE and SSE. Most of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) and Education for All (EFA) targets, fixed in the year 2000 as part of the education sector perspective plan, were achieved by the year 2015. 
The Programme for Improved Quality Standards in Schools (PIQSS) was implemented in The Gambia’s Central River Region (CRR) and Upper River Region (URR) between 2012 and 2016. The programme included five components; a) school environment management (including construction of classrooms, separate toilet facilities for boys and girls and providing hand pumps) and improvement in school management, school development plans, financial management, assets management, staff management and school data; b) Teacher training to improve teaching learning process; c) Children wellbeing, to improve health and nutrition of children; d) community participation and strengthening of SMCs and Mothers Clubs; and e) ECD, parenting education for the parents of children less than three years, training of facilitators and provision of ECD materials.



The objective of this evaluation is to assess the relevance, effectiveness, efficiency, sustainability and coherence of all such interventions and put forward some recommendations for both programmatic and operational improvements. In doing so, the evaluation will allow to enhance not only the programme accountability (both to donors and expected beneficiaries) but also, and foremost, to enhance the organizational learning (both within UNICEF and the national government) on how to prioritize future national education interventions based on quality and reliable evidence collected on the ground.




This mixed methods evaluation rested on the collection of both primary quantitative and qualitative data (e.g. Key Information Interviews and Focus Group Discussions) as well as on the analysis of secondary sources. In addressing each one of the envisaged evaluation questions, the evaluator use, to the largest extent possible, at least three different data sources.

Based on an extreme case sampling strategy, the evaluation focused on the two country’s least developed regions: Region 5 & 6. The evaluation allowed identifying some of program’s key achievements as well as some of its greatest challenges. 


Findings and Conclusions:


The construction of classroom and separate toilet blocks for boys and girls was successfully completed Annually, up to 3,000 children have access to conducive learning spaces and 4,050 children access to improved toilet facilities. All the 150 PIQSS schools had environmental clubs established to ensure a clean learning environment for the children.
Over 450 teachers were trained and applying improved teaching methodologies such as child centred teaching methods, inclusive pedagogy and gender responsive methodologies. 24,930 children from 90 schools were provided with basic educational supplies, which reduced the cost burden on parents and increased demand for education even in deprived rural communities. The impact of this support was reflected on the improved scores in the national assessment test as follows: CRR had 44.6 per cent (English) and 51.6 per cent (Maths); and URR had 60.1 per cent (English) and 61.7 per cent (Maths) pass rates, which are above the national average in both English and Maths.
300 teachers and 600 students from the 150 PIQSS schools acquired increased knowledge on nutrition education, health seeking behaviours and HIV/AIDS prevention. This further encouraged both students and teachers to practice handwashing which was seen as good practice in the promotion of hygiene and sanitation practices
the major weakness in the system is training of one off.  Follow-up training and each module building on the other is weak or absent.   One further weakness of this program is the lower-than-expected number of visits of schools by health staff. Turnover among ECD teachers, too, affected the implementation of the PIQSS programme: they were given other grades to teach and those who were not trained were asked to teach ECD. For the child well-being component of the programme, the health improvement interventions didn’t work properly. In an ideal situation, the schools should have health programme



  1. The Education and WASH sections of UNICEF Gambia should ensure that hygiene and health education should address both at personal and community levels and mitigate the risks of the common infectious and parasitic diseases. This would include understanding the importance of physical education and sports as well as the value of an appropriate nutrition.
  2. The Education section of UNICEF Gambia and MoBSE should ensure and ECD strategy in line with the ECD policy priorities under the Education Policy 2016-2030.  This will ensure cross-sectoral approach to ECD and strengthening the sub-sector.
  3. MoBSE has committed to the school a national school health programme under the 2016-2030 Education Policy.  This commitment need to pursue by developing a National School Health Policy, strategic plan, guidelines and manuals for teachers and community.
  4. MoBSE with support from UNICEF need to review and revise the in-service teacher training programme. The cost effective, cluster based Continuous Professional Development (CPD) should be introduced for the Lower Basic (Primary) teachers. Within each cluster of schools, the teachers should gather for one day training each month in a school. The next month different school of the same cluster may be selected as venue for the training. The resource persons should be the District Education Officers or some senior faculty members of the teacher training institutes.

Lessons Learned:


The information on baseline of certain important indicators like NER and CR were incorrect, and no efforts were made to make the correction during the implementation period. The reasons for reducing the number of PIQSS support from 200 to 150 was not available in the documents. For such a programme the development partners generally sign an agreement with the implementing partners or the beneficiaries that for the implementation of such a programme the conditions are laid down. Such agreements with MoBSE for the implementation of the programme, like not transferring the teachers during the implementation phase etc. are not available.

  1. More and more centres are opened in public sector so that more families would have access to ECD services, which hitherto is dominated by the private sector.
  2. The public sector ECD centres should have better facilities for the children to stay in the centres and continue till completion;
  3. Trained female facilitators are available in all centres and the existing male facilitators are replaced by trained female facilitators;
  4. The pool of expert female teachers should be developed to specialize only in ECD teaching, these expert teachers should not be deputed to teach at the primary level and their services should exclusively be used for ECD levels;
  5. The ECD centres should be equipped with the necessary materials and audio-visuals to benefit the students;
  6. The ECD policy and strategic plan along with an action plan should be developed and approved by the government for implementation.


Please find the attachments labelled as follows:

  • Evaluation Report - Report
  • GEROS Evaluation Review - Part 2
  • GEROS Feedback Summary - Part 3
  • Evaluation Management Response (EMR) - Part 4


Full report in PDF

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Report information

Year: 2018

Office/Country: Gambia

Region: WCAR

Type: Evaluation

Theme: Education

Language: English

Sequence #: 2018/001 

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