2000 ROM: Evaluation Report: UNICEF'S Family Education Programme Romania
Author: Tighel, V.; Preda, M.; Popescu, M.; Kim Choo, K.
The evaluation will review the activities of the Family Education Project (FEP) within the 1995-1999 Programme of Cooperation for lessons learned, and will review and make recommendation on the new country program 2000-2004. As the Country Programme 2000-2004 may be the last UNICEF-supported program in Romania, it is important that the objectives are specific, and that activities focus on what can be achieved practically in the next five years.
The 5-year FEP was an extension of a previous UNICEF Child Development Project (1991-1994) to reach more counties and now targeting at strengthening the family through various change agents. That was a very ambitious project involving working with various partners, including the Ministry of National Education (MNE), Ministry of Health (MOH), Ministry of Labour and Social Protection (MLSP), Mayors, other local authorities, NGOs, churches, educators, nurses, social workers and parents. The FEP comprised 2 main components: General Education, which included curriculum development, early childhood development, social workers' training and nurses' training, and Non-formal Education consisting of HIV/AIDS prevention, Facts for Life, and NGO training.
Purpose / Objective
The overall purpose of evaluating the Family Education Programme is to identify the key and sustainable interventions that the Family Education program can carry out to have the maximum contribution to the overall goal of UNICEF Romania 2000-2004. Specific objectives are:
- To identify lessons learned from the 1995-1999 program
- To review and, if necessary, clarify the program and project objectives, and develop a monitoring and evaluation plan for the Family Education Programme (using a logframe approach)
- To identify links with the Health & Nutrition, and the Child Protection programs, in terms of objectives, strategies
- To identify the strategic inputs needed to facilitate community development (i.e. training, supplies, information etc.)
- To assess the strategic value and contributions of UNICEF-funded teachers, community development and parent education centers
The evaluation process included site visits extending from Bucharest to the east, central, west and north of Romania. Numerous meetings and focus group discussions were also arranged with various people involved with the program. The team also studied project and related documents, and conducted interviews with UNICEF project officers and key officials from the MNE, MOH, Nurses Association, school inspectors, kindergarten directors and teachers, priests, and parents.
Key Findings and Conclusions
The FEP showed certain strengths in its strategies, including the selection of key government and non-government agencies, and key persons as partners in the program. The use of training of trainers creates a multiplier effect while the good choice of NGO partners complements the work of FEP. Working within an existing, established system most of the time and integrating program components into an existing system enabled going-to-scale and ensured sustainability. There were also areas of concern: the need for clearer goals, objectives and a systematic plan of action, the lack of standard evaluation and monitoring instruments, understaffing of the FEP, division within the health sector, neglect of crèches and the minimal impact of FEP on Rroma children and the Rroma community, mainly due to the complexity of the problem.
- The care, development and education of children are the responsibility not only of families but the state and the community as well.
- Helping families provide the best environment for the children means helping parents and children first with basic survival needs. Poor enrollment in kindergartens of Rroma children reflect that poor kids have difficulties taking advantage of schooling unless their basic needs for food and clothing, their right to respect and to be understood and accepted are met.
- It was also noted that leadership in the community and the presence of a few related projects determine the success of the program. Where such leadership exists, there was much support and collaboration, and more services to children and families.
- Another lesson learnt is that having trained hundreds of people is not enough unless there is a way to retain them in the system. Training is more than just the transfer of content - training of trainers is also about processes - processes that not only convey information but are also more likely to convince one to change one's attitude and belief system. Training teachers in PETAS is also no guarantee that they fully understand or would fully implement it. Appropriate training at the source, that is, at teacher training institutions and universities is better and more cost effective than re-training after they graduate.
To strengthen sustainability of the program, FEP worked towards integrating program components into national policies (e.g. PETAS), regulations of government agencies (e.g. training of PETAS under MNE and school inspectorates), advocating for change of curriculum for teachers, social workers and nurses. Likewise, the same could be done for parent education as a requirement for kindergartens to incorporate into the program.
Involving people from the beginning and instilling a sense of ownership and empowerment contribute towards program sustainability. Professional training of social workers, nurses and early childhood teachers were also examined. The integration of practicum hours at the university level and the training of field supervisors contribute to the currently small pool of social workers to work in various social work settings. Society is still unsure of the role that social workers could play in both remedial and preventive work and more work could be done with the related Ministries, NGOs and Social Work Association to promote and publicize the profession and their role in society. Advocacy for social work positions in the various settings is also much needed.
Strategic inputs from UNICEF lie in its good and credible relationship with the government. Therefore, it is in a strong position to advice and to advocate as well as support the national development of the country. Other key inputs are the training of trainers, facilitating community development, and organizing of regional, national and international seminars for dissemination. UNICEF could use the provision of supplies to match contributions from the community, the GOs and NGOs. This matching of goods and/or services encourages commitment on the part of the other parties and generates a greater sense of ownership. Supplies like furniture and toys could also be manufactured locally to generate income for the local community as part of the community development efforts.
Project management: Additional staffing is recommended for the next phase, with 2 core committees of resource people to support the 2 major parts of the FEP.
Goals and objectives: Be clear about goals, objectives and action plan that should be directed specifically at achieving each objective.
Evaluation: Monitor processes and measure outcomes as stated in objectives. Begin developing monitoring instruments and evaluation early in the program. For instance, develop a monitoring instrument to measure the quality of the PETAS program as a self-improvement tool for kindergartens and as an evaluative tool to maintain an acceptable level of quality by MNE as external evaluator. Work with Universities and research institutes to evaluate outcome of PETAS, and do needs assessment of communities participating in the community development project.
Training: Upgrade level of training of PETAS. Expand training of trainers' program -- develop core of mobile inter-disciplinary trainers under the pre-school inspectorate who would train teachers in different communities in the county. Upgrade training, including training methodologies. Set up network and database of trainers and trained personnel, and advocate for the official recognition of training to maintain pool of trained resources.
Universities and Colleges: Teacher training institutions need to upgrade their skills and knowledge in the area of early childhood (and probably beyond) through study visits to international institutions, seminars and consultancy to update their teaching curriculum to be more relevant. Meetings between users (MNE) and producers (training institutions) of preschool teachers and representation of MNE on the Committee or Board of the institutions are recommended.
Publication: Support and/or develop more publication for young children, parents, teachers that are more user friendly - clear, simple and easy to read. Pool and use available, good parenting brochures and resources from INGOs and NGOs to save cost, time and effort. Develop Training Manuals for trainers and Resource Guides for teachers on using low cost/no cost indigenous material.
Community development: Select communities where strong leadership is available and some form of networking already exists. Do needs and strengths assessment before embarking on project. Implement/support a few related projects at the same time and pool resources for common use. Encourage community/ local authorities to match UNICEF resources for commitment and taking ownership. Give business to locals for production of UNICEF resources where possible (e.g. furniture, toys). Develop concept of community resource center.
Rroma community: Develop back-to-back programs of preschool education and training program in adult literacy, numeracy, job skills. Offer free meals for kids in kindergarten/schools. Set up home-based kindergartens of at least one year kindergarten before entry to school where there is a concentration of Rromas. Make mainstream kindergartens more conducive to Rroma children - hire Rroma teachers or assistants, incorporate Rroma and other minority culture in the curriculum and environment. Facilitate the process with relevant authorities for Rroma children to have birth certificates and identity documents. Consider setting up food bank, clothes bank, skills and literacy training within the community. Encourage more Rromas to take up teacher training, social work training. Encourage more Rroma studies by the universities that could be incorporated into teacher, social work and nurses training. Family planning to be considered as part of the parent education outreach.
Kindergarten alternatives: Encourage primary schools to develop short preprimary programs for children who have not attended kindergarten classes before entry to primary one. Kindergartens can also offer summer program of 2 to 3 months and other time when the facilities are not in use.
Creches: MOH and MNE have to reconcile on which Ministry would be most appropriate in the care, development and education of the 0 to 3. Those who care for the children need to undergo training in working with this age group - at both pre-service and in-service level. Infants and toddlers curricula need to be developed and people trained to implement them.
Dissemination: Organize regional, national, international seminars and conferences. Use successful models as showcase in regional seminars. Use training hubs/mobile trainers to train more teachers in PETAS and parent education. Integrate key elements of the FEP into the MNE/MOH system to disseminate and sustain developments. Set up and FEP website to disseminate, network, create databases.
Full report in PDF
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